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Bridging the online and offline gap

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In a candid conversation, Head – Omnichannel, / .com, , speaks about the true essence of and marketing and its power to shape and influence shopping behaviour and consumer trends.

Bridging the offline and online gap
With Omnichannel, the overall shopping experience can be made far more delightful with greater assortment, transparent prices, no stock outs or long checkout queues, and friction-less payments.

What is it that retailers should do to brace up and be prepared for the future challenges in retail?

I think keeping track of the customers pulse is critical. Customer expectations change with the adoption of technology, and retailers will need to adapt accordingly. Also, staying abreast with innovation ecosystems and partnering with leading edge startups is the key. Being a disruptor rather than being disrupted is the recipe for sustainable growth and relevance.

In terms of sales and revenue, what do you think will be the additional contribution from Omnichannel retail?

Global Omnichannel initiatives till date have taken the form of vertically integrated models adopted by large US retailers like Macy’s, Best Buy, Walmart and others. These have resulted in significant uptick in new customers and sales volume, customer engagement and retention, and even cost efficiencies.

We’re talking upwards of 30 per cent increases. The impact in the far more fragmented and offline Indian retail landscape would only be greater. We at Snapdeal recognise this and will partner with brands and sellers to drive this kind of growth.

How has Omnichannel retail added on to the overall customer experience?

Omnichannel models can drive greater customer value in many ways. Customers can enjoy the convenience of online discovery and ordering along with faster hyper-local fulfillment, they can try
products before buying them, they can access value added services and expertise as part of their purchase, including returns or repairs. The overall shopping experience can be made far more delightful with greater assortment, transparent prices, no stock outs or long checkout queues, and friction-less payments.

In your company, where do you see the most need for Omnichannel solutions? Tell us a bit about some of the specific solutions you offer?

Earlier last year, we took a big bet on Omnichannel commerce. We are leveraging the Omnichannel platform to build an ecosystem of brands, large retailers, individual sellers, and retail technology players that can jointly shape the future of shopping.

Today, we have core capabilities to seamlessly connect online shoppers and local retailers. There’s a lot more to come in the weeks and months ahead.

Which is a smarter move in your opinion – should retailers tie-up with online marketplaces such as Snapdeal and Flipkart or should they focus on building up their own online strength?

Practically speaking, I think that the ship has sailed. Today, there are nearly 60 million online shoppers across the top three dominant e-commerce players. Not only is this number growing rapidly but so is the online spend per user. The Indian e-commerce sector is already $17 billion strong and growing at 35 per cent each year. Th e digital shopping experience is also evolving, with major investments in new technologies and talent. Given this, in my opinion it would be wiser to partner with existing technology players than developing something on their own.

Fast forwarding another five years, how will Omnichannel retail in India look? How will customers shop?

Customer expectations and behaviours are starting to change. Shoppers are more empowered, informed, collaborative, and extracting. They are also more service-conscious, and see value beyond just price discounts and promotions. These trends are being accelerated by what has been called SoLoMoMe – social, mobile, hyper-local, and personalisation. In five years, I suspect Indian shopping will become an intensely personalised experience, powered by data-driven insights and mobile. Digital and physical touch points will merge into an integrated journey with higher levels of service.