What business challenges the Retail sector is currently facing

27 November 2020

We spoke to some key players in the retail industry, and here’s what they had to say… 

At Netpremacy, we aim to create a community whereby people and businesses feel welcome to come and openly discuss industry challenges they may have, and come to us with questions they may have on Google Cloud. Recently, we created that environment and invited a specific few technology leaders in the Retail industry to “sit” at our virtual roundtable. We then had honest and open conversations about the challenges 2020 has brought and how they are looking to overcome them. 

Netpremacy retail roundtable

This was a successful discussion, our attendees were all given bespoke coffee hampers to start the morning off the right way – with a fresh pot of brewed coffee in hand. A must before any meeting can start! 

We were joined by Becky Postlethwaite, Google Cloud Industry Manager in Retail at Google. A retail specialist with knowledge in the market and deep trusted relationships with Retailers in the Google Cloud space. Running the session was Ben Trood, Head of Business Development and Netpremacy retail specialist. Finally, the session was chaired by our Head of Customer Success and transformation guru, Martin Russell. 

There were a number of topics discussed in this session, although it was noted at the end “and we haven’t finished yet, we could talk for hours”. However, some key challenges were highlighted and it was interesting to see how much businesses have had to adapt and react to change since the start of 2020. 

Change 

This year has been a driver for change. Companies have been forced to move away from the office culture. 

Is it now time to look at changing because of this? 

It could cause minimal disruption to the businesses currently due to the current COVID situation. This could potentially be a great time to ignite the fire of changing the way you work within your business. 

The meeting made it clear that the factor holding some businesses back from making change is how their workforce will react to it. This is a BIG factor when looking at moving to the cloud, and it’s imperative that correct training and change management strategies are put into place. 

However, it was also highlighted that people are a lot more reactive to change than we think, some of the attendees mentioned that the current situation had made them “rip off the plaster” and had no choice but to create a remote workforce. It showed that Covid has proved that people are more open to change than we may think. 

Blockers are something we don’t want to think about but are very real for many businesses. We spoke about the main things businesses were finding were blocking their path to move to the cloud. 

Challenges when looking at moving to the cloud 

• Fear of change from the top

• Focus on what it’s going to bring and how it’s going to change things

• The amount of time and effort it takes to upgrade 

• The brief of change is expected thanks to covid, people understand that change does need to happen 

• More stress on the technology team 

Culture and transforming the way you work 

We talk about transforming the way you work a lot. But what does that actually mean? 

Well, at Netpremacy we perhaps take that for granted. However, there are still businesses all over the Globe that simply cannot begin to fathom working remotely as they are still stuck with an on-premise mindset and old school technology stacks to match. It can be hard to imagine working from any device, anywhere, anytime when you are so used to being hardwired into an ethernet cable that’s underneath your specific desk.

We spoke about how moving your infrastructure to the cloud has a dramatic effect on the way your business works. 

We heard from 2 of our customers on why they decided to make the move, their main takeaways were: 

Why Google Cloud?

• The need to modernise their desktop

• Wanting the ability to collaborate and share information easier

• Attracting talent – people were coming through the door and expected the best infrastructure and technology at their fingertips

• Unlimited storage 

• Wanting to make decisions, fast and communicate better

• Wanting to bring everyone from different office locations together to become more unified

• Security and single sign-on 

• More straight forward to use, and were so lucky they were on Google cloud when covid hit

• Google Meet interaction integration with the rest of the suite is second to none

The overall session was a great opportunity to have a frank and informative discussion on what challenges different companies are facing, and how we can work together to overcome these obstacles. It was interesting to hear stories from the field on how different people cope with change differently, and eye-opening to realise that with the right tools how easy it can be to become a remote workforce that is prepared for unprecedented challenges such as the whole country being sent home, to work. 

Due to the success of this session, we will be running more intimate sessions such as these that are limited in numbers and exclusive to industry-specific topics.

If you would like to attend one of these sessions going forward or have topics you would like to discuss, please email Ben Trood, Head of Business Development directly at btrood@netpremacy.com

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. 

Download our custom solution here to find out more, or contact us for more information. 

* https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2020/10/01/hm-close-250-stores-globally/ 
**https://nrf.com/media-center/press-releases/nrf-launches-new-holiday-traditions-campaign?__s=qco09ljeavbqgks37pkj 

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.

Read our next blog post “Is your retail business ready for a surge in online sales?” to learn exactly how Netpremacy can help you implement Google Cloud’s AI and machine learning technology into your business.

*Internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales (ratio) (%) https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/timeseries/j4mc/drsi 

20 July 2020

Netpremacy Next Highlights: Week 1

 

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. 


Opening keynote

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


Product Updates 

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. 


Industry Insights

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. 

Retail 

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.

Manufacturing 

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.

Healthcare 

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. 

Earthquake detection 

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.