No, you should not say “No” to NoCode: It’s rocking

NoCode development refers to a platform or tools that help non-developers to create computer software applications without writing even a single line of code. Traditionally computer programmers write code in a preferred computer language to develop software applications. Every business change had to go through a circular phase of back-and-forth iterations before a change in the software code can affect the business change. NoCode gives freedom for an end-user to make changes as business demands and eliminates the dependence on programmers. The whole purpose of NoCode is to make people who are not programmers to produce applications without writing a single line of code.

What is NoCode?

NoCode solutions are end-to-end solutions used by people who are not programmers to create and update web applications and websites using pre-configured graphical user interface artifacts. NoCode allows non-developers to modify, build and deploy software programs without knowing how to program in a programming language or working as programmers. When non-programmer wants to change an existing software program, they can’t do it. With NoCode, one can easily make any change as they choose.

Retail ERP software

The Future of NoCode

The Future belongs to Citizen Developer who wants to do things as it demands. They would like to change the software code to suit the new business model or new business process, a new idea, or a new strategy. They also would like to do it immediately and assess the impact instantly. If these have to happen at such a speed of thinking, it can only be done using a NoCode platform. The traditional software development process consumes quite time to make software code changes in an agile manner and thus does not suit a dynamic modern enterprise that is always exploratory. Perpetual innovation is the art of success in the 21st century, and NoCode is the means to achieving it. NoCode has gained momentum in the recent past and is here to stay, with more traction in the years to come. Slowly, we feel all developers will turn into Citizen Developers with many NoCode platforms coming into the market.

Conclusion

Programmers have needed a solution for a long time and when it comes to coding it faster to situations. Only innovation can solve the problem, and one such innovative solution is the NoCode platform. It doesn’t matter how you have been designing, programming or developing a software program until now but when it comes to scaling up the system you are building, then there is no substitute for NoCode platforms. NoCode platforms have scaled to demonstrate increased flexibility, scalability reliability, and quality. In Retail ViVA, 15 modules are built using our NoCode platform CodeSelfie and thus have high scalability to changing needs. We built Retail ViVA to suit modern retailers who are hungry for innovating all through to create a better customer experience.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

The Guide to Retail Promotions: What, Why and How

Discounts and promotions play a significant role in attracting customers to make their buying decision. Various forms of promotions exist which suit diverse needs and occasions. There are line discounts, total discounts, BOGO offers, price multiples, accelerated discounts based on quantity offtake, free shipping, lucky coupons, repeat visit coupons, loyalty points and modified or integrated forms. Customer attraction is based on her/his personal choice of how much such a discount or promotion is sounding lucrative to influence a buying decision.

What types of Promotions

Some of the promotion types adopted by Retailers are:

1. Double Discount: Double discounts provide ultimate happiness to the customer, and he/she may purchase more quantity compared to what he/she intended to buy. This process is called two-for-one, which works as a bonus discount. Double discounts happen when the quantity of a product is being offered to a consumer at the same price it was being sold at before the offer.

2. Percent Discount: Here, the consumer is given a discount of percent of his/her entire purchase amount.

3. Category Discount: Sometimes, a specific category of products are put under discount to make customers buy more of those category items.

4. Value Discount: A fixed value is offered as a discount on items purchased, with a minimum purchase value indicated.

5. BOGO Offer: Buy-one-get-one offer is an attractive one and is offered in various forms like Buy-one-get-one at half price or Buy-one-from-category A and get one free in Category B or Buy five for the price of 3 or Buy Item A and get x% of discount on item B.

6. Discounted Price Multiple: Here, a discount is offered on a graded scale depending on quantity like 2 for $30, 3 for $42 on the concept of Buy More Save More.

7. Line Discount: Here, specific items are identified for discount and those line items get a discount in the invoice.

8. Free Coupons: Free Coupons are issued based on total purchase value with a specific validity date to woo the customer to come back to the shop for more purchases.

9. Free Shipping: When invoice value is higher, free shipping is offered as a discount.

10. Loyalty points: Sometimes, when a specific category of items are purchased, bonus loyalty points are credited to the customer’s account.

Why do a promotion

Promotions or Sales Discounts are a necessary part of the sales growth strategy. They act as a trigger or motivator to the customers to buy your product on impulse. A compelling discount coupled with a personalized offer that reinforces your brand message and also incentivises the existing and potential customers to make the purchase might attract them to leap in your sales funnel. An attractive promotional offer has the chance of converting the sale more than the average. Increasing revenues or keeping your place as a competitive retail destination, Retailers needs to use discounts in various forms for sale events, big and small, keeping in view the impact of the discount on the store’s sales.

ERP for retail stores

How to make customers get attracted to a promotion

Customers often decide while browsing through the merchandise. Online shoppers tend to consider different parameters such as brands in the competitor’s list before deciding, availability of discount, the value proposition of the purchase, the physical and logical usability of the product, shipping cost or cost of traveling to shop, and service standards of the Brand or the Retailer. Hence, a Retailer must focus on all of the above in their online communication to make that informed decision quickly in one glace to get all answers. Making a smooth online browsing experience coupled with buying-decision informative will help the customer to make that decision soon. A conscious effort for acquiring customers is often to make sure that the inbound traffic is already convinced that your offer will be attractive and prompt them to make a buying decision.

