Smart Retail and e-commerce: Growing bigger and simpler!

— A&S India Magazine


Smart retail is a term used to describe a set of smart technologies that are designed to give the consumer a greater, faster, safer and smarter experience when shopping. Where space is a constraint, with smart solutions the necessary information is provided to make the right decisions and ensure the highest level of profitability per square foot. The idea of smart retail also involves the storage and management of customer sensitive data over the cloud. To survive and thrive in the e-commerce age, retailers must digitize their bricks-and-mortar stores. It is not enough to just have a shop on the high street - you need to be online as well. They need to find ways of tempting online purchasers back Smart retail also involves warehouse automation and robotics to streamline the operations and reduce the chances of human error. Moreover, the growing idea of Internet of Things (IoT) is gradually being implemented in the retail industry to give the consumers a richer and end-to-end connected experience while shopping. The primary factors driving the growth of smart retail market are the increasing adoption of smartphones growing need for better customer application and emerging new technologies that are creating new revenues for retailers.

According to Ashwin Parmar, SVP – Retail Practice, Cybage, “Retailers around the globe are increasingly employing various Smart technologies to provide their customers an engaging, secure, and smarter shopping experience. Retailers are using AI for providing enhanced customer engagement and predicting customer shopping patterns. Using smart phone based mobile applications they are able to create a unique shopping experience where there are no lines or waits. They are shifting their focus from traditional stores to AR/VR-based digital experience zones. They are also harnessing Machine Learning to provide turnkey omnichannel analytics solutions and IoT for a connected ecosystem.”

Reasons for IoT being a top priority for retail in today’s smart world
According to Ashwin Parmar, “At this point, it is important to understand that both the physical and online stores involved in Smart Retail are directly or indirectly susceptible to security threats. Weakly designed store networks and legacy back-office systems coupled with increased digitalization offered by smart retail stores have made them attractive targets for hackers. Some of the security risks that are on the rise are payment frauds, vulnerable Wi-Fi networks, tampering of contactless devices, and IoT security lapses.”

Mobile wallets transforming the retail sector, Ashwin Parmar says, “We are all aware of how smartphones have changed the way potential customers connect with retailers. And in continuation of maintaining that connect, retailers are going beyond traditional POS and adopting the next generation technological solutions like mobile wallets that bring in ease of payment. In addition, rewards programs offered by these wallets augment brand loyalty and the innovative customer engagement functionalities such as scanning QR codes to redeem points make the shopping experience convenient, innovative, and cost-effective. Besides these, mobile wallets also have the functionality to tie up with a plethora of partners that offer a wide variety of services that makes it a win-win situation for everyone involved.”

Online behaviour of customers that triggers security issues he says, “Privacy and security concerns of customers are some of the biggest hindrances to the growth of e-commerce. Nevertheless, customers who show serious privacy concerns, they themselves reveal intimate details of their lives for trivial rewards. From the sharing of confidential information on social networking sites to using public computers to conduct financial transactions, customers’ behaviour often suggests a notable lack of discretion. Most importantly their inability to understand secure sites triggers grave security issues.”

On key security issues and measures on e-commerce Ashwin says, “When we talk about issues with e-commerce, security is the first one that comes to mind. Cases like credit card misuse, identity theft, payment fraud, and price manipulation because of web parameter tampering are apparently increasing day by day in the e-commerce sector. Also, vulnerabilities due to operating systems have led to a rise in phishing, website spoofing, and calls to extract confidential or financial information without the users being aware of the theft.”

He continued, “It is of utmost importance for retailers to provide their customers a safe and secure shopping atmosphere. Some of the most important payment security
measures to deal with e-commerce security threats include checking the website for SSL and PCI DSS compliance, updating OS patches on all e-commerce servers on a regular basis, performing a regular scan for malware, and performing a check for website security certificates.”

Elaborating on the smart retail solutions, Ashwin Parmar added, “We, at Cybage, understand that Smart Retail calls for a set of technological solutions that enable our customers to transform a traditional Retail business into an Omni-channel enterprise. Therefore, we provide end-to-end services and solutions suited to the needs of our customers. From implementing commerce platforms using commercial off-the-shelf and bespoke products to providing digital transformation services, we offer it all. We also provide mobility and native mobile application development services along with Big Data and ML analytics. Our strength lies in providing IoT solutions to enhance consumer engagement together with POS and cloud-based MPOS solutions.”