Is Omni-Channel Strategy the Way Forward for Retailers?

Providing seamless experience to customers across channels and devices is fast becoming an area of investment for leading retailers.

The likes of Flipkart and Amazon have redefined online shopping to Indian consumers. One of the success factors that vastly helped these e-tailers is their ability to make informed decisions based on insights derived out of customer data. Flipkart's recent move to ‘mobile-first’ as a trend direct how consumers increasingly turn to mobile for shopping.

Every day there are new initiatives from these players to turn users to their apps across devices and then to prompt them with easy buying options aimed at enhancing conversions. The ecommerce companies have already traversed beyond prime times to all-day buying phenomenon with more and more customers buying on the go. However, one issue that customers continue to face is the inability to touch the product before buying it online.

While the ecommerce companies have already traversed beyond prime times to all-day buying phenomenon, the next big thing ecommerce players should embrace is unification of channels.

Customers have always wanted a system that ensures seamless access to both online and offline channels. Betting on this consume behaviour, many retailers have expressed their plan to go omni-channel. It appears that the next big area of investment for the retailers in India is implementing a channel that unifies online with offline.

While the likes of Future group, Puma, ShopperStop, and indeed Flipkart are devising their omni-channel strategies, Snapdeal has launched its multi-channel platform that combines online discovery of products with same day hyper local fulfilment, available in across 70 cities.

What makes omni-channel tick?
Customers are omni-channel. Data says, 77% of consumers browse in stores before making a purchase online and 55% consumers conduct on-the-go mobile research before making a purchase in-store.
For retailers to catch up with the prospective customer, they have to follow him, as he moves from one channel to other and from one device to another, till he actually buys the product.

The goal of a retailer is to convert a customer on any channel. So, for them to truly exploit omni-channel, they have to have their entire chain seamlessly integrated keeping in mind the changing behavioural pattern of customers. Measuring cross-device and online to offline movement behaviour and offering localized information about say store locations, etc go a long way in actually helping a customer buy your product. What this requires is an organizational structure with proper collaboration amongst various channels in place. This is not an easy task.

An unified approach to attracting customers who change one channel to other and one device to other is the future of retail business.
Unlocking the synergies between online and offline retailing and demonstrating that both channels can act as gateways to each other is more than just a process.

Most of the Indian retailers are moving in this direction to gab the big opportunity.  And this calls for enabling the entire ecosystem of brands, large format retailers, and technology service providers.

NEXT: The Business Case for Snapdeal’s Omni-Channel Platform -Janus 


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