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TECH IN RETAIL: 2020

The Indian retail sector is expected to witness significant changes in the new normal. Contactless shopping is expected to be on the rise with consumers avoiding crowded stores and preferring lower exposures. Retailers can expect lesser shopping sprees, however, there will be more planned purchases as opposed to impulsive buying. Retailers will have to adopt technologies to close the gap between the digital and physical worlds.

Top retail tech trends in the pipeline

  • Prescriptive analytics will finally take over predictive analytics 
  • Check-out free experiences will be refined
  • A mobile-first will become mandatory 
  • Voice search and personal assistants 
  • IoT will bridge the gap between the digital and physical environments 
  • Stores will grow as fulfillment centers for digital channels 

Retailers have pushed investments in the IT sector due to ERP implementation and eCommerce management. The stack can be segmented into 5 major business areas.

The whole pandemic has got businesses reconsidering how they invest in digital because the way customers and businesses will interact will drastically change in the coming years. Businesses should reconsider how they communicate with customers overall.   

Retailers need to invest in tools & technologies to stay ahead of the competition. These tools don’t simply reduce your overhead and improve your planning but they have become essential tools to help retail businesses thrive and grow in the market.

When you normally go to a store, you try out a piece of clothing, you see if it fits and then decide whether to buy it or not. However, post the pandemic people are a bit apprehensive to try out clothes others have tried. Retailers might start installing virtual mirrors. Essentially when you stand in front of a mirror pretending that you’re wearing the particular attire you choose. 

With fewer number of employees expected to be in retail stores, retailers are expected to start deploying robots at every stage of the retail chain. 

An effective example is SoftBank’s robot – Pepper. Pepper, with the help of computer vision, can easily detect human emotions and engage with them in multiple languages. It can play music, dance, and take selfies with customers to light up their mood. 

Another example is LoweBot, developed by Lowe’s innovation lab. This robot is able to understand multiple languages and help consumers effectively navigate stores.

As the retail industry hits “reset” and charts out an entirely new shopping journey, retailers need not only make shoppers feel safe but have to constantly innovate & enhance their experiences.  

Checklist for Warehouse Operations in a Post-COVID-19 World

As the dawn of reality sets in and businesses embrace the new normal, the fear of COVID-19 remains intact. The government has eased restrictions and allowed for businesses to operate, however, with the condition that stern rules and regulations are to be followed. For businesses of any scale, streamlining flows to reopen warehouses may be a challenge given the complexity of the problem that lies ahead. 

Challenges that need immediate addressing

  • Is there a disaster management plan in place?
  • How will the business work with suppliers?
  • How will the business maintain the workforce and ensure strict adherence to regulations?
  • How will the business tackle problems like in warding and movement of goods within the warehouse with minimal contact?
  • How will the logistics hand-off take place?
  • How will deliveries and returns be handled?

Some sectors have seen unprecedented growth in the past; with ‘essentials’ skyrocketing in demand, the need for the hour is uninterrupted supply. Fulfilling demand, however, does not come at the cost of safety. Every business today, whether in the essential or non-essential space needs to have an action plan to ensure the safety of the workers and consumers while keeping the risk of contracting the virus as minimal as possible. 

How to streamline warehouse operations for safety

  1. 360 Sanitization: As many studies suggest, the virus can live on inanimate objects for close to 72 hours and eliminating chances of contracting the virus through surfaces is the first step towards curbing the spread. Thorough sanitization of peripherals, doors, knobs, racks, trolleys, and other objects can cut down any potential risks. Sanitization has to be a mandatory practice and carried out on a regular basis for efficacy.
  1. Monitor floor staff: Educating the workforce is the foremost responsibility of businesses. The seriousness of the situation needs to be communicated to the workforce and the steps to curb the spread also need to be addressed. Monitoring the workforce before entering the premises should be made mandatory. As per the government regulations, anyone who is running a temperature over 37.4 needs to be reported to the manager and sent home for a period of self-quarantine. Also, masks and gloves must be distributed for safety. Hand sanitization every 2 hours has to be made mandatory and this is also to be monitored.
  1. Social distancing norms: A minimum distance of 6 feet is to be maintained between workers at any given time. At workstations, packing stations, and even leisure time, the norms of social distancing are to be adhered to. 
  1. In warding procedure: While sanitization, social distancing, and other mandatory procedures can easily be put in place, the real challenge arises when inwarding products with zero contact. Mandatory temperature checks for drivers bringing in the goods via trucks and a contactless handover of the required documentation, followed by 
  1. No-contact racking, packing, and hand-offs: The ideal way to move things around the warehouse while maintaining minimal contact is to assign two people and set paths to carry out tasks. While racking, ensure the GRN entries are made and aisles are sanitized well. Social distancing norms are to be maintained while packing with a minimum of 6 feet between each worker. Packed goods are to be left at designated spots from where assigned personnel can pick them and a hand-off to logistics will be done.
  1. No-contacts returns processing: In the case of returns, the package is to be dropped off at the return pay. As a safety measure, the package is to be left at the returns dock for 24 hours and inwarded the next day. Post-pick-up, sanitization, and quality check is to be carried out and the product should be then docked on the respective rack.

