Trends in Loyalty to look forward in year 2017
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Trends in Loyalty to look forward in year 2017
The Indian Retail Industry has undergone a paradigm shift from a product-oriented industry to a more marketing focused industry with the ‘customer’ taking center stage. The customer today is spoilt for choice owing to diverse factors like multiple brand choices, extremely attractive value propositions and availability of content 24X7 due to various social platforms and technological access.
 
Also there are radical changes and explosion in the retail landscape with the emergence of new age e-commerce players giving the larger organized players a run for their money. All this explosion is resulting in mad rush for new customer acquisition however the same is fuelled largely by deep discounting, which in the longer run is unlikely to be un-sustainable. As discounting is very transactional in nature and does not build any engagement with the customer over time.
 
Trends give us a purview of the latest market dynamics that influence shopper behaviour. Loyalty programs bring retention and long-term focus on customer trends, usage, and social media behaviour to the retail sector. Keeping this in view, 2017 predicts a stronger, more efficient, agile strategy for loyalty programs. 
 
 Omni-channel: From the brick and mortar to the online e-commerce stores, the need to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of retailing and consumer behavior is by using all platforms of communication to reach the customer. This will help the industry to accurately track real-time data and analyze the tendencies of a single shopper. Omni-channel changes the way we deal with a shopper, this route will give brands, and e-retailers a chance to pursue a certain trend or season. Furthermore, it will help enhance customer approach behavior and build loyalty between the brand, the store, and the customer.
 
 Single-view and cloud solutions: In today’s world, where online experiences are based on fast-paced interactions, Push emails and mass campaigns have become obsolete. Most customers’ tendency is to delete promotional e-mailers. And, with the introduction of advanced technology every now and then, it clearly seems that 2017 will change methods of customer tracking and behaviour. In a mobile-first world, tracking transactional and behavioural data will emerge as a game-changer.
 
Partnerships between brands: Data analytics prove that 2017 will bring improved results for brands who are in the process of developing agile systems to track social media conversations. Counting the number of visitors to a website or the number of likes, followers, and favourites now come in the ‘old methods’ list. This is the point where big data analytics and partnerships step in. It will help in bringing brands closer to the customer through various loyalty programs while building a better and more effective communication channel for the customer.
 
Personalized exclusivity:  2017 is all about leveraging the mobile world. With a multi-channel approach towards marketing to customers, brands have to focus on the bigger picture. Research and thorough tracking of social media content will help in targeting the customer seamlessly by avoiding unnecessary promotional messages and mass campaigns.
 
Customer retention:  Every individual shopper wants personal recognition. While loyalty programs offer rewards to existing customers the challenge is the acquisition of new customers. Innovation in content is the key to retaining and acquiring customers.
 
The article has been pen down by  Gaurav Khurana, Chief Marketing Officer ,PAYBACK India
 
 
 
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Direct-to-Customer vs. Traditional Retail: Which Model is Right for You?
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Direct-to-Customer vs. Traditional Retail: Which Model is Right for You?
 

The retail landscape is dynamic, ever-changing and ever-evolving. Businesses face a crucial decision: embrace the Direct-to-Customer (D2C) model or stick with Traditional Retail. Both approaches offer distinct advantages and present unique challenges, influencing everything from customer relationships to profit margins.

The Indian retail market is predicted to grow 9 percent from $779 billion in 2019 to $1,407 billion by 2026 and exceed $1.8 trillion by 2030.

When various companies sell their products and services through different retail sales methods and store types globally directly to the customers is known as retail.

The retail industry in a country is considered to be crucial for its economy. The Indian retail sector contributes about 10 percent of the GDP and makes up 8 percent of employment, putting India in fifth place for the retail landscape globally.

This guide will help you navigate the differences, weighing the pros and cons of each model to determine which path is right for your business. Whether you're a startup looking to make a direct connection with consumers or an established retailer considering a shift, understanding these two retail strategies is essential for future success.

Difference between D2C and Traditional retail

What is D2C and Traditional Retail?

Direct-to-customer or D2C is selling products or services directly to the customer without the involvement of various intermediaries like wholesalers, distributors or physical stores. From developing, marketing, selling and delivery everything is done by the company making the supply chain smaller and easier.

The D2C market has grown by 38 percent from $17 billion in FY23 and is projected to triple in size in the next four years, reaching $61.3 billion by FY27.

Advantages

Sales Direct sales channels – E-commerce and social media platforms
Customer-centric Value customer experience – personalization and feedback
Identity Brand image and storytelling – building unique identity and relations with customers
Cost Competitive pricing and cost-saving – compete with consumers
  Customer insights and Agility – understand and improve as per the preferences and trends

Challenges

High customer acquisition cost Marketing and customer retention- relying on advertisements and keeping customer attraction
Scalability Infrastructure and product quality – Maintaining and increasing quality, technology, logistics and customer services
Customer trust and awareness Investment and competition- building brand identity and standing out in market competition
Inventory Demand and storage cost- Avoid overstocking or stock outs along with managing storage

Traditional Retail is a standard process of selling products or services via actual stores where a consumer can have a tangible experience. This model is lengthier as it involves various intermediaries till the product reaches the consumer.

Advantages

Physical appearance Brick-and-mortar stores – ranging from small tuck shops to stores in a mall
Mediators Manufacturers, distributors and retailers
Promoting Traditional methods like billboards or print ads, and digital platforms like social media
Customer experience In-person shopping and physical interactions
Supply chain Complex logistics and inventory

Challenges

Overhead cost Physical stores and staffing- rent, utilities, hiring, staffing and operational expenses
E-commerce Online and Omnichannel – combining physical store and online with Omnichannel experience
Customer Experience Consistency and in-store experience- same appeal in all stores along with online competition
Competition Price and consumer needs- keeping up with online and offline competitors and evolving with customer needs and trends

Difference between D2C and Traditional Retail

  • Sales

D2C sell directly to consumers via online and offline mediums eliminating the middlemen.

Traditional retail uses physical stores and retail chains along with middlemen.

  • Net Margin

D2C is cost cost-efficient and productive way of attracting customers without increasing the net margin.

Traditional retail comparatively draws more net margin due to middlemen resulting in less command in pricing.

  • Customer bond

D2C can have direct contact with the final customer uplifting customer relationship for a longer term.

Traditional retail faces difficulty in engaging with customers directly leading to limited access to feedback and data collection.

  • Digitalization

D2C extensively uses digital platforms like e-commerce websites or in-house websites to gather consumer traffic.

Traditional retailing used to face difficulty in generating customer bases. Now retailers with physical retail chains are opting for an Omnichannel approach to expand and reach consumers.

  • Data Collection

D2C leverages real-time consumer feedback that encourages improvements and evolution for a brand.

Traditional retail has finite access to consumer data and tends to depend on third-party parts for consumer insights.

  • Reach

D2C inherent the chance of going global with online attendance and catering to more audiences.

Traditional retail is hanging on with partners for expansion on global grounds.

Last Word

In the eyes of Indian Retailer, the retail industry is transforming each day packed up with an immense amount of opportunities. With the rise of digital mediums, both D2C and traditional retail are adapting to the changes and improvising to stand in the market. D2C has its charm in catering directly with consumers without making an increase in net profit. Whereas traditional retail companies give a tangible experience to consumers to shop with ease and security. Both mediums are now graduating towards omnichannel retailing – a hybrid!

FAQs

The key difference between D2C and traditional retail?

D2C does not have any middlemen whereas the traditional model deals with intermediaries.

What is the full-form of D2C in retail?

Direct-to-customer

What is the difference between D2C and e-commerce?

D2C deals with customers directly and e-commerce caters to customers with online presence.

What is the format of traditional retail?

Physical stores, departmental stores, pop-up stores, Kiranas, Bazaars and weekly markets.

 

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Top 10 Best Logistics Brands in India: Driving a $320 Bn Industry
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Top 10 Best Logistics Brands in India: Driving a $320 Bn Industry
 

Ever wondered how your favorite products reach you so swiftly? Behind the scenes, top logistics companies in India are orchestrating seamless operations, ensuring timely delivery from origin to consumption. These logistics brands are the backbone of the supply chain, driving India's economy forward.

The Indian Logistics Industry: A Snapshot

The logistics sector supports over 22 million livelihoods and contributes 14.4 percent to India’s GDP. Expected to grow by over 8 percent CAGR, the sector is on track to reach $320 billion by 2025. This rapid growth underscores the importance of logistics brands in India, as they innovate and expand to meet rising demands.

Top 10 Logistics Companies in India

Here are the leading logistic brands in India, each contributing uniquely to the industry’s landscape and driving its evolution.

1. Gati Limited: Leading Logistics and Supply Chain Solutions in India

Top 10 Logistics Brands in India: Leading the Way to a $320 Billion Industry by 2025

Founded in 1989, Gati Limited is a pioneer in India's express distribution and supply chain solutions. As a part of the Allcargo Group, Gati’s extensive network covers 99 percent of India’s districts, ensuring unparalleled reach. The company recorded its highest-ever quarterly revenue of Rs 379 crore in Q3 FY 2023, with EBITDA growth of 28 percent YoY. Recently, Gati partnered with Tech Mahindra to develop the Gati Enterprise Management System (GEMS 2.0), enhancing productivity, and customer experience, and reducing costs. Vivek Agarwal, President of Tech Mahindra, emphasized that this partnership will help Gati scale performance and lead tech-led transformation in the express logistics segment.

2. Unicommerce: Leading E-commerce Logistics Brand

Top 10 Logistics Brands in India: Leading the Way to a $320 Billion Industry by 2025

Unicommerce, established in 2012, is India’s largest e-commerce enablement SaaS platform, facilitating end-to-end e-commerce management for brands and logistics service providers. The company reported an 8 percent net profit growth in FY23 and operating revenues of Rs 51 crore in H1 FY24. Recently, Unicommerce partnered with Wonderchef to streamline e-commerce supply chains and enhance customer experience through automated order processing. "With Unicommerce’s reliable platform, we are confident of staying ahead of the competition as our innovative products gain traction in Indian and overseas markets," said Ravi Saxena, Founder & CEO, Wonderchef.

Data Point Details
Founded 2012
Headquarters Gurgaon, Haryana, India
Services Offered
  • E-commerce Enablement SaaS Platform
  • Inventory Management System
  • Order Management System (OMS)
  • Warehouse Management System (WMS)
  • Omni-channel Retail Management System
  • Integrated POS and ERP Systems
  • Multi-channel Order Management
  • Shipping and Logistics Integrations
Key Milestones
  • 2017: Named among top e-commerce enablers
  • 2023: Achieved 750 million annual transaction run-rate
  • 2023: Over 3,500 customers, 8,000 warehouses, and 1,900 stores
Market Presence Supports over 3,500 brands and retailers, operating in 220+ cities in India and the Middle East. Processes over 100 million orders annually, representing 15-20% of Indian e-commerce transactions.

3. DTDC: Leading Technology-Enabled Logistics Brand

DTDC

DTDC offers a wide range of technology-enabled logistics solutions for various industries. Transitioning from a home-grown courier service to a recognized express logistics brand, DTDC now provides integrated delivery solutions to retail customers and businesses. In FY23, DTDC's operating revenues surpassed Rs 2000 crore, a 21.8 percent increase from the previous year, with PAT growing at a 59.78 percent CAGR over three years.

The brand expanded into the Malaysian market, enhancing its presence in Southeast Asia. Collaborating with Aramex, DTDC strengthened its cross-border logistics capabilities, offering export and import services between India, Singapore, and Australia, and managing local deliveries in Malaysia.

Data Point Details
Founded 1990
Headquarters Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Services Offered
  • Express Parcel Delivery
  • International Shipments
  • Integrated E-commerce Logistics
  • Cross Border Management
  • Warehousing and E-Fulfilment
  • Last Mile Delivery
Key Milestones
  • 1990: Founded
  • 2000: Expanded internationally
  • 2013: GeoPost acquired 42% stake
  • 2023: Delivering 12 million parcels a month
Market Presence DTDC operates in over 240 countries with a direct international presence in 21 countries including Singapore, U.S., UK, Canada, UAE, China, and Australia.

4. Mahindra Logistics: Aiming for Rs 10,000 Crore by FY 2026

Top 10 Logistics Brands in India: Leading the Way to a $320 Billion Industry by 2025

Mahindra Logistics aims to become a Rs 10,000 crore logistics service provider by FY 2026, focusing on seamless logistics solutions and stakeholder collaboration. Its partnership with Seino Holdings enhances integrated logistics solutions in India, emphasizing technology, innovation, and operational excellence. Mahindra Logistics is dedicated to creating efficient supply chains and delivering optimal logistics solutions nationwide. "In collaboration with Mahindra Logistics, we aim to serve Japanese customers in India with comprehensive logistics solutions supported by digitization and innovation," said Yoshitaka Taguchi, CEO, Seino Holdings.

Data Point Details
Founded 2007
Headquarters Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Services Offered
  • Contract Logistics
  • Cross Border Logistics
  • Last Mile Delivery
  • Mobility Solutions
  • Freight Forwarding
  • Enterprise On-call
Key Milestones
  • 2007: Founded as a division of Mahindra & Mahindra
  • 2017: Became a publicly traded company
  • 2023: Reported revenue of ₹51.2 billion
Market Presence Mahindra Logistics operates in China, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Western Europe, and the US. It provides logistics solutions to various industries, including automotive, engineering, consumer goods, telecommunications, and pharmaceuticals.

5. Apollo Supply Chain: Leading Integrated Logistics Provider

Top 10 Logistics Brands in India: Leading the Way to a $320 Billion Industry by 2025

Apollo Supply Chain, part of the Apollo Group, is a leading integrated logistics provider serving industries like consumer durables, automotive, and e-commerce. With a turnover of $2.3 billion, Apollo Supply Chain partners with over 150 brands, offering services such as transport management and warehouse solutions. The brand’s extensive network covers over 18,000 pin codes, delivering optimized logistics solutions across India. Its technology services include transport management systems, warehouse management systems, control tower, and analytics solutions.

Data Point Details
Founded 2009
Headquarters Gurgaon, Haryana, India
Services Offered
  • Integrated Supply Chain Solutions
  • Freight Management
  • Contract Logistics
  • Multiuser Facilities
  • E-commerce Logistics
Key Milestones
  • 2009: Founded
  • 2012: Formed joint venture with FIEGE Integrated Logistics
  • 2014: Acquired Kashipur Infrastructure and Freight Terminal
  • 2016: Acquired Wifin Technologies (India)
Market Presence Apollo Supply Chain serves over 150 leading brands, providing pan-India logistics support and maintaining a global partner network.

6. Delhivery: Leading Logistics Brand with Nationwide Coverage

Top 10 Logistics Brands in India: Leading the Way to a $320 Billion Industry by 2025

With a nationwide network covering over 18,400 pin codes, Delhivery provides a comprehensive suite of logistics services including express parcel transportation, PTL freight, TL freight, cross-border, supply chain, and technology services. The company has successfully fulfilled over 1.7 billion shipments since its inception and works with over 28,000 customers, including large and small e-commerce participants, SMEs, and other enterprises. Delhivery recorded a 20 percent year-on-year growth in operating revenue to Rs 2,194 crore during Q3 FY24, while total expenses rose only 7 percent to Rs 2,290 crore. Globally, over 242 companies have adopted Delhivery as a shipping and fulfillment tool in 2024.

Data Point Details
Founded 2011
Headquarters Gurgaon, Haryana, India
Services Offered
  • Express Parcel Delivery
  • Heavy Goods Delivery
  • Partial-Truckload (PTL) Freight
  • Full-Truckload (FTL) Freight
  • Cross-border Express
  • Reverse Logistics
Key Milestones
  • 2011: Founded by Sahil Barua, Mohit Tandon, Bhavesh Manglani, Suraj Saharan, and Kapil Bharati
  • 2019: Received ET Startup of the Year Award
  • 2021: Acquired Spoton Logistics Pvt. Ltd. for $200M
  • 2024: Raised $1.4 billion from investors including SoftBank, Nexus Venture Partners, and others
Market Presence Delhivery operates over 85 fulfillment centers, 29 automated sort centers, 160 hubs, and 7,500+ partner centers, with a direct presence in 21 countries. The company delivers 1.5 million packages daily across India and internationally.

