Reinventing retail: a human-centric use of tech

Embracing technology to manage the end-to-end retail ecosystem made the difference between retailers who could navigate the pandemic and those who fell behind. Retail executives who adopted new methods are today better positioned to anticipate shifts in customer behavior, manage their business more effectively, improve their supply chain management, and prepare for future crises.

What are the most critical retail trends in a post-pandemic world? Here we explore some of them:

Retail meets the metaverse

The retail industry is becoming one of the strongest players in the metaverse race. The metaverse is a shared 3D experience where people can create social connections and interact with a virtual world in the form of avatars. 

Several fashion giants have leveraged the metaverse to connect with customers on a different level. For instance, Balenciaga announced the launch of its metaverse business unit, building off the successful release of its Fall 2021 collection via the Fortnite gaming platform, where users dressed their avatars in Balenciaga couture.

In collaboration with Ader Error, a South Korean fashion brand, Zara entered the digital fashion world with their “Generation AZ” collection. This genderless collection is available in selected physical stores in Europe, Asia, and the United States and  on the Zepeto social media platform.

Reinventing an old industry

Technologies such as artificial intelligence and e-commerce changed the game for the retail industry even before the pandemic. Covid-19 made technology adoption more urgent, and consumers who were skeptical about using e-commerce platforms started to put their faith in e-commerce technology. 

As digitalization made the retail sector more competitive, retail executives are planning or have implemented significant increases in technology investment, particularly in software such as artificial intelligence, inventory and order management, and CRM systems. They are also green-lighting back-end infrastructure spending to upgrade legacy hardware and software systems to handle modern technology.

Boosting human labor

Even though technology significantly improves the retail industry, some resistance still stems from the notion that computers will supplant human work in retail stores. The truth is that technology such as artificial intelligence and data-driven decisions helps retailers effectively manage their supply chain, better understand brand cycles, and anticipate consumer demands. 

When it comes to customer service, there is plenty of emerging technology that can support this area. However, while many people prefer to interact with a chatbot about product questions, other customers feel more comfortable speaking with a person, even through an online chat or text message. 

So, rather than replacing people in the retail workforce, executives now see how AI and automation help build a better supply chain, inventory, workforce, and customer management.

Retail companies that embraced human-centric technology have enhanced human labor, engaged customers in innovative ways, and responded quickly and intelligently to changes in the ecosystem.

Read our white paper and learn more about the latest trends in the retail industry.

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