Over the past couple of years, the pandemic has drastically modified the course and market dynamics for a wide range of industry sectors, and the new-age commerce ecosystem is no exception.
With physical contact kept to a bare minimum during the pandemic-led lockdowns, digitalization and technology embracement were the two key factors that have proven to be the lifelines for businesses to survive and thrive.
Unsurprisingly, consumer-facing brands, retailers, and e-commerce players who have embraced the power of tech through COVID-19 are now gaining impetus, emerging as the winners and growing significantly after the pandemic-led disruption.
Another interesting phenomenon we have witnessed in the recent past is a massive surge in online commerce and quick-commerce (10-minute delivery or express delivery), particularly due to the pandemic-induced accelerated ‘digital-first’ behavior propelled amongst today’s consumers. This, in turn, has put the onus and pressure on the nation’s local sellers or SME owners to position themselves to their consumers’ locations exactly where they are present, instead of continuing with vice versa approach (which was the case before the pandemic happened). And to this end, technology is yet again emerging as the saviour while enabling consumers and brands to get the best of both worlds, the convenience of online shopping and the experience of offline shopping.
Needless to say, a gamut of emerging technologies of the present day and age, including but not limited to Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Augmented Reality (AR), and Virtual Reality (VR), among others, are playing a path-breaking role to pave the way for future-ready, progressive innovations within the new-age commerce and shopping arena. This helps customers and brands alike to navigate through and successfully keep catering to the ever-evolving requirements of the business.
From product discovery to sales conversions and then managing customer loyalty and retention, technology and digitization are already seen to be a game-changer transforming multiple aspects of the customer value chain. Similarly, for brands or e-tailers, tech integration can provide a significant edge with regards to warehousing, stock management, production automation, sales automation, customer servicing, and CRM, and in many more areas, with the scope expanding with almost every passing month and year.
Today, getting one’s retail outlets online should no longer be limited to the fundamentals, i.e. making websites or apps or getting listed on e-commerce marketplaces, rather using next-gen technology must be the highest priority in the post-pandemic era to optimally leverage competitive advantage. This will empowering individuals where they can excel within the trade or commerce ecosystem and put forward-thinking and transformative systems and processes in place that can drive efficiency and productivity from end-to-end.
It is quite interesting to note how the pandemic acted as an enabler to make it visible what being digital and tech-enabled truly means for present-day commerce ecosystem players or companies. Besides, it has also created a paradigm shift in the way we work, live, and do business; thus the need to create robust solutions that digitize the process of trade.
Essentially, we have now entered the era when tech and digital proliferation is not just necessarily about making or using modern apps, but rather about having an end-to-end solution chain that runs deep along with the intersectional or cross-sectional areas concerning our processes, people and technologies.
(Devashish Goyal is Founder & CEO, OhLocal-Online-to-Offline commerce platform)