Conclusion

In today’s online world, promoting offers has become very easy as there are options to reach customers on various digital mediums. If you intend to use promotions and discount strategies to increase the sales of your products and services, then do consider the options mentioned above, techniques, and knowledge to increase your sales. We hope that as a Retailer, you will develop marketing strategies and techniques which will benefit your brand and hence, increase your profit margins. Retail ViVA has got all the above promotions or discounts configured in its Point-of-Sales module giving Retailers the power to personalize promotions depending on seasons or customer types.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Does Your Company’s Loyalty Program actually Work?

Loyalty programs have been there for years. Customers earn points for business with a brand, and the brand, in turn, nurtures the customer for more and more business. It is a win-win for both. However, the design of a loyalty program determines whether the customer feels value and thus starts nurturing the brand with more business. Further, they become brand advocates promoting in social media, word-of-mouth referrals, product reviews, and participation in promotions. If customer engagement is achieved, we can say the loyalty program is successful.

Does your company’s loyalty program work?

Loyalty programs are not just about customer acquisition; it is about customer retention and beyond. It is essential to do the homework before you roll it out. Many companies report great success but fail to analyse the sales data to prove it convincingly. As customers want more and more, loyalty programs should be the number one priority to them. If your customers are not getting their fair share of discounts and perks, you need to re-evaluate your loyalty program design. What do you want to achieve with your loyalty program? Are you looking to generate more business, get new customers, grow your existing customer base or some combination of these?

Is customer engagement being achieved?

Most customers feel it is too time-consuming to join, and it doesn’t make sense to them at all, even for some of the established loyalty programs. They may not be familiar with the terms and how the process will work. They may also find it confusing and intimidating to give you their loyalty card and all the details needed to enable the program to activate and process the points earned. On the other hand, a new member might not figure out how it all works and therefore not even feel comfortable joining. They may never even get past the registration form, the free points, or whatever, in these scenarios, how one gets the customer engagement achieved. The only solution is to make the loyalty program design simple, joining process simple, make it primarily automatic and make it work in the background without intimidating the customer much. Retail ViVA comes with a simple loyalty program that mainly works in the background, adding points to the customer’s account, make it very easy for customers to enroll and enjoy the difference.

Conclusion

Most brands in today’s competitive market are competing for sales with one another. The question for today’s brands is; Are they doing enough to differentiate themselves from their competitors? If not, it is time to start rethinking your customers’ relationship with your brand and focus on loyalty programs. “In business, as in love, if you want a steady supply of customers, you have to provide a steady supply of loyalty, and this means you must nurture the loyalty of your existing customers as well as attract new customers.” -Sir John Hegarty. Loyalty programs are nothing new and they are still influential today. However, innovative simplicity will help get more traction from customers. Technology can make it simple and choose a Retail ERP that has a simple process for joining and accruing loyalty credits to your customers.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

The Power of QR Codes in Retail: How Useful are they?

Retailers can use QR codes to drive traffic to their website or landing page or any call-to-action page in a simple scan & go way for the mobile users. Retailers can also send discount coupons through QR codes or send a similar call to action for after-sales service making it very simple for users. In the current contactless environment, it can help to confirm delivery by customers through a simple scan of QR code on the delivery pack. You can get feedback from your customers through QR code usage or even help them download a mobile APP in seconds without any complexity.

What are QR codes, and what can they do?

QR codes are like bar codes but more secure, and most electronic devices have them. Most mobile phones come with the in-built capability to read QR codes and display their content or action. For example, you can scan QR codes in shops to find products or their features. This helps the customers to find the right one quickly. You can use QR codes for promotional purposes such as sending a discount coupon, free games coupons and other offers etc. Customers can confirm delivery by scanning QR codes. You can make payment easy through the use of QR codes. The ability to embed even call-to-action information in QR codes makes it multi-purpose oriented and Retailers can exploit this feature to their best of imagination in making it easy and intuitive for customers and other stakeholders. As mobile devices are becoming more powerful and are equipped with advanced scanners, retailers can even convert a QR code to a barcode for easier scanning. Further, retailers can customise application needs according to the technology of QR code through their innovation.

What can QR codes do for customers?

When scanned with a mobile phone, a QR code can convert it to an image, text or even a barcode with no distortion. By default, we can see any kind of image in the QR code in a live mode which allows customers to share an image via social media or e-mail. It helps customers to avoid the hassle of typing a web address or perform multiple instructional steps to achieve their purpose. In the current era of contactless payment, it helps immensely to pay at check-out by simple scan in seconds.

Conclusion

Retailers and their brands should take advantage of the evident QR code trend. As QR codes are now quickly and widely adopted by web users as a mobile web interaction tool, the retailers need to be using them more and more to retain their customers. Retail ViVA is QR code ready, and we integrated it at multiple instances to improve customer experience. Any modern Retail ERP must have extensive use of QR code integration to save time, build efficiency and enhance customer experience.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Retail Customer Touch Points: What are they?

Customers interact with brands at multiple stages, be it first awareness before purchase, during the purchase, or after purchase. Each of these interactions is known as the customer touchpoint. Customer acquires positive or negative impressions about the brand at each touchpoint. Retailers must strive to deepen the relationship with customers at every opportunity of interaction to build brand loyalty. The medium of interaction (online, physical, offline) may differ depending on the customer’s choice, and Retailers must ensure that similar impressions are formed at every medium with which the customer interacts.

What are the Different Types of Touchpoints that Retail Customers Encounter?

