Select Page

Reading time: About 5 minutes

Key Points:

  •         Automated in-store shopping
  •         A promising future for drone delivery
  •         Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  •         Unmanned Robot Deliveries
  •         Developing tech-enabled platforms and systems

With the worldwide spread of COVID-19 and the lockdown, retail stores have witnessed a huge dip in footfall and revenue. India has over 15 lakh modern retail stores employing more than 60 lakhs (6 million) people. The eCommerce industry observed a spike in the orders on almost all the platforms but these platforms are facing their own problems from sourcing to delivering the items.

Automation solutions for retail operations are quietly securing a bigger place for itself in the post lockdown world. The benefits of retail automation are two-fold – it serves the purpose of providing a more personalized experience and reducing the operational costs for retailers.

In this article, we will highlight a few cool technologies that will have a bigger role to play as we ease back to our world with lesser lockdown restrictions.

The post-lockdown world will pose a lot of challenges for retailers as the lifestyle of the people around the world is expected to undergo a major makeover. People are already more concerned about hygiene and safety, and social distancing is not just going to be a textbook term in the future. Even during the lockdown, permitted retailers are trying to minimize human contact. Automation reduces the human intervention in the supply chain of businesses and the shopping journey of customers.

Automated in-store Shopping

Amazon has opened a store outside of Seattle and named it Amazon Go where almost all of the aforesaid five processes are automated. Customers can just walk in the store and walk out with whatever items they want and they will be charged to their Amazon Prime account. This solves one of the biggest problems for the customers – waiting in queues for checkout. The store uses sensors, cameras, AI and computer vision to automate the purchase process substituting the need for cashiers.

BingoBox, a Chinese company uses RFID technology by labelling its products with RFID tags wherein customers need to scan their products at the exit in a standardized self-check-out kiosk and then pay for it using WeChat, a messaging app for China like its global counterpart WhatsApp.

Google launched the first home delivery drone service in Australia. Amazon could only be months away from using drones to deliver packages to customers.

Some other solutions would be having more vending machines, automated kiosks, and self-checkout kiosks that will reduce the waiting time for customers and speed up the check-out process. All these solutions need to be backed by automation of operational functions such as automated order management or automated inventory management systems.

A Promising Future for Drones or UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles)

Also when it comes to delivery and distribution of goods, there are problems not only from the customers’ side but getting the delivery partners on board in the situation of lockdown is also one of the challenges.

Drone delivery offers a promising future for distribution and delivery. One of the test cases is a healthcare startup Zipline.  Zipline was founded in 2014 in California. It delivers essential medical supplies to the hospitals and clinics in Ghana and Rwanda. They have 6 distribution hubs or centres each with a fleet size of 30 drones and each hub with a coverage area of 8,000 square miles or 20,720 square kilometres.

Google is also taking initiatives in the business of delivery by drones through its sister company Wing Aviation. Last year, Wing Aviation and FedEx partnered to carry out a drone trial to demonstrate the benefits of using drones as a last-mile delivery service. As of April 2020, Wing Aviation has also witnessed increased service demand in anticipation of the company’s partnership with Christiansburg’s Mockingbird Cafe & Bakery and Brugh Coffee.

Amazon recently hired ex-Boeing 787 program VP, David Carbon, as the VP of Amazon Prime Air program to oversee the company’s project which aims to safely deliver packages to customers in less than 30 minutes.

Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

As we ease back to our world and to our personal and business routines, the significance of AI will be higher than what it was when we entered the COVID crisis. Retail is one industry that will feel this pinch stronger. Why? Because in the near future we may have to significantly alter the supply chain and distribution systems of the retail industry towards making them more intelligent and sensitive to human priorities.

A good and relevant example here would be the use of AI-powered spatial analytics by Walgreen to track flu activity across the U.S. which not only enhances customers’ awareness but also helps the company better manage its inventory.

Unmanned Robot Deliveries

Chinese eCommerce giant JD (Jingdong) also did not lose out on the opportunity to serve the customers and compete with Alibaba. The company used autonomous vehicles to deliver goods in Wuhan, the epicentre of the COVID-19 virus. The loading the vehicle is a manual process but from thereon the autonomous vehicle delivers the goods.

In December 2019, Wal-Mart partnered with Nuro, an autonomous vehicle company, to test-drive autonomous grocery deliveries through a project to be based in Houston.

