Article: Technology is fostering closer partnerships: Aastha Almast, The New Shop

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Technology is fostering closer partnerships: Aastha Almast, The New Shop

"Retailers are now able to transcend their previous physical constraints and broaden the universe of talent and ideas thanks to the world of remote work and digital platforms," said Aastha Almast, Co-founder and Head of Business, The New Shop.
Technology is fostering closer partnerships: Aastha Almast, The New Shop

The retail sector in India is predicted to reach US$ 2 trillion in value by 2032 with many small and big players leading this growth. Beyond Brick and Mortar stores and e-retailers, many retail tech companies are emerging and supporting the sector with services such as digital ledgers, inventory management, payments solutions, and tools for logistics and fulfillment. 

How can businesses tap onto the new retail opportunities? What skills are hot in the retail space? 

In an interview with People Matters, Aastha Almast, Co-founder and Head of Business, The New Shop talks about the latest trends shaping the future of the retail sector in India and highlights how remote work and digital platforms are strengthening capabilities. 

What does the future of the Retail sector look like?  

Ecommerce is growing rapidly, and omnichannel shopping experiences are becoming more popular, which is causing the retail sector to change rapidly. Many retailers were [cautiously] confident in the beginning of 2022 about their capacity to overcome the difficulties they had encountered the previous two years.

As retailers started to look beyond COVID, there was a notion that the industry will be able to capitalise on new consumer behavior and make significant progress in defining what the future of shopping will entail through technology, innovation, and new business models.

The future is still promising despite the difficulties the industry is facing.

New consumer behaviors are driving innovation in both products and business models, and the biggest brands in the world are putting aside local competitive pressures to address the most pressing issues affecting our society and the environment. New technologies are paving the way for a more immersive online experience.

The retail sector has historically risen to even the most difficult obstacles, and we have no doubt that companies will do so stronger.

At The New Shop, we are confident that omnichannel is the way of the future. Online presence strengthens the trust that is built offline by building upon it.

Multiple touch points are provided by omnichannel to its customers, and this increases their brand loyalty and encourages repeat business. More than 10% of our consumers make daily purchases from The New Shop; such trust and loyalty can only be attained by businesses with an omnichannel presence.

Every week, more than 50% of our customers visit our shop, and only omnichannel systems with many consumer touchpoints can demonstrate this level of customer loyalty. An Omnichannel platform unquestionably has a higher client retention percentage than a single channel configuration. And at 0 CAC, we were able to accomplish this.

How are these industrial developments influencing the talent priorities of your company?

Innovative businesses are actively reskilling their workforces, developing sensible standards for hybrid work environments, and teaching employees how to be resilient and adaptable.

In fact, during the past 18 months, the nature of work has altered for practically everyone, leading to significant concerns about the future of the workforce and the workplace. The future of work will undoubtedly be greatly influenced by technology.

E-commerce and digital channels, contactless technologies, automation, and robotics in both stores and warehouses are all having and will continue to have a significant impact on the nature of work in the consumer sector.

Long-term trends in retail trade have historically been driven by variables such as the expansion of e-commerce, automation, and industry consolidation. The impact of these elements was accelerated by the pandemic. The pandemic intensified technical developments in the retail industry that were already harming employment there and are projected to continue in the future.

Retailers are now able to transcend their previous physical constraints and broaden the universe of talent and ideas thanks to the world of remote work and digital platforms.

The majority of shops have been employing people from beyond their local market, and technology is fostering closer partnerships. Organisations will need to deal with operational issues including product development calendars, merchandising calendars, office and physical space design, and travel expenses in order for teams to interact effectively when hybrid work environments become a part of a retailer's culture.

But it will also open up new possibilities, allowing businesses to spend more time communicating with customers and extending new product developments by utilising open-sourced design platforms.

With speed and efficiency critical in Retail, especially during the festive season, how are you managing talent? 

The retail sector has historically benefited greatly from the holiday season. Festivals typically see a rise in consumer discretionary spending, which brings in new clients and encourages gift-giving. In The New Shop, operations are predicted to increase by 70–100% while hiring would go up by 10-15%.

