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Digital Transformation in Retail Is Only Just Beginning – ReadWrite

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Brad Anderson


Have your buying habits changed much in the past year? Odds are good they have. According to a recent report on global retail digital transformation trends, the retail industry has experienced rapid changes like no other. Plenty of consumers are hanging onto online buying habits they developed while their movements were restricted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

That’s probably not too surprising, given the extraordinary events of the past 18 months. The movement from traditional shopping experiences to online commerce was already well underway when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world stage. Suddenly, societies all around the world have had to adjust to entirely new ways of living and functioning. Systems were rapidly deployed, fine-tuned, and adapted to serve an entirely different system of commerce.

What is the retail industry like today?

Today, the retail industry must continue to pivot to meet ever-changing needs and expectations if they hope to keep their existing and prospective customers engaged.

Opinions vary on the best way to approach this ongoing reality. However, there seems to be one point of agreement. More than 70% of retailers agree that digital transformation will play a key role in moving retail technology into the future.

Mauricio Vianna, CEO of MJV Technology and Innovation, recently sat down for an informative question-and-answer session to discuss digital transformation in the retail sector. In his role as CEO, Mauricio has tremendous depth and breadth of experience working with consumer goods corporations in the Fortune 500. He leads his company in continued efforts to innovate in this area, as demonstrated by creating their newly launched FMCG Hub.

Given the reality of a worldwide shift in buying habits, the insights provided by Vianna and his team are especially valuable. Now that the pandemic is apparently winding down, many retailers are engaging in a postmortem of sorts. They are examining trends that emerged over the past 18 months while also looking to the future. It’s a time of recovery, but according to Vianna, there are also opportunities to innovate and transform.

What are the digital trends that retail brands need to pay attention to in the next six to twelve months?

Mauricio Vianna: We have noticed a transformation of the retail sector accelerated by the pandemic. This has led to different trends such as profound changes in consumer behavior, reduced delivery costs, contactless payment methods, among others.

We are also seeing a tremendous increase in the number of retailers placing an emphasis on the omnichannel experience, which focuses on the customer experience as a whole rather than treating each touchpoint as a separate entity. This guarantees a fluid journey and a holistic view.

The omnichannel approach is also data-friendly. It allows us to extract information and generate insights for future analysis. It also empowers us to enhance the customer experience and add value to the business simultaneously. Companies that have yet to allocate resources to developing or extending the reach of an omnichannel experience risk being left behind as consumers become increasingly picky about the media they expose themselves to.

What changes have taken place in direct-to-consumer strategy over the past year that brands might be underestimating?

MV: DTC requires the right supply chain strategy to make it happen. This is expensive, and it can take time to develop. Brands need to balance consumer expectations with their supply chain strategy. This is necessary to really be able to deliver what they are promising. In the past year, consumer expectations for higher speed and convenience have accelerated.

The days of consumers being content with taking delivery in six to eight weeks are definitely over. Consumers are increasingly unwilling to wait more than a few days. The implications for maintaining a supply chain can be staggering if not well managed.

Some companies are struggling to keep up with the back-end operational structure to deliver the desired experience. Others are concerned about stockpiling unsold goods and the effect this will have on their bottom line. Brands need to find ways to bridge the gap between what consumers expect and what the brands can deliver. Innovation can help with that.

How can digital transformation be leveraged in a retail strategy that is primarily focused on brick-and-mortar storefronts?

MV: Digital transformation can help any company that wants to offer an improved omnichannel experience to the consumer. Brick-and-mortar retail might be how you get a lot of your business. However, omnichannel is still exceptionally relevant for maintaining the relationship. It’s also ideal for keeping your brand on a consumer’s shortlist of trusted brands.

You’ll need to offer different channel choices to consumers. All the options you select need to have a unified strategy. This means that the brick-and-mortar channel should integrate with other channels, such as e-commerce. The integration would allow your brand to deliver a unified and seamless consumer experience.

Additionally, your brick-and-mortar locations can leverage digital transformation to offer an enhanced in-store experience through augmented reality, sensors, and catering to the internet of things as well as gain more efficiency with your back-office operations with automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

What digital channels do brands need to pay more attention to?

MV: The fundamental channels I’ll mention are web, app, bot, social media, and WhatsApp. However, different channels are appearing daily. There’s no getting around it. Retailers need to keep paying attention to new channels as they are developed or risk obsolescence. If you already have an integrated strategy and structured process for new channels, regardless of the new channel that appears, your brand will be prepared.

When a new channel does emerge, it’s necessary to understand its role. It’s good to know whether it makes sense in the consumer journey. Additionally, it’s also good to know how to collect the data and how to operate the services of that channel. After that, determine the best approach for integrating it into your brand’s ecosystem as a whole.

Clearly, it would be a mistake for retailers to view the country’s reopening as a sign to go back to ”business as usual.” No matter what drove the change we’ve seen over the past 18 months or so, it is clear that customers value many of those transformations. Instead, FMCG brands should focus on DX strategies that allow them to create better omnichannel experiences while contending with supply-chain challenges that remain.

Image credit: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels; Thanks!

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending

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Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play


London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs

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Deanna Ritchie


As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations

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Deanna Ritchie


As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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