Lakshminarayan Swaminathan Vice-President, Product Management, Myntra

The retail sector is undergoing a major transformation, driven by continued technological advancements, rapid digitalisation and ever-evolving customer expectations. Retailers are leveraging next-generation technology solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) and internet of things (IoT) to enhance their business efficiency and improve customer engagement. Industry leaders share their views on the key digital trends, implementation challenges, status of metaverse and the future outlook…

What key technology trends are dominating the retail sector? What ICT solutions are adopted by your organisation?

There are multiple interesting trends that have been gaining ground in retail and e-commerce. Personalisation of the customer journey is something that has been a focus for us within Myntra and we continue to make big strides on this front, right from personalising the user experience on the app as well as notifications and creatives shown to users, to re-ordering the widgets on the homepage based on customer preferences and choices and more. As more users get entrenched digitally and the share of GenZ customers grows, a personalised user experience is likely to become a big differentiator. Another trend around imp­roving user experience that we are quite optimistic about is AR and VR. In fashion retail particularly, solutions that enable virtual try-ons and visualize products in real-life settings can be very helpful in helping users discern the right size and fit. We are experimenting with AR/VR technology to build virtual try-on capabilities for apparel and beauty products and provide an immersive experience for users.

Finally, there are also a lot of automation opportunities that can positively im­p­rove productivity and efficiency and these are only continuing to gain pace with the em­ergence of generative AI. We have dep­loyed several automation solutions throu­gh our supply chain, as well as launched features such as MyStylist and MyFashion GPT, which leverage AI to deliver a superlative shopping experience for customers.

How are next-generation technologies such as AR/VR and IoT transforming the retail space? What is the status of metaverse adoption in the industry?

AR/VR technologies have a large potential to offer experiential and immersive user journeys and help customers understand products better when presented in the right context. Virtual try-on solutions that improve decision-making with regard to size and fit are good use cases in fashion across apparel, footwear and accessory categories. For categories such as lifestyle in home decor and furniture, AR/VR soluti­ons help in letting customers visualise the­se products in their homes and thus build confidence to move ahead with the purchase. In beauty again, AR/VR has multiple applications and can be used to understand how a particular product would look on the user. In addition to improving customer decision-making and conversions, AR/VR solutions are good to engage customers in novel ways and get them to interact with the platform, brand and various selections, while also enabling more confident decision-making.

As far as IoT is concerned, there are several applications in our supply chain that are already live and delivering benefits. We have, for instance, used radio-frequency identification for product traceability through supply chain to some degree and continue to evaluate expanding this further.

Metaverse is still at a very nascent sta­ge. While there are some brands that have tried events and storefronts in the metaverse to engage their customers, these are still experimental and adoption at scale both from users and platforms/brands will evolve over time.

What are the main challenges while deploying new-age technologies? How do you plan to address these?

Organisations need to constantly keep pace with the fast-evolving user preferences and behaviour by putting a high emphasis on new innovations. This necessitates platform architecture to consider seamless integrations with available solution partners as well as re-architecture of existing systems to stay up-to-date with new technologies, while keeping customer-centricity in focus.

Which three digital trends will reshape the sector going forward?

The three trends, in my view, that will be dominant in the sector going forward, are personalisation across every step of the journey to significantly improve the user experience, AI to enhance user experience as well as operational productivity and AR/VR to drive better engagement from users while enabling more confident decision-making.

“Besides improving customer decision-making, AR/VR solutions help engage customers in novel ways to interact with the platform, brand and various selections, while also enablingmore confident decisionmaking.” Lakshminarayan Swaminathan