The advancement of technology in the retail industry has made shopping simple for customers. Online order is an online sale and involves on-the-spot payment for products from the company. It reduces the need for a customer to visit stores and provides them with ease of shopping. In Pre-purchase online, retailers allow customers to pre-purchase an item online, not to stand in long queues at the time of store pick-up. This also assures the customer of speedy delivery of their purchase. A different type of touchpoint is where customers interact with a brand before they engage in a specific activity of buying or recommending. Then there is a physical store visit where a customer interacts with store personnel. There are also communications of various forms that reach the customer or prospective customer which also creates an impression. These communications may be related to products or related to the ethics or culture of the Brand. All of these are Customer Touchpoints, and each of these touchpoints creates a positive or negative impression on the customer’s mind.

What Are the Possible Reasons for Negative Touchpoints?

The customer may feel disappointed due to the treatment retailers provide them. Fakes, flaws, poor quality of product/service, shoddy services, delayed delivery, bad customer service, excessive claims on advertising, non-empathetic marketing, stocking issues, product recalls are some of the aspects which create negative impressions in customer’s mind. Most negative perceptions by customers are often the result of lack of experience, intelligence, professionalism, or lack of technical skill at the retailer level. Customers may leave the store/service station/online, and the retailer may never know about it. They could feel cheated or misled by the Brand. The key to achieving an optimal level of customer loyalty is by analysing the root cause of negative perceptions and taking steps to rectify the issue.

How Can Retailers Build Brand Loyalty?

Retailers can build loyalty in various ways. Customer Loyalty can be achieved through multiple touchpoints, and while the efforts made at each of these touchpoints should be different, they should be consistent. All these touchpoints should be based on an increased satisfaction with the merchandise, good service, variety of products, delivery, communication, brand personality, exclusive products, etc. It should also include a solution to identified Customer Pain Points. There are times when a customer has developed a deep emotional attachment with the brand but has yet to make the purchase. This happens with luxury goods often. Emotional bonds must be not only preserved but enhanced with every aspiring customer for conversion. Retailers can achieve all the above by using an integrated Retail ERP product that operates as a single solution to provide a consistent service experience. Retail ViVA, our Retail ERP, integrates all touchpoints of the customer and serves as a single solution, giving Retailers an absolute chance to provide a consistent brand experience to their customers.

Conclusion

Marketing is often viewed as an activity that goes in one direction. However, it is a constantly evolving activity. Therefore, retailers need to take a long-term view of customer behaviour to succeed in customer acquisition, loyalty creation, and retention. Every Customer Touchpoint is important and needs to be managed as per brand standards to provide a consistently superior experience through a single solution approach.

Retailers: Are You an Intelligent or a Responsive Retailer?

Retailers: Are You an Intelligent or a Responsive Retailer?

Retail is the largest B2C industry in the world, generating nearly USD25 trillion in revenue. With the onset of smartphones in 2010, the retail sector has seen an extensive transformation, with almost every business segment doing well, except a few. Mobile and e-commerce segments thrived while physical stores continue to dominate as usual

An Intelligent Retailer creates the best digital systems and processes to serve its customers the best and aspires to achieve competitive positioning in the marketplace. The intelligence of the Intelligent Retailer comes from its intelligence-gathering through data analytics. However, if such an intelligent retailer is not agile, it may take some time for the intelligent retailer to change to new normal. A Responsive Retailer responds to customer’s buying behaviour in real-time, thereby keeping a watchful eye on the shifting market trends and still strive to be an Intelligent Retailer. A responsive retailer is always agile, quick to change parallel to the evolving dynamics with consumer preferences or market vagaries or regulatory constraints.

What is an Intelligent Retailer?

According to Lexis-Nexis, an Intelligent Retailer is one who, through data, facilitates decision-making by considering customer needs in context. It is based on Intelligent Analysis, where cognitive technology uses analytics to create contextual understanding. This enables the retailer to understand consumer behaviour, purchase preferences and make offers that are relevant and attractive to the customers. It further helps the Retailer to make automatic product recommendations to the customers for her/his emerging lifestyle requirements.

What is a Responsive Retailer?

A Responsive Retailer is always responsive to the changing dynamics of the marketplace and is willing to change rapidly to match the changing needs of the consumers. The Responsive Retailer must take consumer preferences and market conditions and respond immediately to these changes. Further, the Responsive Retailer is ever ready to meet the new normal in a digital-first world. A Responsive Retailer operates with efficient digital systems, processes, and people to serve consumers the best they expect it to be served, all of them being very agile and self-configurable in minutes. The Responsive Retailer does not solely depend on consumer journey mapping but agile and dynamic enough for the strategy and execution around meeting all customer needs, including the unexpected.

The Difference Between Responsive and Intelligent

In a way, both Responsive and Intelligent retailers are independent of each other and can be used together. However, the problem lies in converting that capacity to serve the business with responsive or intelligent retail marketing and sales in their respective roles. However, they work in harmony and complement each other to create a genuinely empowered customer base who is willing to share their valuable market information with retailers to understand the brands better. In an intelligent retailing environment, retailers can deliver personalized, relevant, and dynamic offers to the customers to know their preferences, moods, needs, and demands. Responsive means that retailers are every ready to act upon customer needs through their agile process methods in the quickest possible time, almost instant to customer’s changing needs.

