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TECHNOLOGY

How Big Data, IoT, Robotics and Modern Tech Are Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

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How Big Data, IoT, Robotics and Modern Tech Are Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

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How Big Data, IoT, Robotics and Modern Tech Are Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

Modern technologies such as big data, internet of things (IoT) and robotics have gifted the retail sector with several advancements.

Hence, the retail sector is going through a revolution that has led to the creation of retail 4.0.

Since 2014, the retail industry sales have been rising at a steady rate. In 2020 alone, the retail industry sales were recorded to be around $18.5 trillions. One of the factors responsible for the steady growth of the retail sector is the rise of digitization and modern technology, which lead to the birth of retail 4.0. After the introduction of advanced technologies, several processes in retail workflow such as purchase, inventory management, customer service, accounts, and supply chain management became automated. Enhanced communication platforms have created a more connected landscape across the board. Thus, the retail industry is witnessing a shift in the work culture with the help of retail 4.0, giving rise to innovative business models. Another benefit of digitization in retail is the adoption of a data-driven approach that has given rise to consumer-centric product strategies.

Technology Trends Driving Retail 4.0

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Big Data

In today’s digital world, data is currency. Data is collected everywhere whether you are signing up for a new social network or looking to adopt a pet. Similarly, data is collected at every stage of a supply chain and in every department of the retail industry. With big data in retail, the accumulated data can be used for analysis and for building effective strategies.

Data helps retailers understand their consumers and the demographics they belong to. Such data-based insights offer an informative approach for recognizing consumer demands by identifying which products and services have a high demand and which products are not doing well in the market. By analyzing market sales and performance for their products, retailers can make informed investment decisions. As an additional benefit, consumer data helps in determining the price that consumers find suitable for a product. Big data analytics enables businesses to explore the changing industry trends and niche consumer demands. Retail store giant, Target, created a pregnancy prediction model with the help of their baby-shower registry, purchase patterns, customer support queries, credit card use, survey responses, website use, and personal data. The model distributed baby product promotions to specific customers in a timely manner based on their stages of pregnancy. Hence, gathering consumer data creates a consumer-centric business atmosphere that caters to individual consumer needs.

Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT is one of the major contributors to the development of retail 4.0. IoT is consistently innovating the retail industry. IoT sensors help in creating an interactive environment across the board. The retail industry has realized the potential of IoT, which explains why 70% of retail decision makers globally want to adopt IoT for delivering better consumer experiences.

With IoT sensors, field devices can interact with each other and provide real-time updates to the concerned parties. IoT sensors can be installed to monitor expensive machines and equipment used for inventory management, production, and transportation purposes. IoT applications enable predictive maintenance of equipment, saving expenses incurred on equipment failure. IoT is giving rise to ‘smart’ retail stores that are connected with RFID tags. RFID tags help in the real-time management of stores. Similarly, IoT sensors can be used to track inventory levels of stores and warehouses. With such sensors, retailers will be notified if their inventory is running out of products and restock when required. At checkouts, consumers can scan IoT-powered tags and pay via mobile apps. Furthermore, retail stores can deploy beacons to alert customers about promotions and discounts when they are near certain products. Retail stores can also install smart shelves that scan RFID tags of products and measure their weight to monitor the availability of products on the shelves. When the shelves are empty, smart shelves alert the store owners. Such efforts can also enable theft prevention in the store.

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Cloud Computing

A transparent business approach is one of the top priorities of retail 4.0. Cloud computing allows sharing crucial data and documents across various channels whenever required. Due to its online nature, cloud computing proves to be more secure compared to the traditional methods. Moreover, cloud computing helps in horizontal and vertical system integration by providing a transparent medium for tracking the exact status of consignments, stock-outs, high inventories and the digital documents received from suppliers, logistics providers, brokers, and carriers. Developers are constantly improving cloud computing to make the technology faster and more secure than ever. Therefore, cloud computing and retail 4.0 are together promoting data-driven business practices.

Additive Manufacturing

Modern technologies have developed new and innovative production techniques to ensure efficient and cost-effective manufacturing processes. Additive manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing are widely used to produce prototypes. But, in the era of retail 4.0, additive manufacturing is revolutionizing the supply chains by reducing material input and costs. With additive manufacturing, production processes will be simplified to enable large-scale production of products. Also, simpler machine-powered production processes will reduce the labor requirement.