7. Ekart Logistics: India’s Largest Supply Chain Company

Founded in 2009, Ekart Logistics is India's largest supply chain company, known for its consistent excellence in consumer experience, reliable delivery, and managing variability at scale. Ekart is the preferred partner for various businesses across India. The brand covers 14,000 pin codes, offering same-day or next-day delivery for short distances, and guaranteed delivery within 48-96 hours for longer distances.

Data Point Details
Founded 2009
Headquarters Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Services Offered
  • B2C (Business to Consumer) Deliveries
  • B2B (Business to Business) Deliveries
  • Warehousing
  • E-commerce Logistics
  • End-to-End Supply Chain Solutions
Key Milestones
  • 2009: Founded as Flipkart’s in-house supply chain arm
  • 2015: Reintegrated into Flipkart after initially being a separate entity
  • 2018: Received a significant investment of ₹1,632 crore from Klick2Shop
Market Presence Ekart Logistics operates across 3,800+ PIN codes in India, delivering around 10 million shipments a month.

8. Ecom Express: Leading E-commerce Logistics Provider

Top 10 Logistics Brands in India: Leading the Way to a $320 Billion Industry by 2025

Founded in 2012, Ecom Express is a prominent player in the e-commerce logistics sector in India. The company offers comprehensive logistics solutions, including express parcel delivery, ground services, warehousing, fulfillment services, reverse logistics, and cross-border services. Ecom Express operates in over 2,650 towns, covering more than 27,000 PIN codes across India, ensuring extensive reach and reliable delivery. In FY23, the company achieved significant growth, reflecting its strong market position and commitment to customer satisfaction.

Data Point Details
Founded 2012
Headquarters Gurugram, Haryana, India
Services Offered
  • Express Parcel Delivery
  • Reverse Logistics
  • E-commerce Logistics Solutions
  • Cross-Border Services
Key Milestones
  • 2012: Founded by T.A. Krishnan, Sanjeev Saxena, Manju Dhawan, and Kotla Satyanarayana
  • 2017: Received multiple awards including Best E-commerce Logistics Partner
  • 2020: Achieved revenue of ₹12.5 billion
  • 2022: Raised $39 million in a venture round from Partners Group
Market Presence Ecom Express operates in over 2,650 towns across 27,000+ PIN codes in India, covering more than 95% of India’s population.

9. Shadowfax: Hyperlocal Logistics Leader

Top 10 Logistics Brands in India: Leading the Way to a $320 Billion Industry by 2025

Founded in 2015, Shadowfax is a leading hyperlocal logistics provider in India, specializing in quick commerce, e-commerce logistics, and reverse logistics. The company operates in over 2,500 cities, managing a network of 30 lakh verified riders and delivering over 15 lakh orders daily across 15,000+ PIN codes. Shadowfax’s innovative technology and efficient delivery model make it a preferred partner for businesses looking to enhance their logistics operations.

Data Point Details
Founded 2015
Headquarters Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Services Offered
  • Hyperlocal Delivery
  • E-commerce Logistics
  • D2C (Direct-to-Consumer) Delivery
  • Personal Courier Services
Key Milestones
  • 2015: Founded by Abhishek Bansal and Vaibhav Khandelwal
  • 2020: Rolled out an ESOP buyback plan worth $5 million
  • 2024: Raised $100 million in Series E funding round led by TPG NewQuest, valuing the company at $600 million
Market Presence Operates in over 2,500 cities across India, managing a network of 30 lakh verified riders and delivering over 15 lakh orders daily across 15,000+ PIN codes.

10. Pidge: Unified Logistics Platform for SMEs

Top 10 Logistics Brands in India: Leading the Way to a $320 Billion Industry by 2025

Founded in 2019, Pidge empowers small and medium businesses with a unified logistics platform. Pidge’s innovative approach allows businesses to choose their delivery partners, facilitating deeper supply penetration. With a network of over 200 regional and national partners, Pidge supports brands like Blue Tokai and Dana Choga. The company has raised $6.86 million in funding, including a $3 million seed round in March 2023. Pidge aims to create interoperable hybrid micro-networks where businesses can select delivery partners, democratizing access to logistics.

Data Point Details
Founded 2019
Headquarters Gurugram, Haryana, India
Services Offered
  • On-demand Local Deliveries
  • Courier Services
  • B2B Logistics Solutions
  • Real-time Order Clubbing
Key Milestones
  • 2019: Founded by Ratnesh Verma and Rushil Mohan
  • 2021: Raised $1 million in funding from Indian Angel Network
  • 2023: Raised $3 million in a pre-Series A round led by Mountain Partners
  • 2024: Expanded to cover over 400,000 network users and enabled over 5 million deliveries
Market Presence Pidge operates across five cities in the Delhi-NCR region: Delhi, Noida, Faridabad, Gurgaon, and Ghaziabad. The company focuses on radius-free deliveries, leveraging technology for real-time tracking, dynamic batching, and ensuring minimal lead times.

Detailed Considerations When Choosing a Logistics Company in India

1. Shipping Cost
Evaluate the shipping rates of different logistics companies to ensure they align with your budget while meeting your service requirements. Hidden fees can often surprise businesses, so it's important to understand the complete cost structure. Assess whether the logistics provider offers discounts for bulk shipments, long-term contracts, or frequent usage. Comparing base rates, surcharges, and potential discounts helps in selecting a cost-effective partner.

2. Greater Pin Code Coverage
Opt for a logistics company that offers extensive pin code coverage to ensure your packages reach even the most remote areas. This is especially vital for e-commerce businesses aiming to serve a wide customer base across the country. Comprehensive coverage reduces the risk of delivery failures and enhances customer satisfaction by ensuring reliable service in urban and rural regions alike.

3. Order Tracking Facility
Ensure the logistics provider offers robust order tracking facilities. Real-time tracking allows both businesses and customers to monitor shipment statuses, improving transparency and trust. Features like SMS updates, mobile app tracking, and web-based tracking systems can significantly enhance the customer experience by providing timely information about their deliveries.

4. Delivery Speed
Assess the delivery times guaranteed by the logistics company. Faster delivery speeds can enhance customer satisfaction and boost repeat business. Evaluate whether the company offers express delivery options for urgent shipments and how they manage peak periods to maintain consistent delivery times. Reliable and swift deliveries are crucial for maintaining a competitive edge in the market.

5. RTO (Return to Origin) Percentage
Check the logistics provider's RTO percentage, which indicates how often packages are returned to the sender due to delivery failures. A lower RTO percentage reflects a higher success rate in deliveries and fewer complications. Understanding the reasons behind RTOs, such as incorrect addresses or customer unavailability, can help in selecting a provider that minimizes these issues.

6. Efficient Returns Management
Efficient returns management is crucial for customer satisfaction, especially in e-commerce. Choose a logistics company that provides hassle-free return solutions and quick processing of returned goods. A well-managed returns process enhances customer trust and encourages repeat business. Look for features like easy return labels, automated processing, and transparent refund policies.

7. Secured Delivery
Ensure the logistics provider guarantees secure delivery of packages. This includes measures to prevent theft, damage, and loss of goods. Security protocols such as tamper-proof packaging, real-time tracking, and insured shipments build customer confidence and protect your business from potential losses. Reliable security measures are essential for maintaining a good reputation.

8. Track Record
Research the logistics company's track record in terms of reliability and customer satisfaction. Look for reviews, testimonials, and case studies to gauge their performance and reputation in the industry. A company with a proven track record of timely deliveries, good customer service, and positive feedback is more likely to meet your business needs effectively.

Final Words

India's logistics industry is transforming rapidly, driven by technology and strategic partnerships. Leading logistics brands are crucial in this evolution, aiming for a $320 billion market by 2025. With logistics costs currently at 13-14% of GDP, these companies are set to enhance efficiency and reliability, driving economic growth.

For more insights on the logistics industry and its impact, read the following articles:

FAQs on Top Logistics Brands in India

1. Who is the market leader in logistics in India?

Allcargo Logistics Ltd. is a significant player in the Indian logistics market, offering extensive logistics and supply chain solutions, and is part of the Allcargo Group which also includes Gati Ltd​ .

2. Who is the largest logistics company?

Container Corporation of India Ltd. (CONCOR) is one of the largest logistics companies in India, particularly known for its market leadership in container transportation and handling​ ​.

3. Who leads the logistics industry?

Allcargo Logistics Ltd., Blue Dart Express Ltd., and Container Corporation of India Ltd. (CONCOR) are among the leading logistics companies in India​​​ ​.

4. What is the rank of India in logistics?

India is ranked 44th in the World Bank's Logistics Performance Index ​.

 

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Best D2C Non-Alcoholic Drinks in India: Refreshing Choices for You
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Best D2C Non-Alcoholic Drinks in India: Refreshing Choices for You
 

As the mercury rises, the demand for these thirst-quenching top beverage brands in India surges, highlighting their importance in ensuring comfort and health during the sweltering summer months. During intense heat waves, these beverage brands in India are becoming vital allies against the harsh heat. In addition to offering immediate respite from the sweltering heat, these beverage brands are contributing to preserving hydration and general health.

The domestic market for beverage brands in India is poised to reach a size of $21.5 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.72 percent over the next 4 years. Increasing health consciousness and growing disposable incomes are steering demand towards a varied range of healthier alternatives. The beverage industry in India is one of the fastest-growing sectors, fuelled by a robust raw material production base.

Top 9 D2C Non-Alcoholic Brands 

Here are the top 9 D2C non-alcoholic beverage brands.

1. Starbucks

Starbucks : Top D2C Non Alcoholic  Brands in India

Starbucks revenue from operations grew 12 percent in fiscal year 2024, according to TCPL's annual report on beverage brands in India. Tata Consumer Products invested Rs 25 crore in Tata Starbucks Private Limited in FY24. Starbucks' coffee supply chain is vertically integrated from coffee estate, to roasting, and into a beverage cup. This allows Starbucks to exercise greater control over costs, processes, and quality. It also helped establish the company's global economies of scale.

Starbucks will open a new cafe every third day in India to reach the 1,000 mark by 2028 said Laxman Narasimhan, Chief Executive, Starbucks. The company is focusing on the tea-drinking nation's impressive development and improved ease of doing business.

2. Nestle

Nestle : Top D2C Non Alcoholic Brands in India

Nestlé showed off its significant financial power and market impact in 2023 with $95.701 billion in sales making space in the list of best non-alcoholic beverage brands in India. A net income of $18.496 billion further highlights the company's strong financial performance by showcasing its profitability and operational effectiveness. The company's market value surged to $372.720 billion, demonstrating its leadership position in the world's food and beverage sector. 

It offers a wide range of beverages such as nescafé classic, nescafé sunrise, nestea iced lemon tea, nescafé gold premix, nescafé latte cold coffee can, and nescafé intense cold coffee, and more, starting from Rs 30 for 28 g sachet to Rs 900 for a 1 kg packet.

3. Paper Boat

Paper Boat : Top D2C Non Alcoholic Brands in India

Paper Boat has achieved significant financial milestones. As of March 31, 2023, the company has secured a total funding of $147 million. It has also reported an annual revenue of $63.4 million for the fiscal year, showcasing its robust business performance and effective market strategies. These achievements position Paper Boat as a leader in the competitive beverage market, poised for continued growth and success.

It targets urban India, particularly aged between 20-40, a large part of the demographic that grew up in 1990s India. The brand offers its products at a reasonable price, capturing a significant market share in India. The affordable pricing has made the brand accessible to a wide range of consumers across the country.

4. RAW Pressery

RAW Pressery : Top D2C Non Alcoholic Brands in India

 

The brand has secured a total funding of $45.3 million. The company was valued at $11.3 million, reflecting its potential in the competitive market. In its latest funding round, RAW Pressery raised $543,000 in a Series C investment. Demonstrating robust financial performance, the company reported an annual revenue of $18.2 million as of March 31, 2023.

This trajectory highlights RAW Pressery's successful expansion and strong market presence in the health and wellness sector. The pricing range starts from Rs 120 for 250 ml to Rs 330 for 1 L along with various package deals.

5. Lahori Zeera

 Lahori Zeera : Top D2C Non Alcoholic Brands in India

 

Lahori Zeera has demonstrated outstanding financial growth and stability. As of March 31, 2023, the company has secured a total funding of $22.8 million. Demonstrating robust business performance, the brand has reported an impressive annual revenue of $26.8 million. This financial success is further underscored by a net profit of $983,000, highlighting the company's efficient management and profitable operations.

These figures reflect Lahori Zeera's strong market presence and strategic direction, positioning it well for continued success and expansion in the competitive beverage sector. The brand has a shelf life of four months at the price of Rs 240 for 160 ml in a pack of 24 bottles. 

6. Coolberg

Coolberg : Top D2C Non Alcoholic Brands in India

Coolberg has garnered a total funding of $5.49 million, fuelling its growth and innovation. As of March 31, 2022, the company reported an annual revenue of $3.38 million, demonstrating its increasing market penetration and customer acceptance. These financial figures highlight Coolberg's promising trajectory and its ongoing efforts to solidify its foothold in the competitive beverage industry.

The beverage brand largely has a presence in Tier I and II cities in India. It aims to cover more cities across India along with deeper market penetrations and then eventually explore international markets as well. It focuses on providing a category-busting range of beverages that are cutting-edge, fashionable, and aspirational to millennials and teetotallers.

7. Jimmy Cocktails

Jimmy Cocktails : D2C Non Alcoholic Brands in India

Founded in 2019, Jimmy Cocktails has quickly carved a niche in the beverage brand in India with its innovative offerings. The company has raised a total of $4.81 million in funding, with the latest round being a $1.46 million Seed investment on May 31, 2023. This round valued the company at $24.9 million, reflecting strong investor confidence in its potential. As of March 31, 2023, the brand reported an annual revenue of $4.32 million, showcasing significant growth and market acceptance in a relatively short span.

These milestones underscore Jimmy Cocktails' dynamic presence and promising future in the cocktail market. Its products have a shelf life of 12 months. It is considered to be a healthier alternative for athletes and are catching up strongly with fitness enthusiasts

8. Kati Patang

Kati Patang : Top D2C Non Alcoholic Brands in India

The beverage brand has a total funding of $2.67 million, and leveraged these resources to innovate and expand its offerings. Founded in 2017, Kati Patang has made an entry in the top beverage brands in India list.  As of April 30, 2023, Kati Patang achieved a valuation of $3.38 million, reflecting its growth and potential in a competitive market. The business has released its Zesty Amber Ale, which is made under contract at the Ser Bhum Brewery in Bhutan.

Kati Patang's bottle cost ranges from Rs 200 for 330 ml in Bengaluru and Rs170 in Delhi.

9. Svami

Svami : Top D2C Non Alcoholic Brands in India

Svami, a rising star in the mixer beverage brand in India, has secured a total funding of $2.9 million, enabling its growth and innovation. As of March 31, 2022, the company reported an annual revenue of $1.17 million, contributing to its total revenue of $86.9 million for the same period. These financial metrics reflect Svami's aggressive expansion strategy and its potential for future profitability as it continues to establish its presence in the beverage sector in India.

The brand has collaborations with Gud Gum, Amazon Original Series Maradona, and Moët Hennessy India. Along with that, the brand created a ginge ale partnering with PCO.  

FAQ's on Top D2C Non-Alcoholic Beverage Brands in India 

1. What are some popular non-alcoholic beverage brands in India? 

  • Paper Boat: Known for traditional Indian drinks like Aam Panna, Jaljeera, and more.
  • Raw Pressery: Specializes in cold-pressed juices and smoothies.
  • Svami: Provides a variety of non-alcoholic tonics and sodas.

