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How to work with offshore teams (17 actionable tips to live & work by and 6 expert testimonies)

Have you ever wondered how you can work with offshore teams effectively? In this in-depth article, we cover 17 actionable ways to make it happen.

Working with virtual/ offshore development teams is as common in the technology space as having fries with your hamburger.

The top two reasons American companies outsource mobile app development are to reduce costs and improve service.

According to the IT Outsourcing Statistic Report for 2016-2017, outsourcing accounted for over 10% of the typical IT company in America.

The same report reveals app development services as the most frequently outsourced function in IT.  Furthermore, 40% of the companies that outsourced mobile app development last year intend to increase the amount of work they outsource in 2017.

Among companies offering a mobile app product, the trend towards outsourcing such work is clear: a staggering 53% of companies with a mobile app outsource their development efforts:

outsorcing work to offshore teams


Source: IT Outsourcing Statistic Report

As US companies increase collaboration with offshore and virtual teams, a new set of challenges and opportunities arises. The greatest worry on every executive’s mind is how to work with offshore teams effectively and productively?

What if I told you there is a series of actionable steps you can take that are guaranteed to help you make the most of your partnership with offshore agencies, freelancers and remote teams you might consider hiring?

For over 20 years, Robosoft has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world to create mobile apps, websites and integrated systems that have wowed and delighted customers, vendors and internal users. We know more than a few things about how to optimize, improve and successfully work with offshore & virtual teams!

If you are a US or European executive interested in productively and efficiently working  with offshore resources, please read this in-depth article.

Our considerations and recommendations are platform, agency and country agnostic. We look at 17 big picture, strategic considerations, along with process and day-to-day implementation strategies to help you get the maximum ROI when working with offshore teams.

Are you ready to learn how to work with offshore teams effectively? Take a look!

Big picture: vision, culture & engagement

In this section we discuss several considerations every product leader should note when working with offshore and onshore teams. Reading this section will help you become successful in building and launching a great mobile product, whether your teams are collocated in San Francisco or across the world.

Make no mistake – these actionable recommendations are even more important when dealing with offshore resources.

Creating a culture of belonging by describing your vision and end goal, clearly explaining what you want and helping to define the success criteria are all critical factors that make the difference between an awful and a great partnership with your remote team.

Share your vision and be inspirational

how to work with offshore teams



Once the ink on a partnership contract has dried, and you’ve selected your implementation partner, virtually all companies and their remote partners go through the same first step: gaining an understanding of what the client wants to build.

In this step, the person or company contracting with a strategic partner has the first opportunity to formally introduce their objectives, needs, and goals.

Too often, though, technology clients simply view remote/offshore teams as the execution partner for a specific feature, function or system. However, fundamentally, people work with people. The more you know about what a client wants to build and why, the more invested you can become in a specific idea or concept and its execution.

That’s why the most successful mobile app products in the world have amazing visionaries behind them. From the moment you start engaging with an offshore team member until the end of the partnership, you should always have a clear vision of your project that you consistently and constantly communicate to the people with whom you work – be those internal resources or outsourced team members.

This image summarizes how to best convey your vision to your team:

Virtual Teams

In short, the overall vision of your project is key to your overall success. When working with distributed team members, it becomes even more important to clearly articulate your idea, your vision and your product differentiator. To be successful, you want people to really believe and become invested in your vision.

Any professional team will work on a project with or without a clearly defined vision. But they will work harder and more effectively if they can identify with the problem you want to solve. Beyond getting paid, they work better when they can feel that they’re really making a difference through their work!

Define exactly what you want

virtual teams

Most developers we have met are analytical, organized and thorough people. If you tell them specifically what you expect to see, they will work hard to deliver a product based on your specifications.

As Antonella Pisani, CEO at Official Coupon Code correctly points out, in all dealings with offshore teams, when clients make their requests as specific as possible, everyone is happier. If the vision is the catalyst for the overall success of your mobile product, clearly conveying what you want is the engine for achieving each milestone required to build the overall product.

Emotional investment and effort from the client’s side is required to effectively communicate (more on that later!) with offshore team members and to articulate, through various means (covered below!), what remote team members are responsible for from an execution point of view.

Help create the definition of success

Knowing what you want from your offshore team wins only half of the battle. If everyone is to stay on the same page, clients and remote teams need to align themselves with the specific criteria for success.

This is true for both the overall success of a project and the intermediary milestones that need to be met along the path of development.  Most mobile app projects take between two and six months. If we accept  Murphy’s law, during that timeframe “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

In order to avoid any discontent when working with offshore teams, it is of paramount importance to clearly define success criteria upfront.

Here are some of the main factors that can have an impact on the success of a project and on which you should spend a considerable amount of time defining and monitoring.

virtual teams


Source: 10 success criteria for software development 

Some of these factors, setting expectations, proper planning, milestones etc., will be discussed and brought up as dependencies by competent technology partners and great offshore consultants.

Remember, though, that success is a two way street. That’s why it is the client’s job to clearly communicate project objectives and requirements and to always be available in a timely fashion for questions and clarifications that may act as impediments for your offshore team members.

Both the client and the offshore teams are in this together and both are responsible for the overall success of any project. Which brings us to our next point.

Foster a unified culture among onshore and offshore resources

virtual teams

Whether you work with internal, collocated resources or with offshore team members, it is always imperative to create a culture of belonging. Most companies and executives stop short of realizing that this concept is important whether a person is a contractor, full time employee or a third party agency providing technology services.

Ultimately,  everyone is working towards the same goal. If a product is successful, everyone wins. Together!  It is this winning attitude we think every client needs to own and promote as part of their engagement with offshore distributed teams.

It doesn’t matter whether a person is sitting in San Francisco, Bangalore or Kiev. What matters is that everyone is aligned behind the same vision and set of goals.

Creating a unified culture of belonging across borders, time zones and employment statuses is, as Vishal Agarwal correctly points out, a product of leadership.

As the owner of a project, you should make it your mission to ensure that every single person contributing to your project’s success feels included, appreciated and part of your greater vision.

Strategic considerations:

All the tips and recommendations in this section relate to issues and opportunities that arise specifically because your resources are not collocated.

Working with remote partners can sometimes lead to disagreements, miscommunication, missed expectations and a culture of distrust.

In order to avoid these unpleasant situations, it is of paramount importance to pay close attention to these issues BEFORE you actually engage a distributed team, independent consultant or offshore mobile app development agency.

“Hire those you can trust”

Source: How to Run a Remote Team

Wade Foster is the CEO of Zapier, a SAAS company with more than 1 million active users allowing customers to link their various web apps and trigger different events from one digital platform. Foster knows a thing or two about offshore teams: their entire company (75 employees at the time of writing) works remotely across eight different time zones.

