India retail revolution: Relevance of brick-mortar stores in Industry 4.0

India retail revolution | Insights Success

The 4th Industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) is the age of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, automation, and biotechnology. The idea is to use machine learning algorithms to train machines or computers, to mimic human learning in certain tasks. In some cases, even more effectively than a human, creating machines with context-specific intelligence. Industry 4.0 is built on the foundation of the previous information and digital age which has generated large scale datasets. The ultimate goal of AI is to analyze this data, to create intelligent machines with a certain level of perception, cognition and intuition to mimic human-like functioning in some jobs.  We can derive actionable insights that can significantly improve the business, reduce inefficiency, and uncover hidden patterns, personalized solution. Some examples of this perception intelligent machine include voice recognition tools like Alexa, and Siri and facial recognition tool in iPhone X series phones. Examples of cognition intelligent machines include Google’s partnership with US DOD to make smarter drones for surveillance and defence, Tesla’s foray into autonomous vehicles, IBM Watson and Lantern Pharma are leveraging AI technology for mapping right cancer drugs to the right cancer patients using a genetic signature with a very high predictive accuracy. One such example for the intuitive machines is India based Intuition Systems’ POS. Intuition is an award-winning POS and business management technology group in India with a core foundation of data, AI, robotics, software, hardware technologies. Intuition was founded in 2012 when Asai brothers couldn’t find a modern easy to use affordable POS system for their previous restaurant businesses. The complexity, data, security aspects of the business naturally took Intuition towards integrating machine learning, automation and intuitive user experience in their POS software and hardware.

Data-Driven Retail Industry 4.0

As Industry 4.0 unfolds, the retail sector will have a tremendous impact. Every part of shopper journey is digitized and has evolved into customer-centric. Some of the advantages of retail Industry 4.0 include better digital payments, instant loan approvals for customers and retailers, RFIDs, connected stores, actionable insights driven by data and deep learning, biometric security, interactive interface, seamless workflow, automation and integration, smart warehouses, personalized customer experience (PCE).  Amazon and Alibaba are leading this retail revolution globally in e-commerce. For example, the new Amazon GO is an example of cashier less connected stores leveraging AI, computer vision and RFIDs. Amazon Go is generating volumes of big data tracking every customer movement as soon as the customer enters the store translating that into actionable insights, better ROI, new services, products, personalizable and easy solution. Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba brought almost all of brick and mortar stores in China to the internet, a massive social revolution in itself connecting Chinese retail, small and medium businesses domestically and internationally in one platform. Data from 2010 shows that all major brick and mortar retailers including Target, JC Penny lost value while Amazon gained 1910% during this period by embracing and implementing new emerging technologies faster than anyone.

How is retail India embracing digital transformation in Industry 4.0?

Digital India and Make in India initiatives heralded a new era in India’s retail revolution 4.0. The central theme of retail 4.0 is empowered retailers and personalizing customer experience (PCE). Many startups are leading the way in the digital transformation of the retail sector including Flipkart, PayTM, Razorpay etc. In terms of POS and payment industry, Intuition’s IVEPOS is leading the way with the core objective of empowered entrepreneurs of small and medium businesses and personalized customer experience. Using Intuition’s IVEPOS,  now brick and Mortar retail stores can seamlessly manage Omni channels, derive actionable insights, manage and automate supply chain, track stocks and automated inventory management, personalized customer experience (PCE) and marketing, data-driven In-store experiment. IVEPOS is also emerging as a payment, data and business aggregator connecting with third-party services consolidating all in one connected POS system. These features provide better in-store experience for customers, improved operational efficiency, and increased profits for retailers. In addition to these new features, some of the other key features of this app include ease of billing, payments acceptance including payment wallets, KOT(Kitchen Order Taking), KDS(Kitchen Display System), user management, product management, AI-Analytics, Real-Time cloud-based reporting, accounting and GST compliance & tax management, CRM.

Obstacles against retailers in Industry 4.0:

Previously, this enriched data-driven technology suite leveraging AI and automation was not available for brick and mortar retailers and they had to rely on bulky, expensive legacy solutions resulting in inefficient processes and huge losses. Another recent obstacle for this new age retail transformation is flooding of the market by unintelligent mobile and digital POS devices, mass made in China and sold as an alternative to conventional legacy systems. Although cheaper, they are basic devices that do not offer any actionable insights, prone to crashes, security breaches, not easily serviceable, basic functionality without embracing emerging technologies of Industry 4.0 thus creating more problems and expenses long term, not a real solution. Retailers are not willing to invest in new technology and skills thus losing out to competition that invests in Industry 4.0 digital technologies. Data shows 30% of small businesses fail within 2 years of formation (https://www.investopedia.com/slide-show/top-6-reasons-new-businesses-fail/).

Retail Industry 4.0 and digital transformation is here in India with a merchant and customer-centric goal by leveraging data and emerging technologies. Retailers both small and big should embrace this change to survive and be successful in this new age.

About the Author

Anand Asaithambi is a mechanical engineer and serial entrepreneur with specialization in fin-tech and food-tech. He co-founded two innovative companies including Intuition Systems. He is skilled in software app development, robotics, design, UI/UX, product management and marketing. He led Intuition systems from a start-up to a leading POS, billing and business management platform company in India.