Digital Transformation in Retail: How to achieve it?

Vipinraj Nair
6 min readMay 3, 2022
Digital Transformation

The retail industry worldwide is vast, consisting of various companies that sell goods and services to customers. As we know, many retail sales operate worldwide like grocery, clothing, departmental stores, convenience stores, etc. Thus the retail market provides significant opportunities for retailers due to its large consumer base, rising incomes, and job opportunities.

Retail businesses drive consumer spending, and consumer spending is crucial to the country’s economy. Having said the importance of the retail industry, businesses from various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, education, and transportation, indulge in retail sales. Though their specialties differ, they have one thing in particular- these companies have to sell their products to customers.

Of course, the customer is the king in the retail industry. Everything revolves around the customers, and hence businesses need to improve their products, processes, and customer experience to run successful business retail.

In short, retail businesses need to understand the customer needs and serve them precisely. Else, they will be left behind and get lost among the competitors. The best way to do so is through digital transformation.

Digital transformation in retail is not like doing a specific function like building an eCommerce website. Retail businesses need to bring significant changes right from their operations, supply chain, inventory management, and customer relationship building.

So, why is digital transformation mandatory in the retail industry? How do achieve it? You will get all the insights in this blog. Keep reading!!

Digital Transformation in the Retail Industry: Why should Retail Businesses Care?

Digital transformation has become inevitable in the retail industry due to the following demands:

Customers want to collaborate with Reliable Businesses:

Most online shoppers feel anxious when they shop with an unfamiliar website. Thus, website owners often invest time and money in creating detailed product descriptions, posting high-quality product images, integrating chatbots, and the list goes on. The best way of communicating real-time data around products, pricing, and shipping is through ERP integration.

Moreover, your employees can’t take care of all business operations manually and provide a seamless service to your customers. Digitizing your business operations with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software can help you plan and manage your daily business operations like supply chain, manufacturing, services, finances, and other processes hassle-free.

Customers shop from their mobile phones:

More than half of the world’s population relies on smartphones for online shopping. Thus, many retail businesses are investing in mobile apps these days for their brands. Apps are handy and hassle-free, and customers can get things they want in a few swipes right from their homes. No wonder those retail companies that invested in mobile apps saw increased engagement rates significantly.

Automated Workflows are mandatory to Improve Supply Chains:

Automation in retail helps right from product recommendations, and demand predictions to customer service. However, in general, automation is popularly used in the retail industry for understanding customers better.

But, more than understanding the customers, automation can help companies improve their supply chains. Yes, the growing product catalogs, increasing customer base, and sales growth demand automation.

Hence, apart from investing in sales automation and data integration for smooth customer experiences, retailers should also automate their back-end processes. For instance, connected supply chain, inventory, and other back-end data will ensure workflow optimization, team productivity, and product accuracy. All of that, in turn, leads to increased sales and profits for sure.

Empowered Employees bring Happy Customers:

As much as customers, employees are important to your retail business. So, helping your employees gain knowledge about the recent tools and instilling the skills needed to do their jobs will empower them to do well in their work.

Apart from providing valuable insights into customer demographics and behavior, a CRM enables employees to access an ocean of detailed customer information. The employees can use that information to upsell, cross-sell and make informed customer recommendations. Moreover, CRM facilitates all through a single, easy-to-use management interface.

Reinvent and Innovate Your Products:

Retail business, regardless of your industry, is highly competitive. As a retail business owner, you should keep innovating your products according to the current market trends and latest advancements. You will need the right software and tools in place to offer better products to your customers.

So, invest in software and systems to perform predictive analytics. Thus, you can achieve better ROI. Intelligent systems combine insights obtained through ERP(Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), and BI (Business Intelligence) to detect potential failures even before they occur.

Thus, one can take preventive measures and avoid mishappenings. Nevertheless, digital intelligence helps you identify new revenue sources and growth opportunities for your business.

Tools to Achieve Digital Transformation in Retail:

Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics:

Machine learning is a branch of AI (Artificial Intelligence) technique that helps in filling the gap between the retailer and the customer. ML enables businesses to predict and better understand customer needs.

The ML technology gathers data from various sources and then feeds the data into ML models. That, in turn, helps businesses predict future outcomes. For instance, ML enables retailers to identify shopping patterns, understand buying behaviors, create relevant advertisements, personalized product recommendations, and tweak pricing strategies based on historical data, trends, and customer preferences.

Artificial Intelligence:

Modern customers today want to connect with brands anytime. They can’t wait to get answers to their queries or find solutions to their problems. Of course, in today’s technology world, they don’t have to wait. If they don’t like the service of any brands, they will automatically switch to a competitor brand that serves better.

But, no worries. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help businesses deliver services 24/7, as shoppers today expect. For instance, AI-driven chatbots act as digital store associates, responding instantly to customer queries through text or chatbot messages.

These AI chatbots can even help businesses upsell or cross-sell products based on their engagement and buying behavior in the past. Plus, chatbots help deliver messages in your brand voice. Thus, your brand reputation is maintained online even if you are not actively present.

Unified Commerce:

In today’s digital world, shoppers use multiple channels like websites, social media platforms, and mobile apps to buy products/services. Thus, many retailers now implement a unified commerce strategy. It allows a single, fully integrated software platform that manages various systems of retail business from one interface.

In other words, unified commerce is a strategy that centralizes the data you gather about customers and products on a single platform. Often, these platforms can interconnect systems of eCommerce, mobile commerce, CRM, and more to provide valuable business and customer insights. Thus, retail businesses can leverage those data to serve customers better.

Earlier, retailers used different systems for managing various components of their business. Fetching data from multiple systems can be a time-consuming and daunting process. With a unified commerce system, data siloes are broken down, and data from disparate sources are integrated into one unified commerce system.

Final Words:

The retail industry is one such rapidly evolving industry; that incorporates all technological advancements to keep up with the needs of an extensive customer base 24/7. Yes, customers today appreciate innovative shopping experiences over anything else. Thus, retail businesses worldwide are striving their best to attract customers and nevertheless retain them.

In the highly competitive retail industry, there are absolutely no shortcuts. The business revolves around the customers, and as a retailer, you need to go that extra mile to keep customers happy. Digitizing the business will help retailers create relevant content, respond to customers better, and deliver prompt services.

So, yes, make digital transformation an inseparable part of your business and create an immersive experience across all your digital and physical channels. Trust me, success will be all yours.