The fast paced changes in consumer behavior combined with their expectation of getting personalized shopping experience has led the global retailers to experiment with emerging technologies before they become mainstream to create differentiation. In a recent Retail Federation’s show, EyeQ, an Austin based start-up demoed a system that can recognize physical traits - differentiating between male and female visitors and customize messages on in-store digital displays accordingly.
However, Indian retailers are still just reacting to online retailers. They are far from ready to unleash the power of analytics, the internet or to use their physical locations as an added advantage over the e-commerce portals. Despite the growth of online players like Flipkart, Amazon and Alibaba which has created rapidly changing consumer perceptions of choice and convenience, vast majority of India’s 20,000 store fronts are still very small “mom and pop” shops.
A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in association with Retailers Association of India on Retail 2020: Trends in India, highlights that the Indian retail sector is projected to double from $600 billion to $1 trillion, by 2020. With the rapid increase of smart phone users, competitive costs for connectivity and expanded reach, internet users are expected to reach a mark of 600 million. The study also indicates that the digital medium has influenced the retail industry by reshaping customer behavior and expectations.
Today’s connected consumers are expecting a seamless experience and do not tend to distinguish between online and physical channels, while shopping. Simply put … India’s consumers are rapidly entering an era of being empowered to shop and purchase where they want, how they want, and where to take delivery, on their terms. Omnichannel business is becoming increasingly relevant in a competitive retail economy.
Although every retailer in India is prioritizing digital experience, the organizational processes are still operating in silos, leading to lack of agility and slower time-to-market. The biggest issue today is the understanding of omnichannel. Most brands assume that being listed on a marketplace like Amazon or Snapdeal or having an e-commerce website, they have made their brand omnichannel ready.
For example, when you go to an apparel e-commerce site and order a dress of your size, which, you find on receiving, is a size too big. Can you walk into one of the local store in town to change to the right size? While doing this, you just came across a pair of jackets that would go well with this dress – but it’s just a size too small – can the store staff look up and get this delivered from across the country store where it’s been lying for over a month? So, where is the omni-channel experience?
Another grand example would be separating e-commerce from brick-and-mortar operations - One would imagine that single customer view should be the top most priority in today’s digital world. The truth is that the customer data is fragmented between different phases in customer journey.
Omnichannel retailing is all about connecting your multiple channels thus increasing sales. Ultimately, an omnichannel strategy must fill the gap which online and offline channels have, individually. Imagine what if your brands’ warehouse inventory is available to the stores, won’t it be the quality omnichannel experience you could provide to your digital savvy customer.
Are you serving the changing expectations of today’s empowered omnichannel consumer? It’s time for introspection and fundamental transformation. Remember, once empowered, the consumers never go back.
About Author :
Ed has over 25 years of experience in strategy, marketing, product and business management and has rich expertise on growth strategy, organization design, new product launches and global operations. He is currently the CEO of Intellect Commerce Limited.
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