Is your retail business ready for a surge in online sales?
15 October 2020
Christmas is just around the corner…
With the year coming to a close, and Christmas approaching (yes we are talking about Christmas already), many retailers will already be planning for massive shopping events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and boxing day sales. However, there is no doubt things will be different this year.
Online shopping is going to explode even more than it already has as we approach a vital time of year for the retail industry. This means more data, more customers, and more manpower. Retail businesses need to prepare for a cyber influx more than in previous years due to the constantly changing lockdown rules and regulations. People are much less likely to be spending their Christmas shopping experience in physical shops, and will be steering towards a safer way of shopping, online.
Is your marketing as smart as your data?
As we approach the Christmas period, many businesses will have planned a marketing strategy to target their customers, and potential customers, to boost sales and promote special offers. However, many stores will be missing a trick, by not using the powerful AI tools that Google Cloud provides. Storing your new customer database is all well and good, but understanding it correctly with BigQuery is the next step to a more enhanced, and successful marketing strategy. These powerful tools will then be able to understand your data in seconds, and give your business powerful insights into your customer behaviour and predict what to market to your customers before they even know what they want.
New AI capabilities in Google Cloud means that you can more accurately analyse and understand the data that you are collecting so that you can market in a smarter and more efficient way, based on those particular customers’ spending and behavior patterns when shopping online. Due to the fact that the majority of people will be shopping online this year, it makes sense to invest heavily into your online advertising and marketing campaigns to ensure a maximum ROI.
Physical stores are depreciating
It was announced this year that “H&M will close 250 of its 5,000 stores next year as the world’s second-largest clothes retailer seeks to step up investments in its growing online business. CEO Helena Helmersson said sales in September were just 5% lower than last year and the company had returned to profitability after four in five stores were closed at the height of the crisis. Currently, 166 of its stores remain shut.”* This is terrible news for the high street, but means that online sales appear to be the way forward to stay ahead in this industry.
“A recent study from NRF shows that 59% of consumers will do the majority of their shopping online in time for the holidays – and naturally, you’ll want to give them the best possible experience.”**
RF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers are prepared for an early start to the shopping season, offering discounts earlier to ensure consumers can find the gifts they want, in stock at the price they want to pay, delivered at the time they want to receive them.”**
Although the high street retailers will suffer, there is time to prepare for an inevitably busier Christmas period.
Storing your data & understanding it in the cloud
Our solutions help you to quickly leverage powerful machine learning algorithms to help gain meaningful insights from your existing product sales history, and much more. This is ideal for customers with no Google Cloud Platform estate, or for those with an existing data warehouse who wish to explore Machine Learning.
Google technology will help you to understand and plan for future inventory stocking levels across various product lines. This is a challenge that most retailers face; striking the appropriate balance between having enough stock on hand to meet customer demand without investing in product lines which are slow to sell, taking up valuable shelf or warehouse space, especially as the demands will begin to increase as we creep further towards Christmas, and the infamous boxing day sales.
How Netpremacy can help
Our team of data experts can help you to understand the next step into storing and analysing your data to gain the best ROI from the data you have collected. We have a dedicated solution that helps businesses to anticipate customer demand, through the use of Google technology, meaning you will be able to gain more meaningful insights from your data and be able to capitalize on it. This will ultimately lead to better business decisions and a smoother Christmas period.
Why the retail industry needs to become more digital
Retail is always changing to keep up with current technology, and as consumer trends evolve over time, retailers need to continue to keep up. The biggest trend and shift in consumer behaviour at the moment is that more people are shopping online. Year on year, the number of online sales is increasing and the outbreak of COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst, which saw 32.8% of all UK retail sales being made online in May this year* – the highest since records began.
It is important that retailers adapt to the ever-changing environment, otherwise, they risk losing touch with their customer base and falling behind their competition. However, the technology we have available to us allows the adoption of new, digital strategies, much quicker than ever before. Now, the customer journey is much more complex, behaviors online can be tracked and used to personalise experiences, anticipate demand, and predict spend.
Adapting digital strategies with AI and machine learning
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning models are fast becoming an important part of how retail businesses should be run. These models can analyse big data in an intelligent, scalable, and automated way, and find patterns to help businesses understand what their customer really wants.