Developing Tech-enabled Platforms and Systems

Retailers are tackling many challenges during the lockdown and may continue with what they have been doing to maintain their relationship with their customers.

Big Bazaar in India is a multi-channel retail giant. Before the crisis, customers usually preferred buying from the stores. However, with the lockdown in place, the trends have changed sides. And to cope up with that, Big Bazaar has used their social media handles and text messaging feature to reach out to customers and have enabled home delivery of items.

Other retailers and eCommerce players are also experiencing the same trend. Many brick and mortar shops (essentials) have started using WhatsApp to take orders from their customers. Others have tied up with permitted delivery partners.

To make things possible in these trying times, Shopify has come up with an innovative concept of “Buy Online, Pickup Curbside” where customers can order and pay online and collect the order from the storefront or ‘curb’ without the need to leave their car. The retailers will get the order on email and they will reply with the time at which customers can come to collect the order. This eliminates or reduces human contact and is very practical and cost-effective. The retailers need not even buy a domain initially and can enjoy a 90-day free trial.

Summing up

The COVID crisis has surely changed our priorities as customers and as businesses.

For customers, the definition of essentials may already have been rewritten. Our priorities have expanded to include enhanced safety and security, not just in terms of product quality, but also in terms of delivery, distribution, and preparedness for the future. For retail companies, there will be a shift of focus from ‘what customers want’ to ‘how to deliver’ and ‘how to be better prepared’.

The new systems will have to be agile so that they can reform themselves in the event of any future crisis.

About us

Your Retail Coach (YRC) is a retail consulting and outsourcing company in India offering a wide range of services in retail offline, retail eCommerce and retail omnichannel catering to a multitude of industries.



The idea of having Ecommerce Consultants on-board from the beginning itself points towards reducing the involvement of the promoters in daily operations. Ecommerce Businesses willing to be a brand reaping profits & sustaining the competition must ensure that most of their processes should be automated. The more the manual intervention, the more would be the errors.

In Ecommerce business, you get only 1 chance to impress the customer & if you mess up there, you lose the customer for long.

Process automation in respect to all the activities pertaining to customers from order receiving to order fulfilment is a must for a seamless experience for the customers.

Task Management is another grey area where most deadlines fail as 90% of the tasks are assigned manually & are forgotten, unheard, misunderstood or mistaken.

YRC Team of Ecommerce Management Consultants helps to make maximum of the processes system-driven to ensure minimalistic manual intervention.


No matter how good your product is, the customer would know only if it looks good.

Photography includes the following steps:

  • Cataloguing your products
  • Cataloguing your images
  • Backup your images (A few cloud storage solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Bitcasa, Apple’s Cloud Storage etc.)
  • Choose the right camera & lens (You may also outsource the photography to a third party agency)


Digital Marketing includes SEO & SMM. SEO i.e. Search Engine Optimization includes activities like back-linking, meta tags, blog-writing etc. to ensure your website ranks on the 1st page on Google Search.

Next comes SMM i.e. “Social Media Marketing” which as the name suggests including promoting your products on all the social media sites, email marketing, influencer marketing & several other BTL activities.

These activities are going to be recurring & would decide the traffic on the website, the conversions, whether the right target market is tapped, the likes, the views, the orders, the reviews & much more. YRCs Ecommerce Consultants create a budget for digital marketing right from pre-launch to launch & for each month thereafter.

Building digital marketing strategies in coordination with the agency, selecting them to signing them off would be the role of YRC.

This ensures seamless coordination, detailed interactions & desired execution as it is always advisable to work with a single agency than multiple of them.


Selection of the right software for smooth functioning of back-end operations right from production to webstore display would be suggested and integrated by YRC Team.

YRC’s Team defines SOPs of Product Movement, maps it with the locations & people. They then create a blueprint of all the features required in the software & help in shortlisting & selection.

IT Integration involves connecting your offline inventories with real-time online webstore so when a sale occurs, inventories get deducted real time across offline as well as online platforms.

This helps in accurate inventory management, maintaining the MOQs, re-order levels & achieving the optimum inventory levels.

Some popular software include unicommerce, viniculum for your front-end website management & Genisys for your entire back-end Purchase, Production, Accounting, Invoicing etc. management.


