Brick and mortar stores will be there in the future, but the consumers will go there to have the physical experience with the product only. Because sales is going to happen online! According to MD & CEO of Sonata Software, P Srikar Reddy, this is going to be the future of retail…
What is your view on the journey of retail…from brick and mortar to e-commerce to Omnichannel?
It has been a natural progression, which is happening because of technology. This whole thing started in 2000, as Amazon has been in existence since 2000! They said that, because of the penetration of internet, computer and networks, one can make a shopping experience memorable to people without coming to a store. That was Amazon’s approach. After that a lot of water has ﬂown under the bridge. Amazon is opening physical stores whereas physical retailers are going digital or going to Amazon! Now it’s coming to, what I should call it a uniﬁed shopping experience.
Every retailer should be in a position so that they can offer their consumers this uniﬁed shopping experience.
Do you think that because of this technological progression, eventually brick and mortar stores would lose their importance?
Brick and mortar will stay and e-commerce will not take over. It has to be uniﬁed. At the end of the day, the proliferation of the stores will not grow at the same pace that is for sure. You will not have people opening up more and more stores. Stores will be there for touch and feel, so that people would get experience of the product and not to really do commerce. So we can say, for engagement purpose, stores will be there. But the buying process is going to be shifted to online in the future.
What is your understanding of Omnichannel retail?
It’s anytime, anywhere, any device. I should be able to do commerce from wherever I am in the world. I should have any combination possible which can be used from any device, like cell phone, PC, POS etc.
Now there are some points which the retailer should take care of. The ﬁrst thing is single view of customer. The retailer should know that whether you are at home or in the store, you are this particular consumer. So irrespective of which channel you come from, your offers, discounts, should be the same.
The second thing is, your entire inventory, whether it’s in the store, or in the warehouse should be seamlessly available for delivery.
The third is, you should have a single view of the product. The product information has to be common for digital and physical sales, because as these information are not always the same.
If technology and retail goes hand in hand, what should be the future like?
As per my understanding, 25 per cent to 60 per cent of sales in future are going to happen online. People will be doing both B2B and B2C businesses online. Distribution and supply chain will be very crucial for the retailers as well as end user companies. A lot of big brands will be doing business directly rather than through retailers. So the retailers who have in store brand have a good shot at survival, otherwise they can be eliminated out of supply chain. Amazon is now creating own in-store brands. These are some of the trends which I see like happening in next ten years.