2. Are there any exclusive retail partnerships for non-alcoholic beverage brands in India?

Yes, some non-alcoholic beverage brands have exclusive retail partnerships:

Raw Pressery: Often partners with premium retail chains like Foodhall and Nature’s Basket.
Svami: Frequently found in high-end retail stores and exclusive hotel chains.
Coolberg: Available in select modern trade outlets and specialty stores.
Jimmy’s Cocktails: Stocks its products in upscale supermarkets and through direct-to-consumer platforms.
 

3. Which brands offer unique packaging and marketing strategies to attract retail consumers?

Brands offering unique packaging and marketing strategies include:

  • Paper Boat: Eye-catching packaging with a nostalgic theme, coupled with storytelling in marketing.
  • Raw Pressery: Clean, minimalistic packaging emphasizing health benefits, supported by influencer marketing.
  • Svami: Premium packaging targeting upscale consumers, using sophisticated branding and digital campaigns.
  • Jimmy’s Cocktails: Vibrant, attractive packaging with a focus on ready-to-drink convenience, marketed through social media and events.
     

4. What future trends can we expect for non-alcoholic beverages in the Indian retail market?

  • Health and Wellness: Increased demand for health-oriented drinks like cold-pressed juices, detox beverages, and functional drinks.
  • Sustainability: Eco-friendly packaging and sustainable production practices becoming key differentiators.
  • Flavor Innovations: Experimentation with unique and exotic flavors to cater to adventurous consumer palates.
  • Tech Integration: Use of technology for personalized marketing, direct-to-consumer sales, and enhanced consumer engagement.
  • Omnichannel Presence: Blending online and offline retail strategies for a seamless consumer experience.
     

5. How popular are Non-Alcoholic Beverages in India?

India’s non-alcoholic beverage industry is flourishing, propelled by a youthful, and increasingly prosperous demographic and backed by the availability of ample raw materials. The domestic market is poised to reach a size of $21.5 billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 6.72 percent over the next 4 years.

 

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D2C Impact on Natural Skincare Sales: Exploring How Direct-To-Consumer Models Affect The Sales Of Natural Skincare, Emphasising Engagement
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D2C Impact on Natural Skincare Sales: Exploring How Direct-To-Consumer Models Affect The Sales Of Natural Skincare, Emphasising Engagement
 

In the ever-changing landscape of the skincare industry, the rise of Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) models has been a transformative force, reshaping the way natural skincare products are sold and experienced. The fascinating world of  (D2C) marketing has had a profound impact on natural skincare sales, centered around the key element of customer engagement.

Lifting The Curtain: Enhanced Transparency: Transparency and sustainability have become critical for conscious consumers seeking for natural skincare solutions. D2C brands, equipped with the ability to communicate directly with their target audience, have the opportunity to showcase their meticulous sourcing practices, manufacturing ethics, and commitment to sustainability. This not only aligns with the values of environmentally conscious consumers but also develops a sense of trust and authenticity.

Tailoring Customer’s Skincare Journeys: D2C models build direct communication channels, allowing brands to offer their customers a personalized and customized experience. Through engaging interactions, brands gain insight into individual preferences, skin concerns, and feedback. This personal touch fosters a sense of connection, converting a transaction into a relationship. The skincare journey is transformed into a one-of-a-kind and personalized experience that resonates strongly with customers.

Building A Skincare Community: D2C brands thrive on community building, cultivating an environment where customers feel valued and connected. Exclusive benefits, early access to new products, special discounts, and loyalty rewards programs are the foundation of establishing a skincare community. This increases customer retention and also converts customers into brand advocates, which starts a chain reaction of positive word-of-mouth marketing.

Overcoming Geographical Barriers: Natural skincare brands that use direct-to-consumer methods are no longer constrained by traditional retail limitations. Brands can reach a broader audience, including those in remote areas, by moving beyond physical stores towards online platforms. The virtual shelf space has no boundaries, making it accessible to all those looking for high-quality natural skincare solutions.

Data-Driven Marketing:  In the age of analytics, direct-to-consumer brands use data to understand the nuances of customer preferences, behaviors, and purchasing patterns. This wealth of data is an extremely effective tool for targeted advertising and strategic marketing. Brands can create compelling campaigns that resonate with their customers and foster a deeper connection by acquiring a detailed understanding of their audience.

The Backbone of Brand Credibility: Trust is the backbone of successful direct-to-consumer natural skincare sales. Positive feedback, customer loyalty, and word-of-mouth recommendations increase a brand's credibility. When customers believe in the efficacy and quality of the products, trust increases. D2C models strengthen trust by promoting direct communication and community engagement, laying the foundation for long-term success.

The Online Advantage Offers Maximum Reach at Lower Prices: Online platforms and targeted marketing strategies enable D2C brands to reach a wide range of demographics and geographic locations. The low cost of online channels allows for maximum visibility, propelling brands into untapped markets and increasing market reach while eliminating the constraints of traditional retail overheads.

Real-Time Feedback Loops: Direct sales channels allow brands to create real-time feedback loops with their customers. This process of continual improvement enables brands to improve their products and services in response to community preferences and needs. The dialogue between brand and consumer grows into a dynamic collaboration, ensuring that skincare offerings evolve according to customer expectations.

Subscription Services: Subscription models are emerging as a strategic play for direct-to-consumer natural skincare brands. Brands can secure a steady stream of revenue by offering subscription services, as customers commit to receiving products regularly. This not only ensures consistent sales and cash flow but also strengthens the brand's relationship with its subscribers, ultimately leading to a loyal customer base.

Social Media Influence: Influencers have a significant influence on consumers in today's social media age. D2C natural skincare brands can tap into this power by collaborating with influencers who authentically represent their brand's values. User-generated content (UGC) which demonstrates real people using the brand's products is valuable social proof. Utilizing this content across social media platforms and the brand's website creates a compelling narrative that appeals to potential customers.

Conclusion: Direct-to-consumer (D2C) models have a significant impact on natural skincare sales. Enhanced transparency, personalized experiences, community building, increased accessibility, data-driven marketing, trust-building, online reach, feedback loops, subscription services, and social media influence all contribute to a shift in the way consumers perceive and interact with natural skincare brands. As brands navigate this transformative landscape, the key is to harness the power of direct-to-consumer models to not only sell products but also build long-term relationships with a community of skincare enthusiasts. The future of natural skincare sales is more than just a transaction; it's an immersive experience in which brands and consumers interact to create a narrative of beauty, authenticity, and sustainability.

 

Authored By

Himan

Himanshu Sharma, Co-founder & Managing Director, ORGATRE

 

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The Digital Disruption: How D2C Brands are Revolutionizing Menopause Retail
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The Digital Disruption: How D2C Brands are Revolutionizing Menopause Retail
 

In today's rapidly evolving retail landscape, one of the most transformative forces is the rise of Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands. In this article, we'll explore how the digital disruption is being harnessed by D2C brands to transform menopause retail, and why this shift presents a compelling opportunity for investors and venture capitalists.

The E-commerce Revolution 

E-commerce has surged to prominence in recent years, becoming an integral part of everyday life for consumers around the globe. This revolution, characterized by the ease of online shopping and the convenience of doorstep delivery, has been particularly embraced by D2C brands, transforming how women access menopause wellness solutions. Here's how D2C brands are leading the digital disruption:

1. Seamless Online Shopping: D2C brands have mastered the art of seamless online shopping experiences, simplifying the purchase process and offering personalized recommendations that resonate with menopausal women.

2. Targeted Marketing: D2C brands leverage data-driven insights to precisely target their audience. This ensures that menopausal women receive tailored messages and product offerings, enhancing their shopping experience.

3. Product Transparency: D2C brands prioritize product transparency, providing detailed information about ingredients and sourcing. Menopausal women can make informed choices based on their preferences and values.

4. Accessibility and Convenience: D2C brands emphasize accessibility and convenience, enabling women to shop for menopause wellness products from the comfort of their homes, eliminating the need for in-person purchases.

5. Digital Engagement: D2C brands engage with their customers through digital channels, fostering a sense of community and trust. Social media, email newsletters, and online forums provide platforms for women to share their experiences and seek support.

The Investment Appeal 

The digital transformation of menopause retail, led by D2C brands, offers significant investment appeal:

1. Market Growth: The D2C menopause market is experiencing rapid growth, with a projected global market value exceeding USD 10 billion by 2025. Investors recognize the potential for substantial returns in this expanding sector.

2. Scalability: D2C businesses can scale rapidly compared to traditional brick-and-mortar stores, making them an attractive option for investors seeking growth opportunities.

3. Data-Driven Decision-Making: D2C brands excel in data-driven decision-making, using consumer insights to refine their offerings and marketing strategies. Investors can leverage this data for informed investment decisions.

4. Digital Innovation: Online retailers, especially D2C brands, are at the forefront of digital innovation. They continuously explore new product categories and implement advanced customer engagement techniques. Investors can support and benefit from such innovations.

5. Portfolio Diversification: Investing in D2C ventures diversifies investment portfolios and reduces reliance on traditional retail, which has faced challenges in recent times.

Navigating the D2C Wave 

For investors considering entry into the D2C menopause retail space, understanding the nuances is crucial:

1. Market Research: Conduct thorough market research to identify gaps in the D2C menopause landscape, areas of unmet need, and potential niches for investment.

2. Customer-Centric Approach: Focus on providing a customer-centric experience. This includes responsive websites, intuitive interfaces, secure payment options, and excellent customer support.

3. Data Security: Prioritize data security and privacy, assuring customers that their personal information is safe and handled responsibly.

4. Content Marketing: Invest in content marketing to educate and engage consumers. High-quality content builds trust and establishes authority in the field.

5. Adaptability: The D2C landscape is dynamic, with ever-changing trends and technologies. Stay adaptable and open to incorporating new features and strategies as the digital landscape evolves.

Tamanna Singh    

 

    Author: Tamanna Singh, Co-Founder, Menoveda

 

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Beyond Boundaries: The Impact of Indian D2C Brands on Wearables and Hearables
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Beyond Boundaries: The Impact of Indian D2C Brands on Wearables and Hearables
 

In recent years, India has emerged as a hub for D2C brands. These brands are revolutionizing the way consumers interact with products and are reshaping various industries. One of the most notable areas where Indian D2C brands are making a significant impact is the wearable and hearable market. According to the International Data Corporation India's report, wearable device market grew 53.3% YoY in the first half of 2023 and TWS earwear market share in India has made a record 65.5%, growing 52.9% YoY. 

This rapidly evolving sector, which includes smartwatches, fitness trackers, and wireless earbuds, is witnessing a remarkable surge in innovation due to the creative process of these homegrown brands. Indian D2C brands are not only offering high-quality products at affordable prices, but they are also providing innovative features and designs that are tailored to the needs of Indian consumers. As a result, Indian D2C brands are gaining a strong foothold in the wearable and hearable market. They are also helping to make these products more accessible to a wider range of consumers. This is a trend that is likely to continue in the years to come, as Indian D2C brands continue to innovate and disrupt the market.

Unleashing Innovation and Customization in the Wearable and Hearable Market
D2C brands have revolutionized the wearable and hearable market by unleashing innovation and customization. One of the keyways that the wearable and hearable D2C brands are unleashing innovation is by using new technologies to create more advanced products. In addition to technological advancements, D2C brands are also focusing on customization. They are giving consumers the ability to choose the features, colors, and designs of their products. By unleashing innovation and customization, D2C brands are creating a new era of wearable and hearable products that are more personalized, more advanced, and more satisfying for consumers.

Localized Design and Features
Understanding the diverse Indian market, D2C brands are infusing local flavors into their products. This approach not only helps in capturing the essence of the country's culture but also addresses specific regional needs. For instance, some brands have developed wearables optimized for fitness activities like yoga and cricket, catering to the unique preferences of Indian consumers. This blend of functionality and cultural relevance has struck a chord with consumers, leading to increased adoption rates.

Conscious Consumerism and Emotional Connection
Modern consumers seek narratives that resonate with their values, extending beyond mere product offerings. Indian D2C brands, often rooted in small entrepreneurial ventures, infuse their wearables and hearables with stories of passion, perseverance, and innovation. This emotional connection, coupled with support for local businesses, propels these brands into the forefront of consumer consciousness.

Driving economic growth in India
Indian D2C brands in the wearable and hearable market is driving economic growth in India. These brands are establishing manufacturing units, investing in research and development, and creating employment opportunities. This is leading to increased production, innovation, and spending, which is boosting the economy. Moreover, their successes are inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs to explore innovative business models and contribute to India's emergence as a global technological powerhouse.

Quality at Affordable Prices
Indian D2C brands offer high-quality wearable and hearable devices at affordable prices. They achieved this by cutting out intermediaries and selling directly to consumers. This allowed them to maintain a tight grip on their supply chains and pass on the savings to the buyers. As a result, a wider range of consumers can now experience the benefits of these devices.

Embracing the Digital Era: E-Commerce and Accessibility
The digital age has facilitated an unprecedented level of accessibility, enabling D2C brands to reach consumers across the length and breadth of the country. E-commerce platforms have emerged as crucial allies, providing a platform for these brands to showcase their products and engage with potential buyers. This shift to online retail has not only expanded their reach but has also democratized access to innovative wearable and hearable solutions, ensuring that technology becomes an integral part of every Indian's life.

Conclusion
Indian D2C brands have shaken up the wearable and hearable market, introducing a new era of innovation, affordability, and personalization. By catering to local needs, embracing sustainability, and seamlessly integrating technology, these brands are setting new standards for the industry. As the wearable and hearable market continues to grow, the impact of Indian D2C brands is only likely to increase, cementing their position as game-changers in the global technology landscape.

xczxc
Jigar Mehta, founder and CEO of numBer

Jigar Mehta is the founder and CEO of numBer, who always had a vision of building a legacy for himself, just like his father and grandfather. With his expertise in graphics and designing, he decided to create his own brand, numBer Fone Co. to offer an Indianized range of smart wearable and hearable.

 

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The Role of D2C in Educating Consumers About Supplements
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The Role of D2C in Educating Consumers About Supplements
 

In today's health-conscious world, the demand for dietary supplements is on the rise. As consumers seek ways to enhance their well-being, the dietary supplement industry has grown exponentially. However, this surge in popularity has also led to an inundation of products on the market, making it increasingly challenging for consumers to navigate the complex landscape of supplements. This is where Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands have stepped in, not only as providers of supplements but also as educators and guides for consumers. In this article, we will explore the pivotal role of D2C in educating consumers about supplements.

The Dilemma of Choice

Walking into a health store or browsing through an online marketplace, consumers are confronted with an overwhelming array of supplements, each promising to be the panacea for their specific health concerns. The plethora of choices can leave consumers feeling confused and uncertain about which supplements are genuinely beneficial and safe for them. This is where D2C brands have found their niche.

D2C Brands as Educators

  • Transparency: D2C brands have been instrumental in promoting transparency in the dietary supplement industry. They provide detailed information about the composition of their products, including the sources of ingredients, manufacturing processes, and third-party testing. This transparency helps consumers make informed decisions, ensuring that they know exactly what they are putting into their bodies.
  • Education through Content: D2C brands are not merely interested in selling products; they are also dedicated to educating consumers. Many of them create informative content, such as blog posts, videos, and webinars, that explain the science behind supplements, their benefits, potential side effects, and proper usage. This empowers consumers with knowledge and fosters a sense of trust in the brand.
  • Community Building: D2C brands often foster communities around their products. This enables consumers to share their experiences, ask questions, and learn from others. These communities serve as valuable resources for individuals seeking advice and information about supplements.

Quality Assurance

One of the biggest concerns in the supplement industry is quality control. D2C brands take this issue seriously by implementing rigorous quality assurance processes. They frequently conduct third-party testing to ensure that their products meet stringent quality standards. By doing so, they instill confidence in consumers that the supplements they are purchasing are safe and effective.

Challenges and Future Prospects

While D2C brands have made significant strides in educating consumers about supplements, they still face challenges. The lack of regulation in the supplement industry can make it difficult for consumers to differentiate between trustworthy D2C brands and less reputable ones. Furthermore, the sheer volume of information available can be overwhelming for consumers, leading to information fatigue.