In an article he wrote about managing an offshore team, Wade makes an excellent point that is worth exploring here.

  • You should only hire people and companies you trust.
  • You need to trust that they will do what is best for your company and product.
  • You must trust that they will work hard, to the best of their abilities to make you and your product successful – unless proven otherwise. 

When dealing with offshore teams this becomes incredibly important. After all, things often get lost in translation – and we don’t mean in a literal way. We mean that with people working in different time zones, most communication is in a written form. When you talk to someone in person, you get a completely different experience because 93% of communication is nonverbal. However, more often than not, communication with offshore teams is done in a written format – emails, chat sessions, project management tools. This, in turn, opens the door to misinterpretations, incomplete information and, sometimes, distrust of your offshore resources.  

Every client who selects an offshore vendor or team member should only sign on the dotted line if they fully trust that partner. Anything less will lead to uncomfortable interactions, bad faith and project failure.

Respect your team’s expertise

remote teams


With trust, comes respect. You cannot have one without the other. With your offshore resources you should absolutely have both.

In the many interactions between a client and an offshore team, there will be countless times a problem can be solved in multiple ways. Some clients and employers feel the need to be very hands-on with their offshore resources. No one says a hands-on approach is bad – but clients should only exercise this right within reason.

After all, you’ve hired a team or a distributed resource for their skills, qualities and past achievements. It’s highly important for remote resources to feel their input is valuable and that they are trusted to make decisions based on their professional judgment during the implementation of a feature.

As Du Nguyen correctly points out in his article, Six Tips for Making Agile and Offshore work in Harmony:

“Showing respect and asking for opinions from the offshore team helps them feel included and could bring up useful actionable insights that can improve your processes. Encourage them to ask questions and get involved.”

When team members feel their input is valuable, they are more likely to take initiative, emotionally invest in your project and go the extra mile to deliver on their promises.

Choose teams that have worked on similar projects

When it comes to working with distributed teams, it is often smart to stick with what you know. In other words, it makes perfect sense to select a strategic partner with previous experience working on similar tasks and projects.

If a team or consultant has successfully delivered on similar projects in the past, it is a good indicator that they can produce similar results with your project.

As we argued in a different article on how to choose the perfect technology partner, most consultants and remote development teams will be more than happy to share their client contact information with you, so you can check their references. It’s downright suspicious, and a huge red flag, if they refuse or otherwise stall when you ask for references.

According to Kim Lachance Shandrow at, talking directly with technology partners’ past clients also affords you the opportunity to ask them how efficiently and reliably the developer worked; both are crucial pieces of information you must know.

In short, when it comes to choosing distributed teams, it sometimes makes sense to do business with companies and employees previously in that situation. If they’ve successfully worked from a remote position with similar clients and have delivered good quality work for companies that launched products similar to yours, they will do the same for you.

Communicate effectively with your virtual team

virtual teams

Great communication is the key to a successful partnership, whether you work side-by-side or in different time zones. It is no different when working with virtual teams. However, as Luke Watson correctly points out, communication remains the number one issue when working with offshore resources.

Fostering an environment in which effective communication between onshore and remote resources becomes a goal in and of itself is the best way to avoid this.

To help offset some of the issues caused by non-collation of resources is to decide how to effectively leverage different communication channels. Here is a ranked list of how to efficiently use various communication methods between onshore and virtual teams:

  • Email – use sparingly for project meeting notes, official communication, schedules and commitments
  • Chats – always have a chat window open ( skype, slack, hangout etc). Use this for quick clarifications, status updates and questions.
  • Productivity tools – JIRA, Asana, Trello, Basecamp, etc. are some of the best tools on the market for proper project management.Whatever tool you choose should be enforced across the team. Having a great project tool reduces friction, improves communication and documents assumptions about a project.

In short, communication with offshore teams can indeed be an issue. However, with the right process and tools set in place, it can absolutely be overcome.

Treat your offshore partner like a partner

virtual team

Choosing an offshore company or individual partner is exactly this: teaming up with a partner someone you respect and who is more than merely a vendor doing business with you. Spend time to get to know the person or the team with whom you will be working.

Steve Mezak had this to say in an article titled “Six Can’t Fail Tips for Effectively Managing An Outsourced Software Development Team” (and we could not agree with him more!)

“If you treat your outsourcing partner as an equal, they are likely to work harder for you. They might feel inclined to stay late so they have longer workday to overlap with you, or forego their own national holidays to work to your schedule. Empathize with how hard they work to meet your needs rather than point a finger of blame.”

When working with a partner agency, the conversation naturally revolves around what should be done. That’s totally fine. However, as mentioned above, when hiring an offshore team you have people working with other people. Beyond simply getting a paycheck, people form connections, become emotionally invested in a project and go the extra mile for the clients and projects they care about. Treating your offshore resources like real partners will pay off in the long run. Every single time!

Look for flexible teams that are not afraid of change

virtual teams


Technology is constantly changing. One decade has passed since the first iPhone was released. In these ten short years, mobile app platforms, frameworks and programming languages have all significantly evolved. Think Eclipse versus Android Studios IDE or Xcode versus Swift, for example.

As technologies evolve, so should your remote teams.

When you have collocated resources, it is significantly easier for your team to attend meetups, conferences and events that improve their collective knowledge.

Of course, with the proliferation of online courses, one could argue that offshore and remote resources can also gather more knowledge, but it is not the same.

In other words, you want self-driven offshore teams who actively work on different platforms, improve their knowledge on their own and “have a broader perspective to view development technologies as tools in their arsenal to build the next great application.”

You want naturally curious, always learning teams and offshore consultants to join your ranks that will infuse your own team and product with fresh and exciting new development perspectives.

Hire companies with representatives in your time zone (hybrid approach)

virtual teams

Offshore teams are oftentimes more experienced and cost effective than local hires according to the IT Outsourcing Statistic Report for 2016-2017. That is why over 50% of IT departments outsource their work for mobile application development to third party vendors and agencies.

One problem remains: if you have an issue or need a clarification during work hours, how do you get your answers if the team you’re working with is in a time zone 8 hours or more ahead of you?

To resolve this issue, many vendors have started offering a hybrid model for business engagements. Hybrids are companies with an offshore development force and a registered presence in the United States as well as some local resources available within the client’s time zone. Local resources are typically project and product managers, design resources and account managers who are available during local work hours to take questions from a client and act as liaisons between the client and the development team.

This model has become so popular that most vendors with a predominantly offshore presence are now offering it to their American clients. This alternative to the traditional offshore model has made many startup founders feel more at ease with leveraging distributed teams to get their products to market in a speedy and efficient manner.

