HoReCa & Retail Innovations Responding to COVID-19 Frugal Innovation


~ Mike George, Qurate Retail CEO


It is a short description of the pandemic's input in digital transformation boost in 2020. A digital signature, QR lines & QR codes to contactless order, pay & go to eliminate lines & human interactions are the most trending one. Everyone is trying to make the enclosed space experience safe and smooth. The most effective technologies may stay with us for years, like curbside pickup and grocery delivery as a service.

~ McKinsey Research


Everyone is talking about a pandemic effect on business, but most of these changes are not temporary. We all need to prepare for long-term consequences and mitigate short-term impacts.

Those companies who relied on sales representatives as a main selling force are reinventing their approach now. So the B2B service market is changing dramatically just right now. Looses bring benefits. With zoom & meets meetings, it is much easier to collect the best team ever to satisfy clients' demand and make a great sales pitch. We can use the Mural app to visualize collaborative ideas on a virtual flip chart and make our discussions more interactive and involving. The more flexible approach you offer more results you may get. It means that SMEs can go even further than big corporations.

Virtual products' launches and theater shows, airbnb nearby stays and online experience, restaurants chef sets to prepare meals at home with chef zoom supervising - many things become possible these days. Some of them will remain. The pandemic has activated business creativity to serve customers better, entertain them in new circumstances.

The fashion industry witnesses changes in luxury goods consumption, an online art market, and auctions have reported growth only for Sotheby's up to 131% in the first half of 2020. Zoom app from the best team of video conferences has become the best friend for influencers, private consults, communities, and families worldwide.

Previous days' medtech market was enclosed enough due to regulations and long-term approval procedures and processes. Personal safety products & ventilators demand changed everything. Just like Dyson and General Motors become ventilators' producers in weeks.


As the virus is spreading, more retail brick-and-mortar stores and shopping centers are closed. Pharmacies, grocery & convenience stores are exceptional. They experience high real-time load and increased demand, while others need to treat new selling channels. Managing out-of-stock situations becomes a daily job for those retailers who have left. It's not about unforeseen circumstances; it's about the skills & tools we need to invest in our team and the software we use. Decisions need to be made fast - the more data and opportunities give your back office solution, the more tools against constant uncertainty you have.

Retailers should think about "stay safe" for employees who can't work remotely, those in the front lines to serve others, and support operational business activity. To be prepared, it's important to have cards up in your sleeve for various possible scenarios. Someone moves employees across the company to manage demand peaks; others hire those whose business is temporarily closed. Employee management should be safe and still friendly to create a proper workplace environment.

While some need to manage constant demand spikes, others have stocks they can't sell. The first one has a headache with last-mile & short-term delivery and warehouse managing. As the situation changes, we may expect different variations, which means supply chains need to be flexible and adaptive enough to fit them. All parts of the Supply chain are facing unseen loads and flexibility demand: last-mile delivery, curbside pickup, warehouse management. We need to support them with relevant infrastructure to manage possible issues.

Changes we all are experiencing now hits the way we interact with brands. New channels are appearing; support is crucial more than ever. Invest in relations and customer experience and supply chain optimization to show you care and build bonds. Customer contact and support centers are essential as never before. Clients need information fast; they want to use the most convenient channel to communicate and update an order. It is all about real-time omnichannel needs. Middleware solutions could be developed to manage order changes instantly in all systems involved in this process. Customers need more specific product information and support making shopping decisions online; these were Product Information Management Solutions that may help. Create one place to collect, enrich, and manage all product information, product catalog creation, and set up the relevant information distribution into marketing & sales channels.



For most customers, shopping is a pleasant process and a unique experience. We talk to in-store assistants to discover special features and find what we want. Can we recreate the same holistic experience online for fashion retailers, car dealers, and household products? The pandemic says yes. Modern technologies allow us to deliver a massive part of the brick and mortar experience; with relevant integrations and back-end solutions, we can make a holistic digital services ecosystem out of it.

Special occasions make us feel nervous. To bring the most of a real experience to those ladies who are getting married during a pandemic or have some outstanding event Pronovias Group have launched one of the first digital showroom and special B2B e-service platforms to establish a stronger connection to its partners and share the latest news and virtual features. Thus the company is moving towards a holistic omnichannel customer experience.

Shopping is not only about size and color. We want to see the complete details, fabric, and every piece of style we are going to buy. Diesel knows how to deliver the same experience we have in store while we are shopping remotely - 360° product display, 2D close-up, and full product description. "At Diesel, we aimed to keep as much of the buying's physical element as possible," the company says. "To digitally recreate the selling process, we have enabled remote buying sessions through enhanced and comprehensive digital assets." These changes may have a positive environmental impact - fashion brands will need less in store samples.

