The retail sector faces tremendous pressure to deliver new business and customer-centric capabilities. In a scenario like this, adopting to cloud computing has helped retailers effectively manage supply chain processes, gain access to real-time insights on inventory and sales, leverage data analytics to design unique customer experiences, simplify and prioritise workflows, reduce IT costs, manage data security, enhance profitability, enable disaster management, and overall improve efficiency and agility of their business.
To debate and discuss key trends emerging in the cloud-enabled retail business, Google Cloud in partnership with YourStory recently hosted a webinar series titled ‘Cloud raising capabilities for retail businesses’ that brought domain experts, entrepreneurs, business leads, technologists, on a common platform to share their thoughts on how they foresee cloud services changing the business of retail.
Tackling consumer behaviour shifts
In a keynote address, Rajan Manickavasagam, Principal Architect Retail and eCommerce, Google Cloud, highlighted how retail companies today have to follow the four Cs to tackle changing consumer behaviour. “The need today is to provide engaging content, along with various commerce capabilities, both digital and in the physical realm. Giving consumers a sense of community and convenience are some other key metrics that companies have to focus on today,” he said.
Google Cloud, a leader in the cloud services segment, not only could help retail companies build local search capabilities across different communication channels, but also help product discovery, customise chatbots for shopping assistance, AI-driven solutions to understand browsing behaviour and help companies with setting up the entire backend supply chain of product fulfilment and inventory management, he added.
The fireside chat that highlighted the play of automation in retail – featuring Debasis Bhattacharya, Customer Engineering Manager, Google Cloud India and Vivek Parihar, Head of Engineering, Purplle.com, a beauty ecommerce platform – discussed how Purplle.com is driving efficiencies by leveraging automation for its merchandising operations, reducing costs and human errors, to become more agile and efficient.
“We are engaging huge amounts of automation for our warehouses, supply chain and the logistics segment for real-time inventory updates, sales across various online and offline channels and for forecasting for to cut losses due to expiry and other segments like location, packaging, searching, CRM applications and curbing foreseeable disruptions,” said Vivek. He further added that cloud services have helped Purplle work on data sets for real-time information, drive personalised experiences, among other such innovations.
Next, Naren Kachroo, Lead Digital Natives, Corporate Business sales, Google Cloud India; Varun Prasad, Co-founder and CTO, TenderCuts; and Shashwat Singh, Chief Information Office, boAt lifestyle participated in a panel discussion on how cloud services are enabling seamless omnichannel supply chain for retail businesses.
Cloud computing is all-pervading for retail brands
Varun of TenderCuts pointed out how cloud computing today has become a fundamental need of businesses, as it drives cost efficiency, convenience and security. It drives data accessibility across locations, helping retailers make business decisions that are critical to drive optimisation. “Cloud computing helps to plan sourcing to the last mile delivery and data analytics is a major aspect of planning our supply and demand for location intelligence on where to have our stores to personalisation that is a key piece for both online and retail shopping experience, inventory forecasting a core piece for stock keeping, optimisation of delivery and logistics,” he added.
Shashwat explained how cloud computing helped them at boAt set up a data lake to link data from various sources, so that it can offer end-to-end visibility for business decisions at any point in time. “For companies like ours, getting the right inventory at the right price and right time gives us the maximum bang for the buck. In the overall analytics journey, we intend to traverse the entire information continuum that starts from operational and descriptive reporting at one end of the spectrum and matures into predictive, prescriptive analytics on the other,” he added.
Naren pointed out how Google is powering the retail search through its unique query and contextual research capabilities that is helping retailers leverage first party data – a core requirement for personalisation efforts and view customer journeys holistically. “We are transforming data for analysis to generate relevant insights for various retail channels, through our cloud ecosystem called customer data platform,” he added.
He also shared statistics from Google research that indicated how 80 percent of customers are more likely to do a repurchase, when delivered personalised content. Companies that excel at personalisation, generated 40 percent more revenues, he added. “The theme of retail today is to make personalisation the key,” Naren stated.
The extensive webinar series finally concluded with other sessions from Google Cloud experts Jeevana Hegde, Customer Engineer, ML and AI, Google Cloud who spoke about the recommendations through AI and Nitin Khattar, Customer Engineer, Data Analytics, Google Cloud who shared insights on enhancing retail experiences and operational efficiencies with contact center AI.