The New Shop plans to hire around 200 people in the cities of Delhi, UP, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in order to concentrate on Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

The New Shop, an omnichannel e-commerce business that mostly serves North and West India, intends to have 1,000 outlets there by 2024 and is actively recruiting new employees. The business operates a 24-hour convenience store where FMCG goods are sold.

The New Shop has more than 50  operating outlets in India, spread across Delhi & NCR, Mumbai, Lucknow, Ahmedabad,  and has presence in some parts of UP and Haryana and now plans to expand to more geographies in the cities of UP, MP, Haryana , Gujarat , Karnataka and Maharashtra.

AI is playing an important role in retail store management. How has it changed the way you work?

AI-powered retail solutions enable merchants to connect their offerings with customer expectations in the digital age when consumers are continually asking for tailored goods and services.

Although the industry hasn't changed much recently, automation, improved efficiency, and customisation enabled by AI in the retail sector can revolutionise the conventional shopping experience and elevate it to a new level. Your retail firm can expand and your staff can increase the effectiveness of their processes with the aid of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

The fourth industrial revolution, which is currently underway and causing changes in industries as well as altering how customers search for, interact with, and purchase products, is characterised by cutting-edge technologies such as big data, smart factories, 3D technology, Artificial Intelligence, the internet of things, robots, and advanced algorithms.

With a workforce of 6 individuals per store, The New Shop locations are open and making deliveries around the clock. For all FMCG items, TNS handles central warehousing and logistics. The New Shop's inventory management solutions, which include predictive IM for forecasting and automating Purchase orders, are connected to all of their distributors and providers. To achieve negative working capital, TNS maintains just-in-time inventory through our AI-powered solutions.

How does the rise of Hybrid Retail Formats impact jobs? 

Everyone has realised that it is no longer a question of online versus offline retail.

The concept of 'New Retail' or 'Online Merges Offline' has completely altered the retail sector. Offline brands are establishing a strong online presence, while online brands are expanding their physical footprints. When it comes to understanding what function physical retail plays in the digital world, the omnichannel approach has resulted in significant development of the offline retail business.

CTO and CIO roles have shifted substantially in the last two years as virtually every business sector has grown more digital. As organisations grapple with the rapid technological shifts required in the pandemic and post-pandemic eras, CTOs and CIOs are expected to speed every transformation initiative.

In an omnichannel marketing environment, the CTO is responsible for making technological architecture simple and easy to integrate, as well as enabling scalable access to data/applications and infrastructure.

A CIO, on the other hand, will be the custodian of business objectives supplied by the outstanding customer experience enabled by the underlying architecture, effectively establishing the company's face.

Customer adoption is key to digital success, and the roles of the CTO and CIO are critical in this process.

As we look ahead, it's apparent that omnichannel will remain a primary priority for many. L

eading retailers, though, will almost probably pay more attention to the associate's role in driving it this time. Today's colleagues must have a deeper understanding of the product as well as a stronger understanding of the company's aims, goals, ethics, and brand promises. And, given the inherent volatility of a changing environment, businesses will need to keep a constant pulse on their employees to ensure they can quickly adjust to change while maintaining a great customer experience.

Remote hiring will become a viable option for non-operational positions. Women will be more widely represented in operational roles.

Although only 9% of retail in India is organised, the country is poised for a retail boom, which will attract a large number of skilled workers.

As more organised players enter the business, hybrid retail will contribute to considerable growth in the number of women working in operations, retail sales, and manufacturing. Retail will continue to be a major source of employment in India.

In addition to enticing candidates, hybrid working practices will promote job satisfaction, which is especially crucial when openings are available. Giving individuals options and flexibility can make them feel valued and increase productivity.

Remote working also provides access to a larger pool of candidates. People can come from further afield if they just need to work on-site twice a week, for example.

More employees working from home opens up the prospect of lowering office space. While physical stores will remain necessary, businesses can reduce their office footprints to save money on rent, utilities, and even IT equipment.

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Topics: Technology, #Jobs, #SMEcorner, #Leaders Talk

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