Holistic Marketing Management, Volume 11, Issue 3, Year 2021

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‘ Mar k et i ngSc i enceandI ns pi r at i ons ’ :Chal l engi ngReader sby Mak i ngMar k et i ngPer s pec t i v eHappen DanSMEDESCU

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Editorial Board of “Holistic Marketing Management” (A refereed journal published four times annually by the School of Management-Marketing of the Romanian-American University)

Editor-in-Chief Theodor Valentin PURCĂREA

Bernd HALLIER

John SAEE

John L. STANTON

Léon F. WEGNEZ

William PERTTULA Levent ALTINAY

Andrew KILNER Dana ZADRAZILOVA Riccardo BELTRAMO Sinisa ZARIC Gabriela SABĂU Hélène NIKOLOPOULOU Vasa LÁSZLÓ Peter STARCHON John MURRAY

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President of European Retail Academy; President of EuCVoT, Member of the Astana Economic Scientists Club; Former Managing Director EHI Retail Institute, Germany, Chairman of the Advisory Board of EuroShop, Chairman of the Board of the Orgainvent, Trustee of EHI Retail Institute at GLOBALG.A.P. President - Association of Global Management Studies (USA); Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Entrepreneurship and Sustainability Issues & Former Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Management Systems, USA; Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship, the Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology; Member of France’s National Academy of Scientific Research (CNRS); Director - ESB International Teaching and Research Exchanges, Reutlingen University, Germany Professor of Food Marketing, Erivan K. Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph’s University Philadelphia, USA; Director, Institute of Food Products Marketing, Editor, Journal of Food Products Marketing; Hall of Fame of the European Retail Academy, Honored Personality 2016 Secretary General, International Association of the Distributive Trade, AIDA Brussels; Member of France’s Academy of Commercial Sciences; Doctor Honoris Causa of NUPSPA (SNSPA) Bucharest; Hall of Fame of the European Retail Academy, Honored Personality 2015; Administrator Secretary General of the Diplomatic Club of Belgium Internet Marketing Professor, College of Business, San Francisco State University, USA Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Research Area Leader, Oxford School of Hospitality Management, Faculty of Business, Oxford Brookes University, UK First MBA Director at the Rennes Graduate School of Business in France; Director of RAFME Research into Management Excellence; PhD (Cambridge), MBA (City, London) Faculty of International Economic Relations, University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic University of Turin, Italy University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia Memorial University, Grenfell Campus, Corner Brook, Canada University of Lille 3, France Szent Istvan University, Hungary Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia Faculty of Business, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland

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Kamil PÍCHA Irena JINDRICHOVSKA Norbert HAYDAM Hans ZWAGA Roxana CODITA Valeriu IOAN-FRANC Dumitru MIRON Iacob CĂTOIU Virgil BALAURE Gheorghe ORZAN Luigi DUMITRESCU Marius D. POP Constantin ROŞCA Petru FILIP

Ion VOICU SUCALA Virgil POPA Alexandru NEDELEA Ana-Maria PREDA Ovidiu FOLCUȚ Doinița CIOCÎRLAN Costel NEGRICEA Tudor EDU Alexandru IONESCU Andreea Elisabeta BUDACIA Marius Dan DALOTĂ Mihai PAPUC Gheorghe ILIESCU Oana PREDA Olga POTECEA Nicoleta DUMITRU Monica Paula RAȚIU Alexandra PERJU-MITRAN

Faculty of Economics, University of South Bohemia in Ceske Budejovice Deputy Head of Department of Business Economics, University of Economics and Management, Prague, Czech Republic Faculty of Business, Marketing Department, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa Kemi-Tornio University of Applied Sciences, Finland Technische Universität München, TUM School of Management Corresponding Member of the Romanian Academy, General Deputy Director, National Institute for Economic Research “Costin C. Kiriţescu”, Romanian Marketing Association; Romanian Distribution Committee Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, President of RAFPEC (FRAPEC) Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca President of Romanian Scientific Society of Management - SSMAR Dimitrie Cantemir University, Bucharest Technical University of Cluj-Napoca, Management and Economic Engineering Department; University of Glasgow, UK, College of Social Sciences, School of Social & Political Sciences; Managing Editor, Review of Management and Economic Engineering Valahia University of Târgovişte Ştefan cel Mare University of Suceava Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University Romanian-American University

Associate Editors Dan SMEDESCU Irina PURCĂREA Diana SOCA Art Designer Director Alexandru BEJAN Holistic Marketing Management

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“Holistic Marketing Management” (A refereed journal published four times annually by the School of Management-Marketing of the Romanian-American University)

Volume 11, Issue 3, Year 2021

Contents

Theodor PURCĂREA - Moving Forward the Frontiers of the Feasible, Considering Marketing’s Digital Orchestrator Role, and Rethinking the Marketing Technology Ecosystem...........................................................................................................4

Bernd HALLIER (by courtesy of) - AEUC: Globalgap China, and Honour for G-Global......................11

Ioan Matei PURCĂREA - The Impact of Robotics on E-commerce, and the Challenge of Delivering Great CX.....................................................................................14 Dan SMEDESCU – ‘Marketing Science and Inspirations’: Challenging Readers by Making Marketing Perspective Happen...............................................................................40

HMM Personalia Corner

● Dumitru MIRON – Professor Ioan Ursachi, Founding Member of RAFPEC (FRAPEC), at His 80th Anniversary.........................................................48

The responsibility for the contents of the scientific and the authenticity of the published materials and opinions expressed rests with the author.

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Editorial: Moving forward the frontiers of the feasible, considering marketing’s digital orchestrator role, and rethinking the marketing technology ecosystem

In the last part of September 2021, the European Business Review hosted an article written by Hannes Gurzki (a Program Director at European School of Management and Technology/ESMT Berlin) and Joachim Junghanss (the Associate Director at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam/CvA), and entitled “Leading in an Age of Disruption”, the authors drawing attention to the leadership challenges in the current state of affairs meaning: “Today’s leaders, especially, must operate in an environment that is substantially different from what they were used to… Management analogies using music are nothing new. The orchestra model, for example, has been used to describe the leadership challenge for decades… A future full of changes is about to come, and with it rapidly changing technologies, markets, organizations, and business models. Leaders have the possibility to shape the future they would like. While this is certainly not easy, and successes might also meet setbacks, it is the open mind and willingness to learn as an individual, team, or organization that can make the difference… And the future starts now. Any moment you step on the leadership stage to play a tune with your team and co-create a performance is the occasion to further push the boundaries of the possible… Jazz is not the solution to all of today’s leadership challenges. But we believe it is a useful metaphor to help leaders gain a new perspective on the old but increasingly important aspect of how we deal with uncertainty” (Gurzki and Junghanss, 2021). Their reflections remind us not only that we’re all in the current unprecedented uncertainty together, but also of some main ideas expressed in April (Purcarea a, 2021) and August (Purcarea b, 2021) this year with regard to various aspects such as: (April 2021) “Leading the RAU Customer Experience”, total CX, understanding and responding to the emotional needs of customers, “evidence management”, remote and in-person teamwork teamwork; (August 2021) innovations and insights within high level of uncertainty, speed as a choice, digital disruption as a transformation caused by emerging digital technologies and business models, the era of disruption and digital transformation, digital transformation-driven Holistic Marketing Management

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business model innovation, the need of going beyond disruption, a sharper focus both on resilience, and on strategic risk management in the new normal, reskilling and retraining workforces under the double pressure of digitization of everything, and the necessary ability to work from anywhere, letting employees to bring their so-called ‘whole person’ (a holistic method) to work, motivating them to innovate and push the frontiers of knowledge and its application, this being exactly what the Romanian-American University (RAU) is doing at the significant moment of its 30th Anniversary. On October 1, 2021 RAU marked the opening ceremony of the academic year 2021-2022 (http://holisticmarketingmanagement.ro/openingceremony-of-the-academic-year-2021-2022-at-the-romanian-american-university/ ), Rector Costel Negricea delivering opening remarks and highlighting: the significantly important place of these ceremonies in students’ lives and how RAU is making a difference in students’ lives by continuously better understanding students’ rising needs and expectations in academic quality, employability (considering the above-mentioned new skills defining today’s work) and the facilities offered to them, and by agilely adapting to the international and national structural changes caused by COVID-19 pandemic and to the accelerated digital transformation caused by the digital technology; the opportunities for RAU students within the context of RAU advancement on the path to the next normal while going from innovation to demonstration to building the necessary pillars accordingly. Introducing Gartner’s “Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Vision 2022: 3 Strategic Actions for Success” (Gartner a, 2021), Chris Howard, Chief of Research, Gartner underlined that: “As we head into 2022, we continue to feel the human toll of the global pandemic… attitudes and norms have permanently shifted… Businesses have also changed. For many organizations, the pandemic has catalyzed digital business initiatives as we adapt to the demands of employees, customers and other stakeholders, who were forced into new digital options that they have now come to favor… Gartner Leadership Vision provides top-level guidance to leaders and their teams on where to focus…” According to this Gartner’s Vision, there are clear trends, priorities and actions for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), as shown in the table below: Table no. 1: Trends, Priorities and Actions for the CMO

Source: Gartner, 2021. Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Vision 2022: 3 Strategic Actions for Success. [pdf] Gartner for Marketers, p 4. (Work cited)

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As we can see above, one of the CMO top priorities is to reassert marketing’s digital orchestrator role to avoid further loss of influence (together with rebuilding the marketing engine for flexibility in a changing environment, and executing adaptive strategies that prove marketing’s value to the enterprise), Gartner’s research findings indicating that within the context in which the enterprise looks to digital channels and experiences to fuel future growth digitally savvy CMOs should be in a leading position, as shown in the below figure. While one of the necessary key actions is to redefine the CMO’s role as the organization’s “chief connecting officer” (together with preparing for the future of hybrid marketing, and building holistic marketing measurement), as shown in the next figure below.

Figure no. 1: Reassert Marketing’s Digital Orchestrator Role to Avoid Further Loss of Influence Source: Gartner, 2021. Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Vision 2022: 3 Strategic Actions for Success. [pdf] Gartner for Marketers, p 13. (Work cited)

Figure no. 2: Redefine the CMO’s Role as the Organization’s “Chief Connecting Officer” Source: Gartner, 2021. Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Vision 2022: 3 Strategic Actions for Success. [pdf] Gartner for Marketers, p 17. (Work cited)

Coming back to by Gartner recommended (one of the three keys) key action of preparing for the future of hybrid marketing (agile approach to marketing strategy, budgeting and planning; the adoption by CMOs of an integrated, channel-agnostic, hybrid approach to marketing activation with regard to digital and traditional channels; diversified digital experience portfolio

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shaping customer journeys), allow us to make reference to a connection we are seeing with tree distinct approaches: • The recently developed framework possible to be used by companies to audit their digitization efforts and figure out their next move, framework introduced by Jan Van Mieghem (a Professor of Operations at Kellogg) and Robert Boute (a professor of Operations Management at Vlerick Business School in Belgium, and a visiting professor at Kellogg) as a diagnostic tool that can also inspire debate on a better use of digitization. The questions to be asked in the recently developed framework (starting from picking one business process; for instance, you can see in the below figure the approach for how “digital” is the workflow) were as follows: how “digital” is your workflow”, how “automated” is your workflow”, and how “smart” is your workflow” (Van Mieghem and Boute, 2021).

