On Wednesday, 30 January 2019, the Digital Retail Forum (DRF) which took place at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton sparked conversations about making digital innovation a key process within all retail organisations.
The conference also led discussions on how to increase productivity, reduce costs, attract more customers, improve customer experience, enhance security and sell more – for both small independent retailers and large retail groups alike.
Over the past few years, the retail industry has seen a dramatic change in the way it operates. From walking into an outlet to purchase goods, to the rise of online shopping, the retail sector has certainly begun to adopt new innovations.
Technology is rapidly driving retail forward and retailers who don’t keep up with the pace risk losing ground — not only to online competitors but also to brick-and-mortar stores that are investing in digital transformation.
Under the theme “Harnessing digital technology for next-level customer centred retailing”, the conference brought together industry experts who gave insight on the transformational technology of retail and strategies which can enhance customer experience and operational efficiency.
Stephen Mallaby, COO at Argility, unpacked the impact of digital transformation and technology in changing the consumer experience and trends. Mallaby further elaborated on how Artificial Intelligence can be utilized to enhance the retail industry.
Also at the event was the Managing Director of SqwidNet, Phathizwe Malinga, who gave insights on real-time visibility in a meaningful way. Elaborating on how retailers can shift their focus, Malinga said, “We need to move into a data-driven and intuitive thinking world. As we move closer towards Industry 4.0, digital gives us the ability to convert to analogue. Moving from analogue to digital can also provide more information and provide a fast transport medium.”
Speaking on the future of customer experience and operations, Shawn Sipman, CX Business Dev and Strategy leader at Oracle insists that retailers build better relationships with their customers. “ Digital IQ is shrinking because technology is evolving too fast for consumers and businesses to keep up. That challenge can be mitigated by harnessing appropriate solutions and providers.”
“Few retailers are able to differentiate products across most categories and are now seen as commodities, consumer experiences are now overshadowing products. It’s important that retailers differentiate themselves from competitors,” he concluded.