In the future, D2C brands are likely to continue playing a pivotal role in supplement education. However, to address these challenges, they may need to work collectively to establish industry standards and guidelines that promote transparency and ensure product quality. Additionally, the use of advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning could further enhance the personalization of supplement recommendations.

Conclusion

In an era where information is abundant but often contradictory, D2C brands have emerged as valuable allies for consumers seeking to make informed choices about dietary supplements. Their commitment to transparency, customization, education, and quality assurance has reshaped the way consumers approach supplementation. As the dietary supplement industry continues to evolve, D2C brands will remain essential in guiding consumers on their journey toward better health and well-being.

 

About the Author

Doctor's Choice, the “Number One” source for all ‘Supplements and Vitamins’ needs. We're dedicated to giving the very best quality of supplement products, with a focus on compositions that will work 100%, scientifically designed and formulated with natural ingredients. Our company was founded on the principles that nobody should never settle for the second best. Our products are designed and formulated by a team of International researchers, keeping in mind the needs of an athlete, fitness freak and a gym goer.

Ankit Jha, Founder and CMO, DC Doctor's Choice

Doctor's Choice, is the “Number One” source for all ‘Supplements and Vitamins’ needs. The brand is dedicated to offering the very best quality supplement products, with a focus on compositions that will work 100 percent, scientifically designed and formulated with natural ingredients. Founded on the principle that nobody should ever settle for the second best, the brand products are designed and formulated by a team of International researchers, keeping in mind the needs of an athlete, fitness freak, and gym goer.

 

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How Beauty Marketplace Vanity Wagon is Turning Risks into Opportunity?
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How Beauty Marketplace Vanity Wagon is Turning Risks into Opportunity?
 

In the last couple of years, a lot of B2C buyers and sellers have gone digital colossally. It started out as a desperate necessity and has now become the now normal. Even though the brands and business owners are trying to eke out, D2C brand Vanity Wagon has proved relatively resilient.

Given the realities of staying at home and mask-wearing, skin-care and hair-care products appear to be finding new customers furthering self-care and pampering trends. Vanity Wagon recorded the sales of face serums to be 22.18 percent of their total sales on the second weekend of November 2021. 

They have reported a boom in the sales of hair care products too. Shampoos made up to 25 percent of their total sales on the same weekend. Undoubtedly, consumers’ purchasing choices reveal that they are keen to keep their bodies pampered and refreshed while they are stuck at home. Seeing the figures, it is safe to say that skin-care and hair care products are selling like hot cakes in the post covid time.

All this while, consumers have moved vividly towards online channels and the skincare companies and brands have responded in turn remarkably. Those who prioritized their digital transformation are agile and are able to keep their businesses running from their homes and are better equipped for success. Some brands are reimagining their products and reinventing the traditional business chain into a customer experience chain.

READ MORE: How Vanity Wagon is Planning to Become a One-Stop-Shop For Clean Beauty Products

“The market is accelerating, thanks to digitalization. It has never been easier to discover, explore and shop clean beauty. It seems to be a frontrunner in future growth. Digitalization created an opportunity for us to bring the beauty industry to a broader consumer audience that wants to have cruelty free, eco-conscious and authentic products. Not just the customers but the brands have also harnessed the capability of e-commerce pretty well. Clean beauty brands, these days, are becoming purpose-driven, digital savvy, clinically backed and affordable.  It’s good to see more brands are willing to tap the market.” says Prateek Ruhail, CEO and Co-founder of Vanity Wagon.

Vanity Wagon recorded a GMV of Rs 48.35 lakh in July 2021 which is 211 percent more than what was recorded in July 2020. The online retail sales increased by 314 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 and further increased to 113 percent in 2021 compared to 2020. Even in not-so-pleasant times, Vanity Wagon has grown at such a breakneck speed and its growth is attributable to the unique position it holds amongst a variety of trends like increasing interest for self-care products, skin-minimalism routines and regimes.

Since the inception of the brand in 2018, Vanity Wagon has grown from a 15-brand company to 185 now and their affiliate network has now reached a remarkable 500-member team from 98 in March 2020.

 

 

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The Next Frontier: New Models of Indian Commerce
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The Next Frontier: New Models of Indian Commerce
 

As Indian commerce evolves, the most critical question is, what new models of commerce allow businesses to serve the needs of the next billion Indians?

What are New Models of Commerce, and Why Do They Matter?

As e-commerce in India matures and as we’ve seen across other countries such as China, new models of commerce come up that allow businesses to reach and service the consumer in new innovative ways.

In this context, the theory of 'Distribution and Demand', as noted by Tech-writer Ben Thompson, is of utility. Thompson distinguishes between 'Distribution' and 'Discovery'. Distribution is essentially the ability to get your product to the consumer. Discovery, on the other hand, is the ability for you to be discovered by consumers. As a business, the obvious aim is to be discovered by the maximum number of consumers at the lowest cost and serve the largest number of them, again at the lowest cost.

New models aim to play on these two aspects of distribution and discovery, to create economic value. Additionally, it is essential to realize that when any new channel of discovery or distribution comes up, competition increases over time. Quite simply, it costs a business increasingly higher amounts of money to make consumers discover their products and buy their products as competitors crowd the channels of discovery and distribution. The one exception being when the channel of discovery and distribution is 'proprietary', i.e., the business has an exclusive monopoly on its use.

To understand the above concept better, let us peek into the past as businesses transformed from existing purely in the physical world to e-commerce. Before the prevalence of e-commerce, physical stores were required for distribution so that the business could reach the consumer. Additionally, the stores also offered discovery. If consumers walked past a store, they discovered products, thereby driving purchasing decisions. A fragmented Ad market largely drove the discovery component, as Ben Thompson points out in his article 'Ad Agencies and Accountability'. Therefore, to compete in retail, not only would I need to set up my stores, but I would also need to tackle a fragmented ad market for driving discovery.

How Did the Advent of the Internet Change Commerce?

The advent of the internet and e-commerce changed that. The process got rapidly charged with businesses such as Shopify emerging in the last two decades that made selling on the internet easily and cheap. Essentially, as Thompson points out, distribution was available for free on the internet. To compete with an existing business, I did not have to make a significant capital expenditure for setting up a store but could do so on the internet for thirty dollars a month.

However, discovery on the internet, as Thompson points out, is an entirely different issue. If I have a website, how do I get consumers to show up? If the distribution is free, discovery on the internet meant getting web traffic, which had significant costs. The world of online discovery has evolved through influencers, content, subscriptions, etc., all aimed at lowering the cost of discovery, even as the space became more crowded.

Why Do New Models of Commerce Come Up?

With the above discussion in the background, one can see that new models of commerce come up to aid in distribution and, most importantly, discovery. Distribution and discovery are also very context-dependent in terms of countries, cultures, and social structures. China illustrates the Asian story that as the e-commerce ecosystem of Alibaba and JD matured, new models of commerce, such as Pinduoduo, Alibaba’s New Retail, and Shihuituan, based around agents (differentiated distribution and discovery), phygital (merging of the physical and online worlds), bundling of goods (bundling theory) emerged to drive new ways of driving discovery and distribution.

India stands at a stage where 90 percent of commerce in India still happens offline at the unorganized retail stores. Technology solutions aimed at this space have been more about driving efficiency or creating ease and have been horizontal solutions. However, few, if any, have been able to address the need to create new ways of distribution and discovery. That said, as the future evolves, the question isn’t so much about what is online, as it is about who can use technology and the digital world to come up with business models that can drive discovery and distribution over and above what exists today.

How Do We Create New Markets to Unlock Economic Value?

The future holds value in terms of creating business models that can unlock new economic value by creating new markets through a vertical solution. The models of commerce that emerged in China found innovative ways within the cultural and social context to drive discovery, create demand, and fulfill the demand. As Indian commerce evolves, the ability to find unique ways to reach the consumer and make the consumer transact with the help of technology will be the winners of the Indian commerce story in the decades to come. As Indian business models in telecom and banking have shown, the future business models may look very different from what industries in the developed economies look at by the time a Billion Indians truly access a product and service.

 

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How D2C is Likely to Shape the E-Commerce Industry in 2021
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How D2C is Likely to Shape the E-Commerce Industry in 2021
 

D2C e-commerce is a digital business model where product manufacturers can sell their products directly to consumers through their websites without relying on intermediaries. This way, they don't have to rely on traditional stores for marketing and selling. Additionally, D2C allows brands to connect with their customers directly, establish long-term relationships, and understand their pros and cons.

D2C is equally beneficial to customers as well. Direct purchase from brands enables customers to buy the products at discounted rates and receive comprehensive information and better knowledge about the brand. According to Invesco, more than 50 percent of the consumers opt to visit D2C brand websites than retailer websites because they offer more comprehensive information and guides.

Fuelled by over 47 million internet users in India, e-commerce is at an all-time high, with more brands seizing the opportunity to reach users through D2C.

Why 2021 Will Be the Year of Direct-To-Consumer?

2021 will see a sharp growth in D2C sales more than ever before. Several D2C brands have taken over social media and digital spaces to reach out to their target audience. A report by Avendus on D2C Brands: Disrupting the next decade of shopping states that new-age brands are eyeing a $100 billion opportunity in India by 2025 as D2C brands are set to disrupt the way India shops in the coming decade.

D2C Builds on Customer Experience

Consumers are more inclined towards customized solutions and services obtained without stepping out of their homes. D2C offering both made it rise in popularity. D2C companies are customer-centric and offer personalized solutions and discounts to their customers. Most brands focus on content customization, digital solutions, loyalty programs, quality enhancement, product customization, and more to provide a holistic customer experience to their buyers.

Last year when the pandemic set in, D2C saw a rise in niche brands across various categories like essentials, furniture, cosmetics, home decor, and furnishing sector. The demand for essentials topped the charts, with work-from-home becoming a norm in organizations.

The Increasing Demand for Essentials

The pandemic has changed people’s purchase patterns, and they are shopping for home wear and essentials more. Since work from home has become the norm for the past 1.5 years, D2C apparel brands have seen a steep growth trajectory, with more and more people looking for comfortable clothing and fashionable leisurewear than ever before. As work from home continues, this pattern is likely to increase in 2021.

Leveraging Technology

Most e-commerce platforms use AI to offer a personalized shopping experience to customers by understanding their purchase products and understand their grievances. D2C is ls tapping AI to its full potential to provide customized recommendations and increase conversions

With the increase in demand, D2C (direct-to-consumer) has been exploiting all marketing possibilities like global distribution, price tactics, understanding customer needs and habits, and offering customized solutions and points of sale. It is sure to see a forward growth with more businesses shifting to D2C strategically and intelligently to tap the potential of knowing their customer better, reducing dependencies, and having more control over the brand.

 

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How to Succeed with a D2C Business Model
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How to Succeed with a D2C Business Model
 

The rules continue to change and evolve as we live through a pandemic. The world has shifted focus online and the Direct-to-Consumer strategy provides the perfect space for a consumer to shop without moving out from the safe confines of their homes.

With the growing volatile, online climate, going D2C is the best way for a start-up to enter the online consumer space and create a unique space for its products. A strong online marketing strategy, great online presentation via a UX and UI-friendly website, and a scalable product or offerings will help to compete against existing competitors who might already have a great fan following.

Let’s look at a few key drivers that can help in building a long-term sustainable D2C business model.

A great idea nurtures a scalable product

The idea could be a simple one but powerful in its execution. It could probably be your calling or passion but may have the potential to help millions with its shea cause that most hold true to their hearts. Once the idea or the offering has been locked in, put it across to your team or your mentors and get feedback on its pros and cons. Changer commitment to e is the only constant in the business world and it may take some time for your idea to pick up and make a splash. Patience is a business virtue in this case. Hopefully, your idea should have a ripple effect and grow into more sub-ideas that have the power to support the main one and bring in profits.

Make your brand content-driven

Every great D2C brand ever created was once an unknown name until its product became a household name. Try and name your products such that they have great brand recall and are easily remembered by people across all age groups. Do remember that Direct 2 Consumer is actually Human 2 Human in disguise and it makes sense to keep your content simple, easy, relatable, and with a great call to action. The human touch has to be evident in all your engagements and forming a relationship with the consumer to provide a solution should top the list of your marketing and sales team instead of pushing the product aggressively via pop-up ads and heavy marketing. To engage with everyone that shares your stories or comments on your page or even DMs you on your social platforms. These are your core audience who are truly interested in what you display. Make sure you are up to date with all the features that make your page or feed feature high on the platform’s algorithm. Use applications to track your emailers. Post video testimonials, create ‘How To’ videos where experts give out tips. Curate easily downloadable newsletters which talk about all the updates which have been happening and invite your readers to share anecdotes, interviews, or even personal experiences which will add to the original content. UGC (user-generated content) is one of the best ways to stay connected with your customer and also gives them the feeling of contributing in a significant way towards brand building.

Build a seamless UI/UX website and application

Do not lose out to your competitors just because your website does not download easily or does not have a user-friendly interface. A well-designed user experience can increase conversion rates up to 400% and reduce the bounce rates of your website. Keep it simple, clean, and legible for people to understand your brand story. If your target group is in tier two cities, don’t hesitate to go multilingual. This will create a better channel of communication with a wider audience. Create an application to complement your website. Do not add unnecessary features. Keep your core sell easy to spot and access at all times for the end-user.

Form a community

A community helps you to keep working for the betterment of your cause. It brings people together. It is your target audience that believes in your product, trusts you to keep coming with innovative products, and knows that your team will never fail them. Ensure that you remain connected with this community by sharing educational and informative content, hold Live Sessions on online platforms focussed on discussions and interactions. Your eyes and ears should be close to the community as you will get a lot of insights about your brand, your competitors, and even the public sentiment about social issues and causes which will help to improve and enhance your brand. Each member of this community will indirectly be your brand ambassador once they are sold on your product and will bring traffic to your website or buy your online products since they will be micro-influencers on their own.

Engage, engage & engage with your target group

Half the battle is won when you have a sticky customer base, the other half is won when you keep churning innovative products that appeal to the hassle-free sentiment of your target audience. Running regular giveaways, promotions, powerful campaigns, fun contests, and discounts makes your customer happy to keep heading back to your website to look for something new. Add in a referral scheme that is smart and pays its due to your OG customer who brings in 40+ odd people to your website with his influence. Use celebrity influencers or then incentivize your micro-influencers and form collaborations that have a mutual intention of being beneficial to your cause.

Build your public relations strategy

Authored articles by the founder, educative pieces by the experts sharing anecdotes on certain topics, news features by prominent publishing houses, guest blogs, funding updates about new investors who hopped on the bandwagon, creating advertisements in the local dialect are surefire ways to get more eyeballs on your product and brand. Structured press releases about new product launches, be it print or online are great ways to ensure that your brand remains in the public eye. This also attracts its fair share of new investors who would like to invest in your product.

Train your team to interact flawlessly with your customer be it through feedback calls, customer support, emails, etc. The basic intention should be to serve and not get defensive and blame the user for discrepancies. Don’t forget to carry out confidence-building exercises with your team. Organize workshops that will empower them. You will learn more about your customer as you dive deeper into the customers’ psyche and understand their pain points. Facebook Ads, Google Ads, YouTube Ads, Instagram Ads will always be your allies when it comes to scaling your D2C brand but let your online footprint speak for itself and ensure that you get maximum organic growth to really top the industry. 

 

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The Tunes of Champions
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The Tunes of Champions
 

Music has the unique power to influence our emotional states and mindset, and can equally be used to relax us or get us pumped up in the face of a challenge. Understandably then, most professional athletes have thought long and hard about what tunes put them in the right frame to achieve victory. The cost for miscalculating can be disastrous, as when Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios blamed his poor start in 2014’s Wimbledon tournament on his decision to listen to Canadian rapper Drake before his opening match. We take a look here at the tunes that have successfully propped up some of the world’s great sporting champions.