Figure no. 3: How “Digital” is your Workflow? Source: Van Mieghem, J. A., Boute, R., 2021. Looking to Further Digitize Your Operations? This Tool Can Help, Kellogg Insight, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, June 18 (Work cited)

• A recent conference paper by Bitzer et al. (2021), that revealed how the authors derived the transformation triad of Digital Transformation, Agile Transformation and Cultural Transformation to enable continuous change (see the figure below), providing this way a potential explanation for the well-known Dang and Vartiainen’s (2020) assertion that people are the engine for the transformation, beyond the fact that technology plays an important role in Digital Transformation, the authors findings showing that: all three above-mentioned Holistic Marketing Management

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transformations play a key role in enabling continuous change (based on the understanding of the interrelation of this transformation triad and due to their ongoing nature; organizations need to make sure with regard to their employees’ understanding of the necessity and direction of change, employees being the most important driver and barrier for this change, hence being also necessary to be putted in the middle of their Digital Transformation efforts.

Figure no. 4: The Transformation Triad to Foster Continuous Change Source: Bitzer, M., Hinsen, S., Jöhnk, J., Urbach, N., 2021. Everything Is IT, but IT Is Not Everything – What Incumbents Do to Manage Digital Transformation Towards Continuous Change. [pdf] Conference Paper · December 2021, Forty-Second International Conference on Information Systems, Austin 2021, ResearchGate, p. 12 (Work cited)

• “A study on Strategic Fitness of Digital Transformation and Competitive Strategy” by KyooSung Noh (Professor, Department of Business Administration, Sun Moon University, South Korea) and published on August 28, 2021 in the Journal of the Korea Convergence Society (see also the below table). Table no. 2: Fitness of Digital Transformation and Type of Competitive Advantage

Source: Noh, K.-S., 2021. A study on Strategic Fitness of Digital Transformation and Competitive Strategy. [pdf] Journal of the Korea Convergence Society Vol. 12. No. 8, p. 261 (Work cited) Holistic Marketing Management

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In the above table we also can see “Digital Marketing” … Allow us to also refer to other identified connections, such as: • Gartner’s Digital Marketing Survey Report 2021 eBook – “Digital Shakes Up Marketing Strategy and Tactics Gartner for Marketers. What CMOs can learn from the 2021 Gartner Digital Marketing Survey” (Gartner b, 2021) – showing that in order to align with their customer acquisition and retention goals digital marketing leaders are scaling their use of emerging technologies (such as artificial intelligence/AI and machine learning/ML), 84% of respondents agreeing that the marketing function’s ability to deliver real-time, personalized experiences to customers is enhanced by the use of using AI/ML, but despite this fact there is still a low adoption; • The recent article entitled “The CMO And CIO Partnership In Digital Transformation”, (Husson, 2021) written by Thomas Husson (VP, Principal Analyst, Forrester), who underlined the shrinking of the collaboration gap between marketing and IT under the impact of COVID19pandemic, opening new opportunities for the alignment of CMOs and CIOs teams to accelerate digital transformation (mainly around hybrid commerce), the acceleration of the convergence between marketing and technology being possible (beyond driving growth by focusing on hybrid commerce experiences) by rethinking the marketing technology ecosystem in order to stay ahead of data deprecation, using a new operating model to speed-up innovation, and accepting willingly the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues as a catalyst for enterprise transformation on the path of growing a sustainable business. Without doubt, on the path to the Next Normal (as coined last year and continuously redefined by McKinsey), the above-mentioned lessons to learn are suggesting significant ways to connect organizations to customers, succeeding and thriving accordingly. Theodor Valentin Purcărea Editor-in-Chief

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References Bitzer, M., Hinsen, S., Jöhnk, J., Urbach, N., 2021. Everything Is IT, but IT Is Not Everything – What Incumbents Do to Manage Digital Transformation Towards Continuous Change. [pdf] Conference Paper · December 2021, Forty-Second International Conference on Information Systems, Austin 2021, Content uploaded on ResearchGate by Michael Bitzer on 07 October 2021, pp. 11-13. Available at: <EverythingIsITbutITIsNotEverythingWhatIncumbentsDotoManageDigitalTransformationTowardsContinuousChange.pdf> [Accessed 15 October 2021]. Dang, D., and Vartiainen, T. 2020. Changing Patterns in the Process of Digital Transformation Initiative in Established Firms: The Case of an Energy Sector Company, PACIS 2020 Proceedings. Gartner, 2021. Chief Marketing Officer Leadership Vision 2022: 3 Strategic Actions for Success. [pdf] Gartner for Marketers, pp.1-21. Available at: <cmo-chief-marketing-officer-leadershipvision_ebook.pdf> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. Gartner, 2021. Digital Shakes Up Marketing Strategy and Tactics Gartner for Marketers. What CMOs can learn from the 2021 Gartner Digital Marketing Survey. [pdf] Gartner for Marketers, pp.11. Available at: <cm_gbs_1210573_cm_gbs_marketing_digital_marketing_survey_ebook_r2d.pdf> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. Gurzki, H. and Junghanss, J., 2021. Leading in an Age of Disruption, European Business Review, September 21. [online] Available at: <https://www.europeanbusinessreview.com/leading-in-an-age-of-disruption/> [Accessed 5 October 2021]. Husson, T., 2021. The CMO And CIO Partnership In Digital Transformation, Forrester Blog, Oct 6. [online] Available at: <https://www.forrester.com/blogs/the-cmo-and-cio-partnership-indigital-transformation/> [Accessed 4 October 2021]. Noh, K.-S., 2021. A study on Strategic Fitness of Digital Transformation and Competitive Strategy. [pdf] Journal of the Korea Convergence Society Vol. 12. No. 8, pp. 257-265. Available at: < A study on Strategic Fitness of Digital Transformation and Competitive Strategy.pdf> [Accessed 3 October 2021]. Purcarea, T., 2021. Honoring building organizational resilience and driving value, impacting positively on society, showing respect, Holistic Marketing Management, vol. 11(1), pp. 04-08, April. Purcarea, T., 2021. Resilience and Strategic Risk Management, Reskilling Considering Skills Descriptions and Enabling Learning, Accelerating the Innovation Cycle, Holistic Marketing Management, vol. 11(2), pp. 04-08, August. Van Mieghem, J. A., Boute, R., 2021. Looking to Further Digitize Your Operations? This Tool Can Help, Kellogg Insight, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, June 18. [online] Available at: <https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/digital-operationsassessment-tool?> [Accessed 4 October 2021]. About the research: Boute, R. N. and Van Meighem, J. A., 2021. Digital Operations: Autonomous Automation and the Smart Execution of Work. Management and Business Review, 1, 1, 177-186.

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AEUC: Globalgap China, and Honour for G-Global Bernd HALLIER

Prof. Dr. Bernd Hallier, President of the European Retail Academy (ERA) is a distinguished Member of the Editorial Board of our “Holistic Marketing Management” Journal. The Romanian-American University (RAU) has awarded Prof. Dr. Bernd Hallier a “Diploma of Special Academic Merit”. Prof. Dr. Bernd Hallier is also an Honorary Member of the Romanian Distribution Committee, and distinguished Member of the Editorial Board of “Romanian Distribution Committee Magazine”. The “Carol Davila” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest, has awarded Prof. Dr. Bernd Hallier a “Diploma of Excellence”. Prof. Dr. Bernd Hallier is the “designer” of the European Retail Academy. He always proved to be a personality displaying a real passion for transparency of the market and trends discovery, for promotion of the benchmarking in retail education (including at the level of AEUC or Asia Africa GCC Retail etc.) and for one of the most internationalized markets, the Art market. Globalgap China GLOBALG.A.P. took part in the Fifth National Brand Conference at the Zhengzhou International Convention and Exhibition Center in China on October 15, 2021. I Love Private Holistic Marketing Management

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Label and GLOBALG.A.P. will host the “Love Private Brand Show” – a GLOBALG.A.P. China Day focusing on cooperation projects, the importance of sustainable farming certification, an introduction to the GLOBALG.A.P. standards, and global agricultural development trends towards certification collaborate in many areas. Glopbalgap was started under the name of Eurepgap as a pro-active food-security initiative for fruit and vegetables at the hype of the BSE-crisis by Prof. Dr. Bernd Hallier as a managing director of EHI Retail Institute and Dr. Kristian Möller as a Secretary General of this project. Xin Zhou from China had been in those early stages already trainee in the Cologne headquarter of EHI - now being Globalgap’s Chinese coordinator.

Honour for G-Global Being initiated by the first President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, G-Global has enriched G7/8 and G20 by incorporating also the other nations around our globe into a neutral dialogue about the political and economic problems around the world. Now those efforts have been awarded by the permission for a Representative Office in China.

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Prof. Dr. Bernd Hallier for a decade has been gratefully a supporter of the different GGlobal initiatives. In an official statement he congratulates the Management of the International G-Global Secretariat for this remarkable step as until now only about 30 organizations like the UN, WHO and WTO have been honored like this.

