Retailers must digitalise supply chain to serve tech savvy customers: Deloitte

Retailers must digitalise supply chain to serve tech savvy customers: Deloitte
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27 Feb, 2020

Digitalising supply chain network can help address the last-mile delivery challenges faced by retailers, said a report by global accounting and consulting firm Deloitte.

The report said that the companies should revisit their business strategies as consumer experience and expectation change rapidly in the digital era, as the distinction between physical and digital mediums continue to blur.

The New York-based audit firm, along with the Retailers Association of India, released the report titled Digital Disruption in Retail at the Retail Leadership Summit in Mumbai. It said that while technology increasingly makes shopping experiences more convenient for users, it also increases the responsibility of the retailer to ensure timely delivery and a smooth customer experience.

According to the report, more than four-fifths of companies could gain insight into shoppers’ behaviours by using their digital data trail with the help of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain and automation, which could also lead to improved customer engagement and better sales.

“Our report defines the future of order fulfilment and last-mile delivery, as brands focus on blurring boundaries between their offline and online channels, bringing a better integrated ‘phygital’ concept to the marketplace," Anand Ramanathan, a partner at Deloitte India, said.

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The ‘phygital’ experience can help companies acquire new customers, engage better with existing ones and reduce the cost of operations, the report said.

"This technology not only transforms a mobile consumer’s shopping journey through personalisation, it also changes the role of CXOs, who can now look to drive exponential benefits around economics, risk and value to stakeholders using technology-led cloud concepts,” Ramanathan added.

India has a strong market potential for retail and is on its way to touch $1.2 trillion by 2021, Deloitte said.

To cater to the new-age customers, the company suggested that retailers create a customised assortment and visual merchandising plan using heat maps and the customers’ in-store/online browsing data. 

Heat maps could help retailers figure out product placements --  for example, they could move products that have a low sell-through rate to an area that sees high foot traffic and sell it at lower price or order fewer units of the product the next month, the report said.

Retailers could also sync their online and offline merchandise -- with this, a customer can add a product to an online cart and then visit a physical store to experience the product without having to browse through the entire sections at the store, the report said. Examples of this are some platforms that sell jewellery and eyewear, where buyers can use a mobile app to scan a photo of themselves and see how the product looks on them before placing an order.

The report also suggested setting up a system where one could scan a tag to see information about a product or browse similar products. It provided the example of a British luxury fashion retailer, which uses radio-frequency identification e-tags to provide customers access to additional information and a “magic mirror” which, when a tag is shown, displays details such as how the product was crafted and offers similar suggestions.

Setting up self checkout counters or having robotic checkout counters could help speed up in-store checkouts, the report said.