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In-store purchase behaviour can help improve sales, feels ET ILC

Artificial intelligence-enabled analysis of customer data is leading to continually improving hyper-personalisation in terms of positioning, promotion, pricing and shopping experience. Add to it edge computing along with real-time analysis for faster and more current insights, and you have an unbeatable combination.

ET CONTRIBUTORS|
Last Updated: Feb 25, 2020, 07.55 AM IST
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Anupam Dasgupta, VP - strategy, GrayMatter Software, explores the different perspectives

Physical stores make up for roughly 90% of all retail sales even in the most advanced markets. By 2025, by most estimates, that number is still likely to be well over 80%. (Forbes). And there can be nothing better than Big Data to assess, analyse and grow in-store purchases. Advancement of technology-enabled tools and solutions are opening up a variety of methods to serve the ever-growing need of retailers to have a competitive edge, driven by nuggets of data-driven insights on purchase behaviour.

Artificial intelligence-enabled analysis of customer data is leading to continually improving hyper-personalisation in terms of positioning, promotion, pricing and shopping experience. Add to it edge computing along with real-time analysis for faster and more current insights, and you have an unbeatable combination. For example, Edge servers or AI cameras can recognise privileged customers who can then be greeted by the store staff immediately.

But do people really want stores to have their photos and purchase data so that they can get better service? Is data-privacy being compromised at the altar of extracting richer datadriven insights?

Well, this is a non-negotiable situation, which means that data should only be collected with prior consent of the customer. As long as the customer has opted in for sharing her/his data, it is very valuable to use this data to deliver elevated convenience and experience to the shopper.

It really boils down to maintaining transparency and preserving the customer’s trust. With India’s Data Protection Bill passed, one can hope that more organisations will be compliant. However, in addition to consumer consent to record certain data, it is also important to encrypt and anonymise data so that even if information is stolen or misplaced, it cannot be decrypted or traced back to a particular individual.

What’s even more important, is to dovetail the offline data collected from stores with data collected from online customer touchpoints. This brings us to the proverbial omnichannel approach of combining data across touchpoints to have a unified customer view. The touchpoints include in-store purchase transactions, social media behaviour, call centre interactions, mobile app footprint, online payment transactions data, sensor-driven data from IoT (Internet of Things) wearable devices and what not. Unified insights related to customer profile and intent, in turn, lead to actions driving superlative customer experience across channels. In summary, a 360-degree view of the customer based on their online and offline interactions allows retailers to create more compelling, differentiated offers and deliver more meaningful experiences.

While the possibilities are several, adoption is the key. In the context of Indian retailers, the adoption is very nascent. It is clear that industry leaders and successful businesses need to invest more and more resources towards this. There is a clear need to scale up the use of data-driven insights, instead of just being invested in transactional systems.

Even within the space of data-driven insights, while personalisation at the level of a customer segment is being done, hyper-personalisation still has a long way to go. Such initiatives need to be increasingly amenable to the customers with the objective of creating a seamless and superior shopping experience.

Speaking of personalisation, it is also relevant to seek feedback from the consumer and cocreate products by incorporating their inputs throughout the process of creating/refining the offering. The end product would be much more sharpened if needs and wants of key user groups are addressed.

Technological developments at large, and not just initiatives linked to data-driven insights, are impacting the retail ecosystem. Some of the possible use cases and/or subject areas for application of latest technologies include customer experience, loyalty and reward campaigns, billing & digital receipts, inventory count & tracking, employee tracking & communication, and many more. A mix of technologies including IoT, data science, machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain, real-time processing are driving the vision of an increasingly tech-enabled retail ecosystem globally and in India. Let’s take the example of digital receipts. This simple, paperless method provides the opportunity to provide personalised offers and the opportunity to brand your business.

Consider a more glamorous illustration of real-time, augmented reality wherein consumers can virtually try out makeup products on an app or on the web and view themselves too. Or just look at sensor-driven real-time in-store collection of customer data with integration to a real-time analytics & campaign management platform. This sets you up for super-personalised offers in real-time as soon as the shopper enters your store — and all this supported by a blockchain platform to ensure data integrity with guaranteed privacy and information security.

In summary, there are countless use cases with ever-developing technologies to address these needs. Data-driven analysis of instore purchase behaviour is a critical area of work which drives success for retailers. The key for Indian retailers is to consciously invest towards this as one of the most vital ingredients for future business growth.

Disclaimer: GrayMatter has supported The Economic Times India Leadership Council (ET ILC) for this initiative on understanding the industry opinion of ILC members. The views carried in the article are of ILC members, in entirety.

The members who have contributed to the article are: Abhishek Ganguly, managing director, Puma India; Vikas Gupta, CEO, GrayMatter Software Services; Rajesh Janey, senior vice president for global alliances, Dell Technologies; Tammy Redpath, senior vice president and president, Target India; and Samrat Zaveri, managing director, Shaze Luxury Retail.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of www.economictimes.com.)

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