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods has certainly stumbled across a winning formula, as his 82 All-Time PGA Tour wins roundly testify. Known for his lucky red shirt, Tiger likes to listen to a huge playlist of some 300 hip-hop tracks when he’s training, though when he really needs to get the blood pumping he opts for 80s glam rockers Van Halen. When questioned on the subject, Woods admitted that he wants to do nothing more than rock out in his later years. His love of Van Halen led to him striking up a friendship with late front-man, Eddie Van Halen. The band even headlined Tiger Woods’ fundraising concert Tiger Jam XI back in 2008 and raised $1.5 million for the youth advocacy with the Tiger Woods Foundation.

Fintan Hand

Professional poker player Fintan Hand relies on the power of nostalgia in order to perform at his best when the chips are down. He says he loves listening to the classics he was raised on, from rock acts Queen and Bruce Springsteen to Swedish pop group Abba. But when he really needs to get into the zone he goes for Irish electronic music producer Mark McCabe’s number 1 dance hit, 'Maniac 2000'. Hand says he’ll always listen to this track if he makes it to the final of a tournament.

The Tunes of Champions

Wayne Rooney

Former Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney scored a total of 253 goals during his time with the team, making him the highest goal scorer in the illustrious football club’s history. Perhaps the secret to his success is his love of the Welsh rock band The Stereophonics. In 2008 he immortalized his fandom of the 90s garage rockers by tattooing the name of their third album on his arm. The title 'Just Enough Education to Perform' can arguably be read as an inspirational slogan, reminding Rooney that he is perfectly possessed with the requisite faculties to win the day.

Serena Williams

Tennis champion Serena Williams is partial to a bit of Kelly Clarkson and P!nk when she’s training, but favors one song above all others when it comes to setting the right vibe for match day. She states that she’s always singing the same song in her head, the admittedly catchy theme song of the 1983 movie Flashdance. The song, titled 'What a Feeling' and performed by American singer-songwriter Irene Cara, is one of the all-time great motivational tracks. Williams points to its empowering and intense lyrics as well as its upbeat rhythm as reasons why it’s her go-to pre-game tune.

Michael Jordan

Basketball superstar Michael Jordan is no stranger to peculiar game-day rituals. It’s widely reported that Jordan used to wear his UNC college basketball shorts beneath his Chicago Bulls kit in major games. The shorts took him to the NCAA championship in 1982 and had served him well through no less than 6 finals with the Chicago Bulls in the game’s top flight league, the NBA. But Jordan didn’t solely rely on a pair of magic shorts to seal the deal. In the wake of his match-winning shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 1989, he disclosed to a curious reporter that his pre-game theme song was R&B singer-songwriter Anita Baker's 1988 hit 'Giving You the Best That I Got'. Jordan, explaining the sound reasoning behind this choice, states: “Just go out and give it your all, and that’s what I did”.
 

 

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80 pc of High-Street Retail Markets Saw Dip in Rent in 2020
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80 pc of High-Street Retail Markets Saw Dip in Rent in 2020
 

Delhi's upscale Khan Market has witnessed a 14 percent decline in rental during the last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and is ranked 21st in the most expensive high-street retail location in the Asia Pacific region.

Around 80 percent of Indian high-street retail markets experienced declines in rent during this period, the property consultant, Cushman & Wakefield, said in its latest Main Streets report.

The top three most expensive cities for retail remain Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Sydney.

Regionally, among the worst-impacted was Hong Kong's premier shopping district of Causeway Bay, which saw a 43 percent fall in rent to HK$ 870 per sq. ft. per month.

"Among Indian high-streets, Khan Market saw a 14 percent decline in 2020 and slipped out of the top 20 most expensive markets in the APAC region," the consultant said.

Khan Market continues to be the most expensive retail market in India with a rent of US$ 195 per sq.ft., followed by Connaught Place in the national capital.

Cushman & Wakefield noted that India entered the pandemic in strong form with upward pressure on rents in main streets across the major cities in the country.

However, the start of lockdowns from Q2 2020 stalled the momentum, and transactions have declined even as markets gradually re-opened in H2 2020.

The ongoing wave of lockdowns that occurred across the country at different times and for varying lengths resulted in an average decline in rents of around 9 percent, but this ranged from 18 percent and 14 percent in Kolkata and Bengaluru respectively to more benign declines of less than 2 percent in Chennai and Ahmedabad.

"The APAC region has the world's 64 percent smartphone users and the largest share of global e-commerce at US$ 2.5 trillion of the global total of US$ 3.9 trillion. That makes it easier to comprehend why the pandemic forced buyers to tilt towards online shopping,” Anshul Jain, Managing Director India, and South East Asia said.

Even in the last quarter of 2020 when the markets began to open and main streets began experiencing improved footfalls, people across the region continued to shop online.

"And with the second wave of the pandemic at its peak, partial lockdown imposed in several cities in India, e-commerce will continue to be the obvious preference till we ride out of the current situation," Jain said. 
 

 

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Mall Revenue to Grow By 45-55 pc this Fiscal?
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Mall Revenue to Grow By 45-55 pc this Fiscal?
 

The revenue of shopping malls is foreseen growing by 45-55 percent this fiscal after an expected 45 percent decline in fiscal 2021.

Accordingly, the expected growth will still be 15-20 percent below the pre-pandemic levels because of continuing waivers for some under-performing retail segments and the possibility of fresh waivers across segments due to mobility curbs following the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Crisil Ratings said.

"While fresh restrictions to curb the second wave of Covid-19 will affect retail sales, Crisil Ratings expects the debt servicing ability of the malls it rates to be largely intact in the near term because of strong sponsors and healthy liquidity."

Notably, the rated mall's average debt service coverage ratio is expected to decline by 10-15 percent but remain healthy.

According to Anuj Sethi, Senior Director, Crisil Ratings: "We foresee retail sales in malls declining significantly in the first quarter of this fiscal versus pre-pandemic levels because of fresh restrictions, and recovering gradually by the end of the first half. Retail sales are expected to be 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels for the second half of this fiscal, which may not warrant rental waivers."

"That would minimize the impact on rental income of mall owners. Accelerated vaccinations are crucial to retail sales revival, especially for non-essentials."
 

 

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India's Online Smartphone Market Hits Record 45 pc in 2020
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India's Online Smartphone Market Hits Record 45 pc in 2020
 

Led by Flipkart again, India’s online smartphone market reached it’s highest-ever share at 45 percent in 2020, registering a growth of seven per cent (on-year) in a pandemic-hit year.

Flipkart remained the top online platform with 48 percent share, followed by Amazon which captured 44 percent share. Amazon grew 34 percent (on-year) and was the fastest growing online platform, Counterpoint Research said.

Xiaomi remained the top online brand with a 40 percent market share driven by the Redmi as well as Poco brand smartphones.

With 19 percent, Samsung captured the second position in the India online smartphone market driven by the Galaxy M-series. Samsung captured more than one-third shipments on Amazon.

Realme was third in the online segment, also with 19 percent share.

According to Counterpoint, realme remained the top smartphone brand on Flipkart in 2020, registering a growth of 27 percent (on-year).

Vivo captured the fourth position due to strong shipments of the Y91i, Y20 and V20 series.

"OnePlus was the top online premium smartphone brand on Amazon and captured the fifth position in the overall online smartphone market," the report mentioned.

The top five brands in the online market captured more than 82 percent of the total shipments.

realme and Poco were the top smartphone brands on Flipkart, capturing more than 50 percent of the shipments on the platform.

The premium online smartphone market also registered a 22 percent (on-year) growth due to these strategies. Apple, OnePlus and Samsung drove this segment and contributed to almost 90 percent of the shipments in this segment.

"Major online brands are adopting a hybrid channel strategy and expanding their offline stores. Also, as the smartphone brands move to a more ecosystem strategy and multiple devices, the focus will be on consumer experience, which will further grow the offline segment," the findings showed.

Innovations such as O2O (online-to-offline) and financing schemes focusing on low-cost ownership and upgrades will also increase smartphone adoption in the country, the report added.

 

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Recovery in Apparel Retail Sector Expected to Continue in FY22
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Recovery in Apparel Retail Sector Expected to Continue in FY22
 

Apparel retail sector's recovery is expected to continue in FY22, on back of improving consumer confidence, resumption of store expansion by organised players and prospects of the vaccine rollout.

"Although the pressure on discretionary spending, possibility of a second wave of infection in certain states and subsequent travel restrictions continue to pose a threat to the recovery, improved cost structures, liquidity enhancement measures and omnichannel push should provide cushion to glide through the same," Ind-Ra said.

Besides, the ratings agency expects part of the cost rationalisation measures undertaken by retailers during the pandemic-led crisis to be sticky and sustain even after achieving business normalcy starting FY22, thereby structurally improving the margin profile of apparel retailers.

"Store expansionary capex reduced sharply in 1HFY21 on the back of the lack of business visibility."

"However, Ind-Ra expects the pace of expansion to accelerate in FY22, as the organised segment continues to gain market share from the unorganised segment along with an improvement in the operating environment and resumption in store rollout from 3QFY21, with particular focus on Tier II plus cities."

Furthermore, the ratings agency cited that while retailers have been pushing omnichannel offerings for the past few years, the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, forcing retailers to think broadly and invest more rapidly in them.

"Retailers will continue to allocate an important part of their capex to the development of omnichannel capabilities to widen their digital and customer interaction capabilities and thus complement the brick and mortar business."

In addition, the agency said with the survival phase following the pandemic now completed, the focus has shifted towards revival and growth.

 

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3rd-Party Logistics Shipments Grew 70 pc in D2C and ecommerce in India in Q4 2020
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3rd-Party Logistics Shipments Grew 70 pc in D2C and ecommerce in India in Q4 2020
 

As online shopping sees more adoption, the third-party logistics (3PL) shipments grew 70 percent in the month of October-December 2020, contributing 45 percent of the shipment volume for the D2C and e-tailing industry.

The 3PL shipped 750 million, which was a growth of 450 million from the period of July-September 2020.

"The 3PL has tremendous headroom to grow in eGrocery and foodtech as it completes merely 10 percent and 5 percent in those respective sectors," according to Bengaluru-based market intelligence firm RedSeer.

While 3PL has grown from 107 million shipments in July-September period in 2020, it has only grown by two million in the eGrocery space during the same period, which shows that it has a long way ahead.

Online retail in India has grown more than 3 times in the last four years and is only set to be bigger in the coming years.

"As customers become more aware and comfortable with online shopping, delivery experience will become a key parameter to retain and onboard customers, hence this report unveils some invaluable insights on this competitive market," the report noted.

Platforms such as Xiaomi, Decathlon and Dunzo came out as frontrunners in their respective sectors in terms of high delivery experience satisfaction.

While Captive logistics have taken prominence, third-party logistics (3PL) now also plays a key role.

"However, the role of 3PL players differ from one vertical to another. While it contributes highly for digitally native brands (DNB) and other emerging brands, it is still low in the e-grocery and foodtech space," the findings showed.

Owing to smaller scale, there is a definite need for partnerships with third party logistics platforms for last-mile fulfilment and with emergence of ‘delivery' as a key factor for driving customer satisfaction, "it is imperative for these brands/platforms to provide best of the class delivery experience to drive the overall customer satisfaction".

"Over the last one year, we have seen that while online shopping is seeing more adoption, delivery experience has become a key parameter to drive customer satisfaction," the report said.
 

 

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Kirana Stores Transform Their Approach to Daily Selling
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Kirana Stores Transform Their Approach to Daily Selling
 

Kirana stores from across India have gone through to fulfill the changing requirements of their consumers while facing a pandemic.

According to the new report by SnapBizz, the majority of Kirana stores have created some system where customers can order via the internet or through an app, in an attempt to safeguard themselves from losing their customers to e-commerce platforms. 

The study also shows how in 2020 there was an increase in spends per bill reflecting more items in a bill, price rises and switching to more expensive items due to supply shortage and migration of new shoppers with different shopping habits from modern trade to Kirana stores.

Prem Kumar, Founder & CEO states, “The consumer retail segment has witnessed rapid growth in terms of digitization of MSMEs in 2020. This was fuelled by the current COVID-19 era which brought in new opportunities in the retail sector specially for Kiranas. As a result, over a million Kiranas have gone digital in recent months and their stores have gone online by accepting online payments, ordering supplies online, managing inventory, etc. The technology cover now enables them to leverage their strengths like proximity, personal touch, and flexibility further to acquire new customers effortlessly.”

The report gives an in-depth analysis into food and non-food categories and a clear analysis on the effects of COVID and lockdowns on FMCG selling pattern, availability and pricing.

Key Findings:-

•    The staples categories witnessed a surge in baskets and spends by 20 percent even though the store presence had a marginal increase in 2020 vs. 2019; possibly due to more people working from home and eating out was limited for the greater part of the year. 
•    Most of the retailers (more than 90 percent) were not supported by distributors in terms of larger credit line or longer credit period; Adding to the working capital problem, more than 50 percent retailers had difficulty in collection from customers. However, overall, the credit bills have remained stable in 2020 compared to the previous year.
•    Home deliveries increased and 75 percent stores are working towards going online
•    80 percent of Kirana stores saw an increase in customers
•    Banking sector has become very involved in the Kirana eco-system
•    Sales were more consumption driven rather than price except for Dals and Pulses. It was observed that during lockdown and till Oct’20, the shopper spends increased significantly, however declined and went to pre-COVID-19 levels post that.
•     Overall, the consumer spends increased and this was primarily from the larger outlets than the smaller ones.
•    The consumer spends on categories like Snack Foods, Biscuits and Noodles also increased by 25 percent in 2020 and the same trend was noted except for Biscuits where the spends dropped in Nov’20.
•    Digital payments were on the rise in 2020, more through payment apps, and a lesser rise through credit/ debit cards which require more KYC formalities.
•    There was a spike of 50 percent in the share of spends in the food category in March but now it is coming back close to pre-COVID-19 levels even though it is still 18 percent higher than pre-lockdown days.
•    The Kirana stores continue to leverage online ordering apps to cater to the current consumers. The number of consumers that ordered from grocery stores via SnapOrder mobile app increased by 5x as compared to Pre-COVID-19 levels.
 

 

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How Shakedeal is a Game Changer in B2B E-Commerce Sector?
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How Shakedeal is a Game Changer in B2B E-Commerce Sector?
 

Established in the year 2016, Shakedeal is a B2B e-commerce platform that solves problems in the procurement and distribution space.

Working on their family business, brothers Akshay and AkashHegde witnessed multiple pain points including procurement issues like sub-optimal pricing, delivery service levels, and streamlined supply that posed production challenges. And, as they tried to grow the market for their goods, they saw an opportunity to bring down the cost of distribution while driving volumes, realizing higher margins, and improving cash cycles. Riding on the idea, Akshay, Akash, and their friend Santhosh Reddy (34) came up with the idea of Shakedeal.

Shakedeal is one of India’s largest procurement-focused e-commerce platforms. It also provides proprietary sourcing, procurement, and pricing intelligence tools that ensure and guarantee savings for procurement departments. ShakeDeal enables procurement through its proprietary negotiation software along with on-demand aggregate buying for reselling or consumption. It offers products such as power tools, hand tools, cement, cutting tools, office supplies, and packaging materials.

They are currently associated with over 10,000 SMEs and 200 + large enterprises such as Adani, Vedanta, Tata consumer products, Nayara Energy, Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, Shell, and Flipkart.

After a difficult year because of the economic shock caused by the pandemic-induced lockdown, the company witnessed a very quick rebound with revenues crossing the pre-covid level. The procurement sector is one of the sectors that have been a big beneficiary of the accelerated digitization seen post-pandemic.

Shakedeal has been chaperoning large enterprises in making this digital transformation in the procurement space. Talking about the path to profitability, Akshay said, “We have scaled our business more than 30x since 2018. We have managed to grow 300% compounded annually for the last two years now and seem to be well-positioned to clock similar growth this fiscal as well.”