Inhouse live presentations were the primary selling strategy for iconic American innovative products for the kitchen Tupperware. In 2019 analysts were expecting the end of the 74 years old brand, as its revenue has decreased to 13%. Thirty million sales associates worldwide have found a way to keep the household parties' spirit - zoom virtual parties to deliver the whole Tupperware experience at your doors, just like shopping channels (teleshopping) in the 80th but with live interaction and real feel. As a result, sales have risen by 72%, new workplaces have occurred. Life virtual meeting has met the increasing demand for high-quality home appliance products as everyone stays home and cook more than ever! Zoom, Facebook, TikTok, and What's up meetings became very popular not only among the traditional customers but new more young customers are also becoming interested.


The solution is aimed to transform customers' drive-through and drive-in experience by vehicle recognizing and voice ordering with AI possibilities intelligence. Circle K, Delaware North, Dunkin', and White Castle are testing these features right now.


Drive-through importance has grown in pandemic impressively, Starbucks already includes drive-thru to 80% of New Locations which open.

QR code was designed in Japan for the automotive industry in 1994. Since then, there were many attempts to help businesses with navigation, redirecting, and other information-related issues. QR codes' power is relieved with a pandemic; we use them to order from the menu without touching and keeping the line while waiting. QR menu solutions look very simple, but there is always something behind the curtains.


For example, XME.digital QR menu gives the possibility to order online by redirection from QR web-link and customize the order. You can choose gluten-free linguine or oat milk for your cappuccino. You can pay online or on sight, pack your meal for a takeaway to enjoy somewhere, or eat inside the restaurant. The general manager can track data from orders online remotely to keep abreast of customers' preferences. The data from orders can go to the kitchen's chatbot to help the staff track all the orders.


Scan, Pay & Go technology is about paying for goods by scanning the code from the tag with your smartphone. So you can basically skip lines. For example, PayPal has announced the partnership with digital wallet provider Venno to deliver QR code based payment across 8200 CVS Pharmacies. "This reflects our continued focus on innovation and finding new ways to help maintain the safety of our customers and employees," Jon Roberts, CVS Health Executive VP and COO.

How to choose those TV that would be delivered in the shortest period of time without proceeding to checkout? We all had a frustrating experience when we needed something to be delivered fast, but the estimated delivery time is four days or a week, and we can't know it in advance, only at the checkout stage. These days delivery time affects our choice a lot. There is room for innovations to predict delivery with more accuracy in real-time. Just imagine that estimated delivery time is shown as a product feature just like price and available quantity. To make this real, a middleware solution should be created. Which consider all the parameters - your location based on geo data and addresses connected to your account, warehouse and brick-and-mortar stocks, available delivery time-slots.

How long does it take to add a new shipment & delivery partner to an existing ERP? Can ERP be flexible enough to make delay predictions and adopt new ways of delivery? Microservice architecture & modern technologies say yes. There is no need to change the whole logistic part of the existing ERP. There is an option to create a middleware solution to manage all the issues - road accidents, track movement data based on GPS or GSM, partners paperwork, and quotas, just like with this ERP upgrade. How to manage distribution when demand is continually changing? Make and distribution management software to be used by all - warehouse, manufacturer, delivery partners. The distribution management extension solution resolved distribution Management problems and Optimized supply disruption for warehouses and end customers.


COVID-19 hurt most small & medium-sized businesses all over the world. SME is the backbone of any healthy economy, so how can we support them? XME.digital has participated in a government project to support local shops and provide ready-to-use IT solutions to manage business more efficiently - light ERP to make all store assortment digitally available for customers. One million tourists can now search for something special in a nearby shop on a joined online platform. Smart recommendation location-based engine helps to unify customers' inquiries.


How to help staff track all covid-19 precautions in a comfortable and supportive way. We all have heard about social distancing, sanitizer usage, but we are still humans. Chatbot reminders with simple recurring checks based on medical protocols can help. A chatbot is programmed to special needs to track all covid issues for cafes, restaurants, shops, and even offices. The questionnaire is customized to any employee role or job responsibilities to track personal safety measures and those that are part of your daily duties.

Making a crisis work for you doesn't happen by chance; it happens by design. Make your business design effective to navigate through COVID-19 changes. Crisis management strategies and organizational changes, workforce safety, supply & demand, logistics management are the best areas of improvement and investment in upcoming years!

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