It’s 2022. The 6 feet economy might be gone (hopefully forever) but certain trends continue to live on.

The retail industry across the globe has been facing a rough patch for the past 24-36 months due to multiple disruptions- the pandemic, rising inflation, shortage of materials (like semiconductors), and stagnant demand for goods.

The new wave of retail experience: the omnichannel boom

For retailers, the best way to wither the rough weather is by reaching more customers and in more effective ways. Instead of focusing on physical stores or the company website, the business can attract a wider segment of buyers through multiple channels. This could also increase brand awareness, customer engagement and convenience for the customers. The retail wave was quick to catch up but the scalability of the same posed to be a huge threat for a lot of market players.

Omnichannel retailing: Challenges & Solutions

Contrary to popular belief, shifting to omnichannel is not easy for SMEs and large corporations alike. Not if you do not have a reliable strategy in place. Everyone’s favorite hangout spot cum retail chain, IKEA recently decided to shift to omnichannel retailing. Their seamless digital transformation included having to change the way they operated their stores. One of the best-suited case studies that highlights the way retailers are adapting to the new economic landscape.

Omnichannel retailing comes with its own set of challenges. Keeping up with the industry trends may be the single biggest challenge for the industry players. We would like to shed light on a common few data challenges whose solution boils down to better data management and analytics.

1. Inventory and distribution management:

This becomes more challenging for omnichannel since it calls for an integrated view across multiple points of sale. It does not end with a good WMS or ERPS platform in place. Optimizing inventory planning and distribution is getting trickier by the day under current market conditions. As a result, retailers are eyeing leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for highly accurate predictions and studying market behavior.

2. Supply chain visibility:

The capacity to track and monitor individual components, and finished goods from the source till it reaches the consumer is called Supply chain visibility. The more comprehensive the BI platform is, the more visibility it provides the retailer. Current trends show retailers experimenting with emerging technologies like Predictive Analytics and IoT. Walmart along with IBM are experimenting with Blockchain, surveying pilot projects aimed towards the goal of 100% visibility of their supply chain.

3. Consumer experience:

Building brand love in this decade will revolve around hyper-personalized customer experiences. Enhancing the customer experience with highly-sophisticated analytics has been the e-commerce norm since the boom. Many studies have proven that customers view personalized experiences favorably. Again, tracking customers and providing a unique omnichannel experience are pushing businesses to build BI systems and apply advanced analytic approaches to customize experiences. Marketers are finding such methods to be daunting, especially with data regulations getting stricter by the day. Retailers are now researching novel ways to build good customer service and experience which require minimal personal information.

4. Demand forecasting:

Several businesses use demand forecasting to stay prepared and ahead of unprecedented market challenges. Business decisions depend on the demand. From sourcing, production, staff requirement, and strategy are all dependent on demand forecasts. The use of predictive analytics for demand forecasting has been trending for the past few years. With the right forecasting model in place, businesses leverage highly accurate forecasts to ensure maximum cost savings. It also provides appropriate data for the organization’s capital investment and expansion decisions, as well as simplifies the process of effective pricing and marketing.

The future of retailing: Big Data Analytics for omnichannel retail and logistics

The past few years observed huge shifts in consumer attitude including major lifestyle changes. Consumers tend to be loyal to companies with who they feel connected. However, the recent economic scenario is also driving the substitution effect, where customers are actively looking for more affordable alternatives. At the same time, it can be concluded from the two trends that there are noticeable seasonal shifts in consumer spending behavior. Businesses who focus on staying relevant, and succeed in identifying seasonal trends of their customers will emerge as winners. Those who keep reinventing the retail experience will dominate the market.

Technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) which have the potential to change the eCommerce landscape can be considered a friend of omnichannel marketing. It provides multiple channels and convenience for the consumer while optimizing the experience throughout their sales journey. Another technology that is supporting the digital transformation of retail businesses in the cloud. There are many cloud players offering cutting-edge cloud solutions for enabling retailers with the most affordable yet efficient transformation to maximize their market presence and profitability.

If you are curious to know how a predictive analytics-enabled BI system can benefit your business, then, you can do so by scheduling a meeting with BizAcuity. We can help you optimize your current BI system with enhanced supply chain visibility for critical decision making using predictive and visual analytics.