Why re­tail­ers need to de­liver a seam­less ex­pe­ri­ence that is in sync with the con­sumer’s jour­ney in the mar­ket­place

Progressive Grocer (India) - - Front Page -

Om­nichan­nel com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­nects with cus­tomers by plac­ing them at the core of the mar­ket­ing strat­egy of a brand or modern re­tailer. Such an ap­proach de­liv­ers per­son­al­ized con­ver­sa­tions via in­ter­con­nected chan­nels to cre­ate a uni­fied ex­pe­ri­ence that syn­chro­nizes nat­u­rally with the con­sumer’s jour­ney in the mar­ket­place. Pro­gres­sive Gro­cer ob­serves one such dig­i­tal solution of­fered by on­line shop­ping app Fynd and the func­tional prin­ci­ple it is based on.

Om­nichan­nel seeks to pro­vide cus­tomers with a seam­less shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence, whether they’re shop­ping on­line from a desk­top or mobile de­vice, by tele­phone, or in a brick-and-mor­tar store. The term it­self may be a mar­ket­ing buzz­word, but it refers to a sig­nif­i­cant shift: mar­keters now need to pro­vide a seam­less shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence, re­gard­less of chan­nel or de­vice. Con­sumers can now en­gage with a com­pany in a phys­i­cal store, on an on­line web­site or mobile app, through a cat­a­log, or through so­cial me­dia. The en­tire process en­tails view­ing the busi­ness model through the eyes of the cus­tomer, or­ches­trat­ing the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and ren­der­ing it more in­te­grated and con­sis­tent. It an­tic­i­pates that cus­tomers may start in one chan­nel and move to an­other as they progress to a res­o­lu­tion or buy­ing de­ci­sion. Mak­ing th­ese com­plex ‘hand-offs’ be­tween chan­nels fluid for the cus­tomer is what om­nichan­nel re­tail­ers aim to do. Ac­cord­ing to re­search from Van­tiv, young adults aged 18-34 are more likely to own a smart­phone and are more likely to use mobile de­vices to cross tra­di­tional chan­nel bound­aries when shop­ping. The spend­ing power of Mil­lenials is grow­ing as they en­ter their peak earn­ing years, mean­ing that cross-chan­nel in­ter­ac­tions from th­ese con­sumers are ex­pected to grow as well. But it’s not just Mil­lenials that are cross­ing tra­di­tional chan­nel bound­aries. The re­search also iden­ti­fies that a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of older con­sumers are also adopt­ing the at­ti­tudes and ex­pec­ta­tions of om­ni­con­sumers. There are pock­ets of older con­sumers that have a youth­ful en­thu­si­asm for mobile pay­ments, while higher-in­come con­sumers are also more likely to be in­ter­ested in cross-chan­nel be­hav­iors. As con­sumers be­come more com­fort­able us­ing their smart­phones and tablets, they will be­come in­creas­ingly com­fort­able in­ter­act­ing with a brand on their de­vices. A se­nior ci­ti­zen look­ing to buy a smart­watch might be texted a rec­om­men­da­tion by a grand­child, then walk into a phys­i­cal store to pur­chase. That same grand­child, on the other hand, might spend weeks pars­ing smart­watch re­views, adding, then aban­don­ing items in their cart on both mobile and desk­top, be­fore fi­nally pur­chas­ing be­cause of an en­tic­ing e-mail of­fer. It is im­per­a­tive that brands and re­tail­ers re­al­ize this er­ratic brows­ing and buy­ing be­hav­ior and adapt their strate­gies to ac­com­mo­date the modern con­sumer. Mar­ket­ing ap­proaches must be geared and oiled to en­able cus­tomers to con­vert on any chan­nel while in­ter­act­ing with a brand. There are a num­ber of on­line tools that can as­sist brands in tar­get­ing a vac­il­lat­ing au­di­ence via a num­ber of outreach pro­grams to en­sure brand visibility.

On­line fash­ion startup Fynd fol­lows an on­lineto-off­line model, where it show­cases fash­ion prod­ucts from a brand’s in-store in­ven­tory on its app. Es­sen­tially, it al­lows con­sumers to choose prod­ucts from a neigh­bor­hood store, based on their re­spec­tive lo­ca­tion. The com­pany picks up the prod­uct from the stores and de­liv­ers them to con­sumers. Fynd also dab­bles in hard­ware. It also de­vel­oped Fynd Store, a screen that al­lows con­sumers to browse all prod­ucts sold by a par­tic­u­lar brand. Th­ese screens are placed inside the brand stores. A vari­ant of a prod­uct that is un­avail­able in a par­tic­u­lar store can be or­dered on Fynd Store and sourced from the near­est out­let that stocks the prod­uct. While act­ing as om­nichan­nel part­ner for fash­ion la­bel AND, Fynd was able to help plug in lost sales due to un­avail­abil­ity of the prod­uct and act as a dig­i­tal cat­a­log for cus­tomers to

browse and shop from. This pro­vided 99% cat­a­log cov­er­age and pro­duced a 2% in­cre­ment in sales while ap­prox­i­mately sav­ing 6-8% sales. An im­pres­sive tech-plat­form such as Fynd has tremen­dous po­ten­tial to scale within and be­yond fash­ion in In­dia. A storedriven com­merce ap­proach, with­out in­ven­tory and ware­hous­ing, such as the one used by the in­no­va­tive app has a unique po­si­tion in the mar­ket­place and can serve to in­flu­ence food and gro­cery re­tail as well.

