There is an urgent need for transformation by DX in various business categories. The same is true in the retail industry, but many companies are up for the challenge. So, from what perspective should we take action to solve the problem? With Koichiro Takeshita, Editor-in-Chief of Retail Guide, who has extensive knowledge of trends in the retail and distribution industries and advanced cases regarding the changes required for store operations in the retail industry. retail, we have started offering CRM solutions that use AI in retail We spoke to Mr. Isao Kamasawa from Sony Network Communications.
Fundamental Changes Observed in Consumers and Businesses
――Looking back to the Corona disaster for about two years, how has consumer buying behavior changed? Likewise, how are the commercial activities of retail stores reacting?
Mr. TakeshitaA major change for consumers, we have come to avoid contact and traffic jams given the risk of infection. As a result, I went shopping less often. It can be said that the tendency to buy in bulk from one store has increased rather than buying from multiple stores.
In fact, consumers choose stores called “number one regional stores” with such high one-stop characteristics.
Retailers were also to refrain from promoting sales by hitting paper flyers each week to attract customers to avoid crowding. This trend continues to some extent, and rather than offering bargains, we are expanding our product range and adopting an EDLP (Everyday Low Price) strategy.
――DX (Digital Transformation) is also gaining attention in the retail sector. A growing number of companies are promoting such efforts, but how do you see each company’s progress?
Mr. TakeshitaRegarding the retail sector before Corona, I think DX was not very advanced overall. Retailers have many stores, which are scattered. It’s a difficult industry to change because operations are organized around day-to-day sales.
However, as a result, DX moved forward following the Corona disaster. For example, self-service at checkout. Although many companies have already tried to introduce it, the introduction has not progressed smoothly due to the problem of usage status and speed, as customers do the settlement work by themselves. However, the introduction of self-check-in has spread due to the demand for non-contact due to the corona disaster.
The same goes for flyers. The corona wreckage raised the question, “How much money did you make by spending a week in production, preparing special sales items and putting effort into creating a sales floor?” These questions have been around for a long time, but it seems that many companies have renewed their thinking as it has become difficult to print flyers due to corona.
In addition, the profession of supervisor (SV) has changed. Before Corona, the SVs regularly visited the stores of supermarkets with several stores. However, as the days of being unable to visit due to the corona wreckage continue, many VS have begun to realize that they can be replaced using various methods of communication without visiting directly. As a result, SV operations have become much more efficient for some companies as they no longer spend a lot of time traveling.
Promoting digitalization and building customer loyalty in our store
――There was a story that the method of attracting customers with special flyers was being revised. How is store sales promotion currently evolving?
Mr. TakeshitaA major feature is the use of “applications”. With the spread of smartphones, the number of retail stores offering paper coupons and loyalty cards using smartphone apps is increasing.
Large supermarkets also offer a combination of services such as electronic payment and online delivery. Since smartphones are linked to each customer, it is possible to strengthen the connection with the customer.
As the population decreases, it will be more important to strengthen the “means of connecting with customers” that have been used with the company and to extend the connection time, rather than chasing after an indeterminate number of people. Indeed, the “how to increase the LTV (lifetime value: lifetime value of the customer)” of the customer is important.
–If you are a large GMS, you can invest in digitization. I think there are abundant human resources with knowledge. On the other hand, how can small and medium merchants profit from digital?
Mr. TakeshitaAs long as you remember the customer’s face, you can continue to interact with the analog. However, as mentioned above, in order to increase customer LTV, it is necessary to understand the effects of repeat rates, unit prices per customer, coupons, etc., and implement timely measures. timely. In addition, it will be difficult to promote sales unless we promote a little digitalization in order to target young customers.
――Sony Network Communications seems to provide a cloud-based CRM service that makes it relatively easy to manage customers even in small and medium-sized stores.
Mr KamasawaYes. Even if e-commerce progresses, real stores like restaurants will always remain. Our “NURO AI CRM” enables merchants and service providers centered on these stores to easily perform member registration, sales promotion, customer loyalty measures (customer retention), etc.
Since it is provided in the cloud, there is no need to create a server. In addition, it is possible to have a database of members in the shortest possible time after the request. You can easily set campaigns and coupons for members from the input form, and you can immediately implement sales promotion measures based on member characteristics such as region, age, and gender.
TO THEImprove your marketing power with the predictive analytics feature
――What kind of effort is needed to become a “winning” retailer in a changing market? How to use digital tools to achieve this?
Mr. TakeshitaIn the past, there was a kind of gamble that each company bought and made what they thought was good, sold it to the store, and let the customer decide.
However, as the population continues to decline, there is a need to improve its accuracy. We need a mechanism to attract and retain customers who have used our store even once. For this reason, digital tools such as apps can be helpful.
Mr KamasawaWith “NURO AI CRM”, you can easily create campaigns and coupons for customers segmented by gender, birthday, etc., and you can also check results such as usage rate in a list. Of course, it is also possible to implement measures tailored to individual customers.
――As the name suggests, “NURO AI CRM” is characterized by the use of AI (artificial intelligence) technology. What are the benefits of using AI in the workplace?
Mr KamasawaWe have an AI tool called “Prediction One” that can automatically perform advanced predictive analytics with just a few clicks, as long as you have the data. By combining this predictive analysis tool, “NURO AI CRM” will be able to perform “sales forecast”, “behaviour forecast”, “lead extraction”, etc. From a retention (customer retention) perspective, it is also possible to discover and track customers who are likely to leave early.
The feature of “NURO AI CRM” is that not only does it not require any programming knowledge, but even employees with little marketing experience can easily implement measures according to the tool menu.
――As the use of DX in retail stores increases, the industry itself is likely to become more active.
Mr. TakeshitaEven if you try to proceed with DX, it will be overwhelming if it increases the load on the site, like stores. On the contrary, it should reduce the burden on the store. The UI (user interface) is also important for customers. It is important to have a tool that is convenient to use and that makes people want to go to that store, and a mechanism that improves the UX (customer experience).
Recently, the number of services that can be used without investing heavily in the system is increasing. If there is something that fits your business, I think it is a good option to use it from the perspective of employee work style reform.
Mr KamasawaOur tools are behind the scenes. We want to make it simple, inexpensive, and convenient to use without being aware that it’s being used. We want retailers to focus on real business and help us grow.