Current Digitisation Trends in Retail
The retail industry has witnessed a transformative shift in recent years, prompted by the rise of hybrid consumer experiences, automation and advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Today, we explore some of the current digitisation trends among retailers.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
Perhaps considered one of the more pivotal digital trends for this year, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities are being woven into multiple aspects of the retail industry, from marketing to customer service. In fact, 80% of retailers are expected to use AI by 2025, making it evident that the use of AI and ML is not a digital trend that will go away anytime soon. Below we discuss some of the common ways retailers are using AI and ML.
AI in Supply Chain Management
AI and ML technologies can help businesses to improve their supply chains by identifying possible supply chain disruptions and optimising logistics. Take Copilot in D365 Supply Chain Management for example - the AI assistant can analyse real world events that may affect business operations, such as extreme weather or political news, and allow you to plan accordingly. This type of insight into global supply chains means that businesses can plan delivery routes more effectively and ensure products arrive on time – helping retailers to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction.
Further, AI can analyse sales data and trends and predict market demands which can help retailers forecast more accurately, reducing overstocking and enhancing inventory management overall.
AI in Customer Service
Chatbots powered by Generative AI, such as Power Virtual Agents, are being used in retail to improve customer service. AI-powered chatbots allow businesses to shorten customer wait times by answering queries in real time, reducing pressure on human customer service agents and allowing them to focus on more complex issues. By automating common queries such as ‘track my order’ and enabling customer service agents to improve the quality of their interactions with customers, AI-powered chatbots allow retailers to optimise customer service which can have a positive impact on the company’s reputation.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are at the core of most personalisation efforts in retail. Nevertheless, hyper-personalisation itself has become somewhat of a digitisation trend, as digital technology makes it possible for retailers to tailor consumer experiences to such a high degree.
Retailers are leveraging data analytics and recommendation engines to deliver consumers with more personalised content, recommendations and promotions. According to Adobe’s 2023 Digital Trends – Retail in Focus Report, 92% of retailers feel that there is now a greater need to consistently deliver personalised content to more channels. The AI capabilities within Dynamics 365 Marketing are a prime example of how you can personalise content at scale to forge greater connections with customers. Copilot in D365 Marketing allows retailers to segment customers and target them more effectively using customer data and information surrounding market trends. Marketers can extract information that will help them better understand the needs of customers and create more engaging campaigns. Further, AI can be used to customise emails according to customer information and previous interactions with the company, rather than using generic templates that do not resonate with customers.
Not only can retailers use AI to segment customers more effectively and create personal messaging, but it can also be used to identify optimal email send times based on customer behaviour. Delivering this kind of personal content creates a more memorable customer experience, enhancing customer engagement and fostering a sense of brand loyalty.
A key digitisation trend for retailers in 2023, Automation involves using technology to reduce tedious manual tasks and human error, streamline operational processes and drive efficiency across businesses. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of organisations will implement automation, and the retail industry is no exception. Automation helps retailers boost productivity across various functions, from the automation of physical tasks to the automation of various business processes.
One of the most prominent forms of retail automation we see in our daily lives is the use of self-service checkouts in shops. This innovation has greatly reduced labour costs and provided consumers with a more convenient shopping experience, as you generally do not have to wait in long queues. Many large retailers have also adopted the use of robots and autonomous vehicles in warehouses which enable orders to be fulfilled much faster, with reduced human error.
In regard to Business Process Automation (BPA), solutions like Power Platform are helping retailers to automate high volume manual tasks and streamline workflows. Power Automate allows retailers to automate tasks like processing and organising business documents, as well as tasks like invoice processing. As mentioned previously, Power Virtual Agents can automate responses to customer queries, enhancing customer service. Other solutions like Dynamics 365 can automate various sales and marketing processes such as sending emails.
To learn more about Business Process Automation, check out our case study with Avaya, who leveraged BPA to improve data flow and reduce business costs.
Industry Specific Solutions
To address their unique challenges, retailers are moving towards solutions catered specifically to the retail industry. NaviPartner’s cloud-based Retail Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution is an industry-specific omnichannel solution that consolidates multiple systems under one solution, from Point-of Sale to Warehouse Management. Integration with Dynamics 365 Business Central means retailers can store information surrounding reports, accounting, inventory, orders and statistics in one central system. The NP Retail solution allows retailers to future-proof their business with a fully scalable solution that is optimised for international growth.
To learn more about NaviPartner’s Retail ERP solution, tune into our webinar ‘Elevate Retail Success with ERP’.