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Trends that are ushering in a digital revolution in retail in 2017

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Retail is going digital. This is the first time a combination of several elements are converging to change the sector in India.

Digital payments, digital data, digital customer service, payments through the India Stack and Aadhaar platform, along with real-time analytics are becoming entrenched in the Indian economy.

These elements will forever change retail consumption from 2017 because of the effects of demonetisation, the government’s push towards a cashless economy, and the opening of zero accounts helping the retail industry in its path towards digitisation.

Analysts from Gartner, E&Y and PricewaterhouseCoopers say that the industry is spending money to understand the digital shopping patterns of their customers and their payment habits. With India Stack enabling SMS-based payments, there will be even more data for the Indian consumer.

Even firms like Oracle, Microsoft, and several startups like Square and Capillary Technologies are preparing for this digital revolution in developing countries. Next year, the spending on Customer Relationship Management and payments tools is going to outpace spending on enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools.

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Mom-and-pop retail

There were also several startups that showed that even mom-and-pop stores in India are investing in digital too. This year we saw startups like SnapBizz, XLogix, Stock Wise, FonePaisa and SuperZop create systems that enabled mom-and-pop retailers, FMCG companies and distributors to work with each other dynamically along with using digital payments. They have touched the lives of at least 2,000 small retailers with digital payments and crunching stock-keeping data over the cloud. This has enabled small retailers to raise working capital loans from banks. In retailing terms, this is a seismic shift because there are eight million kirana retailers in the country who can benefit from going digital. Every retailer has a smartphone and only needs technology to be proliferated through marketing. “The problem is discovery today. The next four years will see a mass adoption of digital technologies by kiranas,” says Prem Kumar, founder of SnapBizz.

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