An on­line multi-store plat­form acts as a promis­ing om­nichan­nel solution as it over­comes the chal­lenge of low brand cov­er­age due to un­avail­abil­ity of prod­uct im­ages and en­ables cus­tomers to search for brands on an im­age less and hid­den prod­uct cat­a­log. It also ad­dresses the per­sis­tent cus­tomer com­plaint re­lated to prod­uct search us­ing an item code or hu­man mem­ory. Con­sumers can use an on­line chan­nel to scan bar­codes or en­ter key prod­uct at­tributes in an app to lo­cate a prod­uct in their vicin­ity. An in­te­grated solution us­ing im­pres­sive me­dia also solves tech­ni­cal glitches much more ef­fi­ciently while plac­ing or­ders and mak­ing pay­ments. The om­nichan­nel method en­hances cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and also en­hances the brand per­for­mance by pro­vid­ing com­plete and easy-to-lo­cate prod­uct lists in an or­ga­nized, me­thod­i­cal fash­ion. An on­line ser­vice part­ner can also track or­ders at the store level and link con­sumers to end-to-end or­der track­ing so­lu­tions, thus re­duc­ing de­pen­dency on con­sumer sup­port. An­other ad­van­tage of this strat­egy is that it brings about a 24-hour ac­cess to the cus­tomer, which helps build brand loy­alty. Re­tail­ers also ben­e­fit from om­nichan­nel by im­prov­ing an­a­lyt­ics to un­der­stand con­sumer be­hav­iors since build­ing a per­son­al­ized cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is a must in the dig­i­tal age. Cross-chan­nel in­ven­tory visibility truly un­locks the key of a suc­cess­ful om­nichan­nel re­tail sys­tem.

When re­tail and whole­sale chan­nels are in­te­grated into one om­nichan­nel strat­egy, sys­tem or ful­fill­ment pro­gram, re­tail­ers and brand mer­chan­dis­ers can bet­ter con­trol their pur­chase or­ders, stock counts, sales data, ship­ping ful­fill­ment in­for­ma­tion from a sin­gle plat­form. More­over, this new chan­nel to cre­ate more in­no­va­tive work flows and man­age more com­plex systems and this level of visibility would be sig­nif­i­cantly im­por­tant to ware­house man­age­ment. To sys­tem­at­i­cally im­ple­ment om­nichan­nel cus­tomer touch points, a seller needs to un­der­stands the tar­get mar­ket and cap­i­tal­ize on group-spe­cific data points. It helps to seg­ment the au­di­ence us­ing mar­ket au­to­ma­tion and build rich pro­files about cus­tomers and their buy­ing pref­er­ences. Mar­ket­ing teams must develop con­tent/mes­sag­ing that ad­dresses vari­able cases and be­hav­iors. For ex­am­ple, if a cus­tomer has put some­thing into a cart, but hasn’t pur­chased it yet, tar­geted mar­ket­ing con­tent must focus on ref­er­enc­ing that in­tent. By adapt­ing a sys­tem­atic and well-des­gined om­nichan­nel strat­egy best suited to a seller’s busi­ness land­scape, both front-end and back­end chains can be bet­ter ex­e­cuted to max­i­mize profit.

Tech­nol­ogy has wholly dis­rupted the re­tail in­dus­try and has ma­jorly im­pacted mar­ket­place in­ter­ac­tions. Con­sumers are no longer loyal to a sin­gle brand or type of shop­ping. They now shop in an om­nichan­nel fash­ion, some­times buy­ing on a mobile de­vice while in a brick-and-mor­tar store, or brows­ing a mar­ket­place be­fore head­ing to a cat­e­gory-spe­cific site. To­day, In­dia’s hyper-con­nected con­sumers ex­pect busi­nesses to pro­vide un­par­alleded and con­sis­tent com­mu­ni­ca­tion and ser­vice across all touch points. The mobile revo­lu­tion, in­creased dig­i­ti­za­tion and e-com­merce have to­gether played a sig­nif­i­cant role in chang­ing the face of re­tail as we know it. The re­sult? Om­nichan­nel is grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity and re­defin­ing the re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence.

Re­tail­ers and brand mer­chan­dis­ers can bet­ter con­trol their pur­chase or­ders, stock counts, sales data, ship­ping ful­fill­ment in­for­ma­tion from a sin­gle plat­form.

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