Analysing and understanding these patterns properly allows you to make important decisions, which can positively impact business outcomes. The powerful algorithms analyse consumer behaviour, such as items viewed, purchase history, what people search for, and the behaviour of similar shoppers. Machine learning takes this one step further and can predict a consumer’s behaviour often before they even know what they want themselves. Using this data allows you to place the right product, in front of the right shopper, at the right time in the buying cycle, which will ultimately increase conversions and your ROI.
Use AI to deliver exceptional customer service
The power of AI and machine learning work at all stages of the customer journey, and they are changing the way businesses interact with their customers. Whether that’s displaying products they might like or using Contact Center AI (CCAI) to increase operational efficiency and deliver exceptional customer service.
CCAI ultimately contributes to greater customer satisfaction; shorter call times improved outcomes, and much quicker resolutions. Machine learning models are able to find the answers to customer queries, so agents can assist with customer requests more accurately, and at a much quicker pace.
Learn more about Google Cloud’s CCAI and how customers are using this technology to their advantage.
Delivering the omni-channel retail experience
Just because online sales are increasing doesn’t mean physical sales should have less of a focus. Infact, retailers who deliver an omni-channel experience not only enable customers to convert on every channel, but all aspects of the customer journey is streamlined, leading to more sales and increasing engagement. This is known as the “halo effect”. Shoppers can decide what is the most important factor when making a purchase; convenience, speed, price, ease of return, or the in-store experience. This in turn contributes to brand loyalty, repeat custom, and improved customer experience.
AI and machine learning can determine how customers interact and move around the brand ecosystem. Retailers can now forecast behaviours across offline and online channels, which brings them closer than ever to predict business outcomes, giving them a competitive advantage.
We have put together a solution to help businesses anticipate customer demand, by using Google technology to help gain meaningful insights from their data, leading to better business decisions. Download our One-Pager if you are interested in finding out more about this solution.
It’s fair to say that the opening week of Google Cloud Next online did not disappoint. With a range of product updates, industry insights and sessions on diversity and equality, Google hit the nail on the head with a strong and exciting start. We can’t wait to see what unfolds over the next 9 weeks.
We have compiled just some of the updates and sessions that stood out to Netpremacy in particular and have rounded up what each session covered, and how you can access the on-demand content.
The week began with the opening Keynotes from Thomas Kurian.
This session covered how Google, and companies across the globe have adapted to a changing world amidst a global pandemic, and how Google technologies have made that possible. Thomas spoke around how the future of work is going to be more digital and collaborative. He touched on how businesses have had to accelerate their digital transformation projects and bring them forward by 2-3 years to adapt to the changes that have happened since the pandemic. In addition to this, he spoke around how businesses are reimagining the way they work and that data powered innovation will make this possible. Watch the full on demand keynote here.
Google Meet in Gmail
Some exciting changes were announced around how Gmail is going to be made into a more collaborative space, with tools from Hangouts and more all being accessible in one interface. This change will be rolled out to G Suite users by introducing a dedicated Meet tab in the Gmail iOS and Android mobile apps. This means users will soon be able to join secure video meetings directly in Gmail without needing to open another app on their phone. The full update can be found here.
BigQuery omni release
Another exciting announcement was on BigQuery Omni. This is a flexible, multi-cloud analytics solution that lets you cost-effectively access and securely analyse data across Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, and Azure. All of this is now possible without leaving the familiar BigQuery user interface. Using standard SQL and the same BigQuery APIs you will be able to gain critical business insights from a single pane of glass. Due to BigQuery Omni being powered by Anthos, businesses will now be able to analyse data without having to manage the underlying infrastructure.
Google Meet Updates
Next up was the announcement of many new changes coming to Google Meet in Q3, and how this can help businesses to become more seamless when communicating through Google Meet. There are many new features that will be rolled out soon that will make for a more streamlined and enhanced experience. We recently wrote a blog on the new features coming soon, read more here.
As well as product updates and announcements, Google released a series of online content that put into perspective how different industries have adapted along with the pandemic. These industry insights have helped businesses gain confidence on how they can successfully adapt and thrive due to Google technologies.
In this briefing, Google discusses the recent challenges in retail and what they are working on to help their customers. Digital transformation in retail has been happening long before COVID-19, but now businesses are seeing a sense of urgency to innovate faster. To help tackle these challenges, Google has been working on industry specific solutions, through driving operational improvements, capturing digital and omnichannel revenue growth, and helping make data driven decisions. Watch the full session here.