Recognize your offshore team’s achievements & share positive feedback

As we mentioned above, when you are working with offshore resources, it is natural to simply communicate with them about tasks that need to be completed, timelines and bug fixes that need attention.

However, as Georgia Gallone from GG Digital Solutions Ltd correctly points out, when you partner with offshore resources, it’s important to remember you are working with people. No matter where in the world you live, or what your cultural background, positive feedback can go a long way to improving your working relationship.

If the team has done a good job at delivering on time and on budget – express your appreciation. If users love the product, share that valuable feedback with your offshore teams. Treat your distributed teams as you would any other close partner: when something goes well, be sure to tell them so.

Great execution: process, deliverables, expectations

No team, virtual or collocated, can function properly without a clearly defined process that all parties recognize and abide by. In this section we focus on the specific considerations that need to be accounted for when working with distributed resources.

Have a regular check-in schedule

When you are dealing with collocated resources and you need to solve a problem,  the solution is really simple. You walk over to the person’s desk and talk about it. Things get a little more complicated when dealing with virtual teams. But they don’t have to be!

Regular check-ins are recommended for any type of project where there are multiple stakeholders and decision-makers. This becomes significantly more important when working with offshore and virtual teams. As other experts have mentioned, a regular cadence of meetings is critical to the overall success of the project!

To get the most out of regular check-ins with your virtual teams, the best strategy is to maintain a very structured approach so everyone’s time is used effectively, as shown in the image below.

If you follow these tips for productive check-ins, you will likely cut through the noise and get tasks done efficiently in a timely fashion.

Establish one consistent process across teams

virtual teams

If you are a startup working with only one offshore development team, the process is simple. You align on a process of engagement which everyone then executes. Often, however, companies hire virtual teams to augment their existing team or to work on a new project.

We cannot emphasize enough how important it is for executives to ensure that all resources, onshore and offshore, follow the same processes and transfer deliverables in the same format.

In software development, many steps can and will be done differently by various people unless a common set of practices is put in place. From coding to testing, requirements gathering to production release notes, there are quite a few practices that must be absolutely standardized across teams. As others have mentioned, lack of standard practices in the development cycle is one of the biggest mistakes affecting the cost of software development.

Get alignment on monitoring the performance of a virtual team

One of the most frequent sources of discontent between clients and virtual teams collaborating on the same project is missed expectations. As a client, you expected to see something done in a specific way but it was delivered in a different manner.

The best way to avoid hard-feelings when working with remote teams is to agree, up-front, on how the performance of the offshore team will be monitored throughout the process.

Of course, no one expects every single detail to be outlined in the master service agreement. However, it is incredibly important for clients and service providers to discuss how the performance of a virtual team will be monitored and reviewed throughout the engagement.

As Tara Waddle from Allshore Virtual Staffing correctly points out, there should be alignment between onshore project managers and virtual resources on quantifiable KPIs, task turnarounds and feedback mechanisms, so everyone clearly understands what is expected for each step.

Know and learn the virtual team’s process

Another common source of discontent between clients and offshore resources involves how and why virtual teams deliver work products in a certain way. Professionals have different methodologies, processes and work methods of which clients may not be aware.

Of course, distributed resources and virtual teams will adapt their work deliverables to the clients’ needs, within reason. However, it always helps if clients and onshore managers are open to understanding and learning the process used by virtual teams.

In a globalized workforce, professionals come together and work on joint projects while sharing different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. Much of the conflict between clients and service providers is due to a failure to understand the other party’s perspective or why something is being done.

Knowing a virtual team’s work process means meeting them halfway on the path to a long and strong partnership.

Humans are visual creatures – use tools to visually communicate what you want

virtual teams

Source: Can a Conference Room be Intelligence

As we all know, most people are visual learners; 90% of information processed by the brain is visual. That is why this article is a combination of text and summary images – to allow you, the reader, the option of skimming through our recommendations or reading them in their entirety.

The same concept applies to working with remote teams. What you write in an email or chat window, or what you say on a phone call may be subject to multiple interpretations. When you visually show what you expect, people can process that information and produce the necessary deliverable faster and more efficiently.

That is why it is absolutely critical to use tools that can help you convey your point in a visual fashion when working with distributed virtual teams. Luckily, many of these tools are free to use or very inexpensive. Google Hangouts sessions have a built-in option for screen sharing. This is also true with Skype. Many companies in the US use or Gotomeeting.

Ultimately, whatever option you choose is less important than making sure you have an easy and effective method to visually convey your thoughts and desires to your virtual team members.


Working with virtual teams is a reality. Whether you choose a development partner with an offshore  base of operation or you decide to hire a professional in a different city, this is an everyday scenario for many companies in America.

Although the benefits of collocated resources are well-known and understood, companies are naturally looking for the best people for a job. Those people may be on the other side of the country or the other side of the world.

In this article, we looked at 17 distinct strategies that have already been implemented in one form or another by different US companies to ensure that teams can work effectively and efficiently, regardless of their office locations .

If you are a company wondering whether a distributed model will work for you, don’t bother. Working with virtual teams has already been proven successful. The only question should be what you can do to ensure that the virtual team model is implemented in an efficient manner. We hope our 17 actionable recommendations provide  a good overview of how you can make it happen.

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Featured Mobile Opinion

Digital Transformation in Healthcare – The Evolving Landscape (Updated)

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin

In today’s world, the above quote stands true for businesses as well. Digitization is changing the landscape of every industry, and industries that are ready to adapt, and adapt fast will be the ones who will thrive and flourish. Just like many other industries, the healthcare landscape is also experiencing tremendous transformations owing to technology advancements.

The healthcare industry continuously works towards making patient care more efficient and cost-effective. Digitization stands to benefit the industry not just in optimization at operational levels, but across the entire value chain. From hospital management, patient care, managing reports to virtually assisting patients, the positive implications of using technology are innumerable.

As patients become more technology-savvy, digital technologies can reinvent the entire patient lifecycle, enabling a more personalized, timely and cost-effective treatment journey.

Evolution of Technology in Healthcare

Evolution of Technology in Healthcare

Digital Transformation in Healthcare

Smart-hospitals, surgical robots, wearable-tech assisted operations, telemedicine, are just some examples of how technology is revolutionizing the healthcare landscape.

Here is a look at how the healthcare industry is using technologies like AI, mobile apps, IoT, wearables, etc. to improve patient care and reduce costs across the healthcare value chain.

Technology-Enabled care:

TEC or technology-enabled care refers to the fields of telecare, telehealth, telemedicine, mHealth, digital health, eHealth, etc. TEC brings health technology, digital media, and mobile together. It has a profound impact on providing an integrated solution for patient monitoring and care in the health, wellness, and social care sectors.