Download your warehouse checklist now

Road to Recovery: The Retail Edit

The retail sector contributes to 10% of the nation’s GDP. Retail sales have been an economic indicator because consumer spending drives the Indian Economy. Once the lockdown ends, consumers will want to make themselves feel better – which usually means they would step out to shop. The pandemic, however, would have an impact on how we would feel about crowds and tight spaces.

As retail outlets in the country remain shut, retailers have accelerated and activated campaigns on their online channels. A lockdown extension would result in a disproportionate impact on the retail sector which would eventually lead to a loss in jobs. The sector directly employs around 50 million people. If the lockdown continues a 25% loss in jobs is expected.

In a recent webinar by India Retailing.com, mall owners have suggested the government to open up the organized sector as it would be convenient for them to manage a billion square feet area with all the necessary hygiene checks in place.

It’s about time retailers start moving to online channels. Once the pandemic comes to an end online shopping is expected to boom. One of the largest increases in eCommerce shopping is in India.



global covid 19 and ecommerce WARC data

The post COVID world would witness a change in consumer behavior. Consumers would be extremely cautious with their spending as well. Here are a few suggestions on how retailers should work on their retail strategies during the current pandemic.

1.      Focus on current customers

2.      Upgrade your website

3.      Develop relevant content

4.      Optimize internal processes

5.      Prepare for logistics and supply chain to come back online

Nielsen has identified three distinct time horizons for global market regeneration beyond the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global health emergency and attached likely scenarios to each. The three-tiered framework identifies the conditions for businesses to rebound, reboot, or reinvent as they confront expected unprecedented recessionary conditions.

covid exit scenarios rebound reboot reinvent



 BCG has shared an exhibit with probable strategies retailers can use to reach various objectives. The exhibit suggests ways retailers could align their markdown program closely with the retailer’s objectives.

the advanced analytics behind fashion company markdowns

Why Personalizing your Brand Content is a Priority

Personalization in marketing has always been important, but in times like these, the need to personalize content is more than ever. According to Forrester, 89% of digital businesses are investing in personalization. Brands need to continuously relate and show empathy to their customers during times like these to stay relevant. It’s important to have the right messaging out there.

Take, for instance, Hero Moto France. The motor manufacturing company has perfectly communicated to its audience with a series of positive messages. In difficult times like these when bikers are forced to stay at home, the brand showed empathy to its entire community how they understand what bikers feel during times like these. 

Brands are finding new ways to connect with customers to keep them engaged. One of the most challenging tasks advertisers are facing is to promote optimism. 

While most marketers are currently focusing on omnichannel experiences, marketers must understand their audience. By staying relevant to customers across channels & by communicating with them the way they want to would help create a consumer journey holistically.

The automobile industry is one of the most affected industries in the current scenario. However, they have also changed their communication and creatively urged fans to stay off the roads and stay at home. 


Social Media has become a platform that plays an important role during a crisis like this and can also become a powerful tool to communicate with the audiences. Here are a few tips to keep in mind while communicating with your audiences during times like these. 

1. Reflect the ethos of your brand 

It’s important to understand the uniqueness of your brand and understand what role can your brand help in a crisis like this.

2. Keep up to date with what’s happening 

In the super-fast paced world, brands need to consider the context before broadcasting 

3. Be thoughtful  

Right now might not be the best way to be sarcastic online. The best way is to listen to what your customers and people are saying and reflect that in your copy with empathy and understanding. 

4. Anticipate changes in your customer behavior 

We’ve already seen a huge change in consumer behavior. People have decided to self-isolate themselves. We have also seen a huge shift to eCommerce and streaming platforms. 