Retail ViVA, the Best of Both Worlds

By understanding the retailer’s needs and looking for the best of both worlds, we built a Retail ERP architecture that would deliver a unique experience on both eCommerce and brick & mortar in an omnichannel way combining intelligence and responsiveness. Our CodeSelfie NoCode platform-driven Retail ViVA provides the dynamic responsiveness wherein Retailers can make changes to their systems and process through self-configuration without needing to write a single line of code.

Conclusion

It is not about being an Intelligent or Responsive retailer. It is about adapting to change. Agility and responsiveness must be built into the system from the beginning of the journey. Just as a rubber band has an elastic property, a system also needs an elastic property to respond to changes. If an Intelligent Retailer’s systems cannot be changed dynamically for new emerging needs almost instantly, the intelligent retailers start losing their position only to see a responsive retailer has captured the market. Hence, Retailers must adopt a Retail ERP system that is not only intelligent enough but also equally responsive enough to win the new game of a successful 21st-century enterprise.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Ways to Enhance Customer Experience Through Good After-Sale Service

When customers acquire products that are linked to after-sales service, the second innings of the customer experience journey starts then. An excellent after-sales service will enhance customer loyalty. Firstly, customers must find it easy to contact for assistance. Secondly, they must be handled professionally and serviced according to urgency and circumstances. Long wait times, inordinate delay in service, and inadequate communication can frustrate customers and result in a poor experience

The customer experience journey

A customer journey, which customers experience when interacting with a product or service brand, is divided into two phases — engagement and satisfaction. Engagement is the first, where customers acquire products. This phase is where customers provide feedback, try out different products and begin to purchase. Satisfaction builds upon the existing satisfaction when customers find it easy to engage with customer care. The satisfaction from customer care engagement is vital for a company, as enhanced customer satisfaction there would lead to an additional robust sale. Therefore, an excellent customer experience is essential for any company by improving after-sales service.

The importance of customer service

People buy from a company for reasons beyond its products or services. The entire experience of dealing with the company should be seamless, rewarding, and of good quality. Customer loyalty is a crucial success factor in today’s fast-paced world. Product companies from industries across all the geographies compete for their customers and high-quality sales force. Although customer-centricity is an essential element in a business, it can become a real challenge when the sales force focuses on customer acquisition rather than retention.

What is after-sales service?

1. After-sales service helps service providers keep the door open for current and prospective customers by enabling customers to make quick, simple, and reliable purchase decisions and drive awareness and sales. 2. The industry’s after-sales model calls for better customer experience through 24×7 services and co-creation of new customer experience and loyalty. 3. After-sales service is often divided into two phases: Presence of the service provider: Service providers who are present at the time of customer service needs are considered to have good customer service. Service providers who remain absent for most of such times would be considered to have poor customer service.

The customer experience journey

To ensure that every part of the customer experience journey is enhanced and strengthened, here are ways to go about it. 1. Communication – Educate, educate and educate; How many times have you had to wait hours to get the part you need or made to drive from home to the supplier or the workshop, only to find that a technician couldn’t be found? Communicating with customers about the status of the parts and service requests as they happen can be rewarding to the customers without any anxiety in their minds. 2. Service – Offer compassion and empathy-How many times have you faced troubles with a repair or maintenance issue, only to be told you are at fault for something you didn’t know about?

After-sales-service: how to provide an enhanced customer experience

Maintaining customer loyalty and happiness requires various services and resources to be provided most optimally. In addition, after-sales service is not just about customer support. Instead, a method to enhance the service is to differentiate your product through unique offerings that support your products. A sound digitized after-sales-service module in the Retail ERP built in an integrated manner can make a huge difference. Hence, we embedded and integrated a robust warranty and after-sales-service module as part of our Retail ViVA and perfected it over a decade-long usage experience by our retail customers.

Conclusion

The high-touch customer experience design is the way to go to ensure customer delight. Research has clearly shown that the immediate satisfaction of customers is often most vital to customer loyalty and retention. Our experiences and relationships with others, including with brands, are critical predictors of the way we think, feel, and behave, as well as how we act toward them. It is also necessary that customers be empowered and to feel as if they have a say in how the brand functions and engages. The ingredients to optimize customer experience must be embedded within the business model and strategies of today’s leading companies through good digitization.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

The Bright Ideas: In Whose Mind It Is

Humanity has always creatively risen to prove the maxim that “necessity is the mother of invention” through its problem-solving abilities. The network of cells in our human brain stir up great ideas motivating all of us into action immediately. This enduring optimism has made humans improve continually and create a better world by setting new standards than what is possible today. The COVID pandemic made humans discover the shortest way to produce a new vaccine cutting short time by about seven years. How do bright innovation ideas come up, and where and when they prosper?

Bright Innovation Ideas: What is it?

Bright innovation Ideas are ideas, particularly new ones, in various fields that have brought significant improvements to everyday life. It can be very short- or long-term projects to apply new technology for the benefit of humanity. It is about imagining the unimagined or proving the unpractised so far, through the articulation of tangible benefit that we can obtain than what we are used to currently. It has the novelty value of something never seen or thought or experienced or proved or practiced. Some of them are very simple ideas, and a few complex as well. One great way of building bright innovative ideas is to think continuously one after other, improving your previous idea in building blocks over time. Constant quest for the next level of creativity drives this continual innovation

In Whose Mind It Is?

