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BizReport : Ecommerce : November 05, 2020

How tech can enhance merchants' digital transformation

Don't overlook the benefits of technology in developing a digital transformation strategy. That is a key takeaway from one expert who says transformation is all about the tech.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: How can retailers leverage their tech stacks to overcome the challenges they have faced during the pandemic?

Heikki Nousiainen, CTO, Aiven: E-commerce is surging as a result of the pandemic -- from online delivery to BOPIS. To compete in this environment, retailers must be able to rely on advanced technology to gain deeper insights, innovate quicker, and keep up with customer demands. While many retail brands have been at the forefront of digital transformation, the market is always changing and companies can fall behind. Having a trusted partner, like a managed service provider, is one way to have the most up-to-date, modern technology stack -- including a dedicated team to make sure the software is producing the results you're looking for.

Kristina: Is there any technology in particular that has helped retailers during these hard times?

Heikki: As mentioned above, open source stream processing tools have been the secret behind major retailers like Walmart. Utilizing open source tools not only ensures faster innovation and third-party validation from open source communities, but many of these tools are designed for the efficient and fast processing of data, which is exactly what retailers need. Especially to handle online orders and customer reviews, stream processing tools can sort and digest this data in real-time, allowing DevOps teams to quickly make decisions and flag crucial insights.

Kristina: What technologies should retailers look to invest in for future growth?

Heikki: There are a number of technologies that are changing the way the retail industry operates, and as technology continues to evolve so too should the industry be looking for ways to adapt. But right now, I would say these three are key technologies to pay attention to: augmented/virtual reality, predictive analytics, and Internet of Things (IoT).

Augmented and virtual reality technologies are assisting customers with their purchasing decisions by enabling them to virtually try on clothes or see what furniture looks like in a room of their house. This vastly improves the customer experience, and it's something that consumers look for when shopping online.

Predictive analytics is also a big area of focus due to the large amounts of data that retailers collect. Predictive analytics now enables them to be proactive about the future by analyzing consumer behavior and trends from the past, enabling them to look at consumer purchasing behavior, personalize the shopping experience, address a consumer's needs based on where they are in the customer journey, improve efficiencies and reduce costs of supply chains and more.

Finally, IoT is shaping how consumers find new products. With the large amounts of data that retailers have available on a given consumer, they can tailor ads directly to their buying habits, ensuring that the right ads get in front of the right consumers.

Kristina: How have managed service providers enabled retailers to focus on their businesses during this economic downturn? How will this help them in the future?

Heikki: Like every industry, retail has been heavily affected by COVID-19 and the ensuing economic downturn. This forced many businesses to rethink how they operated. For retailers, turning to MSPs for help has enabled them to return their focus to the consumer.

MSPs can more effectively handle tech stacks and data on the backend while delivering reports that enable retailers to make smarter decisions about their businesses. This also enables retailers to redefine their focus on consumers, truly engaging with them and finding out what they need. This has been crucial during a time when consumers have been less willing to pay for luxury goods and retailers have been fighting for every dollar to survive.

By working with MSPs now, retailers are learning valuable lessons about consumers and how the buying experience has changed. They've been able to take the information that the MSPs have been providing to make smart business decisions and adapt their businesses to meet consumer demands, both for now and in the future.

Tags: advertising, Aiven, digital transformation, ecommerce, ecommerce strategy

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