  • How many cities or countries you wish to sell in?
  • Where should your Warehouse be located?
  • Should you have one warehouse in each country or city?
  • Should you be having your own delivery team in your base city?
  • Would the 3rd party vendors be reliable? What happens when they lose or misplace your product during delivery?
  • How should I manage the logistics if my goods are coming from different countries?
  • How should the goods be stored and barcoded?
  • How much space do I require for warehouse?
  • I am sure several such questions must be haunting you while you think of starting your own fashion ecommerce brand.


At YRC, our warehousing and logistics experts can help you devise a strategy for all of the above mentioned queries and much more.

We design the layout of the Warehouse considering the inward, goods processing, software entry, barcoding, outward, goods return, scrap storage, goods stacking & much more.

Logistics route plan is devised considering the manufacturer to your warehouse and from there to last mile delivery locations.


This Step involves 03 distinct parts:

Part 1: Choosing the right Platform:

From several platforms available in the market right from Shopify to magento, woocommerce, prestoshop, wordpress etc. you must choose the one that fits best for your business

Part 2: UX Designing:

“UX” denotes User Experience, which if put in simple language is building the functional requirements of the website.

UX Designing includes designing the features required in the website, customer journey map, website features, the browsing features, navigation features, ecommerce order management process flow, checkout cart features, catalogue management, ecommerce payment system, cross selling features & much more.

“As per statistics, 68% of the customers abandon the carts before payment”

An interesting UX ensures the customer sticks on to the website for a longer time.

Part 3: UI Designing:

UI stands for User Interface, which means designing the look and feel of the website. UI includes using the right colours, elements and the entire aesthetics of the website.

A good User Interface ensures the user completes the task that he has come for. It navigates the user through the journey of the brand in the simplest but most effective way.

The UX designer maps out the bare bones of the user journey; the UI designer then fills it in with visual and interactive elements.

If User experience is the bare bone, user interface wraps it up with an attractive cape.

At YRC, our team if experts can help you develop the entire User Journey to ensure it is engaging!


This step follows the “Designing” Phase, whether you have an in-house design team, freelance designers or an outsourced design company. It is one of the most exciting phases, as here you see your designs turning into products & your ideas turning into reality.

In most start-up cases, production is outsourced i.e. brands tie-up with the established manufacturers/ job-workers to get their products manufactured.

Sampling involves multiple 04 Stages, Fit-Sample, Prototype Sample, Pre-Production Sample & the Production Sample.

Prototype Sample is the first sample provided to the buyer. It can be in any fabric/ colour. This sample is just to understand whether the product design looks equally great in reality.

Fit Sample, as the name suggests is prepared to check the fit of the garment i.e. the various sizes, length, width etc.

Pre-production is made by the actual production line. Here the stitching quality and other aspects related to manufacturing are checked. This is the last stage where rejection can be accepted.

Production Sample is made before the production which is the replica of what is going to be finally produced.

Once you are through with all this, you are good to go ahead & get your goods manufactured.


Product Designing or Sourcing is the heart of the Ecommerce Fashion Brand.

Product Designing / Sourcing can be done in several ways, as follows:

  • In-house Design Team
  • Freelance Designers
  • Outsourced Design Team
  • Ready Product Sourcing (From Manufacturer or Wholesaler)

At YRC, we evaluate your business strategy & business model to arrive at the decision, which of the above ways would be best-fit for your business. In certain cases, product sourcing may be a combination of the above.

These are the people who are going to build your brand! Whether they are the designers or merchandiser, your brand look is going to be in their hands.

If you are designing each garment from the scratch, the sourcing would play crucial role in developing design identity of your brand.

Sourcing includes fabric, trims, lining & all the raw material required to build the garment.


Branding is the “Look of the Brand”, right from logo to tagline, the colours used, the brand story, the brand communications on social media, the packaging & all the other aspects which speak directly or indirectly to the customers. Branding constitutes the look & feel of the brand & hence must be thoughtfully planned to match with the product that we are selling.

Branding must appeal to our target audience. Example : A golden colour logo depicting finesse, art, richness, premium, however beautiful it may be individually cannot go with a brand selling affordable kids wear products. So, your logo must be in-line with your brand positioning, whether you are an expensive brand or a luxury brand or a value for money brand, it must be depicted from your “Branding”.