The scientific basis of an idea-producing living being was first elucidated in 1959 by Leon M. Lederman at the University of California. He further refined it in a seminal book, “Beyond the Horizon: What Our Brains Do at Night.” Scientists have discovered that our unconscious mind is constantly doing the day-to-day work of filtering most of the information contained in every minute. The amount of data that reaches the conscious mind is compressed down by mind into a few important elements that we can process and hence become active. The product of this interpretation is that our unconscious mind, the lowest level, contains much more or better information than the conscious mind, the highest level.

Where & When Innovation Ideas Prosper?

An idea takes root when it appears to be effective in achieving a goal. Today, ideas can come from any source- either personal or from society. For example, an idea that helps people deal with stress and anxiety can come from a person’s professional life; it may be from a professor’s classroom, or it may be from a colleague at work. When we hear an idea that seems like it can have an enormous impact, it’s easier to believe it is possible. However, ideas that fail frequently outnumber those that succeed, but intriguing the human mind to think differently to overcome the failure.

How did we innovate continuously to build Retail ViVA

Our strong innovation culture at Sathguru propelled us into a continuous innovation mindset, setting neurons in our brains to constantly bring up new novelties to delight our customers. This incremental innovation culture started in 2007 ended up building one of the most advanced Retail ERP products titled Retail ViVA. The sheer innovation that has gone into modeling processes with end-to-end integration resulted from collective and open innovation. We listened, learned, thought, modeled, built, delivered, validated, re-learned, and re-built in a feedback loop. To say, the innovation was in the unconscious minds of every employee of ours, basking and bathing in it in every moment of their work. After all, building a 26-module integrated Retail ERP is nothing but sheer brave success at perpetual innovation.

Conclusion

For bright innovation ideas to thrive, the prime most factor is organizational culture. If the organization’s DNA echoes innovation, everyone who comes in will get addicted to it and starts performing to novelty. Organisations must make innovation culture contagious through systemic models so that it spreads in the organisation and motivates everyone to strive for it. We achieved it not with ease but with organized planning brick-by-brick and scaled it to sky scrapper levels. We dreamt, we dreamt, and we dreamt, but every subsequent dream was for the next level after achieving the previous dream. Every success motivated us to dream for the next bright innovation. Innovation is in everyone’s mind, and organizational culture can manifest it to success.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

What Is Retail Transformation and Why Is It Important?

Modern Retailers need to be ever ready to respond to changing preferences of customers. Retailers must evolve the right strategies so that they can capitalize on consumer buying preferences. Retailers must be able to spot the right opportunities and respond quickly to customer demands. Retailers need to evolve agile processes that make shopping easy and convenient to shoppers through the right mix of automation and physical interventions. Retailers must strive to digitally optimize the entire customer journey with embedded analytical data for an actionable feedback loop.

What is retail transformation?

Retail transformation is a process in which a chain of activities is modelled to increase sales, boost customer satisfaction, and minimise the cost involved in operations. This is achieved through extensive digital transformation and a thorough understanding of the customer journey to success.

The importance of retail transformation

The retail industry is undergoing significant changes, and digital transformation is the critical driver for the retail sector to remain a competitive marketplace. Modern retail brands use a mix of automation and personal attention to delight the customers and keep them coming back. Retailers need to leverage customer data to analyze customer behavior and make the marketing impactful. Retailers need to use the latest technology to optimize the value chain of their business. Retailers must also use data to avoid costly mistakes. The modern retailer needs to focus on long-term digital transformation plans to remain relevant and set new benchmarks of success.

The four key pillars of retail transformation

Electronic data capture, E-commerce, In-store Shopping, and motivated employees are four key pillars of retail transformation. Understanding how consumers live, buy, and interact with brands and knowing the preferences of the consumer would allow retailers to predict, connect with, and engage with them. The retail organization’s culture and data points connect here to get complete insights. Retailers must understand their customers’ buying behavior so that they can improve the offering to the customer on a personalized basis. Retailers need to understand customers in ways that help them give tailored shopping experiences to the consumers. A connected experience where customers can see the inventory, pick the product, pay for the product on their phones, and at the store would help shoppers who have limited time and money to make their purchases. Agile processes designed with high efficiency in mind is needed to achieve the above objectives. Finally, employees who make the magic happen are trained to integrate themselves into these four pillars of transformation. In a nutshell, Retailer’s organizational culture, Retailers Customer success journey, Retailer’s business model, and Retailer’s employee engagement would matter the most to achieve a perfect retail transformation.

Retail transformation strategy

Retailers are fighting the battle between brick-and-mortar and online commerce. Young customers are shifting to a more digital experience and self-service platforms. Most retailers have already started to deploy AR and VR technologies to improve customer experience. Moreover, shoppers spend 5 to 6 minutes in each store visit, and at least half of the purchases are not made offline. This is set to drive the demand for visual merchandising and help the retailers improve the overall shopping experience. Visual merchandising helps in delivering an enhanced shopping experience for customers through deploying AR technologies such as beacons and digital display screens. In the online commerce space, various mobile and e-commerce technologies are being tried to impress customers and lure them into coming back again and again. After all, both experiences are connected to create long-term customer value and build continuing loyalty with the customers. Retail ViVA, our Retail ERP, is made with the objective of agile retail transformation in an integrated manner.

Conclusion

Retailers can move forward with the right strategies, which are guided by three simple vital points. First, assess the current strategy; then look at future trends that customers and suppliers expect from you; then shift strategy to align it to customer and supplier expectations. This is a continuous improvement cycle, and thus, the evaluation must be perennial.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Is It Time for Your Retail Store to Convert to Open-To-Buy?