Below are some examples of how TEC can make healthcare more efficient and cost-effective.

Reducing the patient-care and monitoring costs for patients with long-term ailments:

According to a report by (which referenced a 2017 Horsfield report), approximately 4 million adults (40% of all people above the age of 65) in the UK have some form of a long-term illness. When considering a global scale, this number increases drastically. Patients with long-term conditions make regular hospital visits, require a lot of medication and continuous care. Digitization solutions like patient tracking and path monitoring can help improve the quality of hospital visits (which for a patient with a long-term illness is often), online consultancy and remote condition monitoring can help doctors diagnose issues faster and proactively, and online pharmacies can help get medicines to patients faster and more conveniently.’

Digital and mHealth can improve enterprise processes and improve outcomes:

Mobile Health, or mHealth, is providing medicinal and healthcare services over a mobile device. The healthcare industry is actually one of the top 3 domains to promote and accelerate the growth of mobile devices. According to a report by Statista, the global mHealth market size in 2016 was 21.2 billion US dollars. The projection for the year 2025 is 332.7 billion US dollars, which is an increase of over 15 times!

Digital and mHealth can improve enterprise processes and improve outcomes


Image source

The rise in apps provided by the healthcare firms and the high engagement rate of apps have contributed to the prolific growth of this market. Mobile devices have become an integral part of our lives. Both Patients and Doctors can leverage the benefits of going mobile. While it helps patients self-manage and monitors their health, doctors can explore real-time information. Remote monitoring of patients’ health status is another benefit that home telehealth can provide. According to a study by, in 2019 there are around 318,000 mHealth apps in app stores. This number almost doubled since 2015. The report further states that over 60% of people have downloaded at least one mHealth app.

4 Dimension of Effective mHealth

Image source

TEC is also helping healthcare providers with information and assistance they require through technologies like medical reference apps.

Athenahealth’s Epocrates is one such app

Epocrates is the point of care medical application by AthenaHealth. More than 1 million health care providers trust Epocrates in the moments of care. Epocrates was released on stage by Steve Jobs when the App store was released.

Epocrates can assist doctors and physicians in:

  1. Reviewing drug prescribing and safety information for thousands of brand, generic, and OTC drugs.
  2. Checking for potentially harmful drug-drug interactions among up to 30 drugs at a time.
  3. Identifying pills by imprint code and physical characteristics.
  4. Access timely medical news and research information.
  5. Find providers for consults and referrals in the Provider Directory.
  6. Select national and regional healthcare insurance formularies for drug coverage information.
  7. Perform dozens of calculations, such as BMI and GFR.

Technology is empowering patients

Technology is also helping patients in getting more information on ailments, symptoms, treatment procedures, etc. helping them to be informed, thus reducing anxiety and apprehension during the treatment cycles. is one such web portal, which leverages the power of video to engage with patients. It is a health care website for patients diagnosed with life-altering medical conditions, both acute and chronic. This network-quality video site features actual patients and health care professionals sharing vital information about the practical, physical and emotional issues that patients face before, during and after initial diagnosis.

Technology is empowering patients

WebMD is another popular online portal for medical information and advice. According to ExpandedRamblings, WebMD received 75 million user visits a month in 2018. Of these, 49 million visits came in through mobile phones.

How Apple is front footing the digital revolution in healthcare

Apple’s new Health app is helping people prone to illnesses stay healthier. The Health app has the ability to incorporate data from thousands of other medical and health-related 3rd party apps, which could be for nutrition, medicine or fitness. The app syncs across devices – iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, etc, and makes medical information immediately available. Features like heart rate monitoring, medication reminders, etc. help patients say on top of their illness.

Wearables in healthcare


Wearable tech is a part of the larger wave of technology called IoT, and it is growing at a fast pace. The Apple watch mentioned earlier is an example of wearable tech. According to research done by 3dinsider, over 178 million wearable devices were purchased in 2018. The projected number for 2019 is around 255 million units, which corresponds to a growth of 25.8%. The expected sales value of wearable devices at the end of 2019 is projected to be $42billion. The number of adults who used a wearable device in the US was 39.5 million in 2015 and had increased to 81.7 million in 2018.

Wearable tech has found usage in the healthcare segment beyond just monitoring and tracking the health and fitness data of the user. Wearables continue to evolve as virtual reality applications provide experience-based applications for clinicians and patients.

Wearables for Doctors

When the team at Google announced Google Glass in 2012, they said:

‘We think technology should work for you — to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t.’

Five years down the line the device could not take off, but it opened doors for various industries to put it into use. In 2013, healthcare saw the first-ever application of Google Glass when Dr. Rafael Grossmann recorded a surgical process through Google Glass. In 2015, wearables took another step forward when the first surgery using Google Glass in combination with Olympus 3D imaging took place. Simultaneously, the Olympus Endosuite was fully controlled using the MYO gesture-controlled bracelet. The applications of wearables in healthcare have since gone beyond Google Glass where wearables are used in innovative ways. Here are a few instances:

AiQ Smart Clothing has developed a vital sign monitoring system built into a t-shirt that can monitor users’ heart rate, respiration rate, electrophysiological signals, etc. This t-shirt can be extremely useful during video appointments sessions with doctors, where doctors will not have to rely on the patient’s old reports and get real-time data on their vital stats instead.

Wearable tactile sensor A group of scientists from the National University Singapore has developed wearable liquid-based microfluidic tactile sensors. These sensors can be easily utilized for monitoring critical parameters in biomedical applications, particularly for those that may come in contact with the human skin or where human movement is highly versatile.

A team led by Conor Walsh, assistant professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Harvard and founder of the Harvard Biodesign Lab are developing wearable soft robots. The team has developed a soft exosuit that can assist with locomotion and perform small levels of assistance to a wearer and a glove that assists with grasping motions for those with hand impairment.

Next Generation Wearable Medical Robot

Image source

Multi-segment actuators used in the robotic glove enable an assistive range of motions. Image: Harvard’s Wyss Institute.

In the coming years, wearables will not just help in treatments but also in training medical professionals as well – An initiative called ‘Virtual Medics’ team at London Medical School’ aims to use wearables and other technologies to do just that.

Wearables for Patients

Wearable-tech can simplify a patients’ life beyond tracking and monitoring their health. Automation and push notifications can help patients get greater control of self-care, where the device can prompt them to check their weight, pulse, or oxygen levels, and enters results into mobile patient portals. Further, these results can be transmitted to the doctors in real-time. These details, when entered regularly, can predict the risk of ailments like heart diseases and keep a check on them.

Not only wearables help patients self-manage and monitor their health; they help doctors save costs.