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The Impact of Robotics on E-commerce, and the Challenge of Delivering Great CX Drd. Ioan Matei PURCĂREA

Abstract As now is the real time to control and use effectively the full potential of Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0, to consider Robotics, IoT and Artificial Intelligence, and the challenge of fulfilling extremely fast and with high precision the increasing ecommerce demand. Ecommerce sector growth is a driving force behind the obvious trend of embracing Robotics and Automation. It is important to better understand both how ecommerce impacted by robotic automation is engaging buyers in personalized digital experiences in a knowledgeable and insightful way, and the impact of developing and employing robotics on last-mile delivery. Considering both digital disruption and digital opportunities, now it’s time to deliver a frictionless CX, based on CX solutions playing well in an API-first world. Keywords: E-commerce; Robotics; Industry 4.0; Industry 5.0; Artificial Intelligence; Automation; CX JEL Classification: D83; L81; L86; M15; M31; O32; O33

Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0. Robotics, IoT and Artificial Intelligence, and the challenge of fulfilling extremely fast and with high precision the increasing ecommerce demand In our last HMM issue we underlined the significant marketers’ preoccupations represented today by ecommerce within the continuous digital transformation, including the pressure of seamlessly connecting the mobile customer experience (CX) with the in-store Holistic Marketing Management

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experience, combining personalization with automation (Purcarea, 2021). At the end of 2020, we approached the connection between the digital transformation and the impact on e-commerce of the disruptive technologies which are the supporting structure of the Industry 4.0, highlighting the need of better understanding digital transformation (as a blending of process knowledge, intelligent automation, and data, valuing and mastering data and content through these disruptive technologies), showing not only that a growing trend in ecommerce is a level of automatic customization called personalization, but also both the increasing importance of robots enabling warehouses to scale operations in the e-commerce fulfilment market, and the opportunity of better answering the specific needs of ecommerce packaging with the help of new robot technology (Purcarea, 2020). At mid-February 2021, European Commission published the policy options to deal with “Industry 5.0. Towards a sustainable, human-centric and resilient European industry”, showing that Industry 5.0 (having its roots in the concept of Industry 4.0 and complementing the existing Industry 4.0 paradigm) makes the effort to complete the difficult task of capturing new technologies’ value (in close association with both providing prosperity beyond jobs and growth, respecting at the same time planetary boundaries, and placing at the center of the production process the wellbeing of the industry worker), technologies needing to serve people, and workers needing to be closely involved in the design and deployment of these technologies, including robotics and artificial intelligence (AI). The obvious innovative evolution of robotics, automation, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is continuing to impact the Fourth Industrial Revolution also known as Industry 4.0 (Robotics & Automation News, 2021). The robotics industry is now revolutionized by the Industry 4.0 technology (new computer technology like industrial IoT devices and AI algorithms making possible: Real-Time Operational Monitoring, Predictive Maintenance, Collaborative Robots (Cobots), Machine Vision, Autonomous Robotics), enabling including new collaborative robotics technologies (Partida, 2021). Recently (Edwards, 2021), the Sales Manager at GreyOrange (a US global technology company unifying AI-driven software and mobile robotics to modernize order fulfillment and optimize warehouse operations in real time) told Robotics and Automation News (established in May, 2015, and covering the robotics and automation industries around the world) that: “End customers are demanding more from their eCommerce engagements with our research revealing that almost half of consumers expect their online orders to be delivered within two days…Web shops and retail organisations can’t afford to fall behind when it comes to delivery times because if orders are late, customers will take their business elsewhere… GreyOrange’s multi-purpose robots empower Active Ants to deliver faster and more accurate e-fulfilment services for customers and adapt their processes as market dynamics change and consumer demands grow”. The above statement was made within the context of the expansion by GreyOrange of its GreyMatter operating system and Ranger MoveSmart robots (see also the figure below) in Active Ants’ e-fulfilment centre in Willebroek, Belgium. Active Ants fulfilment center in The Netherlands (known as storing, packing and distributing goods for more than 5 million annual orders for over 250 retailers) was already using GreyOrange Fulfillment Operating System as fully integrated software and robots solution that Holistic Marketing Management

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has already proved its performance also in the provision by Active Ants of warehousing services to ecommerce companies across Europe.

Figure no. 1: GreyOrange combined AI-driven cloud software and smart robotic automation. GreyMatter™ Software’s real-time decisioning drives dynamic, responsive orchestration for faster speed to fulfill and promises made, promises kept. Advanced fulfillment science enables GreyMatter™ to instantaneously evaluate order data and compose best decisions in real-time to efficiently orchestrate people, processes, and robots. Source: GreyOrange, 2021. Welcome to the age of immediacy. [online] Available at: <https://www.greyorange.com/products/fos-overview/> [Accessed 16 October 2021].

At the end of last year, Gheorghiu (2020) brought to other attention that within the extremely strong competition in ecommerce accelerated by COVID-19 pandemic CX is a differentiating factor, hence the need to hyper-personalization (in order to customize the buyer experience by AI), the proof in this regard being the significant increase in traffic in 2020 experienced by G2’s E-commerce Personalization category (G2.com being the largest and most trusted software marketplace), also a significant traffic increase since April 2020 being experienced by G2’s E-commerce Data Integration category, ecommerce data being critical for companies (to better track sales and identify new opportunities), and consumers (to make better decisions). As argued by Gheorghiu: the fact that the Drop Shipping software category experienced the highest increase in traffic in 2020 (see the figure below) shows that also the post-buying experience is essential when approaching personalization; the cost of the products and services (along with shipping, returns, exchanges etc.) is another CX factor needing to be treated rigorously (and not overlooked), hence the recommendation to use including advanced technology (comparing multiple options) to keep these costs low.

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Figure no. 2: G2 E-commerce Categories Traffic Growth in 2020 Source: Gheorghiu, G. 2020. Trends in E-Commerce and Industry 4.0, G2, December 8 (work cited)

Ther is no doubt that today’s e-commerce landscape forces supply chains to meet faster service levels and overcome labor challenges confronted with intense cost pressures (Mohan, 2021). According to an August 2021 white paper by Reuters Events (Hadwick, 2021) in partnership with A.P. Moller - Maersk (an integrated transport and logistics company), within the context in which the global retail ecommerce sales took on a stratospheric trajectory (increasing by 25.7% in 2020, and being expected to climb a further 16.8%, according to eMarketer estimates), while the global ecommerce logistics market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.6% between 2020-2025 (according to a report by Transport Intelligence/Ti, the leading provider of market research solutions to the global logistics industry, Ti also estimating that: costs of last-mile services are representing 53% of logistics costs, with fulfilment accounting for the other 47%; as customers are looking to get same or next day delivery, there is a significant need for investment driven by the costs of fulfilling ecommerce, mainly in the last mile), there is a real challenge to optimize omnichannel fulfilment processes (exceeding the current low levels recorded until now) even on the North American relevant competitive retail market (see the figure below), by deploying automated and collaborative systems that enhance the productivity of each distribution network facility (considering the more reduced cost for individual robotic systems over recent years, the systems better fitting into an operation, with the various solutions offered by more and more competitive third parties offering and the ascent of robotics-as-a-service), and fulfilling extremely fast and with high precision the increasing ecommerce demand. Holistic Marketing Management

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Figure no. 3: Percentage of North American retailers with optimized omnichannel fulfilment processes, Manhattan Associates and IHL, 2020 Source: Hadwick, A., 2021. Why is greater flexibility in warehouse and distribution operations so critical to omnichannel supply chain performance? [pdf], Reuters Events in partnership with AP Moller-Maersk, White Paper, p. 13 (work cited)

The above-mentioned white paper also highlighted the need of digitalizing inventory (seen in transition to storage facilities, being held here and heading towards the customer), and this way both increasing delivery estimates’ accuracy, and enhancing CX, what involves prioritizing warehouse technologies for investment, as shown in the figure below.

Figure no. 4: Which warehouse technologies are prioritized for investment, ARC Advisory Group 2020, “Warehouse of tomorrow study” Source: Hadwick, A., 2021. Why is greater flexibility in warehouse and distribution operations so critical to omnichannel supply chain performance? [pdf], Reuters Events in partnership with AP Moller-Maersk, White Paper, p. 23 (work cited)

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In September 2021, The Robot Report announced the partnership between Berkshire Grey, Inc. (recognized as having AI-powered robotic solutions which are setting the industry standard) and Advanced Handling Systems (AHS, an established leader in traditional material handling), in order to deliver the next generation warehouse robotics to the world’s largest and best-known eCommerce and 3PL providers, confirming this way the continuous improvement across eCommerce and 3PL industries fulfillment.

Using ecommerce chatbots to create great CX. Ecommerce sector growth as a driving force behind the obvious trend of embracing automation. How ecommerce impacted by robotic automation is engaging buyers in personalized digital experiences in a knowledgeable and insightful way At the beginning of the 2021, a Data Scientist underlined the increase in blending CRM software with AI-powered sales automation algorithms, illustrating by giving various examples including with AI algorithms running on online stores, and making reference to AI-powered chatbots (Muzamhindo, 2021). According to Engati, a leading CX platform powered by conversational automation & intelligence, as a type of software automating conversations and interacting with people through messaging platforms, chatbots (menu/button-based, linguistic based, keyword recognition-based, machine learning, voice bots) have endless capabilities (there are advanced capabilities such as: intelligent understanding, memory, sentiment analysis, personality, persistence, topic switching) and can benefit various industries as shown in the figure below (Engati Team, a 2021).

Figure no. 5: Industries that will benefit the most from chatbots Source: Engati Team, 2021. What are Chatbots? How do Chatbots work? Top 10 applications, Jul 6 (work cited)

Also as demonstrated by Engati, in ecommerce there are both obvious chatbot functions (like finding products, sending offers, rescuing abandoned carts, sharing shipping information, customer service), and significant tasks for chatbots (like upselling products, conducting market Holistic Marketing Management

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research, handling transactions, providing information, advertising), a lot of reputed companies being well-known also for how they are using ecommerce chatbots to create great CX (Engati Team b, 2021). There is also no doubt about the benefits for an eCommerce store provided by conversational AI (like personalizing services, recording real-time interactions, providing right customer support, acting as the perfect knowledge base, generating sales with story-telling, driving lead generation and email marketing, collecting feedback, providing metrics etc.), eCommerce platforms working better based on information collected with the help of an AIbased eCommerce chatbot with regard to the users’ details utilized correctly and intensifying CX accordingly (Engati Team c, 2021). On the other hand, it is also worth mentioning within this framework the development by the reputed UPS of AI-powered chatbots to help their customers with simple requests for information (concerning parcel tracking, shipping rates, retail locations etc.), the data from these applications being fed directly into the so-called Network Planning Tools (NPTs, which are consisting of IoT sensors, cameras and a state-of-the-art big data solution), and after synthesis and analysis used in the end to optimize their customers’ journey (Mixson, 2021). In February 2021, Meili Robots let us know within the clear impact of digitalization reflected in the retail industry that: ecommerce sector growth is one of the driving forces behind the obvious trend of embracing automation at an increasing rate by warehouses and distribution centers; the largest market share in the material handling equipment industry is hold by ecommerce, being expected that until 2025 the percentage of material handling equipment revenues for ecommerce applications will be at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8%. In May 2021, FANUC America Corporation (the leading supplier of robots, Computer Numerical Control/CNC systems and factory automation) remembered how ecommerce is impacted by robotic automation (McElmurry, 2021), starting from the linkage between the distribution channel and the specific application niche a robotic solution is designed to fill, and continuing, among other aspects, with: the increasing number of robots and other technologies used now in e-commerce (knowing that it includes currently picking, placing and other material handling processes) for a variety of fulfillment tasks, including, for example, the direct to customer ecommerce order (end-of-line, mixed-order or homogeneous robotic palletizing applications); the fact that some type of machine vision is required by most of the applications in ecommerce/fulfillment, more opportunities for both expanding companies’ capabilities, and making the difficulty of dealing with high levels of product variability easier being provided by AI and its subset Machine Learning; some significant solutions offered by FANUC, namely FANUC’s iRVision 3D Area Sensor which can provide very quick and reliable part detection for ecommerce applications such as de-palletizing (automated unloading of a loaded object in the reverse pattern, A/N) and bin picking (a robotic manipulation task involving removing individual parts from a container using sensors and a 3D camera, A/N). According to 2021 Edison Trends U.S. Convenience Store Delivery Sales Report (which analyzed over 28,000 transactions in the U.S. from the top delivery apps), the overall online Holistic Marketing Management

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consumer spend at U.S. convenience stores (following the COVID-19 pandemic home delivery become the norm) grew last year (in the on-demand delivery service market 2020 has been seen as a year of consolidation and convergence among top players) 346%, grocery 121% and restaurant 112%, the leader (in January 2021) in spending on convenience store delivery since September 2020 being DoorDash, as shown in the figure below (Edison Trends, 2021).

