Is the Traditional Retail Business Ready to Resonate with the Future Generations Requirements?
Ameer Khan Abdul Vahid, Head Of Ecommerce, Life Pharmacy
The nexus of future retail and hybrid shopping is going to be highly dependent on digital supremacy. As e-commerce is pacing at Sonic speed, most retailers are opting for advanced and personalized techniques to cater to the customers of the future. On the other hand, customers are increasing their expectations and would prefer self-centered options to decrease the effort of sifting the right product. Retailers cannot sit on the fence any longer; they have to compete with the constantly changing prototypes of consumers.
The Millennials are believed to be the best cross of traditional and modern technological game. Gen Z, on the other hand, is alien to a world without gadgets and apps. Gen Alpha, who speaks and inhales technology, will be the most tech-savvy of all. It is estimated that Gen Alpha, whose computerized footprint is at its peak, is considered the most influential generation of all. They will demand personalized experiences, seamless digital and physical interfaces, unparalleled access to information, and the smartest solutions to any problem. Retailers have to put their shoulders to the wheels to materialize this déjà vu. They will have to serve Gen Zers and Alphas in the befitting environments.
What Can You Expect in the Near Future?
Think of a future scenario like this. You enter a shop and what you see is a fully automated, AI-triggered, digitized world of highly personalized suites attending and catering to your needs! You don’t have to put in the effort ‘to surf between the aisles!’ The staff presents you with all the options as per your interest and the uniqueness of your choice. You will be bombarded with the finest details and availability of products without even uttering a word. Your past purchases, selections of colors and materials, and price range will be available at the store and the only effort you have to put in is to enter a retail store. An unimaginable and solicited boon is waiting to welcome you in the future.
The best retailers of the upcoming years will focus on their customers and employees equally
Additionally, you may not want to stroll around with all the handbags in the malls or shopping avenues. After the purchase, you can simply request the retailer to deliver the items to your home, and ta-da! This will be super convenient for you, as a buyer.
Consider watching your favorite show online and having your heart skip a beat because of an accessory your favorite character is wearing. You will be able to pause the show. Yes, you read it right! You will be able to pause the show, click on the accessory or outfit, and order it right away through a QR code or direct positioning to a related website. Yes, it may seem mind-boggling at this time, but it will be the norm soon. The same goes for the digital signage of the future. They will be equipped with efficient programming to let the user make an instant purchase at any time.
Pharmacies will also be seen espousing the latest nerves of this technology. Consumers will be dealt with and guided through their previous medical history. Pharmacies will be integrated with consumer-oriented software which will save all their previous medications in its databases. Pharmacists will be able to connect at personal levels with each customer. Visualize the scenario that if your regular medications are about to finish, you will receive a personalized message or an email from your recent pharmacy to update your stock. Or your pharmacist advises you to retake your medical tests as they are no longer effective. Real-time analysis and advice can be provided for customers. This highly customer-centric, personalized experience is only viable by opting for the latest technological integration. The staff will be provided with handy software and hardware to build an error-free, optimized, and connected environment with their clients. The future of personal errands is going to be highly customized with an emphasis on the needs, interests, and choices of the consumer.
Let us dive into the past to elaborate how this technology can bring back that “personal touch”. Just a few years back, if you were running a local shop, you would have become familiar with your customers. You deeply know their interests, choices, and requirements and, in some cases, their family as well. This bonding used to be special and brought that personal feel in business. Fast forward to now, if you own a retail chain of 100 shops, then there must be thousands of employees with varying shifts. That personal touch is lost due to a high number of customers and employees. But with this aided technology, we can bring back this distinctive feature. Walk-in cameras can identify every customer entering your shop. All of the details, history of shopping, likes or dislikes can be made available to every staff member. The devices, backed by solid database, can provide instant information and the staff can deal with them, reviving this old tradition of high acquaintance. Customers can still feel “at home” and can bring back that personalized bond.
A Consumer-centric Approach: Strategies Retailers Should Adapt
This futuristic approach is a pressing priority. Retailers have to brush up and train their staff to be highly efficient in dealing with the latest technology. They might need the effort to offer some programs or workshops or training courses to acquaint them. Without this approach, their survival would be highly questionable. As part of training sessions, retailers will have to continually update their e-commerce entities, including websites and apps. A standalone strong marketing mind will not be enough. IT geeks resonating with marketing strategies will be mandatory to remain one step ahead. Also, businesses that have varied options for payments like mobile wallets, bank transfers, COD, and digital currencies have apprehended this digital takeover and are hopping in the right direction.
The pandemic surely hit the iron when it was hot. Right on the spot, it has maneuvered the thinking styles of almost all the affected parties. Retailers have embedded e-commerce in their businesses. They aren’t relying on websites solely. Instead, personalized apps, QR codes, Meta integration, messaging services, magic mirrors, VR headsets, and self-check-outs are just the onset of a new era.
The best retailers of the upcoming years will focus on their customers and employees equally. Remember, the owner is not going to assist the customers but the staff will. Empowering their staff with high-end e-courses, dedicated drill sessions, viable shifts, healthy workspace, and work-force curated customization will double the benefit of digital integration.
This upgrade isn’t limited to branded stores only. Instead, it extends to warehouses, logistics, and factories. Scrutinized production, monitored storage, RFID usage, regulated logistics, and well-handled store operations will ensure the optimization of time, energy, resources, and assets. This is not a piece of cake, but a highly recommended step. This approach is going to cut corners and will put both the consumer and the businesses in promising positions. All hail to augmented reality and AI integration!
AI Integration in the Shopping Experience: A Mirage or a Fact of the Future?
You have witnessed the digitization of currencies; the conversion of traditional vehicles to fully hybrid automobiles; AI replacing humans, deepfake technology, and high-efficiency rates; and soon you will see that the dreams of the past are the generic realities of the time. Evolution is imminent, up-gradation is looming, the world is shifting paradigms, and future generations are ready to welcome these changes. We don’t know what the future holds, but we can surely set an unwavering path of reasoned technical updates to exist and survive. Que sera, sera!
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