Delivering the Future of Retail Today

One of the keynote speakers at ReTechCon 2013 – Sanket Akerkar themed his address around the three dimensions of customer centricity: delivering Personal, Seamless & Differentiated Service.

DSC_9144Personalized service: Service which “remembers” customer preferences (e.g. Domino’s   online ordering platform prompts the customer with past orders for customized “toppings”).

A second dimension of personalized service is the ability to start a conversation with a customer in one channel and close it in another. (e.g. banks which allow you to use an online tool to project your retirement fund, but update that in a face to face discussion with a branch manager, where the fund projection is converted into product consumption).

microsoftSeamless Service:  For customers this means trying in one channel, buying in a second, and delivery in a third channel.

Differentiated Service:  Delivering value to the customer is not always about price – for many customers its about relevance and on delivering on any stated promise. For example – sending customers emails on uncomplete transactions (e.g. Jet Airways, Make my Trip) and holding the contracted prices open for a period of 6 hours after the failed transaction has value to the customer. Similarly, when a customer buys furniture, being able to deliver to the customer’s residence / office within the state time frame has value to the customer.

For Retailers, Microsoft looks to deliver not just customer centricity (i.e. Consumer Insights & Customer experiences) but also Employee engagement and Efficient operations.

To create employee engagement – Modern Office – has moved to integrate social media into existing products.  For example integrating social media into knowledge management was enabled via the acquisition of “Yammer” – which is often described as FB and Twitter rolled into one. Integrating video and providing cross platform  support via Skype helps with employee engagement as well as making collaboration easy.

Directionally, Microsoft sees the retail “desktop” as being integrated across devices – with the same functionality, and Look and Feel.

This is important since most retailers in India are coming to grips with the basic question of whether mobile apps / platforms should follow the same functionality / form as their desktop counterparts.

One of the video case studies presented – Oriental Mandarin – showcased how mobility solutions (relevant since hotel staff have to be on the move) across platforms, with a full virtualization solution ensured that the hotel’s mission of “delighting and satisfying” guests was met; while delivering cost savings of USd 500K per hotel per hotel.

Similarly using technology as a “personal shopper” – ( – delivered by a company called Fitting Reality – showcased how technology can deliver customer engagement.

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Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI is a not for profit organization (registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956), works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. RAI is the body that encourages, develops, facilitates and supports retailers to become modern and adopt best practices that will delight customers. RAI has a three charter aim of Retail Development, Facilitation and Propagation.