Rajiv Kumar, Founder & CEO, StoreHippo

Retail is a rapidly growing sector and there is a neck to neck competition. Technology has brought about a major transformation in this sector and hence, online retail is witnessing a surge. While earlier, offline retail dominated the market, now with the technological advancements, online retail has become the new fad. The e-commerce and retail sector has witnessed a transition in its working model to cope up with the millennial times. 

While the pandemic came with its fair share of troubles in 2020, it initiated the journey of online retail and the technology will further drive its growth. In the present times, there has been an increase in the demand for the products. Additionally, customers now prefer contactless options. In such a scenario, online retail seems to be a blessing in disguise. 

Tech is indeed the future

Online purchasing is on the rise and the figures will eventually increase. To survive in the cut-throat competition in the market, all the e-commerce platforms are revamping their models. Technology has made the transport and availability of the products easy and smooth and has helped to meet the rising demand. 

For the existing brands, their priority will be to deliver their best. For the new businesses, retaining the customers and having a recall value will be a major element in their business strategies. To ensure this, all firms would require up ergonomic technology to support their agendas. All they would want is to have a good customer experience so that they can reach one step closer to the final aim- they want their business to grow. This will lead to the easy availability and accessibility of premium products. 

To secure one’s position, the platforms are increasingly adapting and adopting the use of the technology so as to gather consumer traction as what any firm wants is for their customers to have a good user experience. 

Five major technology trends that will revamp the future of online retail in India are-

  • Artificial Intelligence

Due to the increased preference on the digital space, firms will now rely all the more on AI. AI is here to stay and is being increasingly adopted by firms. Artificial Intelligence robots are the future and possess the capability to respond to queries, check the inventory, resolve customer issues and provide instant communication. 

As per Gartner’s study, by 2021, 77% of retailers plan to imbibe AI, with robotics for warehouse picking. It also predicts that by 2021, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human. Enforcing the adoption of chatbots will be the first major step in building the online marketplace driven by artificial intelligence.

With artificial intelligence, businesses will be able to focus on their sales and working rather than spending time in the backend work. 

  • Voice commerce and social commerce

In e-commerce, Voice-assisted technologies like Siri, Cortana, Google Voice Search, Viv, Amazon Alexa, Google Home help are great helpers in the technological advancements of the online retail sector. Known as Voice commerce, instead of feeding in our query via text, we command via our voice. All we need to say is, ‘’Okay Google’’, or ‘’Hey Siri’’, ‘’open Amazon’’, add the required items to the cart, click on purchase, and boom! ‘Your order has been placed and will be delivered soon’ is what you’ll hear. 

Enabling purchases with just a few words, voice commerce could prove to be a game-changer for the online retail industry. 

Social commerce has also witnessed a surge and will definitely increase with the passing times. People now prefer buying directly from the app or website rather than purchasing through a third-party app. They demand instant communication and purchasing processes and social commerce is just the right platform for them. 

  • Augmented Reality

While earlier customers used to buy from the physical stores only after thorough physical checks by seeing, touching, and feeling the product, now with the convenience of online retail, the customers have an option of viewing 360 appearances of the product, video demos, teleconsultations, virtual try-on options, 3D trials, etc. 

These features of Augmented Reality will bring about a transformation in the online retail industry. Not only will it aid in simplifying and smoothening of consumer purchasing processes, but will also help the firms to offer good customer service. AR will ensure that the customer buying experience is smooth and of high-end quality. 

  • Contactless payments

COVID-19 induced the contactless payment procedures and since then they have increased. Online retailers and firms are making concerted efforts to invest their time and finances to ensure seamless contactless payment methods. 

Digital payments are here to stay and online retailers are working to come up with tech-savvy solutions to facilitate and improvise the same.

  • Digitization is the key

Businesses know where their customers are majorly present and having their business at the same position is essential. Hence, having a vast and diverse digital presence along with offering a great user experience is no longer an option but a pre-requisite to thrive in the present times. Hence, the increasing focus will be on developing their brand’s presence in the digital medium and to facilitate sales. They are ensuring that they possess the latest technology, product innovations, and a customer base. They are diligently making efforts to secure the premier position in the market. 

Summing Up

There is less scope for personal interaction now. The use and availability of chatbots, virtual personal assistants have been on a rise. While this technology was earlier used by banking and healthcare sectors, it has now spread its wings in other industries as well especially retail. 

For the online retail sector, 2021 is set to be the year of change. According to figures from Statista, global retail e-commerce sales will hit US$4.88 trillion in 2021. Hence, the year will be filled with opportunities and growth. In no way can online retail replace the digital but of course the dominance has reduced. However, if used correctly, technology can help them both to co-exist and compliment each other rather than turning each other’s competitors. 


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