It is an integral part to attract the target audience.


Organogram is the “HR Blueprint” of the business which is created at the onset, to map out the team required across each function at various stages of the business. At the launch, only key people need to be got on board to ensure the project gets started & at this stage, all of them need to multi-task. Similarly, certain financial as well as operational goals are set for addition of the further team. Example, for the operations team, we hire 1 operations manager during the pre-launch phase & we add 1 more only when the business kicks-off & we reach a volume of selling more than 1000 pcs/ month or a turnover of more than 0.1 million USD.

SOPs are Standard Operating Procedures, a bible to run the entire organization right from Sales, Purchase, HR, Order receiving to Order fulfilment, Inventory Management, Accounts, Warehouse, Logistics, Supply Chain, Production & all the other relevant functions for the business. Business must be organized from its first day of operations; only then the tasks can be delegated.

At YRC, we design the organization structure, the processes, and approximate time taken to execute each process, job profile of every member within the organization, their KRAs, KPIs & the Reporting Structure.


Critical Pathway Analysis (CPA), is a project management technique which cannot be overlooked while launching an ecommerce fashion brand. Brand launch process is cumbersome with multiple inter-dependent & time-bound tasks involved, which need to be tracked to ensure the project remains on track.

CPA outlines key tasks across the project, their turnaround time (TAT) & the dependencies of tasks upon each other. It identifies the sequence of tasks, their interdependent steps from inception to completion, their criticalities, and their dates of onset, target dates of completion along with the key responsible person for the respective activities. Critical Pathway helps in understanding the unimportant & not urgent tasks which may jeopardize the execution of the project because of an unexpected snag! It also maps out the potential bottlenecks which might be posed because of the dependencies of tasks upon each other & cases where the next task cannot be commenced before the completion of the previous one.

CPA detects the minimum & the maximum time involvement of a particular individual or team to execute the task, thereby arriving at the overall deadlines associated with the project.

At Your Retail Coach, we design the Critical Pathway & review it periodically to ensure the project is on track & the progress is measurable.


Business Strategy includes the vision, mission, goals, business model, business plan & strategy for all the functions within the organization.

Business Strategy is a well-defined plan that outlines who, what, where, why, how & when for the company; for example, who would be the target market, how to attract the target audience, when to launch new products, where to operate from, how to handle competitors, what would be the USP, what would be long term goal of the organization & several other answers to the 5Ws of Strategy.

Business Strategy aligns the organization towards a common goal. Business SWOT helps company to identify & overcome their weaknesses & focus to sharpen the strengths. Business strategy forecasts future risks and helps business in building skillsets to overcome the potential threats.

YRC’s Business Plan focuses on creating a “Blueprint” of the business, thereby deriving the feasibility of the concept & gauge whether the opportunity is lucrative to invest time, energy & effort. Business Plan creates cash flow understanding i.e. building inflow & outflow cash projections from Week zero to week 60 i.e. 05 year projection. Business Plan calculates the capital investment, operating costs, one-time costs, recurring costs & all the other numbers relevant to obtain the breakeven sales, return on investment, return on capital, internal rate of return & several other ratios. Business Plan is also one of the important requirements if you are targeting the “Investor Route”. Fund raising becomes extremely transparent & channelized. With business plan panned out clearly, the business will know until what point must it be stretched & where to stop, which reduces the probability of unplanned investments.


Starting the concept of Ecommerce Fashion brand with Market Research ensures we get detailed understanding of the industry & this research report also acts as a social confirmation for your concept. Market Research helps in understanding the target locations, their population, potential online buyers for your product, competitors for each category, and top selling products of the competitors, competitors’ price range, offers & their responses & much more. Market Research helps in thorough understanding of your brand position as compared to our competitors. It helps in identifying gaps in the market, in your category along with the scope of the said product in the desired market. This will help in validation of your concept & prevents you from making the same mistakes as your fellow brands, eventually saving your time, energy & efforts. This phase is also a make or a break phase, as the market research study may at-times come up with some eye-popping numbers & statistics which might compel you to re-think on your product or category that you are planning to sell or alter your entire concept itself!! Market Research Reports analyse the competitors’ webstore for their traffic, conversion & sales. This is extremely valuable information to derive our inventory budgets & projections, which takes us to our next phase.