Figure no. 6: Spend on convenience store delivery transactions, by week, December 30, 2019 – January 10, 2021 Source: Edison Trends, 2021. 2021 Edison Trends U.S. Convenience Store Delivery Sales Report, January 28 (work cited)

At mid-April this year, Progressive Grocer (Troy, 2021) highlighted the beginning of the supermarket giant Kroger’s first 2 robotic fulfillment centers operations within its new ecommerce ecosystem, after a 116% increase in 2020 (resulting in ecommerce sales of $10 billion) Kroger expecting to double by the end of 2023 its e-commerce grocery sales, Kroger’s technologically advanced grocery e-commerce infrastructure transforming its business model, including through the introduction of first-of-its-kind technology in the U.S. developed by Ocado, a technology-led global software and robotics platform business, which is providing a unique E2E solution for online grocery (considering the advantages of the network of large Ocado-powered automated customer fulfillment center fulfilling online grocer orders compared to already traditional pickers in stores). While more recently, at mid-September, Trend Hunter (Pajkovic, 2021) brought our attention to the alliance between Kroger and Instacart in order to make operational the launch of the so-called Kroger Delivery Now, an ultra-fast grocery delivery service promising to bring Kroger shoppers’ orders in thirty minutes or less. On 20 September, 2021 we found out from Retail Brew - Morning Brew (Gray, 2021) that Locus Robotics (which makes autonomous mobile robots/AMR for fulfillment warehouses), is acquiring another industry leader in AMRs, Waypoint Robotics, this acquisition (made within the context in which robotic automation will be driven by the explosion of online ordering and supply chain challenges) strengthening Locus’s ecommerce, case-picking (when product is picked in full case Holistic Marketing Management

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or carton quantities from a variety of storage mediums), and pallet-picking (when product is stored in racks or sits on the floor) operations and tools. At the end of September 2021, Supermarket News (Redman a, 2021) informed about Amazon move (as parent company which notified Whole Foods customers) of instituting the $9.95 same-day, online grocery delivery fee across Whole Foods chain starting Oct. 25 (with additional rush fees for one-hour delivery orders from Whole Foods Market online shoppers). And at the beginning of October this year, TechCrunch (Bellan, 2021) made known Tortoise major shift toward robotic delivery, the expansion by Tortoise of its remote-controlled delivery robots (serving Tortoise’s retail customers having access to its flexible APIs and web portals from urban to exurban, and from last-mile to middle-mile delivery) to convenience store chains (which are selling instant need common foods and general merchandise) across the U.S. being based on both new two-year strategic partnership with King Retail Solutions, and recent partnerships with AxelHire (a last-mile logistics supplier), Shoprite (a grocery chain) and Choice Market (a convenience store brand). While on October 12 this year, Supermarket News (Redman b, 2021) also showed how Kroger’s products are expected to be expanded to a larger geographic market presence by bringing Ocado’s world-leading technology to Kroger customers (who are placing their orders via Kroger.com or the Kroger mobile app) across the U.S. As revealed on the occasion of some recent traditional RetailWire’s discussions: • (Stern, 2021) In order to keep their convenience advantage the convenience stores need robots (like those for last-mile delivery) which are enabling both consumer demand for speed, and ease to drive online growth (as shown by L. Goller, Content marketing strategist); social acceptance, profitability, and logistics are representing real challenges with regard to this robotic delivery capability (as shown by A. Chakravarty, Retail thought leader); • (Tenser, 2021) Kroger will be enabled to deliver on its promises of omnichannel fulfillment by the micro-fulfillment centers (also known as sheds) able to robotically pick, pack, and make ready pickup or delivery (automated fulfillment) solving the challenge of ensuring consumers’ instant gratification (as shown by K. Morris, Managing Partner Cambridge Retail Advisors); as the fulfillment system is stressed by the increasing ecommerce (and also by both the necessary inventory’s reallocation based on trembling supply chain structures, and pandemic uncertain environment), one of the key success factors at grocery retail will be the automated fulfillment system (as shown by M. Price, Managing Partner, Smart Data Solutions, ThreeBridge); • (Anderson a, 2021): Successful omnichannel retailing can be approached by at least two paths, using to maximum advantage a big physical geographic market presence into ecommerce and related services like buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS), one hand, and on the other hand, as in the case of the alliance between Kroger and Ocado (or in the case of Amazon and other websites opening storefronts) transitioning from online-only to physical stores (as shown by D. Seesel, Principal, Retailing In Focus LLC); Kroger set new benchmarks by partnering with Holistic Marketing Management

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Ocado’s robotics platform business, and combining their recognized competitive advantages, within the context in which the penetration of ecommerce is reaching more than 75 percent of U.S. shoppers in total, and approximately 80 percent young and affluent U.S. shoppers (as shown by Brian Cluster, Director of Industry Strategy - CPG & Retail, Stibo Systems). Some of the retail industry’s biggest players included in the 2021 U.S. NRF Top 100 list, like Walmart, Amazon, Kroger, Target, Best Buy etc. (NRF, 2021) are well-known as continuing to increase their healthcare offerings. Best Buy (2021), for instance, announced recently the signing of an agreement to acquire Current Health, a leading care-at-home technology platform which assembles remote patient (Intensive Care Unit-accurate wearable) monitoring, telehealth, and patient engagement into a single solution (ensuring precise early warning alerts and video visits) so as to manage all care in the patient home. This new acquisition made by Best Buy come after three (GreatCall, Critical Signal Technologies, and BioSensics) other acquisitions in recent times (Anderson b, 2021). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as demonstrated by McKinsey’s representatives (Dörner et al., 2021), companies around the world were turning around e-commerce, for instance e-commerce sales increasing significantly in the United States, while in China being expected that the majority of the consumers will continue to buy groceries online after the maximal point of the current unprecedented crisis. In May 2021, eMarketer (Lebow, 2021) made a top list of (15) US companies ranked by retail ecommerce sales growth, as shown in the figure below:

Figure no. 7: Top 15 Companies in the US, Ranked by Retail Ecommerce Sales Growth Source: Lebow, S., 2021. The top 15 US companies in retail ecommerce sales growth, eMarketer, Jul 29 (work cited) Holistic Marketing Management

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The world’s largest online and mobile commerce company Alibaba Group considers that the fulfillment of the rapidly increasing demand, across the world’s largest consumption market (China), for online shopping can be better addressed with the help of a fleet of robots, being known the deploying this year of 1,000 delivery robots so-called Xiaomanlv (“small donkey”) across Chinese university campuses and urban communities (Tudor Ackroyd and Li, 2021). As shown by Tudor Ackroyd and Li (who are also underlining that most packages globally are still handled by delivery companies like FedEx and UPS), within the context in which ecommerce is facing this full of difficulties and complications problem of last-mile delivery, the solution represented by these performant Alibaba’s robots (whose auto-driving algorithm allows managing without human intervention, the confirmation test result indicating Level 4, meaning a high degree of automation, on a scale of Levels 0 to 5) is in accordance with consumers’ higher expectations concerning to not have to walk for miles to get a package that can be brought by autonomous mobile robots.

The impact of developing and employing robotics on last-mile delivery

On April 29, 2021, Madeleine Hillyer, Media Relations, World Economic Forum (WEF), highlighted the acceleration of the rise in online shopping and ecommerce deliveries caused by COVID-19 that shifted the way people buy goods, and made reference to the WEF new report (“Pandemic, Parcels and Public Vaccination: Envisioning the Next Normal for the Last-Mile Ecosystem”), in which was showed that: the above-mentioned impact led to a 25% rise in consumer ecommerce deliveries in 2020; the existing trends across the sector were accelerated by the impact of COVID-19 on the last-mile delivery, leading to structural changes, one of them being the fact that: “Proven technologies are fueling the last-mile ecosystem revolution. While disruptive new technologies, such as drones and delivery robots, will continue to emerge, the last-mile revolution is happening now as proven technologies scale up. The likes of parcel lockers and data sharing for load pooling are being adopted around the world as the costs of implementation decrease”. The WEF report, entitled “The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem” presented an integrated perspective developed jointly by WEF, McKinsey & Company, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Leaseplan, and more than 20 public- and private-sector partners who contributed related data, expertise and case studies (Supply Chain 24/7, 2021), and described, among other aspects, seven different delivery networks for last-mile delivery, as shown in the figure below. Holistic Marketing Management

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Figure no. 8: Seven different delivery networks for last-mile delivery Source: Lebow, S., 2021. The top 15 US companies in retail ecommerce sales growth, eMarketer, Jul 29 (work cited)

According to Twilio (2021), it is crucial for business success to deliver personalization at consumer scale, any approach to building omnichannel engagement so as to provide a positive CX and build great relationships needing to be comprehensive in supporting sales, marketing, operations and fulfillment channels, while the last (but not least) element of an omnichannel engagement strategy (fulfillment) involving ensuring a seamless and effective last-mile delivery, using new channels to both mobilize workers, and serve customers faster and also increasing this way operational efficiency, as shown in the figure below.

