Sep 8 2021
The pandemic has modified the consumption habits of users and has forced retailers to adapt to this new reality, betting on online sales and the use of technological tools to improve the experience in their physical spaces. The success of these companies depends on understanding and meeting the needs of buyers and, therefore, it is essential to adapt to this new situation as soon as possible.
“Connecting with customers through the cloud is the key to adaptation,” said Steve Gurney, head of retail distribution in Europe, Middle East and Africa, Amazon Web Services (AWS). Companies that had already invested in cloud services were arguably the most agile, as the cloud-based architecture allowed them to quickly experiment, learn, and iterate new approaches.
“The enthusiasm for innovation in the cloud is vital because the continuous change in consumer preferences will demand a dynamic flow of fresh, immersive and engaging experiences,” they add from Amazon Web Services, while sharing four key strategies to connect with buyers through innovation based on ‘cloud’ environments, which will be some of the topics that will be discussed at the AWS Retail Symposium event, focused on Innovation for retail.
Immersive experiences and smart stores
One of the avenues to explore is immersive experiences through next-generation digital commerce. Digital commerce platforms have become more immersive and tools such as live streaming or promotion by influencers are combined with the ability to interact and buy on the spot.
Retailers have implemented virtual stores, where consumers can virtually walk into their spaces, see what is available and instantly buy online or visit the physical store. The cloud has made this technology affordable and fast. The same goes for augmented reality to search for products. Cloud-native WebAR technology – which works on all smartphones – has brought millions of products to life in the digital world.
Another key strategy is to keep physical spaces attractive and relevant, using technology to move towards ‘smart stores’. In this regard, promising innovations are emerging, such as vision technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that offers simple things like traffic counting and spill detection, to contactless and no-payment experiences like Amazon Fresh stores in London. .
Technology to improve efficiency and logistics micro-centers
Retailers like Ocado and Amazon are accelerating the use of artificial intelligence and cloud-native robotics to automate their fulfillment centers and deliver packages faster. AI is driving the more efficient use of packaging to reduce the size and weight of materials used and use space more effectively, eliminating millions of tons of CO2 in last-mile delivery.
Like smart stores, cloud-powered cameras and sensors provide a better insight into a retailer’s inventory, offering a near-real-time view from supplier to store.
For omnichannel retailers, the physical store is often the most efficient and profitable method of order fulfillment ‘online’. This requires retailers to become micro fulfillment centers, which is not always easy when store designs are not optimized for product selection and fulfillment, as AWS experts explain.
To fulfill store orders, retailers are providing partners with predictive tools based on artificial intelligence and machine learning to efficiently prepare orders for pickup or delivery.
“As customer behaviors continue to evolve, it is imperative for retailers to keep up. The cloud will continue to be a strategic investment that will allow retailers to innovate through volatility, allowing them to quickly identify changing needs and implement solutions that previously would have taken months of planning and testing. The experience gained now can help protect retailers from unexpected events and disruptions in the future, “they conclude from Amazon Web Services.
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