E.g. the Zephyr Anywhere’s introduced a BioPatch which is a small device that is attached to a patient’s chest monitoring their vitals minute-by-minute and collecting medical-grade data for doctors’ use. The Biopatch alerts the nurses through smartphones, reducing their effort to physically check a patient every hour. This also helps them to react promptly should a patient need to be attended immediately.

Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare

IoT is changing the way interactions happen across technologies and devices across industries. The increase in healthcare costs requires modern solutions, and IoT is seemingly the right solution for the benefit of both healthcare facilities and patients. IoT in healthcare manifests as IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) and is the interconnection of medical devices, infrastructure, software applications, health systems, and services. According to research by SmashingBoxes, there will be 40% IoT devices in use in the healthcare industry by 2020.

Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare

Image source

This growth in the influx of IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) is predicted to save the healthcare industry an estimated $300 billion. The revenue to healthcare facilities from IoT processes is estimated to be over $135 billion by 2025.

Here are some examples of how IoT is changing the healthcare landscape:

OpenAPS – closed-loop insulin delivery

OpenAPS – closed-loop insulin delivery

Image source

OpenAPS is an open and transparent effort to make safe and effective basic Artificial Pancreas System (APS) technology widely available to more quickly improve and save as many lives as possible and reduce the burden of Type 1 diabetes.

OpenAPS is a simplified Artificial Pancreas System (APS) designed to automatically adjust an insulin pump’s basal insulin delivery to keep blood glucose (BG) in a safe range overnight and between meals. It does this by communicating with an insulin pump to obtain details of all recent insulin dosing (basal and boluses), by communicating with a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) to obtain current and recent BG estimates, and by issuing commands to the insulin pump to adjust temporary basal rates as needed.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems (CGM)

CGM is an implantable continuous glucose monitoring system, which uses a 90-day sensor underneath the patient’s skin, which measures the blood glucose level and sends it to the mobile app through a smart sensor.

Continuous Glucose Monitoring systems

Connected inhalers

One of the major advantages of IoT and its subset technology wearables is that both can help and motivate patients especially the ones on a long-term ailment to adhere to their treatments. Propeller’s Breezhaler device is one such device that connects to its digital platform via a sensor, passively recording and transmitting usage data and sends reminders and notifications to the patients, and also insights into the triggers of their asthma attacks, so that they can prevent one.

Connected inhalers

Image source

Ingestible sensors

Proteus Digital Health has invented ‘digital pills’ with ingestible sensors, dissolves in the stomach and produces a small signal which is picked up by a sensor worn on the body, which again relays the data to a smartphone app. Again, the purpose of this technology is helping patients with adherence to treatment.


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Big Data & analytics in healthcare

Doctors and Physicians have long relied on their judgment while diagnosing an ailment and making treatment decisions. Big Data and Analytics have proved to be a boon for them, with the opportunity to provide evidence-based treatment to their patients. Big Data has opened up doors for doctors to systematically review clinical data and make treatment decisions.

Big data can aggregate individual data sets into algorithms and provides evidence-based on a large pool of data for the right treatment. According to Fingent, the global Big data infusion in the healthcare market is projected to reach $34.27 billion by 2022 with a CAGR of 22.07%. On a global level, big data analytics is expected to be worth over $68.03 billion by 2024.

Some health-care leaders are already leveraging big data and are using it in innovative ways to improve operational as well as diagnostic efficiencies. For e.g.

  • Kaiser Permanente has fully implemented a new computer system, HealthConnect, to ensure data exchange across all medical facilities and promote the use of electronic health records. The integrated system had improved outcomes in cardiovascular disease and achieved an estimated $1 billion in savings from reduced office visits and lab tests.
  • Blue Shield of California, in partnership with NantHealth, is improving health-care delivery and patient outcomes by developing an integrated technology system that will allow doctors, hospitals, and health plans to deliver evidence-based care that is more coordinated and personalized. This will help improve performance in a number of areas, including prevention and care coordination.

Real-time health systems

In this age of data deluge, it becomes critical for the healthcare sector to make sense of this data and drive real value through it. RTHS is helping healthcare providers to process and interpret data quickly, to make it easily consumable by the patients and also use this data for operational intelligence as well. Today’s consumers are used to accessing data in real-time via their mobile devices, and healthcare providers can leverage mobile apps, digital maps, etc. to create a positive patient experience.

Experiential wayfinding is one such way to simplify patients’ journeys and experiences inside hospital premises. Technology providers like Jibestream provide enterprises SDKs that give developers the tools to customize and integrate maps into apps.

Real-time health systems

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare

According to research by Frost & Sullivan, AI in the healthcare industry was valued at 663 million in 2014 and is projected to increase to 6.6 billion by 2021.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in healthcare

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The healthcare industry is cognizant of the impact AI can have on improving the healthcare landscape. Technology is helping the healthcare fraternity in predicting diseases and giving a helping hand to doctors in preventing them.

Artificial intelligence already found several areas in healthcare to revolutionize starting from the design of treatment plans through assistance in repetitive jobs to medication management or drug creation. Here are some examples of how the healthcare industry has implemented AI:

AI-based health assistants

AI assistants are helping doctors in optimizing their time by covering a large part of clinical and outpatient services, freeing up doctors’ time to attend to more critical cases.

Your.MD is one such AI-powered mobile app that helps doctors with basic patient symptoms information. The chatbot asks users about their symptoms and provides easy-to-understand information about their medical conditions. The platform has a vast network of information that links symptoms to causes.

The assistant uses natural language processing and generation to provide a rich and fluid experience, and machine learning algorithms to create an intricate map of the user’s condition and provide a personalized experience.

Early and precise diagnosis

AI algorithms can quickly ingest millions of samples in short order and gather useful patterns. The medical fraternity is using this ability of AI to come-up with precise diagnosis early by picking up subtle symptoms as well.

Researchers at Stanford University have created an AI algorithm that can identify skin cancer. Similarly, DeepMind, a Google-owned AI company, is using machine learning to fight blindness in cooperation with NHS. Morpheo, another AI platform helps in the diagnosis of sleep disorders.

Improved patient care and treatment

Some diseases like cancer change the dynamics of the patient’s health at a fast pace. Keeping up with changes and adapting the treatment accordingly becomes critical in such cases. AI is helping in solving this problem.

IBM with its AI-based platform Watson is working on building effective treatment for cancer. It can ingest a massive amount of clinical trial data presenting cancer care teams with a list of effective therapies and treatment options.

AI is also helping patients in adhering to their treatment regimes. One example in this area is AiCure, a mobile app that uses AI and images analysis to control patient adherence to prescriptions.

