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Innovation in retail

IT can provide the spark that differentiates one retailer from another

For decades retail has been stagnant with organised retail amounting to little more than a supermarket. That’s starting to change as retail chains employ technology to deliver a smoother shopping experience. Take for instance the shopping carts with scanners that Shoppers Stop claims to have deployed at HyperCITY. These let shoppers scan the goods they are purchasing before they reach the counter saving time.

There are other such innovations being tested abroad and rest assured that they’ll land up in India, sooner rather than later. One such idea is Veggie Vision, a gadget from IBM that identifies fruit and vegetables using a camera doing away with the need to punch in a numeric code while weighing produce. Something like this could let shoppers weigh their purchases on their own without waiting for shop floor assistants to do the needful. IBM also has the Everywhere Display, a sales tool that converts any old surface in a store into an interactive display.

One area where stores even in India have caught up with the technological curve is in surveillance. CCTV cameras are a fact of life at any chain store and these will eventually shift to IPcams as digitally storing and searching through recordings is a lot easier than hunting for the right tape.

At the back-end there’s a significant presence of IT in Indian retail—be it CRM for loyalty programs and personalised service or ERP to run a retail chain’s operations.

There’s a lot more that technology can contribute to making shopping a pleasurable experience and by encouraging shoppers to spend more and come back, boost the bottom line. It’s all beginning now.

Prashant L Rao
Executive Editor