Figure no. 9: The elements of an omnichannel engagement strategy Source: Twilio, 2021. How to deliver true omnichannel engagement in retail. [e-book] Version: 1.0, Updated: 05.27.21, p. 8 (work cited) Holistic Marketing Management

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It is interesting to note with regard to consumers’ delivery expectations that according to a 2021 Global Consumer Survey Report by Astound Commerce, within the context of the supply chain disruption (which generated severe order delays and out-of-stock issues for consumers) caused by COVID-19 pandemic, consumers worldwide have experienced a delay in receiving their online order, and as a consequence shoppers were trying new brands, while delivery expectations were constantly rising (a constant increase of demands for both next-day, and sameday delivery), same being the case with their appetite for forward-thinking delivery methods. The table below presents the growth of consumers’ comfort level with six stated distribution methods (delivery by a store associate, to an automated pickup locker, in-home/in-garage, by a driverless car, by a drone, and by a third-party service provider), from January last year to May this year. Table no. 1: Growth in consumers’ comfort with the following delivery methods from January 2020 to May 2021 (average; Very Comfortable)

Source: Astound Commerce, 2021. Preparing for an Ever-Evolving Holiday Season. A 2021 Global Consumer Survey Report [pdf] Astound, p. 43 (work cited)

As shown on Shiprocket Blog (Arora a, 2021), as part of an ecommerce business ecommerce fulfillment involves the operations post receiving the order (picking, packing, shipping, and delivery of products to the customer’s doorstep), as shown in the figure below (see also types of ecommerce fulfillment models). Both first-mile (for instance, the process of transporting products from the retailer warehouse to the courier company warehouse to be delivered to the final buyer) and last-mile (for instance, the process of transporting packaged products from courier company warehouse to the buyer’s doorstep) deliveries, are representing two major challenges faced by the sellers in eCommerce shipping as vital aspects which begin and end the process (responding to last-minute changes, alignment with warehouse operations, minimizing rebounds, reducing logistics costs, and on-time delivery representing here the biggest challenges, according to a report by Statista), as shown in the next figure below (Arora b, 2021). Holistic Marketing Management

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Figure no. 10: What is Included in eCommerce Fulfillment Operations (Order Fulfillment Steps), and Types of eCommerce Fulfillment Models Source: Adapted from Arora, S., 2021. What is eCommerce Fulfillment & its Scope in 2021. Shiprocket Blog, September 16 (work cited)

Figure no. 11: Challenges Faced in First-Mile and in Last-Mile Delivery Source: Adapted from Arora, S., 2021. Key Challenges in First-Mile and Last-Mile Delivery for eCommerce. Shiprocket Blog, September 16 (work cited)

In a recent study entitled “The Last-Mile Economy: How New Delivery Platforms Are Saving Retailers from Profit-Killing Carrier Capacity Limit”, and sponsored by a leading enterprise-level delivery fulfillment company, OneRail (2021), it was highlighted that the no. 1 delivery pain point for over half of retailers is last-mile delivery, which represents, on average, 41% of the total shipping cost for most retailers, on the other hand last-mile delivery being considered a significant logistical problem by 42% of retailers (however full visibility into their last-mile delivery having only 12% of retailers). In August last year, EU-Startups.com, the leading online publication with a focus on startups in Europe, let us know about Innoship (a Romanian startup, as an aggregator of multiple fast delivery options for retail and e-commerce companies, founded in 2019) continuous involvement in developing (based on an investment from GapMinder VC of €550K coming some months after the commercial launch of their SaaS solution enabling e-commerce businesses to Holistic Marketing Management

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integrate and orchestrate multiple such type of options) last-mile delivery solutions, its client portfolio including already reputed brands on the local e-commerce market and distribution ecosystem (Tucker, C., 2020). And in October last year, Innoship announced that they signed a partnership with the 2nd place position holder on the DIY market in Romania, French retailer Leroy Merlin (Innoship, 2020). While in April 2021, Intermodal & Logistics Magazine (2021) made it known that Romanian online retailer evoMAG.ro integrated Innoship courier aggregator services (evoMAG joining this way the over 70 customers of medium and large retail, ecommerce and distribution companies which already chosen Innoship platform) since the beginning of 2021 as part of its strategy to improve CX and reduce order delivery times (Intermodal & Logistics, 2021), and managed to obtain during this period, through a dynamic allocation of orders to couriers, the efficiency of delivery costs by about 15%, the implementation of Innoship API aggregator, for instance, facilitating immediate access to any courier in the local or international market without additional interconnection or maintenance costs.

Figure no. 12: Distribution of internet users in Romania who shop online in 2020, by e-commerce activity Source: Sava, J. A., 2021. E-commerce activities in Romania 2020, Statista, May 3 (work cited)

It is worth mentioning within this framework that: from the point of view of the digital shopping behavior in 2020 was a suggestive (confirming the great consumer shift: searching and Holistic Marketing Management

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buying online for a specific product or a service) distribution of internet users in Romania who shop online in 2020, by e-commerce activity, as shown by Statista in the figure below (Sava, 2021); 45% of the Romanian internet users made at least one online purchase in the last 12 months, according to the Eurostat report published in January 2021; there is a significant development potential of the e-commerce sector which has experienced an accelerated growth in 2020; at the end of December 2020, more than 23,000 active online merchants were registered in the eMAG Marketplace platform, according to data provided by eMAG for GPeC; it was recorded a significant increased use of delivery applications for online shopping, according to studies for GPeC conducted during 2020 (May and October 2020) by the market research company iSense Solutions among internet users (Păunescu, 2021); according to ecommerceDB, this was the 2020 Top 30 online stores in Romania (first party net sales 2020): emag.ro (Dante International S.A.), fashiondays.ro (Dante International S.A.), altex.ro (Altex Romania S.r.l.), dedeman.ro (Dedeman S.r.l.), pcgarage.ro (PC Garage Srl), hm.com (H & M Hennes & Mauritz GBC AB), epantofi.ro (eobuwie.pl S.A.), elefant.ro (Elefant Online S.A.), carrefour.ro (Carrefour Romania S.A.), notino.ro (Notino s.r.o.), cel.ro (SC Corsar Online S.r.l.), amazon.com (Amazon.com, Inc.), sephora.ro (Sephora Cosmetics Romania S.A.), hornbach.ro (Hornbach Centrala S.r.l.), auchan.ro (Auchan Romania), drmax.ro (Dr.Max), zara.com (Zara USA, Inc.), farmacialapretmic.ro (Spring Farm S.r.l.), flanco.ro (Flanco Retail S.A.), ikea.com (Inter IKEA Systems B.V.), leroymerlin.ro (Leroy Merlin Romania S.r.l.), vivre.ro (Vivre Deco S.A.), evomag.ro (SC Evolution Perst Systems S.r.l.), decathlon.ro (Roumasport S.r.l.), answear.ro (Wearco S.A.), bricodepot.ro (Bricostore Romania S.A.), footshop.ro (Footshop s.r.o.), autopieseonline24.ro (Partex Global GmbH), autokarma.ro (Karma Crimpex S.r.l.), mediagalaxy.ro (Altex Romania S.r.l.); on the other hand, this was the Top 5 Online the Ecommerce Market Stores in Romania by Ecommerce Net Sales 2020 in Million US$ (store rankings based on every store generating revenue in Romania, and considering only revenue created here): emag.ro (US$830m), fashiondays.ro (US$120m), altex.ro (US$111m), dedeman.ro (US$89m), pcgarage.ro (US$79m); as pointed out by the Statista Digital Market Outlook, ecommerce market (US$2,542m Revenue in 2020) expansion in Romania is expected to continue over the next few years, being predicted a CAGR 2020-2024 for the next four years of 14%; from the point of view of the Top 3 shipping service providers offered by online retailers in Romania, the most frequently offered delivery service provider among online stores is Fan Courier, followed by Urgent Cargus and GLS (ecommerceDB, 2021). Prior to the GPeC SUMMIT, November 1-2, 2021 (considered to be the most important E-Commerce and Digital Marketing event in the region), GPeC informed, among others, that: Romanians' trust in online stores has increased significantly from 32% in 2020 to 41% this year (according to the study ‘International eComm Pulse 2021’ conducted by iSense Solutions for GPeC), a sign that online shopping is becoming a common way to shop; 20% of Romanians ordered online for the first time after the pandemic started, and 85% of those who buy online expanded the range of products purchased online with at least one new category (according to a study conducted by Nielsen Norman Group at the beginning of 2021); compared to last year, Holistic Marketing Management

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Romanian online commerce will increase this year by approx. 15% (GPeC estimates, together with the main players), bringing the entire sector to approx. 6.5 billion euros generated by online sales, compared to 5.6 billion euros at the end of last year (Radu, 2021). The 2021 Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index (the report was created 12 years ago by Agility, one of the world’s top freight forwarding and contract logistics providers, and a leader and investor in technology to enhance supply chain efficiency, with their abovementioned research partners Transport Intelligence/Ti) revealed that the ecommerce revolution was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic in every region of the world, the pre-pandemic forecasts being eclipsed by the online sales growth, while a larger share of wallet was gained by the digital purchases. Allow us to also remember that we have seen above how Ti estimated the costs of last-mile services as representing 53% of logistics costs (with fulfilment accounting for the other 47%), and highlighted the significant need for investment driven by the costs of fulfilling ecommerce, mainly in the last mile. Recently, Retail By the Numbers (2021) let us know the latest news concerning the lastmile delivery market, beginning with the in August 2021 launched Walmart’s GoLocal last-mile delivery service (The Home Depot, ranked as no. 8 in the above-mentioned top list of 15 retailers, becoming the first retailer utilizing Walmart’s network to make same- or next-day deliveries), which is reaching nearly 70% of the US population (by using drones, autonomous vehicles, and market fulfillment centers to scale delivery from more than 3,000 stores), US population being also served by both other major players in the last-mile category (like FedEx, UPS, XPO Logistics, the United States Postal Service, and Amazon), and new startups (such as FrontDoor Collective) seeking to provide alternatives to the mentioned logistics giants (according to Insider Intelligence). Within this framework, it was also underlined, among other aspects, that in order to help with last-mile delivery Alibaba is employing robotics, while Amazon, both to power the last mile and help increase delivery efficiency is developing robotic fulfillment centers throughout the whole nation. As shown by the Editorial Director of Robotics (WTWH Media), and co-chair of the well-known Robotics Summit & Expo, a variety of robots were tested and used over time by Walmart, which confirmed their preoccupation with regard to the development of a fast, low-cost and scalable last mile delivery ecosystem, including valorizing autonomous vehicles (Crowe, 2021). Recently, as underlined by the Editor of WTWH’s Robotics Group and founder of the Mobile Robot Guide (Oitzman, 2021), Walmart is investing in better digitizing its supply chain facilities and improving ecommerce fulfillment, including, for instance, by partnering with Symbotic (fully autonomous robots and proprietary software) to implement high-tech automation system into distribution network. According to the CEO of Attabotics Inc. (which is well-known as providing robotics for: order fulfillment combining automated storage with ergonomic picking processes, retrieval, and real-time order fulfillment), ecommerce companies which were thinking about what will happen Holistic Marketing Management

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in the future already invested in robotics (Demaitre, 2020). More recently, at the Groceryshop 2021 Event (September 2021), the Chief Revenue Office at Attabotics stated that to stay competitive stores need a new business model for ecommerce (Gonzalez, 2021).

Instead of conclusions: Considering both digital disruption and digital opportunities, now it’s time to deliver a frictionless CX, based on CX solutions playing well in an API-first world A recent McKinsey analysis invited companies to see beyond the urgency of rapid digital transformations, and also reassessing their strategies by taking rigorously into consideration both digital disruption and digital opportunities, which implies, among other aspects, including a leadership enabled by technology, as shown in the figure below (Blackburn et al., 2021).