Healthcare data is sensitive, and healthcare firms have to be very careful about the security of such data. Technologies like Blockchain are helping firms in maintaining the privacy of this huge amount of user data. Morpheo, for instance, uses blockchain to ensure transparency and privacy of patient data on its platform.

Improved patient care and treatment

How healthcare enterprises can succeed with digital transformation

More and more healthcare companies worldwide now understand the importance of investing in digital technologies and including it as a part of their core strategy. According to a report by Statista, the global medical tech industry size is almost 430 billion U.S. dollars. Medical facilities are seeing an equal monetary benefit from tech advancements. The same report states that Johnson & Johnson earned nearly 27 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 through its Medtech services. There still are areas for improvement, as seen in the below McKinsey report:

How healthcare enterprises can succeed with digital transformation

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Healthcare organizations looking forward to adapting digital transformation will have to look at it comprehensively, rather than in silos. Here are four core principles suggested by McKinsey which healthcare enterprises can follow to achieve success with their digital transformation efforts.

  1. Identify and prioritize their critical sources of value; they need to determine the products and services they provide that lead to competitive differentiation and benefit most from digitization.
  2. They must build their service-delivery capabilities—not just in physically integrating and managing new digital technologies but also in implementing new approaches to product development and distribution.
  3. Healthcare companies should look for ways to modernize their IT foundations, for example, upgrading pools of talent and expertise in the IT organization, moving to digital platforms such as cloud servers and software-as-a-service products.
  4. Strengthening their core digital transformation capabilities by developing internal experts with an expertise in digital technologies and approaches.

With technology on its side, healthcare is slowly transforming into a patient-centric industry. Digitization is benefiting both patients and caregivers alike. As technology advances, patients will be more informed and empowered to understand and deal with their ailments. For healthcare providers, digital transformation is opening global opportunities to create cost-effective and more efficient treatments.

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Top 10 mobile & technology trends that are revolutionising the retail industry

In a post PC era, industries across the globe have redefined the ways of connecting with their customers. The retail industry landscape is also shifting owing to the increased penetration of internet & smartphones and emergence of innovative technologies like AR/VR, AI, IoT, etc.

Retailers are working towards using cutting-edge technologies to create delightful, customised and omnichannel shopping experiences for buyers.

For business leaders staying on top of the latest developments and overall mobile and technology trends is critical.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the top 10 interesting mobile and technology trends which are revolutionising the retail landscape across the globe.

1. Today’s digitally-savvy buyer seeks an omnichannel experience

Easy access to the internet and growing penetration of smartphones has influenced almost every aspect of a consumer’s life, including shopping. Consumers are doing more than just searching for product information on the web, today more and more consumers are turning to online portals for making a final purchase. According to a study, overall 67% of millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online rather than in-store.

Though in-store remains the major contributor to the retail economy; online sales are growing at an astounding speed. It is expected that online retail will account for 8.8% of overall retail sales and will register a growth of 89% ($2489 Trillion) by 2018, as compared to its contribution in 2015.

The primary reasons behind the whopping growth of online sales are growing smartphone & internet penetration and changing customer expectations.

While baby boomers wanted to purchase products which were global and boasted of prestigious brand names; millennials are inclined towards buying locally-sourced, authentic and environmentally friendly products. Further, millennials are more willing to save money than spending it on ‘brand names’ which explains their dwindling interest in branded stores.

According to a report by Accenture, Forty-one percent of millennials examine merchandise at a nearby retail store and then shop for it online to find the lowest price.

Taking a cue from this shift in consumers’ shopping habits, retailers are striving to build an omnichannel experience for their customers. Largest offline retailers across the world like Walmart are investing in an online shopping experience; similarly, largest online retailers like Amazon are building brick and mortar stores.

It is apparent that these retail giants do not want to leave any gap and are taking steps to approach their customers at every possible touch-point – online & offline.

For retailers small or big, the implications are rather clear – build an omnichannel shopping experience for customers, which demands an integrated approach including both offline and online presence.

The lines between online and offline shopping experiences are also blurring, and prudent retailers are realising this fact and acting upon it. Walmart, for example, has started using touchscreens in some stores to enable product searches. Retailers are also deploying mobile devices to enable online ordering in-store and offer easy access to inventory searches for customers. For e.g. Lowe’s mobile app allows customers to search and see the entire catalogue, and purchase for in-store pickup, have items delivered directly or find Lowe’s store near their vicinity.

It has become critical for retailers to build a seamless and an easy online shopping experience not just to acquire but retain customers as well.

Further, given the fact that 45% of millennials purchase online through marketplaces like Amazon, small and mid-size retailers must look at listing their products on such online portals.

2. Cross device shopping experiences

Today’s digitally savvy consumers are connected via multiple screens, sometimes at the same time. At an average, Millennials use 3 screens and gen-Z use 5 screens at a time.

According to a study, in 2016 one-third of online retail transactions involved two or more devices across all the retail categories. Throughout the buyer’s journey consumers end up using different devices for individual actions. And these interactions are more complex than the conventional wisdom of ‘browsing on mobile and buying on desktop’. Today’s consumers love their mobiles, and it is an integral part throughout the buyer’s journey too.

Cross device shopping experiences

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However, the desktop still remains the preferred method of making a final purchase. While mobile accounts for 58.7% of purchases in the UK; in the US, the majority – 54.6% – still use the desktop.

Time Spent Vs. Dollars Spent on retail, By Device

One of the reasons why most of the shopping dollars are still getting spent on the desktop is that most retailers fail to provide a seamless and end to end mobile shopping experience.

A survey done by Newstore found that only 22% of the retailers offer mobile apps that can be used for making purchases. An additional 21% have non-shoppable apps that show products or have other features, but do not allow transactions to be completed through the app.

For retailers, it is important to understand their interactions across platforms and offer intuitive and customised user experience across all the devices that customers are interacting with.

Device performances also vary by the time of the day for e.g. in the US customers shop the most on the desktop during work hours and mobile purchases peak during other hours and weekends.

For making the most out of their cross device strategy, retailers will have to track consumer’s buying behaviour not just across devices but across time too and devise strategies to reach out to them at the right time on the right device.

3. M-commerce is on the rise, and mobile apps are leading this growth

App economy is expected to reach a whopping $6.3 Trillion by 2021 and m-commerce is going to be a major contributor to this revenue.

For retailers choosing between the web and mobile app is an eternal dilemma.However, statistics are inclined to suggest that mobile apps drive more engagement compared to mobile web. Mobile traffic dominates the overall internet traffic, and mobile apps get the lion’s share of consumer’s mobile time with more than 3 hours a day and 89% of the mobile time devoted to mobile apps.

