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Demystifying the Omnichannel Hype

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has been the buzzword of the retail buzzword for the better half of the last decade now. Across boardrooms, investors calls, business planning meetings, and in-store, the word comes up as a perennial agenda item for most organized retailers across the world. But whether you call it , multichannel, “experiential retail” or even “new retail”, the reality is that a very few brands and retailers have a cohesive idea of their physical + digital roadmaps and more importantly, what this new way of servicing customers can really do for a retail business when it comes to core retail success measures…

Demystifying the Omnichannel Hype
While Omnichannel visionaries paint the future of seamless, high-tech, intra-session, cross-channel journeys across the purchase funnel, most retailers still grapple with the basic realities of defining their Omnichannel vision and making the correct Ground Zero decisions towards realising it

While Omnichannel visionaries paint the future of seamless, high-tech, intra-session, cross-channel journeys across the purchase funnel, most retailers still grapple with the basic realities of defining their Omnichannel vision and making the correct Ground Zero decisions towards realising it.

Amongst all the noise of new channels, e-tail innovation, in-store technologies, and Omni-vanity metrics, retailers who excel in this new way of selling have managed so far to find a balance between the existential reality of going Omnichannel vs. getting sucked into a vortex of investments with lacking returns.

Against the backdrop of day-to-day realities of hyper-competition, rising retail costs of business, and productivity, these retailers are able to draw clear lines between must haves, nice to haves, and ‘pies in the sky’ Omnichannel journeys. They are able to focus their retail transformation efforts and look beyond technology, treating Omnichannel as a fundamental change management process in their organizations to achieve true benefits.

At the India Retail Forum 2017 – held on September 19th and 20th in Mumbai – retail leaders met to debate ‘The Omnichannel Hype: Rethinking Retail to Create Delightful Consumer Journeys and True Retail Uplift’. At the session, powered by Arvind Internet, panelists looked at Omnichannel beyond the buzzwords, hype, and and from the view point of industry practitioners who have delivered customer delight and ROI on Omnichannel. Specifically, the panel addressed hard-hitting topics for retailers.

The esteemed panel included Anshu Dubey, Executive Director, Distribution Sector, IBM; Atul Madan, Director Retail, SSIPL; Deven Pabaru, Chief Strategy & Implementation Officer, Stellar Value Chain Solutions; Kavindra Mishra, MD & CEO, Pepe Jeans; Uma Talreja, Chief Digital Officer, Raymond; HS Sidhu, President, Mufti; Pooraan Jaiswal, CTO, Globus Stores; Jaideep Shetty, Co-founder & MD, Minerals Fashion.

The session was moderated by Mukul Bafana, Co-founder and CEO, Arvind Internet; and Harmeet Bajaj, Fashion Academician, Consultant and Partner, Impresario (Social).
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To put things in context, Mukul Bafna kickstarted the discussion by talking about how retailers can get their Omnichannel strategies right. He said, “We need a well sequenced approach to get ROI from our businesses and for this we need an Omnichannel playbook. A key principal is to keep your business features centered around consumers. Understand your customers’ need and build channels to help them in their shopping journeys. Omnichannel is a transformation journey, so the playbook needs to be sequenced in a manner that helps you create a futuristic roadmap.”

Harmeet Bajaj took over from Bafna and asked the panelists about their Omnichannel journeys.

Atul Madan began the interaction by talking about Nike’s Omnichannel journey. He said, “We run close to 170 stores for Nike in India. We have rolled out an Omnichannel strategy for around 18 months, and we concentrated on maintaining hygiene in inventory and supply chain. It has given us incremental sale of around 5-7 percent. But an Omnichannel strategy doesn’t mean that we are competing with the e-commerce business of our own brand.”

Kavindra Mishra added, “Omnichannel has to add value to the consumer experience. Inventory turnover operations play a very important role in creating this experience as well as technology intervention. Within six months we are planning to come up with both e-commerce and Omnichannel retail interfaces.”

Giving his take on Omnichannel, Anshu Dubey stated, “Omnichannel is a journey from brick to clicks. The roadmap of a brand needs to be very clear – where do you want to lead so that the various formats and alternate channels of your business don’t cannabialise each other’s profits.”

Uma Talreja added, “A lot of us talk about Omnichannel as a supply and fulfilment experience and there are lot of operational efficiencies which are related to it. But, as a brand, we at Raymond believe that we need to gauge and regain consumer trust and experience to save the sale.”

Talking about how Mufti is marrying the Omnichannel strategy between COCO and FOFO stores, HS Sidhu said, “If any franchisee is serving the customer on behalf of another franchisee of the same brand, I have no problem giving them extra margins. We all are multi-channel and my idea of Omnichannel is to navigate between mediums. We are at the nascent stages of doing this, but we are focussed on making big of it. I will lead my Omnichannel strategy from my stores.”

Jaideep Shetty concluded the debate talking about Minerals Omnichannel strategy: “We faced loss from in sales at our shop-in-shop models. We would lose sales on account of size. To counter this, we are launching an app soon. Now, with the app, we’re assuring accessibility. We want to go Omnichannel just to drive our sales strategy, bring online consumers instore and vice versa.”