Figure no. 13: Level of engagement, by role, % of respondents (1) Source: Blackburn, S., Galvin, J., LaBerge, L. and Williams, E., 2021. Strategy for a digital world. [pdf] McKinsey Quarterly, October, p. 8 (work cited)

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Going back in time to different McKinsey analysis, it is worth remembering that five years ago it was shown that for most C-suite leaders data management has become a top priority (the role of data in launching companies’ digital transformations being demonstrated by McKinsey already from 2011), being critical not only to build the right teams (cross-functional, or scrum), but also to adopt emerging technologies (such as data lakes allowing a faster data transmission to end users) and ensure agile data leadership, agile being seen a critical capability to both manage companies’ data more strategically and deliver seamless multichannel CX (Brocchi et al., 2016). According to 2021 Verdana Research, in order to meet today’s necessary new potential in a simplified data and technology infrastructure, companies are challenged to realign their marketing investments, being considered that the existing marketing technologies will be by the end of 2023 ineffective (for one-third of companies) to engage buyers in personalized digital experiences in a knowledgeable and insightful way, companies having now the opportunity to maximize their potential of valorizing data intelligence with the help of science and technological advancements. With all this above-mentioned in mind, we can also add at the basis for the necessary actions three lessons to learn: • The recommendations resulting from the Forrester report entitled “The Future Of Commerce Technology: Commerce Platforms End With An Ecosystem On FIRE”, where FIRE means Flexible, Inexpensive, Rapid to launch, and Easy to use (Pfeiffer et al., 2021). It was also used a significant subtitle, both providing context for the challenging above-mentioned report title, and adding explanatory substance, calling for immediate action: “Digital Acceleration Demands That Businesses Evolve Their Architecture To Survive”. A confirmation of the meaning of this subtitle was given by the emphasis made by James Urbati, General Manager Of Commerce, Pivotree, on the occasion of a foreword to this valuable Forrester report, recalling that he is immediately thinking of the book written by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler (and entitled “The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives”, Publisher: Simon Schuster, January 28, 2020) every-time when he is asked to predict where digital commerce is headed, and this because the pace of change itself is the only aspect changing faster than the technology within the context of the evolution of the digital commerce space. Urbati stated:“A different architectural approach must be utilized to avoid the problems we’re trying to leave behind. Many crucial factors — such as how APIs are connected, what underlying tools are used throughout the commerce ecosystem (Payment, Promotions, PIM, OMS, ERP), and how easily components can be added or replaced — could be impacted more by how you architect and deploy than by what software you chose… Shoppers want to start an experience online, visit a store, research products on their phone, digitally order items, and get their items in the store, at the curb, or delivered at home. And it’s a journey that must be frictionless…” This above-mentioned valuable recent Forrester report made it clear that the necessary personalized, relevant CX are enabled by leveraged customer data Holistic Marketing Management

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driven by the operations layer whose heart is the order management system struggling to be as fresh and flexible as CX solutions managing to play well in an API-first world, maintaining the compatibility with the changing market needs, and enabling agility not only operationally, but also technically; • The perspective presented at mid-June last year, by a Forbes contributor (CMO Network) who wrote an article entitled “Marketing To Robots: Why CMOs Need To Start Thinking About Business To Robot To Consumer (B2R2C)” (Hackl, 2020), starting from both, the global spending on robots by 2023 is expected to reach $241.4 billion (according to IDC), and heavily investment made by major tech players in voice, AR & VR, hence the need to add B2R2C to marketers’ list of duties. Within this framework it was made reference to Kim Bates, Chief Futurist at Faith Popcorn’s Brain Reserve, who coined B2R2C: “The customer journey of the future will begin to emerge as Business to Robot to Consumer (B2R2C) … Search, lead generation, e-commerce, and programmatic buying will all morph into new sophisticated platforms and systems. A brand’s human connection becomes more magical and relevant as technology helps make people's lives smarter, healthier, more personal, and meaningful through all these precise and seamless experiences”; • “The new marketing model for growth: How CPGs can crack the code” (Chen et al., 2021), this new marketing model, launched in September 2021 by McKinsey’s representatives, being introduced as a solution to unlock demand with the help of the next-level AI consumer intelligence, as shown in the figure below.

Figure no. 14: Winning CPGs use five ‘ingredients’ to unlock data-driven marketing impact at scale Source: Chen, T., Choi, M., Henstorf, B., Jacobs, J. and See, E., 2021. The new marketing model for growth: How CPGs can crack the code. [pdf] McKinsey’s Marketing & Sales and Consumer Packaged Goods practices, September, p. 3 (work cited) Holistic Marketing Management

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There is no doubt: “Robotics represents a highly innovative domain encompassing physics, mathematics, informatics, and even industrial design as well as social sciences. The fascination for autonomous machines and the variety of fields and topics covered with this domain makes robotics a powerful idea to engage with” (Merdan et al., 2020). And allow us to end by reminding two quotes: “Today, a group of 20 individuals empowered by the exponential growing technologies of AI and robotics and computers and networks and eventually nanotechnology can do what only nation states could have done before” (Peter Diamandis); “As more and more people are automated out of the economy through robotics and self-driving cars and other technologies, there will be a way to create value for other human beings online. There will be a virtual economy for exchanging value, goods and services, entertainment experiences, and all that” (Tim Sweeney”.

References Agility, 2021. Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index. [pdf] Report created by Agility with their research partners Transport Intelligence (Ti), pp. 5, 57-58, 75. Available at: <AgilityEmerging-Markets-Logistics-Index.pdf> [Accessed 15 October 2021]. Anderson, G., 2021. Stores? Kroger don’t need no stinking stores, RetailWire, Oct 13. [online] Available at: <https://www.retailwire.com/discussion/stores-kroger-dont-need-no-stinkingstores/> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. Anderson, G., 2021. Will Best Buy’s latest acquisition be a healthy addition for the chain? RetailWire, Oct 13. [online] Available at: <https://www.retailwire.com/discussion/your-next-cstore-online-order-may-be-delivered-by-a-robot/> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. Arora, S., 2021. What is eCommerce Fulfillment & its Scope in 2021. Shiprocket Blog, September 16. Available at: < https://www.shiprocket.in/blog/ecommerce-fulfillment/> [Accessed 22 September 2021]. Arora, S., 2021. Key Challenges in First-Mile and Last-Mile Delivery for eCommerce. Shiprocket Blog, September 16. Available at: <https://www.shiprocket.in/blog/first-mile-andlast-mile-delivery-challenges/> [Accessed 22 September 2021]. Astound Commerce, 2021. Preparing for an Ever-Evolving Holiday Season. A 2021 Global Consumer Survey Report [pdf] Astound, pp. 41, 43. Available at: <58_rethinkretail_w_asto02_qgaN4Kdw-2bt1ZJmfGg_Jw.pdf> [Accessed 28 July 2021]. Bellan, R., 2021. Tortoise expands remote operated robotic delivery to convenience stores across the US, TechCrunch, October 5. [online] Available at: <https://techcrunch.com/2021/10/05/tortoise-expands-remote-operated-robotic-delivery-toconvenience-stores-across-the-us/> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. Best Buy, 2021. Best Buy to acquire Current Health to help make home the center of health, Best Buy Corporate News and Information, October 12. [online] Available at:

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<https://corporate.bestbuy.com/best-buy-to-acquire-current-health-to-help-make-home-thecenter-of-health/> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. Blackburn, S., Galvin, J., LaBerge, L. and Williams, E., 2021. Strategy for a digital world. [pdf] McKinsey Quarterly, October, pp. 8, 11. Available at: <strategy-for-a-digital-world.pdf> [Accessed 9 October 2021]. Brocchi, C., Brown, B., Machado, J. and Neiman, M., 2016. Using agile to accelerate your data transformation. [pdf] McKinsey & Company, October, pp. 1, 3, 5, 8. Available at: <using-agileto-accelerate-your-data-transformation.pdf> [Accessed 9 October 2021]. Chen, T., Choi, M., Henstorf, B., Jacobs, J. and See, E., 2021. The new marketing model for growth: How CPGs can crack the code. [pdf] McKinsey’s Marketing & Sales and Consumer Packaged Goods practices, September. Available at: <the-new-marketing-model-for-growthhow-cpgs-can-crack-the-code.pdf> [Accessed 12 October 2021]. Crowe, S., 2021. Walmart invests in Cruise for last-mile delivery, The Robot Report, April 15. [online] Available at: <https://www.therobotreport.com/walmart-invests-cruise-autonomousvehicles-last-mile-delivery/> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. Demaitre, E., 2020. E-commerce demand for automation will persist past pandemic, says Attabotics CEO, The Robot Report, June 19. [online] Available at: <https://www.therobotreport.com/e-commerce-demand-automation-persist-past-pandemic-saysattabotics/> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. Diamandis, P.H. and Kotler, S., 2020. The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives, Publisher: Simon Schuster, January 28, 2020. Dörner, K., Esber, D., Shangkuan, J., Sichel, B. and Tong, A., 2021. Five traps to avoid: The long game of DTC and e-commerce, McKinsey’s Marketing & Sales Practice, September 2. [online] Available at: <https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/marketing-and-sales/ourinsights/five-traps-to-avoid-the-long-game-of-dtc-and-e-commerce> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. ecommerceDB, 2021. Store Ranking & Overview, ecommerceDB.com: eCommerce insights, Statista. [online] Available at: <https://ecommercedb.com/en/ranking/ro/all> [Accessed 17 October 2021]. Edison Trends, 2021. 2021 Edison Trends U.S. Convenience Store Delivery Sales Report, January 28. [online] Available at: <https://trends.edison.tech/research/convenience-storedelivery-sales.html> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. Edwards, D., 2021. GreyOrange expands robotics reach to new European markets, Robotics and Automation News, October 11. [online] Available at: <https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2021/10/11/greyorange-expands-robotics-reach-tonew-european-markets/> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Engati Team, 2021. What are Chatbots? How do Chatbots work? Top 10 applications, Engati, Jul 6. [online] Available at: <https://www.engati.com/blog/what-are-chatbots>. [Accessed 12 October 2021]. Holistic Marketing Management