Given how badly the airline industry is impacted, airline brands have been desperately trying to engage with their ex-users. Airline brands are obsessed with mile points and want people to get obsessed with them too. 

Thai Airways launched a recent campaign – Stay Home Miles!

The App helps you earn ROP mile for every four hours via the “Thai stay home miles exchange” Keep it for hotel, accommodation, or other rewards as per conditions.

During a crisis like this, the brand has found an effective way to communicate & engage with its users and attract more users. This is done by keeping the current situation in mind and urging it’s users to – Stay At Home

Consumers have their inboxes flooded with email from other brands. Be mindful and understand how do they want to talk and communicate during a crisis. Be authentic, tell real stories, and try to spread a message of hope and support.

Effective communication in times of crisis

It is in uncertain times like these that brands are forced to rethink how to communicate with their customers. The need to determine what’s worth communicating while balancing marketing goals with customer empathy is more now than ever. Creating SEO-centric has taken a backseat and engaging customers in real-time has become a priority.

HDFC Bank recently launched The Safety Grid campaign to encourage and reinforce social distancing during the Lockdown 2.0. The outer grid of the bank’s logo was converted into physical markers on the ground to help people maintain social distance while waiting in a queue for essentials. The safety grid campaign was effectively carried out in 8 cities and the response has been overwhelming.


A campaign like this may come across as a surprise to many, given that HDFC chose to place its logo on the ground but the brand clearly reinstalls the fact that a brand cannot be bigger than the society it operates in. It operates for its consumers, and this is effective communication in times of crisis.

Social distancing is the need for the hour and food delivery services like Zomato and Dineout are going the extra mile to empathize, educate, and engage the audience with simple yet effective content. With proactive efforts and a change in communication, these providers have ensured that the consumer’s safety and the business of their restaurant partners are taken care of.


No matter what your business is, original, effective, and timely content will remain king. Content marketing is always adapting to the way consumers are interacting online and engaging with them in a way that is empathetic to their current situation.

Key pointers to make your content marketing relevant in a crisis

  • Empathize, educate and entertain
  • Make the content as relatable as possible
  • Create content for humans, not for algorithms and AI
  • Invest in moment & conversational marketing

In the words of the father of modern marketing, Seth Godin,

“Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but the stories that you tell”

Technology is evolving and so are consumers and the way they consume content. The present scenario presents a number of challenges but each challenge brings with it a new wave of opportunities that brands must be willing to embrace.

Beyond COVID-19 Business Transformation for the New Normal

As the world continues to navigate through the uncertainty of the COVID 19 crisis, businesses have taken a massive hit, leaving leaders scrambling for ways to keep businesses afloat. It is now strongly established that consumption patterns will see a colossal shift in the coming weeks. Offline purchases will be shifted to eCommerce, leaving brands to consider and implement stronger strategies to keep up with this inevitable change in consumption patterns. In a recent episode of Talks at Tenovia with business leaders, we interviewed TN Hari, entrepreneur, author, and Head of HR at Big Basket. In the discussion, he highlighted the 5x increase in demand for goods and the challenges businesses will face to match the demand during the crisis. The demand itself indicates a shift in buying behavior and this is something that every organization needs to analyze. In times of a crisis quickly adapting to the buyer’s needs is key to sustaining in the long run.


Some key consumer behavior changes according to a research study by Agility PR

  • 44 % of respondents say that the coronavirus spread has impacted their purchase decisions.
  • 21% of respondents say they are shopping more frequently online.
  • 29% of respondents say they are taking advantage of BOPIS services to get products delivered without going in-store, with 18 percent using a curbside pickup, 17 percent using subscription services, and 13 percent opting for auto ship.

While some of these changes are going to be temporary, others would be permanent. Consumers have come to realize that touch and feel are not as important especially in the event of a pandemic. This leaves online purchases and eCommerce a wide array of opportunities to catch momentum.

The reluctancy to step outside and buy will mark a tipping point for the adoption of eCommerce platforms. According to Bain insights, the outbreak in China has caused dramatic shifts in online purchases of consumer goods in China and this will hold true worldwide.

Traditional brick and mortar retailers need to quickly adapt to changing consumer buying preferences. They either choose to fulfill orders through established online retailers resulting in reduced bottom-line revenues or enter the eCommerce business wherein they sell directly to consumers. 