According to a report by PredictSpring mobile apps can drive 3x times more conversions vs. mobile web. Another study suggests that Gen Z are twice as likely to convert on mobile. However, they are quite aversive to poorly functioning apps and websites.


Image Source: PredictSpring

One such example of mobile apps leading to higher conversion is McDonald’s India’s – Mc Delivery app. Last year, to make their mobile app a preferred medium of ordering, McDonald’s India decided to revamp the app. With an intuitive, personalised and simple user interface, the Mc Delivery app was able to garner double the traffic and 103% more orders by redirecting traffic from the web based platforms.

What leads to this positive influence of mobile apps on conversion rates?

Speed and simplicity are the two primary reasons of this. Mobile users are used to simple UI and faster loading speeds, owing to the experience they get on the extensively used social media and messaging apps. Even if the mobile web experience is simplified, it is hard to get the speed factor right all the time. Today’s shoppers have a lower attention span, and lesser time, any delay in loading speed can lead them to abandon an app or divert them to other sites.

According to a recent study, 60% of Gen Z will not use an app or website that is too slow to load, and 62% won’t use an app if it’s difficult to navigate.

Slower sites and apps not just diminish user experience but also result in revenue loss. According to a report, even 1 second of delay in loading speed costs Amazon, 10% on sale, which is $13.6 billion every year.

Sadly, very few retailers make mobile experiences simple, functional and personalised for users. Of the few brands which offer mobile apps, most do not use them efficiently. According to a survey, not many retailers are taking full advantage of mobile technology, almost 36% of retailers miss using push notifications on their apps, and out of the retail brands which offer native apps, only 24%display real-time inventory and a mere 2% offer social sharing options.

For retailers, who have not yet invested in a mobile app, optimising the mobile web experience should be an immediate action point and planning to create a mobile app platform in the near future should be a top priority on their list.

However, while building a retail mobile app the expectations of consumers from e-commerce apps should be kept in mind. According to a survey done by Clutch, the top reasons consumers use mobile apps are -deals & offers, flexibility, price and product comparisons and saving time.


Image source:

Further, consumers expect their retail apps to be more than just a buying and browsing platform.
They want innovative, high tech and personalised features on their apps.

In essence, they want their apps to act as a personal shopping assistant to them which can help them with product recommendations, price comparisons, discounts through push notifications, options for social sharing, etc.

For retailers aiming to invest in mobile apps taking into account the above factors and introducing innovative features in their app can give them an edge over the competitors and ensure high customer retention rates.

4. Mobile payments and Digital wallets drive conversations

For consumers, a secure and easy checkout option is of prime importance when it comes to online shopping, and digital wallets can facilitate that. When it comes to mobile apps; digital wallets and in-app payments make life easier for the user by eliminating the need to fill out complex forms on a smaller screen.

The digital wallet market is booming, and consumers are increasingly moving away from hard cash to virtual money mostly because of the convenience factor. In fact, this year Apple Pay’s Monthly Active User’s grew by an astounding 450%. M-commerce is one of the key contributors to this growth. Also, in 2016 in-app payments in retail saw a 57% YoY growth.

The British Retail Consortium estimates that the use of cash has decreased by 14% over the past five years.

Forward thinking retailers are already offering options of mobile payments to their customers even in their offline stores. For instance one of the leading retailers J.C. Penney has adopted payments through Apple Pay across all its stores.

Today’s consumers are moving towards convenient payment options like m-payments, digital wallets, in-app payments, etc. Even payments through Wearables (otherwise considered to be a nascent technology) are also seeing growth. It is estimated that payment transaction volume from Wearables could reach $501 billion by 2020. This is an opportunity which still hasn’t been explored much by the retail industry.

Retail industry must pay heed to the promising attitude of consumers towards mobile wallets and use it to make their interaction simpler on their online and offline platforms. Digital wallets enable users to complete their check out process with just a few taps, making the shopping experience more delightful for them.

5. Live chats giving real time assistance to shoppers

Customer support in e-commerce plays a significant role. A live chat option on the e-commerce platforms (mobile and web) can augment users’ experience and increase conversion rates. It is a known fact that a poor customer care service can adversely affect a brand’s reputation and result in a higher churn rate. According to a survey, 60% of customers say that they have decided to not purchase from a particular retailer after a poor customer service experience.

Live chats giving real time assistance to shoppers

Live chat solutions can help retailers in augmenting customer experience on their platforms with real time assistance throughout the buyer’s journey. According to a report, live chat app solutions have the highest satisfaction level for any customer service channel, with a 73% approval rating.

Smaller retailers are keener to adopt live chat services because it can help them in connecting with the customers during the purchase process and reduces the chances of post purchase customer grievances, which in turn reduces their customer service investment.

According to Michael, merchants have been adopting their services at an annual rate of 84% and have experienced a 100 to 300 percent increase in order size when customers speak to a representative through live chat.

Even larger retailers like Walmart and Nordstrom have adopted live chat to improve user experience on their platforms.

However, one of the drawbacks live chat options are known to have is that they slow down the performance of the sites. This is something retailers must bear in mind if they choose to implement live chat services on their platforms.

6. Innovative ad formats are driving sales

Online advertising is booming. According to an IAB report, digital ad revenue grew to $72.5 billion in 2016. Retailers across the globe are using contextual ads across different platforms to drive sales. In 2017, retail paid clicks were 52% of all the PLAs(Product Listing Ads) on Google.

This boost in online advertising is leading to the emergence of innovative ad formats by various ad platforms, for retailers to experiment with. Exposure to right ads in the right context is driving conversions for brands. Some of the examples of different ad formats being used by the retail industry are:

a. PLA (Product Listing Ads) on Google
b. Geo targeted local ads
c. Targeted pins on Pinterest
d. Goal based bidding ads on Snapchat
e. Contextual ads of Facebook Messenger

Product Listing Ads

Targeted pins on Pinterest

Online ads are not just driving online sales; they are positively impacting in-store sales as well. Location based ads and In-ride/In-hand recommendation ads are formats which are driving footfalls for brick and mortar stores.

Platforms like Uber, Foursquare and Nextdoor, are collaborating to provide location-based ads, and consumers are more accepting to mobile ads which offer them rewards.

In-ride and In-hand recommendation ads

Retailers must use different platforms to target their customers based on where they lie in the purchase journey. For e.g. re-targeting can help in urging a customer to complete a transaction if they have abandoned the cart. Similarly, PLAs can lead the buyer to explore your website or app.

7. Social media influencing buying decisions

Social media is one of the most popular app categories; users are not just engaging with social media platforms but are also getting influenced by it. According to a study, 74% of millennials and 80% of Gen Zers are influenced by social media in their shopping. However, while social media platforms can drive them to make a purchase, these young shoppers despise seeing ads. For retailers, it is important to leverage their social media platforms in an engaging manner rather than just pushing their brand communications with sponsored posts.

