The ‘Omnicomm Intelligence Series’ powered by OMUNI, conducted during June and July of this year saw the retailers and industry experts talking about the role of technology in retail and how almost every brand and retailer today has revamped their marketing strategies in view of the pandemic, to face the new normal.
Many brands have been able to fight the tough stress-test forged by 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, which enables rands 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 session of ‘Omnicomm Intelligence Series’, discussed the necessary changes and themes basis a roundtable session. As similar to the first episode of the series, the second episode saw debate on topic ‘Thinking Customer Experience Beyond Home Delivery Increasing Profitability by Connecting Online and Offline.’
The session moderated by Tapan Acharya, CRO, Omuni, discussed and explored how brands need to arm their customers with omnichannel enriched customer journeys —a frictionless yet seamless way –BOSS, BORIS, BOPIS, personalised clienteling and others. The panel also discussed how omnichannel and a seamless customer experience can help brands solve problems like broken journeys and improve in-store experience, enable faster deliveries, provide wider assortment to strengthen customer relationships.
The speakers on the panel were
- Rahul Vira, CEO, Skechers
- Asif Merchant, CEO & MD, Catwalk
- Abhishek More, Director, XIMIVOGUE INDIA
Tapan Acharya, CRO, Omuni kick started the session by introducing the panel and asking the speakers to share their experience and learnings from the pandemic.
“Skechers despite all the challenges and difficulties has been in a balanced state. Going by the current situation, the needle has moved a bit towards the online and e-commerce portal. Consumers are making purchase across new categories and this change is dominated by the online space,” says Rahul Vira, CEO, Skechers.
“In the last cycle, we did around 67 per cent business as compared to earlier years. The revenue from online was close to 22 per cent. Now, after the lockdown, even the partners have started experimenting. Putting up a bigger picture in place, we are currently doing 47-48 per cent business from the physical stores. We made our distribution centre live to the online space, to connect with our consumers on large scale,” says Asif Merchant, CEO & MD, Catwalk.
Abhishek More, Director, XIMIVOGUE INDIA adds, “With value retailing being our forte, we had to make necessary changes to face the pandemic. We did not have any online presence before the pandemic, and in last one year, we have taken this very seriously. When we started our e-commerce, the shipping costs were turning out to be very high pan India. Therefore, we tried to implement a channel space by facilitating our orders via the grocery stores. It drastically reduced our shipping charges and hence, became commercially more viable for us.”
Omnichannel Initiatives & New Strategies
When asked about the initiatives implemented by the brands in past one year on behalf of supply chain, logistics, merchandising More explains, “With omnichannel strategies, the first thing we observed was getting returns on larger scale. Ordering online, getting it picked at the store and also returning with convenience, gave us a good advantage. Same day deliveries was another landmark factor for us. Being a franchise based business model, with our omnichannel platform we were able to sort out the challenges with the franchisees and made shopping more seamless for the consumers.”
“I feel that the Indian brands fail to express themselves as aspirational brand. We did few changes and as a result our average selling price has gone up by 30 per cent. The viability has also gone up by 30 per cent. I believe that Indian brands need to work towards building an aspirational brand,” says Merchant.
“Keeping in mind the customer experience and aspiration factor, we had introduced the omnichannel concept in most of our stores. Initiatives like order online, click and collect, same day delivery and return had a big impact on the consumers. We delivered a product to a consumer in 20 minutes after they placed the orders on our website. This was even faster than the pizza delivery and it gave us more confidence to work on this concept,” says Vira.
The e-commerce push
When asked about how online is pushing the boundaries, Rahul Vira explains, “India overall is a much underserved market. And that is an advantage, if we look from the shopping perspective, either in a shopping mall or high street store, the per square foot or per square kilometer coverage is very vast and weekends is the time, which bring maximum footfalls and revenue to the store and mall. That is why, today consumers feel online shopping is a more convenient and preferable mode of shopping.”
“We started with the metros, but we have shifted our focus to the Tier II & III cities. Starting our own e-commerce servicing gave us an edge to explore more in these regions and has allowed us to make our products available to a larger consumer base,” added Merchant.
Big Data and AI
Emphasising on the importance of having a good database to reach out to the right target consumers in a relevant manner, Vira says, “Data is the new oil to run the entire business model. From social media to online purchases, transactions, and offline visits to the store, there is so much data available. We are investing in technology to ensure that the consumer journey can be made more seamless and stress-free. We are also aligning with global players to understand the entire consumer journey, conversation, and buying patterns in order to know them.”
“Creating unified programs across all platforms is one task which every brand is focusing on, and we are also looking forward to it,” he adds further.
When asked how CatWalk is utilising data to target the consumers, Merchant says, “Our main focus has been on taking the product from the warehouse to the store window and then looks forward to how it aspires the consumers. Data plays a very significant role for us in implementing this experience. We have a very skilled team for building the strategies based on consumer shopping behaviour by creating superficial algorithms, artificial intelligence etc.”
Social Commerce and Experience
Social commerce is the new addition to the retail fraternity. Explaining about the impact of social commerce, Vira adds, “China is a good example, where the entire business runs on social commerce. For India, to adopt this culture, we need to gear up our business, technology and concept internally. Technology is moving at a rapid pace and adopting it thoroughly as per relevance is a challenge.”
“Currently, we are using channels associated with social commerce in a very definite way. To utilise and use infl uencer-marketing in a big way, retailers and brands need to implement these channels in a decisive way,” concludes More.