Backed by the US-based Private Equity Firm Vora Ventures, Shakedeal has been successful in scaling the business as the company is now close to 100 cr annualized revenue run rate.

Going forward, Shakedeal is constantly seeking profit-pools and looking to unlock value by improving its value offerings around these areas.

 

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A Beginners Guide to Demat Account and Trading
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A Beginners Guide to Demat Account and Trading
 

Indian traders have covered a long journey starting from the days of offline trading to the period of understanding Demat Account meaning and online participation in the stock exchanges. It has been an overwhelming journey for long-term investors while a new and alien experience to the budding investors who are still at their learning stage. Here is a detailed guide for beginners to understand everything about Demat and trading accounts and how they help in performing trading activities in stock exchanges like the NSE (National Stock Exchange) and the BSE (Bombay Stock Exchange). After the SEBI (Stock and Exchange Board of India) came forward to mandate the use of the trading account, resulting in the compliance on having Demat Accounts, the picture of the Indian stock market has changed.

Without knowing about the tools of online trade, a trader cannot hope to succeed in his investment venture. Therefore, beginners should go through this article to get Demat Account explained and understand its usage too. With a brief introduction to the basics of Demat Account meaning, traders will be able to overcome their queries effortlessly.

What Is Demat and Trading Account?

Demat Account Meaning is a storage facility that the Depository Participants in the country offer to the stock market traders for storing their shareholding certificates electronically. These accounts do not come with any storage limit and there are no restrictions on the number of accounts that one can possess. All one has to worry about is finding the best Depository Participant in the county to avail the maximum benefits.

Trading accounts are also a service offered by the Depository Participants to help the investors perform online trading in the stock exchanges. Without a trading account, one can not get access to stock exchanges as per the SEBI guidelines. The SEBI has also simplified the trading account opening process for investors. Traders can easily open this account in the 2-in-1 facility where it gets automatically linked to the Demat Account.

The Three Essential Accounts For Online Trading

 

Sl. No.

Type of Account

Purpose in Online Trading

1.

 

General Savings Account

This one needs to be linked to the other two accounts to facilitate monetary transactions while buying and selling shares and securities.

2.

 

Trading Account

This account is mandatory for traders to participate in the trading activities of the stock exchanges in India.

3.

 

Demat Account

This account is the final destination where the traders can store the share certificates they buy using the other two accounts.

 

All these three accounts work in a link every time a trader buys or sells his shareholdings. The trading account gives access to the online stock exchanges, the savings account is for monetary transactions, and the Demat Account meaning is to hold the electronic form of bought share certificates.

Demat Accounts: Types And Features

The Demat Accounts have made investing in the stock market easier, safer, and more reliable than it was during its absence. The traders get three options while opening their accounts, and they have to choose the one that best suits their eligibility.

Regular Demat Accounts

The regular Demat Accounts are for investors who possess Indian citizenship and reside in the country. These accounts are best for regular as well as occasional investors as storing share certificates is safe.

Non-Repatriable Demat Accounts

The NRIs (Non-Resident Indians) who are temporarily residing in any other country but wish to invest in the Indian stock market need to open this account. It is termed as “non-repatriable” as the earnings from this account investments cannot be converted to any other currency.

Repatriable Demat Accounts

The NRIs who keep travelling from one country to another for work purposes while carrying the citizenship of India are eligible for this account. The balance of these accounts is transferable as well as convertible to foreign currencies, so it becomes easier for such investors to stay active and practise regular trade.

Exclusive Features of Demat Accounts

  • It helps in converting share certificates into electronic forms without making any difference to their value or significance.
  • It helps in the easy and quick transfer of shareholding certificates where traders do not have to wait for days to receive the postal services.
  • It can help an investor in availing personal loans by pledging his Demat Account balance to the banks.
  • It also allows one to avail the speed-e-facility from the Depository Participants.
  • The Demat Account meaning also enables the investors to freely perform their trading activities without having to worry about the safety of their assets.

The Benefits of Using Demat Accounts

The Demat Account meaning lays many benefits to the users and budding investors who are yet to sprawl their roots in the industry. With these advantages, it becomes easier for investors to manage their assets.

  • Demat Account offers swift and fast conversion of share certificates from their physical formation to the electronic form.
  • These accounts enable increased market participation and stock trading volume of investors. It also helps those who could not make the most of their resources due to lack of time and activity.
  • Demat Account meaning brings transparency between the traders, the Depository Participants and the market mechanism without compromising the efficiency of any of the three.
  • It eliminates the need for constant paperwork and postal activities as everything can be processed online.
  • It offers the gateway to convenient and direct communication with other investors in the circle as one can easily transfer his share certificates to his buyer’s account.
  • Demat Account meaning comes with nominal or zero risks involved depending upon the reliability of the Depository Participant one chooses.
  • The easy and user-friendly functioning of Demat Accounts increases the confidence of beginners and new traders.

The Demat Account meaning gives a new face to the stock trading industry as the investors have been able to overcome the miseries of maintaining physical documents. The best part about using these accounts is that one can get access to them directly through their smartphones and computers. Relish a radically different trading experience with the help of Demat and trading accounts.

 

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Making Supply Chain Ecosystem Stronger: How Food Grain Losses can be Minimized
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Making Supply Chain Ecosystem Stronger: How Food Grain Losses can be Minimized
 

India has been facing numerous challenges over the decades when it comes to the agricultural sector. One of the prominent ones out of many pertains to the distribution of food grains from storage facilities, distribution networks, and retailers. Even during seasons where there is a surplus due to better yield, it is often the case that supply chain hindrances undo the advantage. 

Reports suggest that there is approximately 30 percent wastage of food post-harvest at every stage. It is a huge number for a country like India, which struggles to feed a population of its size, as it is home to millions of malnourished and underfed children who have less than 2 meals a day. 

Moreover, the losses are occurring both at storage locations, as well as during transportation. Keeping track of the inventory without the assistance of technology and computers can be a daunting task. India now requires a stronger supply chain ecosystem that is integrated with blockchain enabled platforms and other technologies. 

Ways to Counter Food Grain Losses

With the advent of technology, things have surely begun to change in terms of better warehousing solutions for food grains. With a few changes, warehouses can adhere to some basic scientific practices, which can ensure better storage. Through these warehousing measures, about 10-15 percent of the losses could be saved, which could then have a great impact on the population in terms of pricing, as well as supply. 

However, the misconception for many has been that fixing warehouse management and storage operations of agricultural produce can resolve all supply chain-related issues. This cannot be further from the truth, as sound supply chain practices enable an environment to monetize agri-supplies in regions with external shortcomings as well. 

In the absence of requisite warehousing facilities in remote areas, efficient supply chains help farmers monetize their produce through facilitation of markets and purchasing agri-commodities at the appropriate time. In addition to this, several tech-enabled solutions are being launched of late, which provide agri-supply chain solutions in a bid to ease out the procedures for all stakeholders, including investors, retailers, and warehouses, etc.  

New-Age Solutions, Their Enablers, And Supply Chain Effectiveness

Emerging agri-commodities and trade finance companies have created an ecosystem wherein the complete supply chain is captured, from the producer to the processor and with impact at ground level through disintermediation and price discovery. Trade finance companies have also been launching blockchain enabled mobile applications, which provide better transparency and clarity in the procedures. They ensure that all transactions, commodity prices, purchasing and selling operations are performed through a transparent, efficient, and trustworthy, thereby allowing all stakeholders a skin in the game. Beyond such platforms and services start-ups are also catering to other requirements, through agri-commodity instruments such as pass through certificates (PTCs) to institutional investors, who are keen on making financial gains from the agri-commodities market. The national government on its part is encouraging more agri-based initiatives from entrepreneurs to eradicate abject poverty and food grain loss. 

As compared to other commodity markets, agri-commodities trade generates a lot more liquidity due to the sheer size and nature of localized operations. However, for the reasons of efficiency, the establishment of robust supply chain procedures is a requirement. It ensures that the liquidity in the ecosystem leads to seamless buying and selling. When there is a lack of liquidity at any stage of the process, it brings limitations to the trade. This in return affects the movement of goods, transparency and other restrictions, which further leads to unnecessary delays, pilferage, loss of food grains, and quality issues such as spoilage of agri-produce.    

Taking a Holistic Approach 

All elements of the supply chain have to fall into place for a smooth running of a system that operates both at the local and national levels. Location-wise efficiencies can be achieved only if the complete ecosystem functions to certain standards, and the harmonization of these basic practices. Like any other industry which depends on the smooth running of end-to-end operations for its success, supply chain management is far too comprehensive to be confined to silos such as just storage, trade, or financing. 

All the above aspects need to be addressed, like in the case of the emerging agri-tech companies that are bringing tech-enabled solutions coupled with a 360-degree understanding of the agricultural ecosystem for all stakeholders. Through the elimination of middlemen who affect pricing, food grain pilferage, and untrustworthy transactions, the investors and retailers will be able to pay the right price for the commodity. They will not need to consult with local operators and waste precious time every time they have to take a financial decision. 
 

 

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New Normal 2021: Tech Logistics Trends?
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New Normal 2021: Tech Logistics Trends?
 

The pandemic has driven unprecedented change across industries and one such industry that has been at the forefront of disruptions is the supply chain and logistics. Enterprises across industries be it retail, grocery, e-commerce or manufacturing are increasing investments in areas that will make their supply chain and logistics operations resilient in the coming year. The impact of the ongoing pandemic will sprawl over 2021, hence it’s only logical to expect those new supply chain and logistics trends that emerged in 2020 to lead the way next year. Let’s quickly glance through some of these.

Increase in Mail-Order Drug Delivery

Lockdowns during the onset of the pandemic triggered a sudden spike in mail-order drug delivery. For instance in March, mail-order prescriptions grew 21 percent in the US from the previous year to bring their share of the prescription drug market to 5.8 percent, the highest share in at least two years, the WSJ reported. Pfizer said that for patients in its assistance program, it is sending more medicines directly and extending shipments from 30-day to 60-day supplies. Now with lockdown restrictions being relaxed across the globe, people are continuing to buy medicines online as online pharmacy providers are making onboarding customers easy, applications interactive, ensuring medicine authenticity, and also helping patients easily connect with their preferred physicians.  

Investing in Technology to Scale Deliveries Efficiency

To build resilient and highly scalable logistics operations delivery stakeholders will find themselves increasing focus on three critical areas--last-mile delivery, real-time transportation visibility, and customer experience. 

●    Last-Mile Delivery

In a world driven by virtual or online purchasing, businesses are quickly waking up to the reality that the last mile is the most important physical touchpoint between a brand and the customer. Embracing digital tools that enhance routing, scale deliveries, boost driver productivity, shrink delivery turnaround-time, and optimize delivery costs will be the smart way forward to build robust logistics operations in 2021.

●    Real-Time Transportation Visibility

With 62 percent of enterprises identifying ‘visibility’ as a major challenge in the supply chain, poor visibility will continue to remain a serious concern with regards to executing seamless transportation operations. Investing in advanced transportation platforms that provide real-time tracking and tracing and ensure predictive visibility of ground-level and intermodal logistics operations will be a key trend in 2021.

●    Enhancing Customer Experience

At a time when businesses were finding it difficult to keep up with lightning-fast delivery expectations, new models like contactless deliveries added to existing logistics complexities. Then there is an acute need to provide customers with self-service delivery models and ensure high-levels of delivery visibility. Hence, to improve the delivery experience and boost customer loyalty savvy businesses are using cutting-edge delivery platforms to quickly change delivery workflows based on customer needs, provide real-time notifications on delivery progress and delays and drive payments through secure digital gateways.

Curbside Pickups 

Curbside pickups gained immense traction this year. Not only does it eliminate the need to stand in queues and spend more time outside to buy groceries and other essential items, but it also provides customers with flexibility. Leveraging curbside pickup facilities, customers can select their own delivery pickup windows and store location. According to the ‘COVID-19 And The Future Of Commerce’ survey, 87 percent of customers want brick and mortar outlets to continue to offer curbside pickup and other processes that limit the need for in-person visits. In fact, According to digitalcommerce360 nearly 44 percent of top 500 retailers with stores now offer curbside pickup to ensure a better customer experience. Clearly, curbside pickups will sprawl across 2021 as an important trend with regards to keeping customers happy and loyal.

Environmental Sustainability

When the world paused for a few months, nature got a brief relief from growing carbon emissions. This significantly contributed to driving environmentalism mainstream. A report highlighted that 71 percent of people today think it’s important for brands to take a stance on social movements. We are already seeing a significant increase in demand for eco-friendly products, it's only a matter of time when consumers would want their brands to ensure carbon-neutral deliveries. As a proactive measure, Amazon recently announced its plans to introduce ‘Shipment Zero’ that will drive the company's vision to have 50 percent of all deliveries reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. A key to achieving eco-friendly deliveries will be things like order consolidation, loop optimization of delivery routes, greater first-attempt delivery success rates, and more.

Bringing Inventory Closer to Customers

Surging demands amid localized lockdowns and travel restrictions made inventory management extremely difficult. To respond to this problem savvy enterprises bought inventory closer to customers by converting localized brick and mortar stores and retail outlets to fulfillment centers, dark stores, or mini-warehouses. Realizing the benefits of this strategy like faster pickups, easier inventory management, customer proximity, scaling daily delivery volumes, and more, brands are willing to stick to it for a longer period of time and realize its full potential.

Keeping Customer Experience at the Core To Drive Loyalties

Owing to the growing popularity of online purchasing, a key driver being the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no single preference of a consumer anymore. They are constantly looking for products across disparate online channels and also in-store facilities. They are buying apparel, furniture, grocery, medicines, and more just by a few clicks and swipes. The demand is driven by the need to be instantly gratified. Irrespective of the channel used to place orders, consumers expect a seamless delivery experience accompanied by quick delivery turnaround-times. This means that businesses need to be present and available to customers every time they buy via a channel of their choice. Hence, an always-available inventory and more importantly seamless and quick logistics operations are keys to satisfying modern customers. Therefore, businesses will need to drive robust omnichannel logistics operations. 

Omnichannel logistics empowers businesses to quickly service customers by tying together inventory, distribution, and transportation across sales engagement channels, including in-store, social media, e-commerce portals among others. In 2021, the need to create omnichannel logistics operations will gain rapid momentum.

These are some of the key trends that will continue to shape the online delivery and logistics industry in 2021. Embracing advanced digital delivery tools will empower enterprises to not only navigate these trends smoothly but also master them. 
 

 

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How Online Lottery is Better Than Buying Tickets from the Store
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How Online Lottery is Better Than Buying Tickets from the Store
 

Online lottery has become quite popular among the young generation. It is a game that can not only be played on a smartphone but is also convenient to play. You need not visit shops or sit with a pen to check the winning list. To play the online lottery in India, you don't have to wait for an opening hour.

All you need to have is a strong internet connection. Though some people still rely on the offline lottery as they find it nostalgic, at the same time, some haven't yet gotten accustomed to smartphones.

Online versus Offline Lottery in India

  • Location of purchase: The most significant distinction between online and offline lottery is the location of purchase. For an offline lottery ticket, you need to go to the store, whereas, for an online purchase, you have to visit a website or app.
  • Signing up: In an online lottery game, you have to sign in, providing details of yourself. However, offline purchases do not involve all these things.
  • Details for once: You also need to give the debit/credit card details for playing an online lottery, but it is for once. As you finish updating details in your account, you do not have to add anything else later. Subsequently, purchasing tickets becomes straightforward.

Security

Security is a crucial reason that makes a difference in the online lottery in India. If you lose the ticket purchased offline, it will be arduous for you to claim the prize if you win. In any case, if you forget the draw date and check the list, later on, you cannot claim your prize. However, you do not have these problems online. After an online purchase of a ticket, the record of purchase and winnings are recorded.

The players of these lotteries get email notifications if they win any game. Other than an exception, the fund they win is also sent to their account directly. If the winning amount is substantial, the person might have to appear in-person to prove their identity and collect it. Even you can get a reminder of big amount lotteries through email notification once you register in any online jackpot.