Retailers should explore an Omnichannel approach in order to stabilize and then increase revenues. Here are a few tips for business leaders to succeed during a crisis:

  • Consider going hyperlocal
  • Leverage tech to forecast demand and optimize inventory
  • Evolve your business model and ecosystem
  • Refocus on products and offer customizable solutions
  • Revolutionize your marketing techniques

In the words of Darwin “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change”

As consumers gradually but firmly change their buying preferences towards the online channel and eCommerce channels it is important that retailers adapt to change immediately unless they want to be the next Kodak or Nokia.

Implications of COVID-19 – The URGENT Need for a Digital Transformation

The last month has seen a major shift in the landscape of businesses both offline and online. As retail stores shut shop and people frantically wash hands, social isolation has somehow gotten us all more digitally connected than ever before. The COVID-19 situation is, in fact, a global crisis and a very serious one, which would force a lot of businesses to innovate and make tweaks to their business model. In the words of Steve Blank, of the Lean Startup fame:
“If your business model today looks the same as it did on 1st March, you’re in denial – and possibly out of business”. You should read up his Lifeboat Strategy to deal with this crisis for your business.


WHY YOU NEED AN ECOMMERCE AND A DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION STRATEGY

Ok here’s why: Offline business will take a while to come back to what it was. The good news is that the consumption will not stop – people’s behaviors won’t change – where they buy products or services from will get disrupted over the next few months. 


eCommerce will grow

The social isolation situation may continue longer and even after the lockdown is lifted, people will continue taking preventive measures keeping most shopping limited to online. 

Online sales have increased two-fold after the crisis struck. Most products like electronics have anyways largely been purchased online. Other sectors like Groceries, however, have only recently seen a spike in demand and sales online. What happens with grocery sales increasing online is that it is fundamentally a game-changer for the eCommerce industry. And if people get used to the convenience of this, it might just become habit-forming. 

Now, if your business is ahead of the curve on eCommerce, great! But if you’re a business leader and you’ve been slow to adapt to eCommerce, you have to prioritize it as one of the top projects on your to-do list. 

Adapting to eCommerce means a bunch of things including making tweaks in your supply chain, merchandise, hiring, warehousing, operations, customer service and finally sales and marketing. For some companies, it includes exploring a B2B eCommerce approach to expand their distribution.


And That’s why you would need a Digital Transformation

Digital transformation doesn’t mean activating your digital marketing and ticking that checkbox. It’s an approach that involves looking at your business with a fresher mindset. It is a shift that will need a change in the mindset, skillset, and toolset. 

Most brand leaders have heard of Digital Transformation and have probably taken some strides towards this. But if we were to look around, it’s nowhere near where it should be in the ecosystem. This COVID-19 crisis will quickly make it clear the gaps in your digital transformation strategy and execution. 

As the old Chinese saying goes: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now” 

In summary: We would strongly urge brand leaders to rethink what their businesses would look like if eCommerce would play a bigger role than it ever has: across the supply chain, distribution, brand awareness, new channels of sales, and new avenues of customer service and conversations.  

As stressful as the situation can get as we adapt to a post COVID-19 / Corona Virus world – as leaders we can do what’s in our control as we navigate our companies through this crisis. Act now!

Importance of buyer persona

Importance of Buyer Persona for your Business Growth

As a marketer, it is your first and foremost responsibility to ‘listen’ to your customer. If you want to effectively communicate with your buyer and understand them, you must know them first. As customers change and evolve in the way they engage with brands, you, as a marketer/business
owner also need to evolve with the right kind of customer insight. This is how you can develop buyer personas.

Not to be confused with consumer demographics, a buyer persona gives you a detailed study of their buying behavior, market navigation, and decision-making journey. And as a ‘good listener’ to your users, you would educate them and walk with them through this process.

The significance of buyer persona in business growth

Buyer personas help in generating better quality leads and help in conversions through effective communication.

