Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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Technology permeates through almost every facet of our lives. Consumers are embracing the digital age along with its conveniences, and retailers in parallel are constantly working on new ways to interact and engage with consumers.

Traditionally, companies have utilized a single-channel approach, or have operated unintegrated multiple channels. Given India’s digital delirium, retailers are now evaluating how they can adopt omnichannel strategies to create an impact in customer buying journeys. An increasing impetus on customer experience along with personalization is the new standard, is here to stay and co-exist with the traditional forms of retailing. Adaptation & acceptance are critical for traditional retailers who haven’t yet realized that the journey is the way forward and will only improve further.

Omnichannel personalization has the potential to enable retailers to provide unique consumers experiences via various touchpoints by leveraging data collection and analytics. Retailers would have to connect different digital footprints of their customers in order to offer a seamless omnichannel experience. Below are some key considerations for retailers who are looking to embrace omnichannel.

Interconnections across four major touchpoints

Capabilities will have to be developed across four major touchpoints – website, mobile application, digital displays with interactive screens, and point of sale. When these forces work in unison, sellers will be able to interact and engage with customers more effectively, resulting in higher retention rates and satisfaction levels. A crystal-clear strategy and plan of action will be essential to successfully implement omnichannel personalization.

Customer Voice will govern

Listening to the customers’ is going to remain critical as better and advanced platforms to run this would keep coming up. Social listening and working back on customer feedbacks is not only being used to improve after sales experience but also to bring in the right mix of categories.

Focus on Value Creation is key

An ecosystem of brand-relevant engagement must be deployed to successfully acquire, engage, and retain customers. This will include a mix of personalized in-app messaging and push notifications, a growing inventory of content, exciting offers, and community-based interactions. In addition to these, a dynamic loyalty program enabling customers to access rewards and discounts will drive in-app, online, and in-store purchases. All these features and conveniences will require brands to initiate large-scale, but focused, investments in training of staff, improvements in supply-chain, and most importantly, adoption of relevant technologies

Logistics is the backbone for omnichannel

Developing logistics capabilities would involve the establishment of an efficient distribution network to deliver goods and services to customers at their leisure, at offline and online stores. This in turn would require employment of data management and analytics systems to accurately anticipate demand and ensure availability across channels. Inventory transparency will be key, as information would have to be integrated in real time. Robust technological systems remain essential at this stage as well. Finally, front-line staff would require training to access these information management systems, understand the brand-specific ecosystems being created, and contribute to this omnichannel experience. 

Integrated e-commerce

The expectation from customers’ is to recall online journeys in a physical store and vice-a-versa. This means the omnichannel becomes an ominous place for a customer to be with for a brand. The newer ways of interactions would allow the consumer to recall their journey across channel of sales be it online, app, instore etc.

Alliances

Embracing partners and eco-systems could allow for quick adoption of ‘the new’, without waiting to build internal capability.

While such investments and transformations can be challenging and expensive, if implemented effectively, they could reap massive rewards for retailers. Below are a few ways that omnichannel could help reap benefits

1     By tracking and understanding consumer behavior, brands can improve their communication methods and customer service. This will lead to more efficient use of marketing resources and raise consumer satisfaction levels.

2     Providing multiple, integrated platforms to purchase products or consume services will drive growth in sales as it caters to the needs of every type of customer: those who prefer purchasing online can shop using mobile apps or company websites, and those who want an offline experience can visit the physical stores. Additionally, many prefer browsing online and researching products before they decide to make actual purchases. Omnichannel personalization will enable retailers to satisfy this desire by creating an online presence that is integrated with their physical stores.

3     In addition to that, a brand ecosystem will build customer loyalty as they stay engaged even when they are not shopping.

4     Finally, by consolidating logistics and supply chain, and managing inventory using information management systems, retailers can reduce wastage and decrease costs. Through this, in the long run, they can reap healthy returns on these investments.

Lastly, customers today are more connected than ever. By integrating the necessary data analytics and management systems, sellers will be able to unlock the potential of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other such technologies to consolidate logistics and supply chain and provide their audience with a unique and personalized shopping experience. If executed effectively, these changes could revolutionize the value chain and help drive sales and customer satisfaction levels to newer heights.

Authored by Harsha Razdan, Partner and Head, Consumer Markets and Internet Business, KPMG in India

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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