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Digital Transformation in Retail: Best Trends and Practices of 2020 Part 1

By Alexander Yakovlev

Whether we wanted it or not, in 2020 digital transformation happened on its own. Its development in many ways was spurred by stress-inducing quarantine and self-isolation, stressing market players all over the world. Retailers made alterations by digitalizing their brick-and-mortar businesses, seeing as it may as well be a matter of their survival.

Alexander Yakovlev, Head of Retail Practices at AIC, digital consulting company, talks about retail trends seen in the first half of 2020 and forecasts of their future development.

Big Challenge for Analysts

Analysts will face a complicated objective to resolve problems and make recommendations expeditiously and basing on sparse data. Instead of working towards long-term aims businesses will focus on fast projects with clear impact. Hereafter, when people are ready to invest in long-term ideas, this experience will serve to implement solutions quicker and — most importantly — promptly test them out.

Simply put, it encourages small business to become a part of common marketplace and gain fast profit instead of investing in the future by carefully building their own e-commerce.

In turn, marketplaces will collect even more data about users from their new partnerships. Personal data (full name, mail, phone number, address), behavioral data (favourite products, frequently visited pages, preferences in communication – via website, apps, chat, e-mail, etc.), transaction data (payment methods for various products), particulars (whether there are children, pets, hobbies) – all this will allow to personalise communication with consumers as well as increase target promos quality.

Delivering Everything in Every Way Possible

The number one trend of 2020 is, naturally, the delivery methods and techniques.

When in 2016 we were developing an online food delivery service with Azbuka Vkusa grocery store chain we thought: How cool it would be, to have a system where customer can just pick up their order that’s been dropped some fifteen minutes before they come home at their apartment block vending machine or with a concierge! And now, after four years, Vkusvill food retailer announces and begins to implement their idea to put vending machines in condos.

BTW, while I was writing this article, Azbuka Vkusa did manage to place their first vending machine in an apartment house 🙂

In 2020 the term “contactless delivery” became utilitarian. No additional complicated technologies needed – there are no specific door locks for the courier access or designated boxes with combination locks. Now courier just has to move several steps away from the door for the contactless delivery to take place.

More Than Just Logistics

Retailers gained major logistics experience during the quarantine period and will proceed to improve and optimise every stage of fulfillment – set of operations accompanying customer’s order from the moment of its order till delivery. Business will save on logistics through affiliate programs while users receive a favourable form of service.

For instance, taxi services successfully fit into retail logistics and managed to gain access to a huge and well-established channel.

After quarantine logistics will make a significant breakthrough thanks to this experience. Being forced into a 100% on-line reality every single retailer – both domestic and western – faced the fact that previously established forms of logistics can not possibly handle the tremendous demand, and to get their delivery users have to hunt down empty time-slots with the same zeal as one chances the lottery for a Green Card.

For example, the largest online food retailer in Britain that couldn’t manage the massive orders influx made a decision to focus on their loyal customers and blocked the website access for unregistered users.

To my mind a response from IT companies to this problem is due, since they are usually the first to react to any infrastructural shifts.

That being so, Sberbank is developing its platform Sberlogistics

Continue Reading… Part 2


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Alexander Yakovlev

Alexander Yakovlev is an e-commerce expert with more than 10 years of experience. Today, Alexander is a Head of the Retail department at AIC Digital Consulting Company. Alexander's portfolio includes projects for the largest Russian and international companies in food retail, electronics, fintech, insurance, banking, and the government sector – X5 retail group, KIA, EUROSPAR, KFC, Rosgosstrakh and many others. In addition to his current activities, Alexander is a speaker at professional conferences and holds master classes on project development, loyalty programs, gamification and communication mechanics, training company employees in project and product management, building project and research teams, and conducting business and educational workshops.
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