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The 4 factors important for Omnichannel success

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Uniformity, product availability, customer understanding and last-mile logistics are the factors which determine the success of an omnichannel experience

New Delhi: Fashion brands in India consider uniformity across channels, understanding customers, products and last-mile delivery to be the key factors that determine their omnichannel success, representatives of leading brands said.

“Omnichannel in retail is a unified experience that transcends across the entire journey and lifecycle of retail,”  said Navin Joshua, founder & director, GreenHonchos, a Noida-based e-commerce solution company.

“The three or four facets of omnichannel can be connected devices, stores, formats, customer experience, merchandise/inventory and last mile,” he added.

While omnichannel is more prevalent now, it will mature in the years to come. Indiaretailing had earlier reported that the retail industry is still not in the true omnichannel phase and there needs to be much work done to bring it there.

“What used to be a ten-twelve hour buying ceremony is now a 24/7 experience. So, customers now can shop from anywhere,” said Shifali Singla, VP – of product & SCM Lacoste India. For instance, if a particular product is not available in a store, brands today deliver the same to a customer’s doorstep. This is an elevated level of customer satisfaction, experience and top of all convenience, Singla said.

These are the key factors that contribute to omnichannel success today.

Uniformity

Uniformity here refers to the similar product line, experiences, pricing, and service being featured on a brand’s online and offline channels, which ultimately helps build trust in customers’ minds, driving brand loyalty.

Adding on to what uniformity in omnichannel means, Amit Arora, chief information officer (CIO), of SHR Lifestyles, said, “Being present at various channels is not omnichannel. It’s about bridging the gap between all the channels. People start their journey online, browse at stores and end up buying on the tablet in bed. So, uniformity is critical.” 

Uniformity also ensures seamless integration, which is directly linked to the convenience and experience of a customer. For instance, a person browsing a product through social media comes to the website, adds to the cart and abandons the same.

In such cases, brands can work on analysing the cart and contact the customer to come and visit the store. Therefore, the journey which may have started with an Instagram reel or a social media post may end up with the customer walking into a store, which becomes a true omnichannel experience.

However, some brands have a different take on uniformity. For Titan Company Ltd., the unification of channels may not work in the case of all products.

“We have a problem with the unification of channels, especially in the case of Tanishq, where the best products have to be seen in store lighting,” said Krishnan Venkateswaran, chief digital and IT officer at Titan Company Ltd.

“Customers need to also speak with our sales associates, probably try the jewellery pieces. No digital experience can match that.”

However, for watches, the company claims to be truly omnichannel.

“You can order from the store and it could get delivered to you the same day faster than the marketplace,” added Venkateswaran.

Customer understanding

Experts agree understanding customers is critical to omnichannel success. Customers can today be categorised into two sets: GenZ and others according to experts.

“For GenZ, everything is more online. It’s not so much omnichannel, but more sitting at home and shopping through a website,” said Bidyut Bhanjdeo, chief business officer, Ethnix. “In these cases, the return is also high as one out of three products purchased comes back.”

GenZ and their understanding is what different brands are trying to figure out.

“GenZ are a bigger problem for us as we are a 140-year-old brand. Heritage is what carries us and Gen Z is disconnected from heritage,” said Ulhas Uday, business Head of e-commerce, at watch brand Seiko India.

“While you want to keep the heritage part, we are also ensuring that there is a separate set of product lines which is communicated in a Gen Z fashion. Here again, the key is only communication,” Uday added.

For understanding the second set of customers—the not GenZ—analysis of the data available plays a big role. A right example could be the case of a celebration wear brand Ethnix, which analyses a customer and the product s/he buys. This data gives the brand an idea if there is any upcoming function in the person’s family so that the brand can upsell, offer additional services or personalised assistance and ultimately get more revenue. What starts as single-person shopping has helped the brand increase ticket size by analysing the data and using the right omnichannel tactics.

Product availability

Assortment of products basis the category is also important, experts added. Sometimes, a product can be visible online but may not be available in every store because of variations in store sizes. This in a way becomes a challenge for the omnichannel approach where people may surf something on the internet and may want to pick it up at the store but not find the same while visiting the store.

“Creating an ecosystem where we can make sure that the product moves seamlessly to the place where the demand is generated within a stipulated period is important,” experts said.

Last-mile logistics

Product and last mile go hand-in-hand is that there are chances that a customer may find that the product s/he has chosen in an endless aisle store, is available at a different outlet. In such cases, brands figure out the different incentives that can be given to the store where the product is available.

“Incentivization had to be created so that the store that is holding the product sends it quickly enough,” said Venkateswaran of Titan. “And with that structure in place, we have had a very, very encouraging outcome on this mode of selling.”

There is also a flipside that brands need to consider in omnichannel, which involves products purchased online being returned offline. This can be good if the brands have accounted for it but may not be viable for every business.

“Last mile fulfilment and logistics is still an open field where a lot of work needs to be done for customer engagement, for better customer engagement and experience,” said Rashi Ujjwal, Head – Ajio Exclusives & Reliance Owned Omnichannel Brands.

Based on a panel discussion on Fashion Retail Transformation: Integration of omnichannel strategies by Green Honchos held at the India Fashion Forum 2024 by Images Group.

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