With further developments in the technology, the production of new products that meet the changing customer demands will be quicker. Furthermore, additive manufacturing can also be used as a backup to traditional manufacturing techniques in the event of equipment failures.

Robotics

Robots are already extensively used for manufacturing operations in factories. But with the introduction of retail 4.0, autonomous robots have found mainstream applications such as in-store customer service, warehouse management, and delivery services. After much research and development, all logistics and delivery tasks will be handled by autonomous vehicles.

In-store customer service robots guide customers across various sections of the store and help them find the required products. For example, Fellow Robots has developed LoweBot for the retail home improvement chain Lowe’s. Customers can ask questions or type them using the touchscreen on Lowebot and the bot resolves the queries or guides customers to their products. As an additional feature, Lowebot also performs inventory tracking across the aisles. Likewise, Chloe, Best Buy’s in-house robotics solution picks out products and merchandise from the shelves using a robotic arm as per consumer requests. Chloe also tracks shopping trends to refresh the inventory. Then there is Domino’s that’s deployed Domicopter, a drone, to deliver food to customers.

Augmented Reality

Although augmented reality is still a relatively fresh technology, industrialists are investing in the research and development of its innovative use cases. Currently, augmented reality is used for numerous functions like selecting warehouse parts and sending repair instructions with mobile apps.

Online retailers are already providing mobile apps that help consumers “try out” clothes or virtually place furniture to check if it fits with their interior design. Several consumers are also using IBM app and Google Lens to scan products for information.

Roadmap for Adapting to Retail 4.0

Retail 4.0 has led to the creation of more efficient and productive business practices with the help of advanced technologies. Big players are already using cost-effective alternatives for traditional methods. Businesses are now focusing on creating seamlessly integrated and data-driven business models. Such business models prioritize end-to-end transparency and communication to fulfill consumer demands and manage inventories. But, planning and implementation of such business practices along with the deployment of the necessary technologies is a complicated task. Hence, organizations need a roadmap to approach retail 4.0 in the most effective way possible. The roadmap involves the following steps:

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  • Since several technologies and business models are required for adapting to retail 4.0, hiring experienced professionals with niche skills is essential.

  • Creating effective strategies and allocating sufficient budget for infrastructure.

  • Updating existing systems to integrate new technologies.

  • Generating analytics to understand the changing industry trends as well as the organization’s performance in the market.

  • Educating employees about every technology being deployed and the effects of such technologies on the work culture.

  • Promoting the development of applications that ensure better consumer experience.

In the near future, blockchain will be a part of the global retail market where payrolls, supply chain management, investments, and purchases will be handled with the help of a transparent ledger. Therefore, the possibilities for retail 4.0 are endless. Hence, retail organizations need to stay updated about new technologies and business practices and adopt a holistic approach for retail 4.0.

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TECHNOLOGY

The Best Programming Languages for Web Services and Their Advantages In 2022

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The world is becoming more digital, and the need to learn digital skills is higher now than ever before. One such digital skill that has gained more prominence since the last decade is programming languages. We now live in a world revolving around technology, and basic knowledge of programming languages is becoming a necessity for many career options and job profiles. 

There are many reasons to learn about the different programming languages and their advantages, and web services or web development is a big part of it. Web development is an ever-growing field and has plenty of opportunities. To grab these opportunities in web development, you need to equip yourself with the correct programming language.  However, the plethora of language options available to you can be confusing, especially if you are a beginner. 

Javascript

This high-level language, often used by most websites as a client-side language, is a core technology in the World Wide Web. Initially, it was used only for developing web browsers; however, they now have new usages in non-web browser applications and server-side website deployments. 

Since its creation in 1995, it has evolved into one of the world’s most popular programming languages and is highly sought after by various organizations. 

Pros

  • Learning and implementing javascript is easy.
  • It is very popular and is everywhere on the net.
  • It can run immediately in the client-side browser.
  • It doesn’t demand much from the website server. 

Cons

  • Different browsers may interpret it differently sometimes, so writing cross-browser code is difficult.

Python

This is a powerful programming language and is one of the best used in web development for multiple purposes. Furthermore, this open-source language is very easy to learn and deploy and is among the best languages for learning web development since it develops scalable applications and web pages. 

