For many brands, the global pandemic has been the catalyst that has accelerated their online presence. In order to survive during – and after – the pandemic, many brands have realized that they have to adapt their business strategy exponentially, while revamping their entire IT infrastructure. These measures are necessary if brands are to respond effectively to changes in consumer behavior and seize new retail opportunities. To stay ahead of the competition, traditional retailers must adopt intelligent cloud-based solutions to support digital transformation and expand their omnichannel operational footprint. It improves customer engagement experience and uses smart supply chains to improve digital business models for brands.
We must salute the adaptability of retailers who have been able to take advantage of cloud-based and analytics-based technologies, capable of managing the surge in online shoppers during the pandemic. They have recognized that being able to deliver their online offerings reliably and consistently requires a secure cloud-based infrastructure. Retailers need to adopt cloud-native technologies that make it easy to scale infrastructure based on real-time business needs. Features such as a globally accelerated network, cloud-native container management, and unified backup and recovery services allow retailers to be confident that their platform is robust no matter what level of demands it faces.
In a traditional commerce model, there are other essential operational elements that a retailer must manage on a daily basis. This ranges from order processing, payment management, product assortment, inventory information, supply chain operations, and more. All of these can be checked and visually checked. Most importantly, when enhanced, it is easier for digital channels to directly reach end customers while facilitating a seamless online and offline shopping experience for shoppers.
These innovative technologies also play a vital role in recreating an interactive in-store experience when customers order online. Live broadcasting is a useful tool to improve the customer interaction experience and help increase sales. By using cloud, artificial intelligence, and augmented/virtual reality technologies to create 3D virtual spaces and digital ambassadors, retail brands can engage consumers and create buzz. In particular, using XR cloud-based solutions to build a presence in the metaverse is seen as essential for retailers looking to engage with Gen Z customers in terms of the online experience. Meeting their needs requires the adoption of the latest retail technology.
Some products, such as image searches and chat bots, add a new dimension to how customers interact with sites and search for products. These technologies provide the necessary real-time information to improve the customer’s shopping experience and encourage them to return regularly. For example, image search uses machine learning to analyze images. It allows shoppers to upload an image or screenshot of the product they are interested in, rather than trying to locate it by typing a keyword into the search field. Another innovative tool is the chatbot. With cloud-based chatbots powered by artificial intelligence, retailers can provide valuable services to customers when answering questions about product information, delivery status, shipping schedules, and product recommendations.
While the pandemic has given a major boost to all sectors, it has also provided the opportunity for retailers to use smart, cloud-based technology to adjust their online and offline offerings to meet the expectations of consumers, as well as to develop innovative models to capture new business growth in the age of the digital economy.
Selina Yuan, Vice President of Alibaba Group and President of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence International.