The buzzword of Open-To-Buy occupies every merchandiser’s mind to save on dollars. Open-To-Buy not only helps maximize sales dollars but also minimizes cost dollars. It is an essential tool for Retailers to improve their financial performance. Small Retailers struggle to make their merchandise budget and often buy based on surmise. Big Retailers struggle with bulky worksheets as Retail ERP software does not offer the Open-To-Buy concept as part of their core modules. Some software provides it as an add-on module with poor integration.

What is Open-To-Buy?

Open-To-Buy is a concept to bring more transparency into the retail business. It is a tool that addresses the most critical question of how much to replenish and when to replenish stocks as they deplete. Retailer’s significant investment goes into their inventory buys, and Open-To-Buy addresses how much to buy. It is always future-oriented and adjusts the plan based on past trends and the vendor’s history of supplies. It is derived based on sales budgets to procurement budgets to actual sales in dollar terms. Often, an Open-To-Buy is combined with an assortment plan to answer both questions of how much to buy and which items to buy in each inventory category. Open-To-Buy is not used for daily basics or essentials as they go by standard replenishment at re-order levels.

Open-To-Buy in Retail

Open-to-Buy starts with a transparent planning process. Planning is the cornerstone of the Open-To-Buy concept. A sales plan or budget is prepared period-wise, sometimes even week being the tiniest period, but most take a month as a period. After a good sales plan is ready, an inventory plan is prepared to match the sales plan. The critical question here is how much inventory do I need to keep supporting subsequent period sales? Based on stock on hand and expected movement of stock, an inventory receipt plan is made, and vendor purchase orders are finalized ultimately. Several other inventory adjustments like markdowns, adjustments, one-time bulk sales, etc., are also considered while arriving at the inventory replenishment question.

How can you Implement an Open-To-Buy Strategy in your store?

Open-To-Buy is a collaborative partnership where both the retailers’ suppliers and the merchandisers work together. It is a solid strategy to minimize and manage inventory costs. In Retail ViVA, our Retail ERP, we have created an integrated merchandising module that provides full-fledged Open-To-Buy Store Inventory Functionality to help your store generate profit. Inventory replenishment ordering is so automated that merchandisers can efficiently function and place an order on time to receive goods on time. A sale lost due to lack of inventory at the store can well turn out to a customer loss permanently, and thus the availability of inventory items at the store plays a crucial role in customer loyalty and experience.

Conclusion

Customers are cost and time-conscious. So, you can implement Open-To-Buy with precise analytics to track return on investments on your inventory assets. Further, Open-To-Buy can help merchandisers plan better with optimum inventory holding without facing the risk of stock-outs.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Why Online Shopping is More Popular Than Physical Shopping

Online shopping has become a habit due to its ease and convenience of shopping. One can browse various online shopping sites much like visiting multiple physical stores and make a buying decision without any movement. The time to shop is much shorter and facilitates easy price comparison. The value that online shopping provides for standard items is simply outstanding. With the advanced digital era unleashing in every front of human life, online shopping has occupied the prime spot in digital evolution. Consumers have embraced it with confidence due to superior experience and convenience.

How online shopping has changed the way we shop

One of the primary reasons why people are inclined towards online shopping is the fact that prices online are the same or slightly cheaper than those in physical stores. Thus, there is much less to worry about bargain or price comparison. Also, several businesses provide discounts online. This includes coupons, discount codes, and vouchers. Discount offers are one of the reasons why people buy more when they buy online. It is simply amazing to see the way people buy items online. Sometimes, they are prepared with the best offers such as cashback and points. People can get amazing discounts on their food and shopping items such as t-shirts, sneakers, gym sets, electronic items, groceries among other things.

Why online shopping is popular

Online shopping provides customers with highly personalized services at their doorstep. Because of changing lifestyles and seeking convenient shopping methods customers opt for online shopping. Online shopping fulfills a wide range of choices like variety, affordability, and personalization. Online shopping provides customers the unique opportunity to select from different colors, sizes, and preferences that are specific to their needs. Additional options make the shopping experience more delightful. There are lots of shopping platforms that give a wide choice of choices and convenience for customers. Another reason is ease. The ease of downloading and configuring mobile applications makes online shopping a lot easier. We help our customers white-label mobile app and their customers can download the Retail ViVA mobile app from the play store or app store in minutes to start shopping. Retail ViVA comes with ready-to-use e-commerce and m-commerce modules that can be rolled out within hours/days.

Conclusion

Online shopping not only improves the physical shopping experience but also helps one to understand the product offerings better. Online shopping is an entirely delightful experience and will continue to win the hearts of the people who enjoy and love this treasure trove.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

4S: Brand Identity

4S, our embedded self-service analytics tool, is an easy to use charting tool that every user of our ERP can use to create their charts and analytics. The simplicity of its design merits attention. 4S is so intuitive that a user can learn to do graphs in less than three minutes and can do a chart in less than thirty seconds. We wanted to empower every user to self-perform their analytics, and that is how the bottom-up design was born. The 4S logo was designed by us to represent four steps that user does to make a chart.

The logo is a simple combination of number 4, and alphabet S. S stands for steps, and in total, the logo indicates four steps. The four sequences of steps involved in making a chart depict the letter “4” with four different icons. Each icon represents one step.