Python has a unique selling point: the simple, productive, and elegant design of this language. It is the best for backend development with first-class integration with other programming languages such as C++ and C. 

Python has numerous usages, especially in developing web and desktop applications and GUI-based applications such as machine learning, data science, and network servers. It also offers multiple toolsets for mathematics, statistics, and computational science with numerous libraries and frameworks like NumPy, Pandas, SciPy, and Scikit-Learn. 

Pros 

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  • It increases the productivity of programmers and developers. 
  • It supports several systems and platforms.
  • It follows object-oriented programming. 
  • It ensures easy scalability, even with complex web applications.
  • Offers numerous support libraries. 
  • It focuses on code readability. 

Cons

  • The database is primitive and slightly underdeveloped.
  • Not ideal for mobile computing.

HTML

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. This language is the foundation upon which web development is built, and every developer must familiarize themselves with it. It is a very popular language and is currently one of the most used programming languages. While it cannot be described as a full-fledged programming language, HTML is the standard language for creating web pages. 

HTML gives web pages structure and ensures that images and texts are correctly formatted. In addition, it is a fast language and helps developers design web pages much quickly because it uses templates. 

Pros 

  • Learning and implementing is easy. 
  • It is free and accessible.
  • All browsers support it. 

Cons

  • This language is static, so creating dynamic pages is impossible. 
  • It requires lots of code to develop a simple webpage. 

PHP

This is an ideal language for web development. Even though many other programming languages like python and javascript are also suitable for web development, the need for professional developers who work with PHP remains very high in the market. It is a general-purpose language that can be used for developing server-side applications. In addition, PHP is dynamic and maintained by open-source platforms working across Windows. UNIX, and Mac systems. 

PHP is highly productive in web development and is used vastly within this industry to build and deploy applications quickly. 

Pros

  • It has plenty of frameworks to offer. 
  • It can be used to develop web pages with ease. 
  • It supports object-oriented and functional programming paradigms.
  • It also supports multiple automation tools used for testing and deploying applications.
  • It uses the Xdebug extension, which allows for great debugging. 
  • It has a large ecosystem with incredible community support. 

Cons 

  • It doesn’t have features for handling errors and security. 
  • It is slower to build a web page using this language alone than other programming languages. 

CSS

CSS is similar to HTML because it is also a basic language that all developers should know. CSS is the acronym for Cascading Style Sheets. This language is mainly used along with HTML to govern a web page’s style. Combining CSS and HTML languages is often the mother of programming languages. For example, CSS determines the color, positions, and size of elements within a webpage. 

CSS uses a cascading style, which means an applied style cascades down from the parent to the child throughout the web page. This cascading nature allows it to uphold consistency. 

Pro

  • It is a beginner-friendly language that’s easy to learn.
  • CSS supports responsive website design. 
  • It simplified web page customization
  • It increases the webpage loading speed. 

Cons 

  • It is possible to suffer cross-browser issues.
  • It has multiple levels, such as CSS2 and CSS3, which may lead to confusion.

C++

This middle-level programming language was created in 1980 as an Objective C extension. C++ language is simple and easy to learn for beginners, and it has lots of usefulness. It offers everything that Objective C offers and more. It supports features such as object-oriented programming, except type checking and handling. 

C++ supports OOP concepts such as encapsulation, inheritance, and abstraction. The compiling mechanism is quick and efficient, and it has a massive standard library. 

Pros 

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  • It is highly scalable. 
  • It is portable and easy to handle.
  • It has extensive community support. 

Cons

  • Garbage collection is not automatic.
  • The pointers have associated complexities. 

Conclusion 

There are numerous options for programming languages to learn for web development in 2022. However, you could get spoiled for choice and miss your way if you’re a beginner and new to the web development scene. Therefore, this article discusses some of the best and most popular programming languages you can kick start your web service journey in 2022. 

Author Bio

Eun Rockwell is a professional journalist with extensive experience, four years. She also works as a freelancer and writes a lot of articles. In addition, she has had writing stints at My-assignment.help and Superiorpapers. Eliza is always focused on doing quality work to achieve her goals and objectives. In addition, Eliza is fascinated by creating original works that meet high standards. Feel free to connect with her by email. 

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