Retail reimagined driven by new technology

THE conversations about how the pandemic has changed the way retailers do their business continue, especially since retailers still face significant shifts amid the “never normal.”

In a virtual event, “Retail Reimagined: How Technology Changes the Game of Retail in 2022,” hosted last January by the Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) and co-presented by SAP SE, Gabriel Lorenzo Santos, industry business architect for retail and consumer products at SAP, discussed how technology is used to push the boundaries of retail and how it prepares retailers to what is yet to come.

‘Never normal’ challenges

Retail is one of the most affected industries by the pandemic. A recent report by the World Bank and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) revealed an 80 percent drop in visits to malls, restaurants and movie theaters at the height of the pandemic in 2020 caused by lockdowns. Consumers also worry about the risk of exposure to Covid-19, impacting brick-and-mortar sales and revenues.

Last year, retailers also reduced manpower due to mobility restrictions and vaccination regulations. It affected manual-labor-reliant organizations, resulting in slow master data and pricing updates, inaccurate inventory and many more.

To address the challenges amid the “never normal,” SAP’s Santos suggests the key action points in recalibrating retailers’ digital transformation strategies.

Understand consumer behavior

In 2021, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) noted an increase in spending on various categories, such as food and non-alcoholic beverages, restaurants and hotels, furnishings and household equipment for work-from-home setups, even clothing and footwear.

A recent study by Visa also revealed that nearly nine out of 10 Filipinos have increased their digital shopping activities and are now utilizing online delivery services. Meanwhile, 73 percent of 1,014 respondents have adopted more contactless payments. Filipinos are also now more aware of sustainable and socially responsible commodities.

Address business gaps

Identifying gaps that need to be tackled is also critical, whether product availability, delivery or logistics. Businesses should know what an intelligent and agile enterprise looks like to help identify these gaps.

At the heart of this strategy is an intelligent suite of applications providing core end-to-end processes and helping businesses manage every part of the organization, such as finance, employees, customers, services and even IT. For SAP, integrating industry-specific cloud applications must also be part of this strategy, delivering highly verticalized and innovative applications to enrich business processes, specifically for retail.

Technology as a strategic driver

Some companies remain hesitant in integrating new technologies since acquiring them for a specific process is already troublesome, making it challenging to involve the entire enterprise. To address this problem, SAP offers RISE with SAP, a Business Transformation as a Service (BTaaS) offering that consolidates solutions and services needed for business transformation in one package.

RISE with SAP also utilizes SAP S / 4HANA, helping businesses have a single platform to centralize, innovate and standardize their enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. It helps ensure that enterprises could organize operations across its several controlled entities and gain insights from end-to-end performance with process analytics.

Bridge the gap

Nowadays, companies that thrive are those that adapt quickly. However, true transformation demands changing an organizations’ culture and shifting its mindset. It requires redesigning business plans and processes and demands new technologies that unlock new ways of running a retail business. Leveraging technology could help bridge the gap to ensure a seamless experience despite changing demands and buying behaviors, further improving the top line and bottom line.

SAP’s strategy is to help every business run as an intelligent, sustainable enterprise. As a market leader in enterprise application software, it helps companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: SAP customers generate 87 percent of total global commerce.

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