The retail sector quickly picks up innovations and is always open to new developments. In 2022, retail has become one of the leaders in digitalization, along with metallurgy and oil and gas. Increasingly, companies are implementing digital transformation strategies with the help of new IT technologies.
This article outlines major trends in technology for direct marketing retail.
The state of the Internet and direct marketing retail
Today, customers who prefer to shop online are growing intensively.
Therefore, retailers must adapt to the new reality and develop digital tools, such as online shopping, in-store pickup services, and cashier-less stores.
Retailers are actively implementing and experimenting with IT solutions to gain customer loyalty and optimize their business processes.
It’s important to understand that if retailers want to provide their customers with a better experience at all levels, they must start by automating back-office processes.
These processes include organizational and inventory management in each store, customer management systems that provide real-time analytics, in-store performance analytics, KPI monitoring, etc.
This is achieved with the help of the following technologies.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
The Internet marketing chain is a data-driven industry. However, it is difficult for retailers to sift through piles of raw data and extract any information from it. That’s why artificial intelligence and machine learning are in high demand by retailers and their marketing operations.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies are increasingly enabling retailers to analyze store-generated data and then make automated decisions about product assortments, demand forecasts for each store unit, restocking, and conducting automated retail audits.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning benefits in the Internet and direct marketing include demand forecasting, delivery forecasting, reduced manual labor, resource planning, fraud prevention, optimized purchasing management, cost optimization, personalization, lead generation, end-to-end transparency, and more.
Additionally, AI and ML can help tremendously by automating tasks such as order tracking, managing customer loyalty programs, and communicating with customers.
Image recognition technology
The traditional retail auditing process is outdated. It is time-consuming and provides a shallow level of accuracy. Image recognition is one technology that can help automate audits. In 2022, it will be an important growth driver in the Internet and direct marketing sector. It will also help increase sales force productivity and provide recommendations to increase sales.
Image recognition technology based on analytics can make a big difference for consumer products companies.
With a whopping growth of the ecommerce market, the number of SMEs turning to eCommerce software development also increases.
Cloud platforms are an effective tool for creating a resilient, elastic, and flexible application architecture.
Modern retail is inextricably linked to online services and the development of e-commerce. Changing business models and rapidly launching new IT projects are only possible with a modern technological foundation. The cloud helps retailers launch online stores, delivery services, and mobile apps quickly.
Retailers use cloud technology to streamline marketing operations by implementing cloud CRM, ERP, RPA, and BI tools or to adapt IT systems for peak times of holidays and sales.
Ecommerce stores and mobile applications are often moved to the cloud platform to improve the reliability and speed of their work, as well as delivery services and customer loyalty systems.
About 25% of retail companies use the cloud to centralize IT resources and improve their management efficiency. This is especially true for large, geographically distributed retailers with many employees.
Stores without cash registers
It’s been four years since the launch of the first-ever cashier and vendor-free store. As a reminder, Amazon opened a store in the US in 2018, having spent two years testing the systems.
To shop in such a store, customers need to download an app. The principle is based on tracking customers’ actions by cameras and sensors.
Today more and more stores use IoT technologies to track and monitor customers. For example, store shelves have digital scales to monitor what goods customers take from the shelf. When customers leave the store, scanners determine the number of goods and debit the customer’s account.
Internet and direct marketing retail shifts to a customer-centric model. This requires an almost instant response to a consumer who is not inclined to wait and is always ready to turn to a more agile competitor.
As some researches show, consumers use phone calls less and less for communications, while companies, following changes in consumer habits, reduce the staff of phone operators, which increases the waiting time for a call and forces consumers to use text-based communications even more actively.
These reasons are causing more and more retailers to turn their attention to messenger marketing and digital ways of communicating with customers. In addition, the increased attention has given a new impetus to the development of communication automation, such as chatbots and online chats in internet marketing.
In 2022, two leading technologies provide interaction with consumers on the website and in messengers: chatbot and online chats. As technology evolves, their functionality gradually mixes and complements each other:
- Online chat performs standard functions and responds quickly to frequently asked questions.
- In turn, chatbots are complemented by chat centers that allow operators to interact with consumers in different messengers from one common software environment.
The most common use case for a chatbot is a customer support scenario. A chatbot can successfully replace an operator for routine tasks, provide delivery or return information, talk about the brand, help pick up a product, and request feedback on service quality.
When it comes to internet marketing, it gathers essential customer data, which can be used for further marketing campaigns.