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Engati Team, 2021. 5 powerful use cases for chatbots in eCommerce, Engati, Apr 6. [online] Available at: <https://www.engati.com/blog/ecommerce-chatbot-use-cases> [Accessed 12 October 2021]. Engati Team, 2021. 11 ways chatbots for eCommerce can boost sales, support, and lead generation! Engati, Feb 29. [online] Available at: <https://www.engati.com/blog/chatbots-forecommerce>. [Accessed 12 October 2021]. European Commission, 2021. Industry 5.0. Towards a sustainable, human-centric and resilient European industry. [pdf] Directorate-General for Research and Innovation Directorate F — Prosperity Unit F.5 — Industry 5.0, R&I Paper Series, Policy Brief, pp. 3, 8, 13, 15. doi: 10.2777/308407. Gheorghiu, G. 2020. Trends in E-Commerce and Industry 4.0, G2, December 8. [online] Available at: <https://www.g2.com/articles/e-commerce-and-industry-4-0-trends-2021> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Gonzalez, M., 2021. MarketScale: The Future of Grocery is Here: Live at Groceryshop 2021, Attabotics, October 1. [online] Available at: <https://www.attabotics.com/news/marketscale-thefuture-of-grocery-is-here-live-at-groceryshop-2021> [Accessed 15 October 2021]. Gray, J., 2021. Locus Robotics acquires Waypoint Robotics to strengthen automated warehouses, Retail Brew - Morning Brew, September 2021. [online] Available at: <https://www.morningbrew.com/retail/stories/2021/09/20/locus-robotics-acquires-waypointrobotics-strengthen-automated-warehouses> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. GreyOrange, 2021. About us, LinkedIn. [online] Available at: <https://www.linkedin.com/company/gogreyorange> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Hackl, C., 2020. Marketing To Robots: Why CMOs Need To Start Thinking About Business To Robot To Consumer (B2R2C), Forbes, Jun 14. [online] Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/cathyhackl/2020/06/14/marketing-to-robots-why-cmos-need-tostart-thinking- about-business-to-robot-to-consumer-b2r2c/> [Accessed 15 October 2021]. Hadwick, A., 2021. Why is greater flexibility in warehouse and distribution operations so critical to omnichannel supply chain performance? [pdf], Reuters Events in partnership with AP MollerMaersk, White Paper, pp. 6, 13, 19-20, 23, 27. Available at: <5c6be875-4a32-4cfa-b165c8a273c658cc}_5212_25AUG21_Whitepaper_V2.pdf> [Accessed 7 October 2021]. Hillyer, M., 2021. COVID-19 has reshaped last-mile logistics, with e-commerce deliveries rising 25% in 2020, World Economic Forum, 29 Apr. [online] Available at: <https://www.weforum.org/press/2021/04/covid-19-has-reshaped-last-mile-logistics-with-ecommerce-deliveries-rising-25-in-2020/> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Innoship, 2020. LEROY MERLIN partners up with the tech start-up Innoship in order to streamline delivery management, Innoship Announcements, 21 October. [online] Available at: <https://innoship.com/en/leroy-merlin-partners-up-with-the-tech-start-up-innoship-in-order-tostreamline-delivery-management/> [Accessed 17 October 2021]. Intermodal & Logistics, 2021. Last-mile: Cum și-a redus evoMag costurile de livrare cu 15%? Revista Intermodal & Logistics, 21 apr. [online] Available at: <https://www.intermodalHolistic Marketing Management

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logistics.ro/last-mile-cum-si-a-redus-evomag-costurile-de-livrare-cu-15> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Lebow, S., 2021. The top 15 US companies in retail ecommerce sales growth, eMarketer, Jul 29. [online] Available at: <https://www.emarketer.com/content/top-15-us-companies-retailecommerce-sales-growth?> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. McElmurry, R., 2021. How Robotic Automation Impacts E-Commerce, FANUC America Corporation, May 7. [online] Available at: <https://www.fanucamerica.com/newsresources/articles/how-robotic-automation-impacts-e-commerce> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. Meili Robots, 2021. 30 E-commerce Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind in 2021, Meili Robots: Universal Fleet Management System for Robots, Feb 23. [online] Available at: <https://www.meilirobots.com/resources-list/e-commerce-statistics> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. Merdan, M., Lepuschitz, W., Koppensteiner, G., Balogh, R., Obdržálek, D., Editors, 2020. Robotics in Education. Current Research and Innovations, Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020, Preface, p. v. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-26945-6. Mixson, E., 2021. Digital Transformation and Business Resilience in Action: A Look into UPS’s Visionary Approach to Automation, AI and Analytics, The Artificial intelligence & Data Analytics Network, 01/08. [online] Available at: <https://www.aidataanalytics.network/datascience-ai/articles/digital-transformation-and-business-resilience-in-action-a-look-into-upssvisionary-approach-to-automation-ai-and-analytics?> [Accessed 8 October 2021]. Mohan, A. M., 2021. E-commerce Poses New Automation Challenges, Automation World, Aug 17th. [online] Available at: <https://www.automationworld.com/home/article/21578528/robotictechnologies-for-ecommerce-packaging> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Muzamhindo, H., 2021. 7 AI trends for 2021 and beyond, Investec, January 26. [online] Available at: <https://www.investec.com/en_za/focus/innovation/7-ai-trends-for-2021-andbeyond.html>. [Accessed 12 October 2021]. NRF, 2021. Top 100 Retailers 2021 List, Top Retailer lists compiled by KANTAR, updated September 27. [online] Available at: <https://nrf.com/resources/top-retailers/top-100retailers/top-100-retailers-2021-list> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. Oitzman, M., 2021. Walmart and Symbotic work together to implement high-tech automation system into distribution network, The Robot Report, July 15. [online] Available at: <https://www.therobotreport.com/walmart-and-symbotic-work-together-to-implement-high-techautomation-system-into-distribution-network/> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. OneRail, 2021. The Last-Mile Economy: How New Delivery Platforms Are Saving Retailers from Profit-Killing Carrier Capacity Limit. [pdf] OneRail, pp. 3, 7. Available at: <OneRail_eBook_The_Last_Mile_Economy-r2.pdf> [Accessed 12 August 2021]. Pajkovic, N., 2021. Kroger and Instacart Launch 'Kroger Delivery Now', Trend Hunter, September 17. [online] Available at: < https://www.trendhunter.com/trends/kroger-deliverynow> [Accessed 14 October 2021].

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Partida, D., 2021. Robotics Changed Industry 4.0; Now, How Will Industry 4.0 Change Robotics? Robotics Tomorrow, 08/02. [online] Available at: < https://www.roboticstomorrow.com/story/2021/07/robotics-changed-industry-40-now-how-willindustry-40-change-robotics/> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Păunescu, A., 2021. GPeC Romanian E-Commerce 2020 Report: 5.6 billion euro worth of online shopping, a +30% YoY growth, GPeC Blog, 08/03. [online] Available at: <https://www.gpec.ro/blog/en/gpec-romanian-e-commerce-2020-report-5-6-billion-euro-worthof-online-shopping-a-30-yoy-growth> [Accessed 17 October 2021]. Pfeiffer, E., with Swerdlow, F., Cicman, J., Schadler, T. and Shaik, B., 2021. The Future Of Commerce Technology: Commerce Platforms End With An Ecosystem On FIRE, Forrester, Jan 5. [online] Available at: <https://reprints2.forrester.com/#/assets/2/2168/RES160320/report> [Accessed 15 October 2021]. Purcarea, I. M., 2021. Digital Marketing and Ecommerce in the Digital Neo-Economy, Discovering by Learning in the New Era of Innovation, and Re-engaging the Marketing Team, Holistic Marketing Management, vol. 11 (2), pp. 16-31, August. Purcarea, I. M., 2020. Digital transformation and the impact on e-commerce of the disruptive technologies which are the supporting structure of the Industry 4.0, Romanian Distribution Committee Magazine, vol. 11(3), pp. 32-49, December. Radu, A., 2021. Estimare GPeC: Comerțul online românesc crește cu 15% față de 2020, GPeC Blog, 14/10. [online] Available at: <https://www.gpec.ro/blog/estimare-gpec-comertul-onlineromanesc-creste-cu-15-fata-de-2020> [Accessed 19 October 2021]. Redman, R., 2021. Whole Foods to go chainwide with new grocery delivery fee, Supermarket News, Sep 27. [online] Available at: <https://www.supermarketnews.com/online-retail/wholefoods-go-chainwide-new-grocery-delivery-fee> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. Redman, R., 2021. Kroger to enter Northeast with Ocado robotic warehouse, Supermarket News, Oct 12. [online] Available at: <https://www.supermarketnews.com/online-retail/kroger-enternortheast-ocado-robotic-warehouse> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. Retail By the Numbers, 2021. What it takes for retailers to go the last mile, eMarketer, <retail_newsletter@emarketer.com>, 2:01 PM, October 14. Reuters Events, 2020. E-commerce logistics market jumps nearly 30% in 2020, Editor, Apr. 15. [online] Available at: <https://www.reutersevents.com/supplychain/supply-chain/e-commercelogistics-market-jumps-nearly-30-2020> [Accessed 15 October 2021]. Robotics & Automation News, 2021. The Role of Robotics and Automation in Industry 4.0, Polly, April 22. [online] Available at: <https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2021/04/22/therole-of-robotics-and-automation-in-industry-4-0/> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Sava, J. A., 2021. E-commerce activities in Romania 2020, Statista, May 3. [online] Available at: <https://www.statista.com/statistics/1174134/romania-e-commerce-activities/> [Accessed 17 October 2021].

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Stern, M., 2021. Your next c-store online order may be delivered by a robot, RetailWire, Oct 08. [online] Available at: <https://www.retailwire.com/discussion/your-next-c-store-online-ordermay-be-delivered-by-a-robot/> [Accessed 8 October 2021]. Supply Chain 24/7, 2021. The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem, WEF, January 14. [online] Available at: <https://www.supplychain247.com/paper/the_future_of_the_last_mile_ecosystem> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Tenser, J., 2021. What’s Kroger doing most right? RetailWire, Sep 21. [online] Available at: <https://www.retailwire.com/discussion/whats-kroger-doing-most-right/> [Accessed 8 October 2021]. The Robot Report, 2021. Berkshire Grey partners with AHS to deliver warehouse automation, The Robot Report Staff, September 9. [online] Available at: <https://www.therobotreport.com/berkshire-grey-partners-with-ahs-to-deliver-warehouseautomation/> [Accessed 14 October 2021]. Troy, M., 2021. Kroger’s New E-Commerce Ecosystem Delivers Food Retail Disruption, Progressive Grocer, 04/14. [online] Available at: <https://progressivegrocer.com/krogers-new-ecommerce-ecosystem-delivers-food-retail-disruption> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. Tucker, C., 2020. Bucharest-based Innoship raises €550K to lead last-mile delivery for ecommerce in Romania and CEE, EU-Startups, August 5. [online] Available at: <https://www.eustartups.com/2020/08/bucharest-based-innoship-raises-e550k-to-lead-last-mile-delivery-for-ecommerce-in-romania-and-cee/>> [Accessed 16 October 2021]. Tudor Ackroyd, A., Li, C., 2021. China Insights: How Robots Will Revolutionize E-commerce by Automating Last-Mile Delivery, Alizila, Aug. 23. [online] Available at: <https://www.alizila.com/how-alibaba-robots-will-revolutionize-e-commerce-by-automatinglast-mile-delivery-in-china/> [Accessed 13 October 2021]. Twilio, 2021. How to deliver true omnichannel engagement in retail. [e-book] Version: 1.0, Updated: 05.27.21, pp. 4, 7-8. Available at: <Omnichannel Engagement in Retail Ebook.pdf> [Accessed 5 October 2021]. Ventana Research, 2021. The Digital Age of Data Intelligence. [pdf] White Paper, October, pp. 7-8. Available at: <ventana-research-whitepaper-near-the-digital-age-of-data-intelligence> [Accessed 11 October 2021]. Von Abrams, K., 2021. Global Ecommerce Forecast 2021, eMarketer, Jul 7. [online] Available at: <https://www.emarketer.com/content/global-ecommerce-forecast-2021> [Accessed 15 October 2021]. WEF, 2020. The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem. [pdf] World Economic Forum, January 2020, pp. 11. Available at: <WEF_Future_of_the_last_mile_ecosystem.pdf> [Accessed 16 October 2021].

