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‘Returns from tech investments is a given’

By M4G Bureau - December 11, 2023

Taking the audience through some real life scenarios of front-end technology use in retail and setting them against the context of consumer journey, Bhavin Kothari, CIO & Head of Logistics & Supply Chain, ace turtle, made a compelling case for investing in technology during his workshop on ‘How to map ROI for a tech integrated store environment’ at the DDX Asia expo held in Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai, on December 8&9, 2023.

The role of technology in retail has moved through different stages - from the realm of remote possibilities and jazzy add-on to finally becoming an inevitable need.  This evolution is being driven by the realisation among retailers and marketers that right use of technology can scale up both efficiency and experience. But can these tech investments deliver returns? This remains a million dollar question as tech investments, particularly front-end technologies, depend on many crucial factors. The workshop by Bhavin Kothari, CIO & Head of Logistics & Supply Chain, ace turtle, on ‘How to map ROI for a tech integrated store environment’ held as part of the DDX Asia expo at Nehru Centre, Worli, Mumbai, on December 8, 2023, delved into some of these factors that shape the returns on tech investments.  

Bhavin Kothari

Mapping a typical consumer journey - from mall to store to product trial and finally check-out - Bhavin took the audience through the different ways in which technology influences purchase decisions.  His point was very clear, “In an environment of crowded communications, technology helps you get closer to your consumer through better understanding.” 

Bhavin drove home his point through some real life examples wherein AI enabled interactive screens were used for best results, including live interaction with customers. He also drew comparison with online retail where personalisation is almost a norm, and suggested applying the same to the offline space. 

Integration of teams 

While diving into the central theme of his presentation, Bhavin pointed out, “To get your ROI make sure all the teams - tech, marketing, sales, purchase, logistics, inventory, etc., are not running in silos but operating together in sync.”    

Bhavin reinforced the importance of digitisation by comparison with the traditional approach. For example in the context of windows, he said, “Good looking windows with festive themes attract eye balls, but do they convert into ROI? Also, do you have the bandwidth for hyperlocal windows across all regions? This is where dynamic digitalwindows that enable efficient and centralised customisation of content help.”

Challenges in the tech led journey 

But as Bhavin pointed out, a tech-led approach also comes with its own challenges, which often act as impediments to getting the best out of it. One of these is the focus on short term goals or returns and the other is the challenge of convincing management on the need to invest in front-tend and display technologies. Both of these can be addressed, as Bhavin pointed out, through proper planning and execution, focus on long-term results and ensuring measurability. “Build a strong case for investing in technology through the choice of right solutions and a solid plan for re-usability and measurability,” he said

The other challenges include capex intensive solutions due to lack of enough leased//rental models from vendors, recurring cost of technology and the need for constant reinvestments due to constant changes in technology, implementation challenges, high cost of content management and insufficient support systems for sustenance, besides operational challenges. Going ahead with front end technology investments would thus mean addressing these challenges.   

Quick takeways

Bhavin offered suggestions to combat the above challenges and maximise on ROI: 

  • Balance short-term goals and returns with long-term ones 
  • Choose the right display and tech solutions, which is key
  • Ensure customers get what they see, including uniform pricing to earn trust and loyalty - this mean well integrated systems running in the background 
  • Have a good content management system in place 
  • Make sure all teams across departments are in close coordination 
  • Make sure front-end technology communicates product stories and enables conversions 
  • Ensure continuous investments in technology 
  • Do away with parallel running of traditional systems - whether POS, windows or any other. Focus on  digitisation while accounting for transitional challenges  
  • Need for supportive eco-systems in place with alternative/cost effective models from tech vendors and solution providers. As Bhavin pointed out, “Vendors need to sell an experience, rather than a product.”

Bhavin summed up his workshop, while leaving no room for doubt regarding the returns on tech investments, “ROI is a given if you look at technology as a long-term investment with proper planning.”  

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