Features of Online Lottery

If you buy tickets online for the lottery in India, there are many benefits that you might get from the features it has. Some of them are:

  • Replay option: You need to set an automatic debit option, which will enable you to play every week without stopping. This automatic payment process will ease your play and enhance the chances of winning. You will neither miss any draw; nor do you need to pay.
  • Choose arbitrary numbers: Selecting random numbers is much easier in online play. You need to click a designated option, which will enable you to get a random number combination.
  • Can play anywhere: You do not have to face the hurdle of going to stores to buy tickets; neither do you have to stand in lines for buying or checking jackpots. You can use your smartphone to play, pay, withdraw, and win at any time. You can check your numbers or results whenever you want. All you need to have is an internet connection, which will entitle you to this play.
  • Can participate in lotteries worldwide: Playing online allows you to participate in all international lotteries. Yes, you need to spend a lot of money on that, but the chances of winning also increase. Playing the lottery online also notifies you whenever there is a game going on. You don't have to visit a store to enquire about it. 
  • Can play multiple games: Online lottery does not mean only drawing numbers. You have the option of playing various games as you wish. Even you can get scratch cards, which can enable you to secure a reasonable sum of money.
  • Promos and bonus: During the play, you can get hold of promos and bonuses. This will help you to redeem or, at times, win money. They also are the key to some new games, which will open up many prospects. Promos or bonuses may also include prizes like national or international trips. However, sites offering trips are less in number. If you refer to people about the site, which can also entitle you to prizes.

Conclusion

Playing an online lottery in India gives you many benefits. You don't have to go out, yet you are entitled to so many windfalls. More so, you never get to miss a notification about any lottery. The benefits are much more as compared to the traditional ones. Though the tickets are expensive, it increases the chances of your winning. Being convenient, many people have started opting for it. You have a highly secure environment that you can trust.

 

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Managing A Team Of Retail Workers: 6 Things Business Owners Are Doing Wrong
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Managing A Team Of Retail Workers: 6 Things Business Owners Are Doing Wrong
 

2020 has been an eye-opening year. The impact of Coronavirus on the retail sector has been significant, and the outbreak has highlighted many gaps between what business owners are currently doing, and what they need to be doing in order to succeed. And one of the biggest gaps has been found in management. Here are 6 things owners are doing wrong when it comes to managing a team of retail workers, with handy advice and simple recommendations for adapting your management strategy: 

Not Forecasting Labour Demand

Foot traffic and in-store demand vary constantly. Major calendar events, for example, can affect how busy your store is, along with day-to-day factors such as standard working hours and school times. And while there will always be unexpected ebbs and flows, generally it’s possible to use historical data sets to forecast demand to a pretty accurate degree. Yet many business owners appear to be failing to do this.

The risk of not forecasting is that some employees will be left feeling overworked, while others will feel underutilised, creating an unsatisfied workforce that’s tricky to manage. Instead, managers should be placing greater focus on analysing traffic patterns, investing in necessary tools, and creating schedules that place the right people, in the right place, at the right time to facilitate suitable sales coverage. 

Failing to Communicate Effectively

Communication is everything. After all, it’s very difficult - if not impossible - to properly manage a team of retail workers if you aren’t able to communicate your expectations or listen to feedback. And communication is even more important if you’re operating stores across different locations. Placing communication at the heart of your management approach is key to a great management strategy. 

Digital tools can help. These tools allow you to share important updates and store communications in the cloud for employees to access from anywhere, at any time, avoiding critical updates falling through the cracks. Good communication works to keep staff involved, it keeps them in the loop, and it keeps them better connected to the core business and the big picture; essential for workforce satisfaction.

Treating Staff as ‘Staff’

Business owners are busy. Of course they are. And it’s normal to want to focus on the core business, with workforce management taking a back seat. But the truth is that your team of retail workers aren’t just there to restock shelves and handle payments; they are an extension of your core business, and in managing them as such, it may be possible to maximise potential to boost sales, revenue, and profits.

When customers shop online, they have many types of content that help to guide the buyer journey. In-store, however, your content is your people. These are the ones who have influence over the buyer decision, so managing your team in a way that enables them to do so effectively is crucial. Managers should understand how vital their team is, creating opportunities for training and upskilling as needed. 

Staying Stagnant

Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes that business owners are making is that they’re quite happy to be staying still. While this can help a business to survive, it doesn’t really do much to help it thrive. In terms of managing a team of retail workers, owners should always be looking for ways to squeeze even more value from the workforce, motivating teams to better themselves for both their careers, and the store. 

A powerful way to manage a team is to not only consider the team as a whole, but also as individuals. Managers should be working to schedule regular 1-to-1 meetings to set performance goals, discuss these goals, track progress, and adapt as needed. Good management means motivating, encouraging, and pushing teams to achieve their full potential, which can have a significant impact on the business. 

Rewarding in Private

There’s an old saying - ‘train in private, reward in public’ - and that rings true when it comes to managing a team of retail workers. Managing employees is not always easy, especially when you’re a business owner in a position of great authority, but it can be easier when you have employee-level support; when you have the backing of key team members who can help you to manage effectively and efficiently. 

A great tactic is to publicly reward those who follow instruction; who go above and beyond, utilise the tools and technologies that they are expected to, and demonstrate high levels of performance. Make an example of these individuals, reward and praise them in front of the team, and use them as influencers. Use these key people as motivators to encourage others to follow the same protocols and procedures. 

Looking Outwards, Not Inwards

If you’re struggling to manage your team of retail workers, it’s very easy to look outwards; to ask questions such as ‘why won’t my team do what I need them to do?’ But great managers also look inwards; they look at themselves. They ask questions like ‘how can I improve my management approach to better motivate my team and boost performance?’ Sometimes, managing your team is about you. 

Research suggests that more than half of all managers haven’t received any specific management training. To best manage a team of retail workers, business owners may want to consider building, developing, and honing their own leadership skills, giving them the knowledge to lead with confidence. Training managers to lead forms a strong foundation on which to manage a successful, thriving team. 

Continuing to Adapt

There’s a common misconception that developing a management strategy is a one-time thing. It’s not. Managing a team of retail workers to achieve their best and bring the most value to the business means staying on your toes and being ready to adapt your approach as necessary. The retail landscape really is at a critical turning point, and it’s essential that business owners stay up-to-date with evolving trends and ensure they’re prepared to change their management tactics in line with the future environment. 
 

 

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How Viviana Mall Reinvented Itself And Bounced Back Post-Lockdown
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How Viviana Mall Reinvented Itself And Bounced Back Post-Lockdown
 

The COVID-19 outbreak caused major disruption as the country went into a sudden lockdown on March 25, 2020, to contain and prepare for the pandemic, bringing most business activity to a grinding halt. Public places including malls and shopping centres were shut, which impacted the industry significantly.

Since June, the economy has been reopening gradually but the business environment across sectors has been altered drastically and irrevocably. Profiles, behavior, and needs of consumers have undergone a sea change, the macroeconomic situation is vastly different, work-from-home and other factors have led to large-scale migration of workers, policies are evolving to meet the current needs, and much more, all this with an undercurrent of uncertainty.

And keeping up with this shift, Viviana Mall, one of the leading shopping centres, has been reworking its business model, coming up with strategies to provide a safe and convenient shopping environment while staying competitive and relevant to its patrons even during the times of pandemic.

Ensuring Safe Environment

For Viviana Mall, the safety of its patrons, staff, and retail partners comes foremost. The mall believes it is important to not only comply with the standard operating procedures drafted by the Shopping Centres Association of India but also take additional measures in its capacity to ensure the highest possible standards of safety and convenience to all.

A step in this direction was a survey that Viviana Mall undertook during lockdown to interact with the consumers and understand their sentiments towards reopening of the mall. The idea was to get insights into their expectations and behavior on various parameters such as shopping and safety measures. This has helped Viviana Mall in ensuring that it can provide a safe shopping experience. The mall has even moved all its on-ground events and activities to online mode by using its social media page to engage with the customers.

Social Media Campaigns

A social media campaign, #EkNayaKadam, was initiated with an aim to instill confidence among the patrons. It highlighted that the mall has been taking utmost precautions to make it a safe place for shoppers, retailers, and employees. Various videos showcasing hygiene and sanitisation processes being undertaken by the mall were shared too. Also, the steps being followed for maintaining cleanliness and hygiene, social distancing, and effective crowd management through the deployment of additional staff have been communicated.

Sanitisation

Viviana Mall has installed a sanitisation tunnel and UV boxes to disinfect the bags at the entrance. Use of ArogyaSetu App, masks, and sanitiser is mandatory. Unidirectional stickers have been placed on the floor to maintain the flow of shoppers inside the premises. Elevators are allowed only for expectant mothers, injured or differently-abled people. Alternate steps have been marked on escalators. All the safety and sanitation processes adopted by Viviana Mall are gold standards certified by London-based RSM Astute Consulting.

For another core business area that draws a lot of customers but is among the most impacted due to the pandemic, the food, and beverages segment, Viviana Mall took all the measures to bring back normalcy in a safe and controlled environment. To provide the shoppers with a safe dining experience, the seating arrangement is now reduced to 50 percent of the total dine-in capacity. UV sanitisation boxes are installed for sanitising the service trays and crockery. Moreover, QR codes have been placed on dining tables for visitors to access the menus, place their orders, and make payments.

Thanks to all these steps undertaken, Viviana Mall received an encouraging response from the shoppers within a short span after resuming its operations earlier in September. Increased demand for products across segments like apparel, electronics, household essentials, and lifestyle products encouraged the mall to come up with several discounts and offers too.

Festive Season: Demand Galore

For the festive period that soon followed, the mall organised a pre-festival flat 50 percent sale that received astounding feedback in terms of footfalls and sales. Unlike every year, the celebrations this time began much earlier than before. And knowing that even Diwali would see the emergence of a ‘New Normal’, the mall made sure that it went beyond the routine offers and sales to encourage the patrons to shop and have a memorable experience.

The mall rolled out #DiwaliYourWay campaign on its social media to brighten up the spirit of the consumers, boost their morale amid these tough times, and also invoke the feeling of self-love among them. A month-long ‘Shop N Win’ contest was held at the mall as a part of Diwali celebrations. It provided the shoppers with an opportunity to register for a lucky draw. During the offer period, on a daily basis, the mall gifted gold coins as a part of the ‘Shop N Win’ takeaway. On the last day of the contest, a final mega lucky draw was held in which one lucky winner bagged a brand-new Hyundai Venue car as a bumper gift from Viviana Mall.

And now, Viviana Mall is all set to kickstart its Christmas and New Year celebrations. As seen earlier during Dussehra and Diwali festive sales, brand partners of the mall are likely to shower shoppers with various offers and sales this time too. With the winter season setting in, consumers are expected to get back into shopping mode and help drive demand for categories such as winter wear.

Conclusion

Viviana Mall stepped up to the challenges thrown by the pandemic. In return, it has been rewarded with customer loyalty and support that makes the mall optimistic about meeting the expectations of its patrons and attaining sales targets in the near future.

 

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Recruitment practices for brands and businesses post-pandemic
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Recruitment practices for brands and businesses post-pandemic
 

Recruitment is inherently one of the most fundamental activities for a business organization. From the policy-making to the discipline obtained in the organization, everything depends on the kind of talent that is hired. During the pandemic, many companies had to let go of a part of the workforce due to unavoidable circumstances. However, things are pacing up now! There is no better time to increase the workforce than through this pandemic because there have been thousands of employees who have lost their jobs and this is a golden opportunity for them as well to give their best shot towards these tests and the interviews.

Here are some guidelines that brands and businesses may follow while refueling their most important resource:

- Re-hiring the most productive employees: Some researches show that at least 30% of the workforce should be rehired post-pandemic for smooth transitions

- Digital mindset: B2C businesses should focus on the workforce that is digitally inclined since customers have shifted to online platforms and this can be an opportunity to tap into new markets for many firms

- Cost-cutting: Situations are still uncertain and businesses should think twice before investing in any resource! Human resources can be a costly investment and flexible payment terms such as performance-based compensation could prove to be a necessary evil in difficult times.

- Versatile: Recruiting flexible and dynamic employees is one lesson that this pandemic has definitely taught us. A young and energetic pool that is keen to explore various options that might come in handy while going through transitions.

- Discipline and hard work: Smart work, is indeed, sometimes overvalued. Some geeks and nerds are required for your organization to work in the full potential!

Recruitment, however, is challenging right now, especially since potential employees may not be willing to travel for face-to-face interviews. Most of the companies have thus, adopted the online way of recruiting persons at their place. There is various virtual assessment centre through which the employees are assessed after a specific number of tasks have been performed by them.

The entire process has been moved online. Employers have to register themselves on the website of the company. They are provided with a particular date on which their test will be taken. Candidates are also required to submit some of the necessary documents which include Adhar Card, PAN card, and ID proof as per the policy of the company. A specific date will be provided to them on which the test taker has to appear. Since the whole process has been move online which has led to a decrease in time taken to conduct various interviews and tests. The cost incurred by the companies has also been reduced.

Following are some of the benefits of virtual assessment centers which has made thousands of companies to adapt to the changing technology:

- Convenience: This change has brought some of the major convenience to the companies in the process of recruitment.

- Time-saving: A lot of time which was incurred to visit the company office and recruiter in person has been deducted which has also reduced the cost which was incurred earlier.

- Geographical benefit: People can access the tests from anywhere leading to a better pool of employees at a  reduced cost.

- Environment friendly: This process has been extremely environment friendly because every task has been performed online which creates paperless transactions.

- Effective: It has been observed that this software is much more effective to determine the kind of person which has to be selected as an employee because they even determine the right person for the right position in the job.

- Easy to use: This software is very easy and convenient to use which makes it understandable to the common man.

Most companies have adopted this technology. There are thousands of test which help to determine the skill level of the person along with the right person for the job. Various practice tests are also included for candidates that do come with subscription fees in most of the cases. These mock tests help the person to determine the level of competition and kind of aura in the online tests. The software also has a unique feature to guide the test-takers in the specific areas which require improvement Customizable options are also provided to the companies through which they can ask with their own set of questions. The results for the same are also provided immediately which makes it a quick and efficient process.

The process of recruitment was never so easy until now. This has been one of the quickest and most efficient methods to recruit employees. The process of assessment was previously done through human manpower but with rapid advancement in technology, within few minutes the results for thousands of test-takers have been announced without depending upon any geographical location and the cost incurred for the same is also a one-time investment.

There have been reviews and feedbacks from thousands of companies who have been satisfied through this software. They have been able to select efficient as well as productive employees who have led to the growth of their companies and increased their profits by huge margins.

To conclude the above discussion, most of the companies have adopted to the changing technology which has made the process of recruitment even much simpler. Especially under such a pandemic, it has become very difficult for the test takers to visit the centers and get themselves selected. Hence, it is a matter of much more convenience for the companies as well as the candidates to move to such advancement which is feasible as well as user friendly.

 

This article is written by Saksham Khandelwal.

 

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6 points e-commerce firms should consider while selecting their logistics partner
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6 points e-commerce firms should consider while selecting their logistics partner
 

Running an e-commerce platform is no easy task. Competition is intense and often cut-throat, and the smallest of complications can rapidly propel a business down a slippery slope. Although this is true the world over, it’s especially apparent in the online Indian marketplace that’s crowded with global behemoths such as Amazon and local unicorns like Flipkart.

In the face of this competition, an e-commerce firm that hopes to survive and thrive must constantly remain in top form. Every aspect of its business must run like clockwork. And while many companies do attain this level of precision, where most stumble is the final stretch, the delivery of an ordered item to the customer.

That’s where a logistics partner comes in. Under their purview is everything that happens from the moment an order is placed to the moment it is delivered safely into the hands of the consumer. In technical terms, the post-purchase experience.

While this may initially seem a simple enough task, give it a little thought and you’ll rapidly realise the scale of the job. A logistics partner is directly responsible for transportation, warehousing, security, and last-mile logistics, to name just a few of their responsibilities.