Here Google addresses what the “new normal” is for businesses in the manufacturing industry, and how they have moved and adapted throughout the years when faced with serious disruption. We have witnessed unprecedented disruption to a strong economy and our daily lives. This has included dropping oil prices, record unemployment, demand uncertainty, supply chain disruption, major austerity measures, unprecedented government intervention and unstable credit markets. Watch the full session here to learn how manufacturing businesses have moved to a more digital environment to adapt and continue to thrive.
This session covers how healthcare has had to adapt their technologies and make changes that would have taken 10 years, in just 10 weeks. It explains how Google technology has been helping with the fight against COVID-19. Whether it’s been helping people access information, supporting hospitals and research, or working alongside customers to build a strong foundation for the future. In particular how Google meet has been used to replace in-person appointments when social distancing measures have not allowed face-to-face appointments. Technology has been shaping the world’s response to coronavirus and that doesn’t stop in just the healthcare sector. Watch the full session here.
A recent experiment using one of our subsea fiber optic cables showed that it could be useful for earthquake and tsunami warning systems around the globe. This is exciting news for the advancement in technology, and how it could potentially help us to avoid or cope with natural disasters in a much more controlled and successful way. Read the full blog post here.
These are just some of the announcements and links to the new content that Google Cloud Next has pushed out in week 1, and we can’t wait to see what week 2 brings. To see the full announcements and updates, head over to Google’s blog. To book onto week 2, productivity and collaboration head over to the Google Cloud Next website.
On 21st March, We hosted an afternoon of discussions, expert speakers and networking, all on the subject of creating intelligence from your data, and how Google Cloud is helping big businesses stay ahead of the curve. Joined by speakers from Google Cloud and Just Eat at Google Academy London, the exclusive Google Cloud event provided an atmosphere where clients, partners and friends gathered to hear impressive examples of Cloud in action.
Held in the funfair-themed surroundings of Google Academy London, the Create Intelligence From Your Data event began with an introduction from Netpremacy’s Commercial Director Andrew Martin on Netpremacy’s relationship with Google and their simple mission statement: to ‘solve complex problems with innovative technology’.
“Our motivation from a Netpremacy perspective, as with everything we do, is to bring technology to life for our customers. We started the business twenty years ago with the mission statement “to solve complex business needs using the most innovative technologies”, that statement today has never been more true, and the event that we have run ‘creating intelligence from your data’ is a perfect example of that.” – Andrew Martin, Sales director, Netpremacy
The first speaker of the afternoon and one of Netpremacy’s clients, Just Eat’s Matt Cresswell, offered the group a behind the scenes look at how Just Eat have recently transformed their data processes from Redshift to Google Cloud Platform, providing them with a holistic view of customers and in turn making their platform more algorithmic. Matt went on to explain how Machine Learning is powering personalisation and how Just Eat are working to ultimately collate a single view of a customer using the data they collect to personalise each customer experience.
“Data is all around us and the last few years, data has exponentially increased in organisations. Where Google’s big data products can help is by translating all of the data you have on premise in your organisation in a meaningful way where you can build solutions, and also drive solutions from the data that you already have and the data that you are building.” – Mike von Speyr, Google Cloud UK&I
Jon Watson, the next speaker of the day, gave a valuable insight on the business of AI from his position as a Google Cloud Engineering Lead. By 2021, 75% of enterprise applications will use AI, something which Jon explained using current examples, such as DPD, Ocado and Moorfields Eye Hospital. Jon also touched on the integration of human intelligence and AI, and how these processes can be streamlined with Machine Learning.
After a break for drinks and networking, Omer Mahmood, Customer Engineer at Google Cloud, gave the group a live demo of Geospatial Analytics and Machine Learning in BigQuery. Omer went on to explain the benefits of these processes in obtaining rich insights about your customers.
Ending the afternoon with networking, the group expressed how valuable the afternoon at Google Academy London was in educating each person in exactly how big businesses are using Google Cloud Platform to handle and process large amounts of data effectively.
We host a number of different events with different focuses throughout the year. Keep updated on our upcoming events here – we look forward to seeing you at the next one!