Marketers are already devising ways to target the social media loving millennials and gen zers with innovative use of technology and content, be it by using influencer marketing, user generated content or contextual marketing on these platforms.

According to the recent Internet Trends Report Effective UGC (User Generated Content) can generate 6.9x higher engagement than brand generated content on Facebook. Major brands across categories are using UGC to drive engagement.

Internet Trends Report Effective UGC

Further, social media has empowered customers by giving them the opportunity to voice their disappointment and also appreciations on a public and a larger platform. Therefore, stakes for brands are high, not only they have to ensure their product quality and customer service is impeccable; they have to also be vigilant and responsive to their customers on their social media channels.

Chat bots on social media is another example of how brands are leveraging social media to improve customer service.

8. Social media platforms are offering Chatbots services to improve customer service & provide real time solutions

The popularity of virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Alexa, Cortana, etc. and inexplicably high engagement drawn by social media has led the way for the introduction of AI on social messaging platforms. Last year, Facebook launched its Messenger platform and businesses since have been using it to create chat experiences for their customers for answering their queries, having customised communication or providing product notifications, etc.

Luxury apparel brands like Burberry, Tomy Hilfiger, etc. are using chat bots to drive user engagement and improve customer engagement.

Burberry launched its chatbot last year during New York Fashion Week. Initially, the bot gave fans an opportunity to shoot the looks they liked and then shop the pieces from the fashion show directly from the app. Burberry has upgraded the bot since then to provide live chat options, store locator function, ask questions and browse and shop from the collections.


‘’Customers aren’t spending their time on a sprawl of apps anymore. But, there’s a high concentration of engagement on Facebook Messenger. So we created an experience to fit into the natural behaviour that’s already happening on the platform.” – Alan Tisch, Founder, Spring.

9. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality bringing online and in-store together

It is expected that retail industry’s investments in AR and VR technology will touch approximately $30 billion by 2020. One of the major benefits of in-store buying is shoppers can see and feel the product. Technologies like AR and VR can bridge this gap for online shoppers.

AR can also help customers to easily get information about a particular store and therefore turning Image based platforms into front-end stores.

‘Well we know that 95 percent of all information humans consume is visual. AR is about the experience and consuming information in real time, which is really the next logical progression from something as pervasive as the Google search engine. AR removes the part of the current process of searching for information on Google, which is that you have to know what to search for, and then sort through information to find it’. – Rohith Bhat, CEO, Robosoft Technologies.

Image based platforms into front-end stores

AR is also being used by retailers like Lowe to guide customers in finding in-store items while shopping.

Lowe to guide customers in finding in-store items while shopping

Home furnishing retailers like IKEA and Wayfair are already using AR to let buyers overlay furniture in their home setting and see if it goes well with their current interiors or digitally paint their house to see if the colour they are planning to go with indeed looks great in reality as well.

Virtual Reality, on the other hand, is helping retailers with making business decisions by providing ways to A/B test store layouts with a set of shoppers or finalising shelf assortments and display. Further, VR helps executives ‘walk through’ their stores across multiple locations.

According to Nikki Baird, managing partner at Retail Systems Research, ‘posting analytics through a VR interface that is driven off of the actual store design provides a lot of important context and can potentially surface connections between things like product categories that are physically proximate, which might not be easily found from a chart or a graph’.

For retailers, planning to experiment with either of these technologies to elevate customer experience it is important to decide which format suits their business objective. Though, VR seems to be an exciting option to go with it requires expensive devices to implement. Further, customers are not yet accustomed to using VR devices for anything else other than gaming.

AR, on the other hand, can use simulations from the real world and augment users experience by overlaying virtual elements on it, and it is easier to implement because any smartphone can be an AR platform.

10. From automation to augmentation – AI reshaping in-store and online retail experiences

Artificial Intelligence in retail has found application across the buyer’s cycle from product assembly to post purchase customer interactions. AI is changing the realms of both online and offline retail experiences.

AI use-cases in the retail industry are going beyond chatbots and product recommendations. According to a study, 45% of retailers plan to use AI based technologies in the next three years.

One of the major advantages of AI solutions in retail is they allow to offer a personalised user experience to consumers. Aided by the Big Data and data analytics platforms, retailers can use AI to have customer centric interactions involving product recommendation, customised searches and even personal assistance, etc.

One such technology platform is, which offers dynamic personalization solutions which enable retailers to personalise every step of the shoppers’ journey. This technology learns in real-time from every click, swipe, product view, cart addition, and purchase, to uncover buyer intent, ensuring that the retail journey is tailor-made for individual customers.

AI solutions like Amazon’s Echo and Home are accentuating users’ online shopping experience, for instance, Google Home can enable users’ to buy products from across 50 U.S. retailers. Given the popularity of voice assistants, last year Amazon unveiled several Echo-exclusive deals and gave $10 off on orders over $20 placed through voice.

Voice Based Mobile Platform Front-ends

Recently, Amazon also launched Amazon-Go unveiling the immense potential of AI in changing in-store shopping experiences as well. Amazon Go store allows users’ to have a new check-out free experience. To use the service, the buyer has to install the Amazon Go app, log in with their account credentials, and then simply put goods from the shelves into their bag and walk out. The store and shelves are equipped with “computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning,” which means it can detect when products are removed and returned to the shelves. When the shopper leaves the store, their account is charged directly.

Retailers are also using for inventory management for,e.g., Pittsburgh-based Bossa Nova offers robots that ensure shelves are always stocked, while French start-up Exotec raised $3.5 million to help warehouses dispatch goods using mini robots. IBM’s Watson is providing a slew of order management and customer engagement capabilities to e-commerce retailers. It is also helping retailers like North Face to assist consumers in determining what jacket is best for them, based on variables like location and gender preference, etc.

While AI can advance customer experience and operations by leaps and bound, it is important for retailers to determine how and where they will implement it. The direction of AI revolution is getting carved by the bigger industry players, for small and medium retailers it is critical to take note of the AI trends and implement it with an objective to drive sales and improve the user experience.

In conclusion:

The retail industry is at a sweet spot right now, with physical stores using emerging technologies to innovate and offer exciting shopping experiences to customers and online retail making shopping convenient and simpler for them.

Technology advancements and ever-changing consumer behaviour together are opening up newer playgrounds for retailers faster than emerging fashion fads. Needless to say that smartphones and internet penetration is leading this revolution and for retailers, the first step to win the retail war is to provide an omnichannel retail experience for their customers across platforms and devices.

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