  • With a deeper level of understanding, you can become a useful and trusted resource for them, driving their purchase decision.
  • It keeps you well-informed about your customer’s needs, preferences, goals, and expectations. Accordingly, you can be more efficient in your customer strategy and address the very specific needs of your consumer.
  • A well-defined persona can guide you into the customer’s psyche of how and why they make a purchase and how you can engage with them with relevant information.
  • Buyer personas work as an important tool in customizing your marketing efforts towards the right kind of audience and help in lead generation.
  • You can customize every brand message, content, information, or even your products and services as per the persona that you developed for your buyer. That way, you do not have to rely on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy which might or might not work for every customer.
  • Since you are constantly in sync with your buyers through their established personas, it also helps you to improve your existing products, introduce new products, or even address market challenges.
  • With buyer personas, you can easily segment your customers into different groups.
  • Personas are designed to be user-driven and that makes you an efficient and effective marketer.
  • It keeps you well-informed about your customer’s needs, preferences, goals, and expectations. Accordingly, you can be more efficient in your customer strategy and address the very specific needs of your consumer.
  • A well-defined persona can guide you into the customer’s psyche of how and why they make a purchase and how you can engage with them with relevant information.
  • Buyer personas work as an important tool in customizing your marketing efforts towards the right kind of audience and help in lead generation.
  • You can customize every brand message, content, information, or even your products and services as per the persona that you developed for your buyer. That way, you do not have to rely on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy which might or might not work for every customer.
  • Since you are constantly in sync with your buyers through their established personas, it also helps you to improve your existing products, introduce new products, or even address market challenges.
  • With buyer personas, you can easily segment your customers into different groups.
  • Personas are designed to be user-driven and that makes you an efficient and effective marketer.

Customers are at the core of any business and knowing them in depth can go a long way in boosting your business growth.

How MIS improves operational efficiency of online merchants

How MIS improves operational efficiency of online merchants

More often than not, online merchants face the issue of data accuracy and reliability. As enterprises of the information age, every business owner needs a robust information system, to manage the overwhelming amount of data and reduce human error. A Management Information System goes a long way in adding value to business functions and ensuring operational efficiency.

Here are some of the key contributions of MIS to your online business.

Helps in organizing data

With the high volume of data, information, and statistics your site collects every day, you need them to be organized for better analysis and make intelligent decisions. By sorting irrelevant data and organizing the necessary ones, it helps increase employee productivity and keeps the business processes seamless.

Addresses crisis situations

Imagine a system which can analyze stocks and predict future market performances. If you are in the stock business or dealing with the finance market online, then an MIS could be your valuable business tool. With the right MIS, you can have better foresight and avoid any probable crisis.

Helps store information

In a time of data overload, your business needs a mechanism that will help you archive vital data for future reference. MIS does just that. Such systems stores all necessary information in a user-friendly, easily retrievable database which helps you keep your data safe for a long time.

Encourages you to make decisions easily

Your business strategies and decision making are completely dependent on the kind of ‘information’ you have from your past performances, current market scenario, future predictions, and so on. With a comprehensive information system, you can have the entire picture laid out in front of you and be well-equipped for more strategic decisions.

Helps you get a better insight into your business

Markets are changing, leading every enterprise to stay ahead of their game. With an intelligent information system at your disposal, you can get better perspectives to the future of your business, your competition, and challenges.

As businesses become more data and information driven, the need for a robust system increases. MIS enables management of every piece of such dynamic information with minimal human intervention.

Evolution of Proximity Marketing

Evolution of Proximity Marketing

As much as this sounds like a 21st-century jargon, the underlying concept of location-based sales is as old as trade itself.

1990s

In the 1990s, when internet seeped into the homes of people around the world and became a household thing, IP addresses and targeting over Wi-Fi became the newest and the most popular form of targeting by brands. But eventually, enterprises ended up wasting more advertising budget since the device source would be a single computer in most families.

2000s

By the early 2000s, when mobile usage became common, location-based advertising became the next big thing in location technology. With phones being a more personal device than a home computer, it became easier for brands to advertise to the individual user on-the-go. But the accuracy of the specific location remained an issue.

2010s

Then came smartphones. By the late 2000s, there was a rapid growth of powerful mobile devices with GPS capability. For advertisers, it became easier to find the precise location of a device and use it to fine-tune their advertising strategies. This came to be known as geo-targeting or geo-fencing. It helped create a virtual boundary for the advertiser to yield a specific response once the user was within that defined area. Although this allowed better personalization, GPS would face a signal issue in indoor or underground spaces.

Today

To beat this, the second decade of the millennium saw a rising trend in proximity beacons. These were small Bluetooth devices that would find the accurate positioning of a device as close as 1 meter. Present in two main variants- iBeacon and Eddystone, beacons are mostly installed around public destinations like a shopping mall, sports stadiums, theaters, or theme parks. Proximity beacons help capture the micro-moments of users and revolutionized location marketing.

A lot has changed in the way location targeting has worked for brands all these years. What used to be a local shop owner holding a sign to sell his goods on the streets, has now assumed the form of a technology-backed advertising message on your personal devices.

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