In Retail ViVA, a user can easily prepare a view of their focussed data set in any InfoGrid through a simple drag & drop of relevant columns to a group. Users can also use advanced filters to narrow further their focussed data set through filters. Users keep creating several InfoGrid views for various use case needs. Retail ViVA stores all the InfoGrid configurations into its database. Our 4S analytics tool takes user-created InfoGrid views as the base.

Step 1 is selecting the right InfoGrid for chart preparation. The top limp of the vertical slide of letter 4 represents this indicating the selection of InfoGrid from the Retail ViVA database.

Just below that top limb, Step 2 is the selection of an appropriate chart that suits the right visualization of selected InfoGrid. The bar chart icon in the lower limb of the vertical side of letter 4 represents this.

Step 3 is about completing all settings relevant to the selected chart, like titles, labels, orientation, grids, data labels, and the like. The second icon, which is horizontally next to step 2 icon, represents this.

Step 4 is about saving the prepared chart for publishing in the presentation layer for user consumption. The downward vertical limb below step 3 icon represents this.

The 4S brand identity represents simplicity with which users can prepare charts and enjoy analytics of their data without any IT knowledge. The video below clearly depicts the simplicity of 4S tool and how users can make charts within 30 seconds.

Our 4S tool is simple to learn and use hiding all the ingenuity of its sophisticated design away from the user. It is a real example of design thinking and making complexity a simplicity to the absolute pleasure of a citizen user. Our 4S is a pleasurable experience for every user and appreciated by many for its ease of use and power of analytics. Like the simplicity of the tool, we created a simple brand logo to represent this grand design of ours.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Is BOPIS emerging as the future of Retail?

3 min read

BOPIS (Buying online and picking up in-store) is becoming a new trend. Brick-and-mortar stores that also offer e-commerce or m-commerce are actively promoting BOPIS, which works to best of the combination of online cum brick-and-mortar existence. BOPIS also gives the unique advantage of providing the customer the choice of his channel and thus customer feels empowered when he chooses BOPIS. Older generation customers feel the benefit of the combination of traditional and digital experience, something that soaks into their acceptance easily

BOPIS calls for a real-time stock update and online visibility of stocks to customers across a retail enterprise and swift movement of stock replenishment in an automated manner. Most legacy retail ERP systems have end-of-day batch run to update stock balances and are not suitable for BOPIS enablement. Customers demand service, would like to shop online, and desire to pick-up in the next two hours. Retailers would not be able to service customers confidently if their stock update is not in real-time and cannot guarantee stock delivery to a customer due to poor visibility of stock at store or warehouse at any moment. Further, legacy retail ERP do not practice stock reservation for ordered but undelivered. Stock reservation is one of the fundamental business processes for omnichannel readiness for a retailer. Fundamentally, BOPIS to be successful, online stock visibility is a must, as echoed by Gartner in Retail CIO new year resolutions, 2020.

COVI-19 pandemic initially put the logistics and supply chain in disarray for two reasons; firstly, they were all diverted to serve emergency medical supplies; and secondly, they were unable to operate at one hundred percent efficiency due to lockdown conditions. Hence, customers opted for BOPIS as an alternate strategy. Further, customers find BOPIS as an effective way to shop due to the saving of shipping costs. Customers found park-in or curbside pick-up as a natural and time-saving option while giving them the comfort of contactless payment options. Since safety also played a predominant role as to how customers shop, BOPIS became one of the apparent choices for items that customers required immediately for consumption or use.

Customers can be given the best experience in BOPIS by giving them clear instructions about their parking lot at park-in or curbside slots and can gain a no-wait experience which otherwise they experience by standing in the line at brick-mortar. BOPIS experience so far had proven that more than 75% of BOPIS customers also shopped more items when they came for pick-up, thus providing an opportunity for cross-selling and up-sell.

While designing Retail ViVA, we provided BOPIS right from the beginning of its launch and giving flexibility to the customer to pick up from any store of her/his choice, truly to omnichannel customer experience. Retail ViVA Mobile APP offers customers the choice of a store for pick-up in person at the time of check-out.

Technology is making a difference and is driving the future of customer engagement and experience in the retail world. Retailers who are adopting omnichannel solutions will be far ahead of the competition, and all early adopters will reap the advantage of pandemic and post-pandemic business growth. E-commerce is here to stay, so is Brick-and-mortar, so is BOPIS as well. BOPIS may well turn out to be the new normal of retail, soon graduate to the normal-normal of retail and thus be the future of retail. Retailers will innovate with BOPIS to make a customer do the impulsive shopping at park-in or curbside through the adoption of augmented reality techniques to create a physical walk-through of stores towards business growth. BOPIS is certainly turning out to be the smart choice of retailers as well as customers and thus a win-win for both.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

100 marks in 100 days for SERP Ranking of retailviva.com

5 min read

SERP is an abbreviation for “Search Engine Results Page,” and Ranking stands for “Position,” among others. Together, they represent the position of your website or blog or article on a search engine result page. When we query for a “Keyword” in a search engine, results get displayed based on our query. Search engines follow their algorithms to populate results in relevance to the Keyword. The keyword is the word what a user thinks about when he desires to search. If I am looking for a summer cruise ride and stay in California, my keywords for search maybe “Summer cruise from California.” There are many search engines in the world. Google occupies the number one spot, followed by Bing.

