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Omnichannel is not about the channels but a seamless experience, said industry leaders at IFF2023

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Top omnichannel retail players discussed their digital journeys and at the 22nd India Fashion Forum in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: The central factor of every company is consumers. It’s vital to consider and understand customer needs, challenges, emotions, and preferences before confirming the right merchandising platform, top industry leaders said in a panel discussion titled ‘Omnichannel Strategies for a Unified Customer Experience’ on Tuesday at the India Fashion Forum 2023.

Customers, especially Gen-Z and millennials, rely mostly on social media platforms for shopping. Thus, building a brand with the help of social media bring forth the ability to voice a brand message, deliver deeper insights, mission and values.

According to Amit Arora, chief information officer of SHR Lifestyle, “Wherever the customers are available, like Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp, we should use it. Listening to the customers is important for brand development and it builds credibility and faith in the brand. India has 9% more people active on social media than globally. A piece of advice I would like to give to the brands pursuing social media is that you should follow what your customers are talking about. Because nowadays it’s not the product they are buying, but the experience.”

Speaking about the vision behind NNNOW.com the virtual high street by Arvind Fashions that showcases every brand under Arvind, Satish Panchapakesan, senior vice president of Arvind Fashions said, “The core idea and initial thought process of nnnow.com was to bring the whole franchise of Arvind Lifestyle Brands onto a single marketplace. Traditionally, we have sold each of these products through EBOs (exclusive brand outlets) and they were merchandised as single units. It is also a place where customers can experience the products and choose affordable items.” He added that the platform now contributes almost 24% to its revenues.

“Going forward, all our new launches would have an online component in perspective. Also, we are hoping to increase seller positions in the brand itself, to increase the footprint and have a better visibility of consumers which will lead to an improved customer experience,” added Panchapakesan.

Speaking about the online foray of Raymond Group that owns over 10 brands including Park Avenue, ColorPlus, Raymond RTW, Parx and Ethnix, through over 700 retail outlets across India, Bidyut Bhanjdeo, chief business officer of Ethnix and head of sales at Raymond Apparel said, “We started MyRaymond.com as a small website in 2020 and promoted MyRaymond.com through our own stores. Then we realized it’s necessary to get into marketplaces, D2C and D2B. The pandemic left us with no option, and we had to be as e-commerce as we can be. Today, we still have MyRaymond.com connecting all our stores as well as data sources.”

Unlike Raymond, for Fossil India, digital foray was not reactive but proactive. “Fossil is known for its digital-first approach. It was not an aftereffect of Covid because Fossil started focusing on technology way before the pandemic and we explored digital opportunities like social commerce and commercial commerce. The company follows the 4P strategy: product, price, place, and promotion. The terms are similar for all the brands but how we make it different from Samsung or Apple is that we create customer segments. Thus, the strategy remains the same throughout, how we approach it should be unique,” Amit Sharma, marketing lead, e.com, Fossil said.

While speaking about the significance of consumer experience Sharma added “If you treat customers as your guest and engage your systems in such a way that it gives endless experience to customers irrespective of whether s/he is going to an online or offline store. That’s where your customer will become your ambassador and that’s how you will increase your repeat rates.”

Ananya Rajguru, founder of Missfit, a new-generation brand founded in 2021, spoke about her starting her business online. “A website was easier to launch since our initial investment was less. Our future approach is the opposite of most of the brands because we are trying to enter the offline market as well. In one or two months we will be available in offline marketplaces.”

Sandeep Malik, head-new brands, Bestseller spoke about the challenges of a brand in e-commerce marketing. “One of the challenges we faced to grow into online business is having the right technology partner because we needed to present the store inventory live on the online platform, the same inventory which is exposed to the customers who are right there at the store.”

The panel discussion concluded with Prasenjeet Shahi, co-founder of Karnival, a Saas (software as a service) platform for retailers and brands that provides post-purchase customer engagement using smart receipts technology spoke about bringing digital experience offline.

“We created a unique channel for retailers that helps to provide shoppers a digital receipt instead of a paper receipt. The benefit you get from online shopping such as hassle-free invoices now is available offline and it enables brands to connect with consumers post-purchase, said Shahi.

The other panelists in the panel discussion included Nikhil Jain, head of product, Ajio.com and Nirav Parikh, head of IT and supply chain Madhura Fashion and Lifestyle. The panel was moderated by Gerard Roger, vice president of partnerships and market development at GreenHonchos.

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