Using Cloud Intelligence to Create Innovation for New Retailers…
Attributed to Daniel Jiang, General Manager for Middle East and Africa at Alibaba Cloud Intelligence
For many physical retail brands, the global pandemic has been the catalyst that accelerated their plans to establish an online presence. In order to survive during – and after – the pandemic, many brands realized they needed to quickly adapt their business strategy in a meaningful way, while revamping their entire IT infrastructure. Such measures are necessary if they are to respond effectively to changes in consumer behavior and seize retail opportunities as they evolve in the post-pandemic digital economy.
I am confident that the retail industry will be receptive to new digitized business models and willing to explore emerging technologies as well as cloud-based solutions. From an operational point of view, they can enjoy many advantages; cloud-based solutions reduce retailers’ overhead of managing complex IT infrastructure. They also provide helpful resources to drive innovation, which is exactly what today’s consumers need to explore the ultimate unique shopping experience.
Therefore, to stay competitive, it is essential that brick-and-mortar retailers seek to adopt smart cloud-based solutions to support their digital transformation process. Retailers can leverage smart solutions to build a secure, cloud-first infrastructure, expand their omnichannel operational footprint, improve the customer engagement experience, and use smart supply chains to optimize brands’ digital business models. In short, all the necessary measures to rationalize their activity while offering merchants an innovative offer for their customers.
Cloud-first infrastructure and omnichannel sales
During the pandemic, many retailers have found to their advantage how analytics-based and cloud-based technologies can support the huge increase in the number of online shoppers. Supporting their ability to reliably and consistently deliver their online offering during this time of crisis, was cloud-first and secure infrastructure . This has enabled retailers to adopt cloud-native technologies that can easily scale infrastructure up or down based on their real-time business needs. Features like globally accelerated network, cloud-native container management, and unified backup and recovery services reassured retailers of the robustness of their platform, no matter the extreme demand it was subjected to.
For further reassurance, are hosting essential security solutions offered by the cloud, which provides comprehensive compliance and protection against a range of pervasive and increasingly sophisticated security threats. For example, retailers can build Apache Flink-based anti-fraud engines – an open-source stream processing framework – to defend against ever-changing fraudster tactics.
In a bricks and mortar business model, there are other operational essentials that a retailer must deal with on a daily basis. These range from order processing to payment processing, product assortments, inventory information, supply chain processes, and more. All of these can be scanned and visually reviewed to help management make informed business decisions. Perhaps most importantly, when optimized, it is easier for digital channels to directly reach end customers while facilitating a seamless online and offline shopping experience for shoppers.
The Cloud Road to an Optimized Customer Experience
Innovative technology plays a key role in recreating a fabulous in-store experience when consumers order online. Live broadcast is a useful tool to further enhance the customer engagement experience to boost sales. For instance, ApsaraLive Video , Alibaba Cloud’s end-to-end live streaming solution, supports retailers’ engagement with shoppers. It does this through a live shopping platform that spans social media, apps and websites with high-definition, low-latency live-streaming capabilities, as well as personalized services such as real-time audio and subtitle translation, human interaction and image-based product promotion. .
Use of cloud computing, AI and AR/VR technologies to create 3D virtual spaces and digital ambassadors , retail brands can attract consumers and create a shopping buzz. In particular, the use of cloud-based XR solutions to create a ” metaverse “Presence, is considered essential for retailers looking to interact with Gen-Z customers. They have different expectations of their online experience, so preparing to successfully meet their needs can only be accomplished by embracing the latest retail technologies.
Research that goes beyond words
Meanwhile, “back to the store”, some products – like Image search and chatbots – have added a new dimension to how customers interact with sites and how they search for products. Technologies provide the necessary insights and real-time insights to optimize the customer’s shopping experience, encouraging them to come back time after time.
For example, image search uses machine learning to analyze images. It lets shoppers upload a photo or screenshot of the product they’re interested in, rather than trying to locate it by typing a vague keyword into the search box. Retailers can implement image search as an additional feature to improve search efficiency, achieve better customer results, and increase customer satisfaction.
Retailers can also take advantage of services like Alibaba Cloud Open search , a unique platform for the development of intelligent search services. It was built on the large-scale distributed search engine developed by Alibaba, aiming to help retailers develop high-quality, maintenance-free, high-performance intelligent search services with high search efficiency and accuracy. .
Another innovative tool is the chatbot. By leveraging cloud-based, AI-powered chatbots, retailers can deliver engaging and memorable services when answering customer questions regarding product information, delivery status, delivery schedules, and more. shipping and product recommendations. An added benefit for retailers is that technology can help retailers save on customer service expenses and gain a more detailed understanding of general customer demand trends.
Keep everything in stock, all year round and beyond
In scenarios where stocks of essential supplies are low, technology can be used to direct customers to retailers that have the essential supplies they need. This is made possible by retailers developing intelligent supply chain and inventory management solutions for tracking assets and inventory, giving them visibility into the supply chain. From the retailer’s perspective, such solutions can also save them time spent cataloging items and performing inventory activities. Through automation, retailers can also match inventory and order status in real time and, at the end of the customer journey, offer convenient delivery options to customers. Additionally, retailers can forecast sales demand to better plan product assortment and optimize inventory management.
While the pandemic has given every sector a massive jolt, now is also an opportune time for retailers to use smart cloud-based technology to fine-tune their online and offline offerings to meet post consumer expectations. -pandemics, as well as to develop innovative models to capture the growth of new businesses in the era of the digital economy.
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