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Omnicomm Intelligence Series: Building asset-light retail through transformed e-commerce: Ep. 1

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Many brands have been able to fight the tough stress-test of the pandemic by adopting to asset light retail model. Models that are light on inventory, light on logistics cost, light on IT spends, light on working capital, which are made possible through a backend architecture that creates an integrated ecosystem that enables brands to power Omnichannel use cases/journeys (from store fulfillment of online orders to an endless aisle). Not only that, this adaption allows them to respond quickly and efficiently to changing customer needs and allows them a chance to yield fewer stockouts and markdowns.

To understand the new roadmaps and constraints related to transformed e-commerce and Omnichannel retail, the inaugural session of ‘Omnicomm Intelligence Series’, discussed the necessary changes and themes basis a roundtable session. The session titled, Building Asset-light Retail through Transformed E-Commerce, was powered by OMUNI (Arvind Internet) and was moderated by Mukul Bafana, Co -founder & CEO, Omuni (Arvind Internet). The esteemed panelists for the session were:

  • Abhishek Ganguly, GM – South East Asia & India, Puma
  • Anupam Bansal, ED, Liberty
  • Dhruv Bogra, Country Manager – India, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Forever New
  • Tushar Ved, President, Major Brands
  • Abdul Razak, Managing Director, VKC Group

Omuni by Arvind Internet is India’s leading omnichannel retail enablement platform built by retail practitioners and industry insiders who understand the complexities of omnichannel retail transformations, both technological and operational. Mukul Bafana welcomed the panel and after a brief introduction, asked them to highlight the changes they have witnessed in the retail industry during COVID.

From initiatives to changes and newer trends that industry is facing currently were brought to the front. How are the retailers utilizing the available assets in the best possible way? What are they going to explore new? How retailers and brands have transformed the digital roadmap in light of this constrained environment? Most importantly, how they have adapted the digital new wave, in an environment where they have to think about asset light, faster leaner investments and strategies, were a point of discussion at the session.

What Omnichannel Means to Brands in the COVID Backdrop?

Although Omnichannel has been the buzzword for retail for quite some time now, but the last one year due to the pandemic and sudden lockdowns, it has become a necessity for the fraternity. “Our business from digital space before COVID was approximately three to four per cent, but soon after the lockdown in March last year, the business via our digital touchpoints has increased to 40 per cent, which eventually was our 4-year target. We are aiming for the 50 per cent mark in the next two years.

as we have seen rational growth. Digital is healthier, as the operational expenditure in digital is way lesser compared to offline store, but we spend a lot on marketing and initiating the entire setup. For us, being available in one digital channel is equal to five or six retail store sales. It is a huge growth for us and as a result we are able to expand in the Tier II & III cities as well,” says Tushar Ved, President, Major Brands.

“Consumers today have adopted the online purchasing model expediently. However, the volume of return has been around 20 per cent, which is a huge challenge for us. However taking the omnichannel route has helped. We have been able to optimise the business model including the cost of logistics, servicing and the set-up required to deal with customer service, involving huge bulk of orders during this period. We modified our systems to handle that kind of load. People buying new arrivals on e-commerce portals is the new trend, earlier consumers used to shop online mostly for discounts and offers,” says Anupam Bansal, ED, Liberty.

“The digital journey of Puma in India started way back and e-commerce has been one of the key game changer and our main strength in our entire marketing approach. Whether it is our own platform, the integration with the marketplaces, the horizontal and the vertical fashion platforms, we never saw digital channels as a competition with our offline existing channels and took it as a growth and progressive futuristic channel. We have invested on this platform throughout the time, be it product, organisation, supply chain, inventory, customer reach approach, CRM technology, tools, cloud, communication and transactions. COVID has made this focus area more relevant for the brands,” says Abhishek Ganguly, GM – South East Asia & India, Puma.

Key pointers highlighted from Omnichannelisation and Digital prospect

  • Connecting stores to digital channel (Unified Inventory)
  • Converging technology and making viable to work across channels
  • Engaging with consumers across all medium

“First the journey of each brand and the category and sub category it is in is very different and when we talk about digital platforms other things also fall in to place differently for different brands. The entire Omnichannel strategy depends on these differences only. When we flagged off our Omnichannel strategy, we knew that there would be certain challenges related to backend, customer experiences, personalisation, initially. Therefore we piloted the concept only in 4-5 stores and later introduced it to all our stores, including the premium ones too. Now we are able to service and maximize our inventory that has been piling up for the last three four months,” says Dhruv Bogra, Country Manager – India, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Forever New.

“When we talk of Omnichannel, we talk about inventory, but this is not all. Customers can also be a part of the Omnichannel universe very actively, they can fi nd the product on social media, try it out somewhere and do the commerce at another location. It is all about unifying the entire experience from social to digital to e-commerce to store.

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