R e t a i l  T e c h  T a l k

June 2024

A Few Curated Articles from In and Around the Retail Technology Industry

Navigating The AI Revolution: Balancing Risks And Opportunities

Article by Forbes, May 30, 2024

As AI technologies continue to advance, they hold immense potential for creating value that can transform industries as a whole. Still, this progress introduces new risks that organizations must understand and subsequently manage, including the unauthorized use of AI that may leak corporate data; breaches of intellectual property rights; misinformation; cyberattacks targeting algorithm manipulation and personal data extraction; and the use of AI itself by adversaries to launch sophisticated ransomware attacks and disinformation campaigns.

As a result, there is a major need for holistic risk management and continuous monitoring when it comes to AI, both for understanding risks within the context of specific digital ecosystems and updating control frameworks, and for ensuring that AI operates as intended.

Global Efforts In AI Risk Management

The recent agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom to manage identified risks from AI models, along with the G7’s endorsement of AI Principles and Code of Conduct to ensure the safety and trustworthiness of AI, highlights the global emphasis on proactive AI management. This is further reinforced by regulatory updates from the EU AI Act and various initiatives underway in several jurisdictions.

Growing Concerns Over AI Misuse

Moreover, a recent ISACA survey on the realities of AI highlights the growing concern among professionals regarding the exploitation of generative AI by malicious actors. With 60% of respondents indicating they are worried or very worried about the potential misuse of AI, it’s evident that the proliferation of AI technologies presents new challenges for cybersecurity. Among the top AI risks identified, misinformation and disinformation rank highest, with 81% highlighting it as a significant concern.

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SMS Marketing Guide: Tips, Examples and Tools

Article by Shopify, May 23 2024

SMS marketing is one of the most effective ways to communicate with customers, boasting high engagement and conversion rates. It’s also more cost-efficient and personal than many other marketing channels, nurturing stronger customer relationships without draining your budget.

This blog post will guide you through the basics of SMS marketing, with some best practices and examples to help you build an effective SMS marketing program.

What is SMS marketing?

Short message service (SMS) marketing uses text messages to build relationships with customers and communicate promotional information. The goals of SMS marketing include generating leads, persuading recipients to click a link, and sharing information about a customer’s order or profile.

SMS marketing messages often contain copywriting, emojis, eye-catching images, links, and other easy options for making a purchase. They are typically sent to large lists of subscribers.

How SMS marketing works

Strategically, email and SMS marketing are similar. The goal of SMS marketing, like email marketing, is to sell, educate, or build loyalty. SMS is an owned marketing channel—the sender fully controls the list of phone numbers and distribution—and businesses can send one-to-one or one-to-many messages, depending on their goals.

Just like email marketing, you should ensure you’re capturing consent from customers before sending a marketing message via SMS.

Once you get permission from a subscriber, you can test different SMS marketing campaigns:

  • New product announcements 
  • Special offers like limited-time sales and free shipping
  • Subscriber-exclusive offers 
  • Flash sales
  • Text-to-win competitions
  • Loyalty programs
  • Product drop alerts

SMS marketing requires a shortcode, the SMS equivalent of a company email address. A shortcode is an abbreviated, easy-to-remember phone number of five or six digits.

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Apple Launches Tap to Pay on iPhone in Canada, Revolutionizing Contactless Payments for Businesses

Article by Retail Insider, May 23 2024

Apple has launched Tap to Pay on iPhone in Canada which it says allows businesses to seamlessly and securely accept payments from contactless credit and debit cards, Apple Pay, and other digital wallets using only an iPhone and a partner-enabled iOS app.

The retailer said no additional hardware or payment terminal is required.

“Canadians increasingly rely on a variety of digital and contactless payment options, so we’re excited to partner with payment platforms to offer merchants across Canada a private, secure, and easy-to-use capability that meets customers where they are,” said Jennifer Bailey, Apple’s vice president of Apple Pay and Apple Wallet, in a statement.

“We’ve seen how merchants and customers around the world appreciate the versatility of Tap to Pay on iPhone, and in a region as diverse as Canada’s, we look forward to making it easy for businesses of any size to transact from coast to coast with just an iPhone.”

Apple said payment platforms and developers can integrate Tap to Pay on iPhone into their iOS apps, making it easy for merchants to enable this secure and convenient capability. Starting today, Adyen, Moneris, Stripe, and Square are the first payment platforms in Canada to offer Tap to Pay on iPhone. 

In the coming months, Aurus; Chase Payment Solutions, a part of J.P. Morgan Payments; Fiserv; and Helcim will enable Tap to Pay on iPhone for customers in Canada. Tap to Pay on iPhone will also be available at merchants such as Sephora, as well as Apple Store locations across the country later this year. Tap to Pay on iPhone works with contactless credit and debit cards from leading payment networks, including American Express, Interac, Mastercard, and Visa, said the company.

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What Is True Omnichannel Retail Experience

Article by Priority Software

Omnichannel shopping allows customers to interact with different sales and media touchpoints while having a consistent experience. This is possible thanks to data being updated in real-time on concerned platforms and touchpoints. As a result, customers can switch between different platforms and continue shopping from where they left off without experiencing any friction. However, true omnichannel experience is challenging to implement due to the following reasons:

  • Siloed channel systems – Despite attempting to implement an omnichannel shopping strategy, many retailers find that each channel is managed in separate IT environments, at least partially. Siloed systems do not exchange data between channels efficiently and cause various issues, including duplication of files and data, bottlenecks within retail processes, and difficulties for operational staff. Most importantly, customers cannot alternate between channels efficiently.
  • Rigid technology – The essence of an omnichannel strategy is the flexibility and malleability of technology. As customer-preferred journeys change rapidly, rigid and inflexible software tools often fail to deliver the omnichannel promise.
  • Lack of personalization – Many omnichannel platforms get overwhelmed by data deluge and constant customer interactions at different touchpoints. When an omnichannel shopping solution does not provide a single view of the customer across all touchpoints, it cannot personalize customer experience intelligently.

A true omnichannel shopping experience incorporates unified consumer profiles managed by one centralized platform — the single source of truth across touchpoints and departments in real time. Most importantly, a truly omnichannel shopping experience isn’t just about using the latest omnichannel retail management system. It is about adopting a consumer-centric business strategy that evolves with socio-technological trends. It’s a philosophy, a mindset, and a business paradigm.

The Evolution from Multichannel to Omnichannel

When ecommerce took off, retailers sought to make their products visible and available for sale on different touchpoints, starting from physical retail stores to online stores and social media platforms. This was most commonly executed on different platforms as retailers were eager to rollout new shopping channels quickly to answer customers’ demand. However, they quickly realized that merely making products available for shopping on multiple channels and platforms, also known as multichannel shopping, was insufficient. They recognized the need to put customer experiences on top of the priority list.

In brief, the evolution from multichannel to omnichannel can be summarized thus:

  • Customers do not follow a linear buying journey and shift back and forth between channels. This has made retailers feel the need for data unification and real-time updating.
  • Converging various shopping behaviors and highlighting customer centricity is the focus of the omnichannel shopping strategy. Hence, businesses now realize that an omnichannel shopping strategy is not just a technique but a business philosophy.
  • The shift from multichannel shopping experience to omnichannel shopping has not just been a shift in technology and processes but also a conscious paradigm shift towards immediacy, transparency, and convenience for all stakeholders involved.

Let’s quickly understand the difference between the often confused terms.

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