We have pets at home, and they love to play with us. They demand attention and importance. My friends have been telling me how they have been playing with their pets all through the day due to lock down and working from home. Similarly, you should treat your website as a digital pet and bestow attention and importance. The importance it seeks is to wine, dine & dance on the first page of Google and every website’s heartthrob is Google SERP ranking.

Google and Bing have their algorithm to show up a website on the first page or first in the search listing. It is a golden principle that no search users go beyond the second page of search engine listing and most do not even go beyond the first page. Hence, your website must get listed on the first page of google search so that your site comes up for the relevant keyword. The process of growing natural traffic to your website both qualitatively and quantitatively is known as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). When we started our google SERP ranking improvement project for www.retailviva.com, our objective was to get ranked on the first page. We are a team of four that wanted to attempt this. It is all started on 17th April 2020 with our first meeting to debate and discuss and lay the path forward to achieve this. The first step was to understand google webmaster guidelines in toto. This strategy much helped us to understand all the little nuances that we need to care for in a website.

We scheduled one-hour meetings thrice a week and a day in the middle was left to accomplish changes that we must make based on our previous day understanding of SEO techniques. Simultaneously, we realized that content is king and to confess, we had poorly written content on our website then. We started re-writing content for about 35 pages, with a clear articulation of relevance of content for each specific page, plagiarism-free. The related pictures selection also was a task added to content preparation. The keywords were the riddle and puzzle to be solved, with questions like single keyword per page or multi-keyword per page or which relevant keyword search users will think first. We quickly realized that one must make several strategic decisions along the pathway of the website SEO process. We applied collective decision making after consideration of all contexts. We sometimes agreed, few times agreed to disagree, but all times agreed to the conclusion.

When we started, our SERP ranking was at the bottom of the 120th page in google search and we could see us forging forward every week as we began making changes in tune with our learnings on SEO strategy. The motivation of small success made us finish the google webmaster guidelines from the first word to the last without missing any side links and when we finished, we were more than ordinarily confident that we have at least done everything right as per the author. We did a similar exercise for Bing as well quickly in the next few days. It was 90 days of learning something from scratch and we moved to the third page in SERP by that time.

We had a unique website design wherein our home page was the visualisation of our module icons with links without any wordings at all. Google loves unique websites and we consider our site as unique, quite unusual to other product websites. We then realized that we must have wordings to represent our home page for Keyword tagging and with a single line wording and tag line, we hit our last nail to finish it in style.

The D-day was the sweet 100th day, and we noticed that we are at a numero uno spot in SERP in google occupying the very first position in about 35 developed countries starting from the United States and ending in New Zealand for “cloud retail ERP” keyword. The simple learning was that follow the author’s instructions meticulously to get the best results.

I will fail in my duty if I do not mention three colleagues who contributed the maximum to this project namely Santosh Kumar Chakilam, Sudhakar Emani, and Neha Velshetty. Kudos to my colleagues who scored 100 out of 100 in 100 days. They are on to their next mission to maintain SERP rankings and that discovery will give us more knowledge to pen sometime in the future. Until then, please try and make your website wine & dine on the first page of Google SERP.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com

Enterprise Content Management – A cure or a curse?

3 min read

Enterprises are full of content and float in content every moment. There must be a system to share, store, protect, control, and destroy content so that only authorized content is shared or stored. In the absence of a content management system, documents may be lost or destroyed or distributed unauthorizedly or stored in the wrong locations. So that content is properly managed, enterprises adopt a centralized Content Management system, which is popularly known as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) or Content Services (CS). Both of then represent the way content is organized and systemized in an enterprise.

Traditionally, enterprises managed content in a scattered manner, some in the storage location of individual employee’s computers or the more organized ones pointed storage in one central drive in their network. However, this is rule-based, and success depends on employees following the rules to store as per corporate policy and procedure. They were indexed to search but did not have any associated taxonomy tags to group them for easy retrieval. Keywords search within content was also not possible easily.

Cloud-based content management systems coupled with file sharing and file synchronization services became quite popular during the last decade and occupied center stage in corporate adoption. However, there were concerns about security for adoption at a faster rate and became more popular as an employee’s personal cloud content management system quickly. Some of them have improved and are addressing the gaps for being a full-fledged enterprise content management system with robust collaboration features. Multiple users collaboratively manage web and enterprise content, synchronizing their thoughts, actions, and expectations. ECM systems have brought the vibrancy of active collaboration for concerted effort and shared storage, avoiding duplicate storage of the same documents within a single network. The deduplication of document circulation has saved a substantial amount of space and corporate bandwidth usage in their buy operational timing. In one of our client locations, the average saving on deduplication noticed was close to 50% of data circulating over email.

Retail ViVA, our Retail Management System, has integrated ECM across the other 25 modules and stores data with intelligent taxonomy for easy retrieval. The accountability matrix created for content access is in adherence to corporate governance policies of the enterprise. Retail ViVA stores all reports in ECM and circulates a link for access, providing transparency of who has consumed or otherwise. ECM helps retailers to achieve the efficiency of content storage coupled with ease of content access.

ECM is green, clean, and is the cream of corporate governance objective. Retailers must care about what content is distributed and who has authorized such content for distribution. We can achieve the best accountability while avoiding duality of authority, bringing in clarity in the organizational hierarchy towards faster achievement of enterprise goals and objectives.

Written by
(Ragu)nathan Kannan

raguk@sathguru.com