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Congratulatory letter from Professor Peter Štarchoň on the occasion of the 30th Romanian-American University Anniversary

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‘Marketing Science and Inspirations’: Challenging Readers by Making Marketing Perspective Happen

Dr. Dan SMEDESCU Associate Editor of the “Holistic Marketing Management” Journal Member of the scientific association Romanian Distribution Committee

JEL Classification: Y30 “Marketing Science and Inspirations” Journal, the well-known brand of the Comenius University in Bratislava (Faculty of Management, Department of Marketing), Slovakia, continues to confirm the recognized vocation of giving its educated, affluent and implied readers a holistic perspective on modern marketing issues, rigorously encouraging their engagement and improving the brand image by maintaining the memorable connection with them, always ensuring that experience desired by highly motivated readers with purpose. Therefore, we are continuing to witness our partners’ hard and smart work to provide to both current and new readers truly relevant and useful content on current business situations and key challenges faced by agile marketers, making marketing perspective happen.

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We were happy to receive by post the new Issue 2, Volume XVI, 2021, of our Partner Journal “Marketing Science and Inspirations”, Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. As usual, the new issue of this well-known academic journal addressing to academics and practitioners covered a wide range of interesting topics in the marketing research field, such as: • “Automatic information retrievement for exporting services: First project findings from the development of an AI based export decision supporting instrument”. The authors David Aufreiter, Doris Ehrlinger, Christian Stadlmann, Margarethe Überwimmer, Anna Biedersberger, Christina Korter, Stefan Mang show how manufacturing companies complement on the servitization journey their offerings with new industrial and knowledge-based services, which causes challenges of uncertainty and risk, the international selling of services being also a major challenge in addition to the required adjustment of internal factors. The initial results of an international research project were presented in this context, this project aiming at assisting advanced manufacturers in making decisions about exporting their service offerings to foreign markets, framework in which a tool was developed to support managers in their service export decisions through the automated generation of market information based on Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML, a subset Holistic Marketing Management

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of Artificial Intelligence). The authors presented a roadmap for progressing towards an AI-based market information solution which describes the research process steps of analyzing problem statements of relevant industry partners, selecting target countries and markets, defining parameters for the scope of the tool, classifying different service offerings and their components into categories and developing annotation scheme for generating reliable and focused training data for the AI solution. Their paper not only demonstrates good practices in essential steps, but also highlights common pitfalls to avoid for both researchers, and managers working on future research projects supported by AI, also aiming at contributing in the end to support and motivate both researchers, and managers to discover AI application and research opportunities within the servitization field.

• “Marketing topics through academic posters: An avenue to student autonomy and active citizenship” The author Dagmar Sieglova brought our attention to the fact that since social and environmental challenges posed by the highly volatile, uncertain and complex (VUCA) world will mainly impact upon the young, schools need to instill in their graduates a set of criticalthinking, problem-solving, decision-making, strategy-building, and communication skills in order for students to be informed and engaged citizens. In higher education institutions (HEIs), as this paper postulates, this can be achieved through fostering motivation and student autonomy, academic posters being proposed as one of the relevant tools allowing educators to adopt an autonomy-supportive style of teaching that leads to enhanced independence, interest, and responsibility for social affairs. The academic poster projects (at their core) facilitate academic skills, including information processing, reading, writing, presenting, and defending ideas. They pinpoint leading ideas of the current young generation, by embracing in-depth research and enhanced social dialogue in lessons, and as such can predict the topics of the future. They also can be adopted in general subjects, as well as in language teaching, thus providing educators with a potent tool to achieve broad educational goals. • “Sales organizations on the path of digitalization – A reflection from Germany, Finland and Austria” The authors Margarethe Überwimmer, Pia Hautamäki, Stefan Wengler, and Robert Füreder underline that companies are either proactively driving the digital transformation or are forced to digitalize by markets and ecosystems. And in order to both identify the status about the digital transformation of sales in practice, and get deeper knowledge about treated areas in sales and challenges on the path of digitalization, in-depth interviews of sales executives and managers of more than 50 internationally operating companies in three countries (Germany, Finland and Austria) were conducted in this research. This research results show that one major goal for companies is to accelerate digitizing processes as digitalization helps to work more efficiently. Access to systems is necessary, hence investments in digitalization are seen as sustainable and Holistic Marketing Management

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absolutely essential for to serve B2B customers today, digital tools leading to adaptions in the sales process as with support sales processes and sales management. The face-to-face customer visits have been reduced even more under the impact of COVID-19 crisis, online meetings increasing as the speed of response has become more and more important. Without doubt, the necessary skill set of a sales force has to be adapted, this needing to be further researched in the future, and having support of higher education institutions becoming the order of the day. Within this framework, companies have realized that a good sales pitch does not necessarily need to be in person, due to new virtual technologies. • “Educating future managers for a culturally diverse workspace: Using course as a living laboratory”. The authors Darko Pantelic, Peter Brandstaetter, and Emilia Florin Samuelsson argue that society is increasingly becoming multicultural, with more pressure to improve the quality of intercultural interactions. Within this context, higher education institutions are experiencing internationalization through increased mobility of students and faculty, which creates the need to manage diversity with the imperative of smoothing communication, reducing stress and making studying and working in a multicultural environment more efficient. As concerns employers, they also dictate a need to educate culturally competent professionals, who are capable of succeeding in a globalized environment characterized by increased workforce mobility and international assignments. A shown by the authors, the discourse of intercultural competences – viewed here as a transversal learning outcome, considering the increasing internationalization of higher education institutions – has a long track with researchers and practitioners, without any agreement on its definition or measurement, but with a clear message that cultural diversity will not result in increased intercultural competences. This research is qualitative in nature, based on the analysis of course evaluations and an open-ended survey, the study using a purposeful sample of current and former students who have been exposed to a diverse intercultural environment while studying at an international business school in Sweden. Based on this research findings, a course design is suggested where exposure to cultural diversity is guided and facilitated by bringing students to collaborate in an assignment-driven context, with a culturally diverse group composition. In the same time, lecture-based components of the course are balanced with the addition of a component of self-reflection assignment, providing both culturally specific and general knowledge, thus contributing to the ability to extrapolate the experience on future intercultural encounters. • “Export resilience – A future key success factor for Upper Austrian B2B companies?” The authors Margarethe Überwimmer, Harald Hammer, and Jakob Vaboschek highlighted from the very beginning the motivation: seeing Upper Austrian B2B companies struggle in keeping up their export business intensity and simultaneously accelerating the usage of digital communication and export channels, creates the starting point for an Export Resilience Holistic Marketing Management

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study in Upper Austria, an export-oriented region. According to authors, the main motivation for implementing a study in this particular field was the creation of a pool of current key findings, ring-fenced by clear managerial implications and recommendations, which respond to future export trends emerging out of the study. Research findings were based on an online questionnaire that was sent out to exporting B2B companies, and which was completed by 173 respondents. The data provided insights in triggers of export resilience, insight in future export channels and differences in the export strategy of Upper Austrian B2B companies. The survey has shown, for instance, that 52% of the participating businesses can be classified as being ‘immune’ to external influences, and further insights are given according to the change of digital export tools, the form of meetings and AI based export tools. The authors concluded that consequently, the extent to which the implementation of the export resilience study stimulated the dialogue between the academic and business community led to managerial recommendations for Austrian B2B export companies.

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This new issue of the ‘Marketing Science and Inspirations’ Journal also includes other sections such as: ▪ ‘Marketing Briefs’: Pavel Štrach – ‘Sailing through the channel management: From multi- to omni-channel approach’; ▪ ‘SHORT COMMUNICATIONS’: ‘Preparations for Marketer of the year contest continue’; ‘FLEMA Media Awards 2021’; ▪ ‘REVIEWS’: Peter Štarchoň – ‘Vysekalová, Jitka, Mikeš, Jiří a Binar, Jan: Image and corporate identity’; ▪ ‘Dictionary of Useful Marketing Terms’, Dagmar Weberová. We always remember with pleasure that the Editor-in-Chief of the “Marketing Science and Inspirations” Journal – Professor Peter Štarchoň, Faculty of Management, Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia – is also a Member of the Editorial Board of both the “Holistic Marketing Management” Journal, and of the “Romanian Distribution Committee Magazine”. On the occasion of celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the RomanianAmerican University (RAU), “Holistic Marketing Management” Journal (HMM) was awarding an HMM Diploma of Special Merit to Professor Peter Štarchoň, for outstanding contribution in the field of Holistic Marketing and Talent Management.

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It is also our honor and pleasure to remember both the significant meeting in Koln, Germany, in 2011, on the occasion of the working meeting of the European Retail Academy (ERA), and the different significant moments when the ERA President, Prof. Dr. Bernd Hallier (also a Member of both above-mentioned Editorial Boards), visited the Romanian-American University.

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● Dumitru

MIRON: Professor Ioan Ursachi, Founding Member of RAFPEC (FRAPEC). rial

RAFPEC, the Romanian-American Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture, marked on October 13, 2021 the 80th Anniversary of the reputed Professor Ioan URSACHI, Founding Member of RAFPEC (FRAPEC). FRAPEC is a juridical person of civil law without a patrimonial goal, of Romanian nationality, with humanitarian, philanthropic, and social character, of general interest, and non-governmental, independent, non-political, and nonideological organization, having as main goal to promote and spread the values of science, the civic education, and the Romanian culture in the USA as well as the American culture in Romania. As a family of intellectuals (enlarged over time, while remaining true to its founders’ values and ideals) who pursued their stated goals without doubts, the honorable Members of RAFPEC (FRAPEC) were promising to themselves a commitment to the ethos of voluntary work and generosity in the quest of new ideas, always confirming their dedication to education of the highest quality and the promotion of valuable ideas and social partnerships in a multicultural environment in which things happen, keeping abreast of the times. On the above-mentioned special occasion, the President of FRAPEC, Professor Dumitru MIRON (who is also the President of the Senate of the Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, and Honorary Member of the Romanian Distribution Committee), sent an emotional message, announcing the award of two Diplomas for the brilliant University Teacher, Valuable Academic Manager and Dedicated Founder of RAFPEC (FRAPEC), who is Professor Ioan URSACHI.

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La Mulți Ani Domnule Prof. univ. dr. Ioan URSACHI, Ne aflăm astăzi la un moment emoționant pentru noi toți, ziua în care apreciatul nostru confrate împlinește frumoasa vârstă de 50 (plus 30) de ani. Deocamdată, doar în acest mod (din cauza circumstanțelor societale...) îi urăm multă sănătate, fericire personală, viață lungă și noi realizări pe toate planurile. La momentul la care condițiile sanitare vor permite mai mult, propun să revenim cu marcarea cum se cuvine a acestui moment referențial pentru un strălucit dascăl universitar, valoros manager în plan academic și dedicat Fondator al FRAPEC. Atașez copiile a două diplome prin care marcăm (relativ modest...) un astfel de eveniment drag nouă. Dumitru MIRON

Holistic Marketing Management

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I SSN224 7 1 1 89


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