As such, choosing the right logistics partner is amongst the most important decisions an e-commerce platform will ever make. To help smoothen the process, here are a few things to look for when making the choice:

1. Serviceability

A large and growing e-commerce business is likely to have customers from all across India. In order to ensure their deliveries are fulfilled in an efficient and timely manner, it’s vital that the logistics partner you choose have a network that’s just as widespread. It’s especially important to ensure that their core delivery areas overlap with your primary target markets.

For example, if the majority of your orders come from metros, it makes sense to choose a partner that has a strong distribution presence in major cities. Similarly, a platform whose customer base is rural-centric should opt for a logistics service that has a widespread network across the country, with a proven record of efficient operations in smaller cities and towns. 

2. Performance Rate and Efficiency

While there’s no arguing with the need for a logistics provider, it’s important to remember that a poor performing partner can do your business more harm than not having a partner at all. That’s why the performance rate of a logistics business, i.e. the rate at which they’re able to deliver their assigned orders, is one of the most important metrics to take into consideration when making a choice.

The efficiency and speed of logistics service is another key factor, especially in a time when speed delivery has become the norm when shopping online. To satisfy this need for instant gratification, go for a partner with the capability to offer same-day, one-day, and 48-hour delivery options, your customers will thank you for it.

3. Customer Service

A customer is unlikely to differentiate between an e-commerce platform and their logistics partner when tracking their order or speaking to a delivery person. To them, the two are one and the same. A logistics partner is, for all intents and purposes, an extension of your business. As such, it’s vital to ensure that they make the best impression possible.

Choose a partner with a reputation for excellence, and that’s known for its quick responsiveness, fluid communication, and effective solutions to any issues that might arise, at both the business and consumer end. Good customer service is a force multiplier and can help your platform make a name for itself in an overcrowded field with a great post-purchase experience.

4. Technology

Every year brings new advancements in technology and innovation, and this holds true in the field of logistics as well. The integration of the latest technological advancements helps optimise the functioning of the business, enables the company to reduce operating costs, and boosts the efficiency of the delivery process.

While choosing a logistics partner that recognises the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest digital breakthroughs is important, platforms should also examine their ability to integrate their systems with third-party services such as logistics intelligence solutions providers. Through these tie-ups, e-commerce platforms can further streamline their operational flow, proactively communicate with customers through order status notifications, and offer an even smoother experience to the end customer.

5. Pricing

Logistics companies offer a vital service, and it’s only fair that they charge accordingly. While it may be tempting to opt for the lowest price in an attempt to cut costs, that may not always be the best option. A lower price can often be an indicator of overstretched staff, cut corners, and poor service offerings – none of which justify the savings that come with this option. As in so many other cases, you ultimately get what you pay for.

Another key consideration is to ensure that the logistics company provides a full accounting of the services it offers and the costs each incurs. By insisting on transparency, you can safeguard yourself from any hidden charges and avoid a price when you receive your bill. The costing list should always include transportation, receiving, warehousing, pick-and-pack, shipping, account set-up, and monthly minimums. If all of these factors are accounted for upfront, you can be sure that you’re in good hands.

6. Reputation

The field of logistics is vast and complex, and only a select few logistics partners are qualified to handle every aspect of the sector. Some might have a regional specialisation, while others offer a countrywide presence. Certain businesses might have dedicated themselves to the fashion and apparel industry, while others might be better equipped to deliver produce. Whatever the case may be, it is imperative that a platform do their due diligence and select a logistics partner that has the experience and infrastructure that best complements their business.

 

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A New World Welcomes a Paradigm Shift in Marketing
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A New World Welcomes a Paradigm Shift in Marketing
 

No one ever knew a pandemic like COVID-19 would change the way the world lives. Yes, quite literally, the world is new and so are our thoughts. The pandemic has resulted in a massive change of preferences compelling every industry to develop new products and more importantly reach out to the consumer in a new way. In such a health crisis, businesses, especially the retail sector has bled cold. Physical sales in the retail segment have dropped by a whopping 70% while e-commerce transactions haven’t been able to compensate equally. So what are the options that marketers could adopt in such trying times?

Omnichannel Marketing – Being in together, in every way and everywhere

Firstly, what is Omnichannel Marketing? The word Omni is defined as, ‘everywhere and every place’. A strategy that motivates the customer for purchase from the start till the end keeping the product preference of the customer at the centre of the strategy is an Omni channeled marketing strategy. It’s simple actually; it is defined, ‘the effective utilisation of all channels of marketing to create a unified experience for the customers’.

It uses all the mediums of marketing; traditional and digital including sales at physical stores and online webs stores as well. It is the best way to provide a super personalised customer experience by adjusting and catering to the customer’s behavior. 

For instance, a consumer gets a promotional email or SMS while spending in a store. Or, getting a message about an abandoned cart and being retargeted with the same product through other modes of communication like Facebook messenger attempting a checkout, etc. Omnichannel marketing continuously shows the relevant and related products to the customer through the entire shopping journey across different mediums of marketing. It has four basic pillars of success,

  • Workforce integration for seamless delivery, all teams need to collaborate effectively  to deliver this experience
  • Strong analyses of customer data, their behavior, preference, tastes, prices, etc.
  • Effective targeting of messages
  • Continuous testing of strategies implemented and measuring effectiveness.   

However, these four factors require a certain level of technological and digital readiness which probably certain developing markets are not ready for.

As far as Omnichannel marketing in India is concerned retailers have started trying it just recently. This is mainly due to the fact that Omnichannel marketing requires strong and vigorous web stores without which analysing and targeting it not feasible. India does not have an ecosystem ripe for the fruition of Omnichannel marketing. India mainly lacks in logistical abilities and technology interlinks that make it difficult for retail companies to employ Omnichannel marketing as their marketing medium. While the brick and mortar retailer was earlier apprehensive about showcasing their catalogue online, their catalogues now have 100% exposure online. Yes, this shows that retailers India are now exposing their vulnerabilities to mitigate the bigger risk of the loss of their business. Omnichannel marketing has a long way to go and it has only begun its journey through the long journey of new-age marketing post-COVID-19.

Easiest and Fastest way to cope with Dipped Sales - Brand Licensing

There comes a point in the lifecycle of every company where developing new products for revenue generation is not possible. It has to survive selling its existing product range. At such a point, Brand licensing comes to the rescue for retailers.

Brand Licensing is defined, ‘Through a brand licensing agreement, the owner of a brand (trademark) the licensor can allow third parties, the licensees to use their trademark on pre-defined products under certain conditions in return for a royalty payment.’

Brand licensing gives to the licensor brand as to how, when, who, and for how long does one use the brand. For many reasons and in times like these when sales have been impacted and are not expected to improve anytime soon it might be imperative for brands to adopt new sales avenues to survive. How does brand licensing help a business?

  • Brand licensing helps in growing brand value. It helps the licensor to expand across new product lines expanding the client base. Examples of this are major luxury retail brands that not all can afford. However, they license their brand for accessories like sunglasses, watches, which allow them to reach a different client group.
  • When financial resources and revenue are low for a company it is difficult for brands to pump in more money to develop new products and then spend on marketing them. Brand licensing allows the brand to use their existing product range to reach unaccesssed customers easily; it is a low-risk tool.
  • It lets the brand use the product trademarks beyond their given restriction. Brands can use their own judgment and leverage the products based on their own free will. In short, brand licensing can help make an opportunity off a trademark.

In India where brand consciousness exists and where a growing population is available to explore new branded products, most licensors should extend the license tenures. This will be a win-win for both, licensor and licensee. Amidst the lockdown restrictions brands as licensors are looking for an extension by nearly year and as a licensee are barging to defer royalties to 2021 scouting for extensions. The time has come a time when additional marketing tools not tried earlier like brand licensing and Omnichannel marketing can be utilized.

 

This article is written by Akhil Jain, Executive Director, Madame.

 

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E-Commerce and 3PL sectors witnessed a severe demand dip in the Lockdown: LetsTransport Study
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E-Commerce and 3PL sectors witnessed a severe demand dip in the Lockdown: LetsTransport Study
 

COVID-19 has impacted the entire world and specifically supply chain and logistics. LetsTransport analyzed the booking data from the period of lockdown. As a market leader in logistics, LetsTransport realizes the criticality of maintaining uninterrupted supply chains and is committed to delivering the same. E-commerce and 3PL were the most impacted sectors during April-20.

logistics

FMCG and organized retail players continued operating deliveries of essential products, with organized retail players, pivoting to direct-to-consumer deliveries as in-store purchases came to a halt. The 3PL logistics industry suffered huge setbacks with demand drying up, e-commerce deliveries being shut and inter-state movement restrictions. There is a significant impact of Covid-19 on the logistics and supply chain industry in India. Supply chain planning has become increasingly complex for brands due to the formation of containment zones and various other restrictions imposed on movements of goods in different geographies. With the gradual opening up of the economy in  May, there was a sudden increase in the volume of goods moved by e-commerce and 3PL companies to clear pent-up orders.

In the last week of March, when the lockdown was implemented, there was almost no business done in the first couple of days due to uncertainty around the new norms and processes that were being put in place by the local authorities. In the month of April, with more clarity from authorities and with the process of obtaining passes becoming relatively easier, the business started to pick up and LetsTransport started signing up many new clients – the majority of them being the traditional brick and mortar retail chains. Due to lockdown, many retail outlets were looking at logistics partners to enable home deliveries for their customers. This resulted in upticks in volumes, and in April the daily volumes were close to 55-60% of the pre-COVID volumes. In May, with the lockdown getting completely lifted in most geographies, volumes have reached pre-COVID numbers.

Prateek Pujari, COO at LetsTransport, emphasized on the importance of agility in Supply Chain during these unprecedented times. He said, “The pandemic has brought out the importance of a flexible and responsive supply chain for companies. Today, clients are starting to move away from looking at Logistics as a commodity and are now considering it as an organizational capability. This will provide an added impetus to tech-enabled logistics players like us to organize the extremely fragmented logistics ecosystem.” 

The data clearly states that in the post COVID world, there is going to be increased focus on essential products and services, with a large portion of orders now being fulfilled through online platforms. The non-essential segment will be hit as it will take time for both demand and supply to come on track for these products. In the long term, businesses will prefer to work with organized players. This is especially relevant in the logistics industry as a large part of this industry is highly unorganized.

 

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Exposed Vulnerability of the Supply Chain System- Covid 19 Strikes Back!
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Exposed Vulnerability of the Supply Chain System- Covid 19 Strikes Back!
 

Covid-19 epidemic is now known as the most challenged and dangerous crisis in the world. This has slowed down the economy of the entire world and affected great corporate and businesses. The impact of Covid-19 has been very unnatural and uncommon as it has been devastating. The response of the nation has been unpredictable as well, such as bans on travel, closure of borders, closure of business, and several cases in complete lockdown. Hence, the vulnerability of the supply chain has been brutally exposed by this epidemic.

The outbreak isn’t an isolated event. It is becoming difficult to find alternative suppliers to keep the business running. For many years, low-cost supply and minimal inventory has been the key roles of supply chain management. An investment in the supply chain system can bring its vulnerability in to a resilience mode. Leading distributors are now thinking of the cost of network risk and to invest more in resilient supply chains. The recovering power becomes stronger.

Anshu Raj, Founder of Caterspoint said “To meet the customer’s need, which has now shifted due to Covid-19 is a challenge for the supply chain system. There is a need of a flexible supply chain that can cut cost and improve cash flow with an increase to inventory turn. Once the pandemic passes and the global economy begins to function normally, many might assume they should manage their global supply networks as in the past, with the lowest-cost supply and minimal inventory levels. While that approach worked in a stable global economy, it now brings increased risk. The assumptions about supply chain management have shifted.”

Domestic firms must now develop its own local sourcing units and adopt alternatives strategies to reduce its dependency on imported goods and raw materials. Slowing growth and shrinking consumption is a matter of acute concern. This has emphasized on minimisation of cost and “just in time deliveries.”

As stated by  Raj, “We always had a strong vendor and inventory management system and an approved vendor pool. This has helped us in continuing our operations even during the lockdown. However, a completely smooth supply chain will take time. Recently, we had to temporarily discontinue a few of our SKUs due to the complete shutdown of their raw material supply but with the hope of relaxation of restrictions during the lockdown, we hope to start with those SKUs back soon.”

Looking at the challenges in the supply chain management, shortage of man power and sealed borders has now been a great drawback.  There have been challenges in operating as the routine has been disrupted due to unforeseen circumstances, which include the commute of employees, last-mile delivery, and vendor supply chain. Arpit Shukla, Procurement Specialist, Caterspoint “ On a regular day, we had about 100 people working in the organization but due to Covid-19 and government-issued advisory, we are practicing social distancing as well as keeping the workforce in shifts that have led to us, operating on skeletal staff. Also planning of deliverables is being planned within the city or the area itself. The logistics is a great problem which has been sorted out with managing of chain procuring system.”

Flexible supply chains played a critical role, including rapid raw material sourcing, product design, development and testing, and distribution. A goal of any procurement specialist is to uncover cost savings opportunities. However, just focusing on ways to save money is not an effective approach to supply chain optimization because it has the potential to hurt other critical areas. Through Proper Planning, Partnership, Process and Performance, the supply chain can be managed tactfully.

 

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COVID 19 pandemic and Logistics & Supply Chain
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COVID 19 pandemic and Logistics & Supply Chain
 

The saga that started in December 2019 that was feared to be initially affecting the various trade and industries of China later turned out to become a global pandemic causing slowdown of markets and leading to a global recession. Supply Chain and logistics has also faced the setbacks and difficulties to a great extent. In the initial days of the outbreak of the disease from China, Chinese markets were affected with most manufacturing units of Construction, Chemical and Shipping industries badly hit. Also this affected the imports of several countries as China happens to be the main trade partner for raw materials, finished goods, spare parts, and so on. This caused disruptions in the supplies for the various manufacturing industries globally.

Since then, the pandemic has been vastly spreading across the world and most of the countries are affected as on date forcing the Government, national and international authorities to take inevitable measures like lockdown of cities and restricting movement of people across nations to curb the impact. This has consequently affected Global trade and supply chain which has come to almost a standstill. There exists a deferred slowdown as far as movement of goods are concerned with most countries restricting international flights and air travel, thereby restricting air freight capacity to just the operational cargo aircrafts and ferry passenger flights carrying only cargo. Shipping segment has also been affected badly as vessels are placed under quarantine for weeks before being allowed into the ports thereby slowing down processes. Moreover, the demand for raw materials has reduced for the most traded commodities as most countries now require medicines, pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and medical equipment. Hence, any available capacities are going underload thereby causing a disbalance of the ratio between revenue and the operational costs. Furthermore, there is severe shortage of manpower at the air cargo facilities and shipping ports due to lockdowns which again hinders any scope of supply chain continuity.

The lockdown and sealing of borders has affected the first and last mile transportation of goods within the domestic segment of the supply chain. This is affecting movement of goods by railways and road transport, leading to deferred movement of supplies which ultimately ought to increase the cost of commodities even for domestic consumption. With the cancellation of the domestic flights across the country, the rapid movement of e-commerce and supply chain has got affected with deferred or delayed deliveries and commitments. In a nutshell, the demand and supply gap has increased.

With most of the economies of the world facing a virtual doom taking the countries a few years behind in terms of growth and sustainability, the supply chain will witness shortfall of diversity in the kinds of goods being moved. There will be a phenomenal reduction in the desire for consumable goods and products and more demand for essential goods in the trade between the nations. . The trade movement of the luxury or leisure goods are ought to diminish for at least an year till the nations are able to compensate for the economic losses the pandemic has caused. The only trading commodities that we can assess in the forthcoming months would be pharma, vaccines, medical goods and supplies, hospital items, perishables and food products that the nations are in dire need.

If we speak about the e-commerce business in the supply chain, since only essential commodities are permitted to move, the apparel, fashion, electronics and other sectors serving non-essential category of goods are severely impacted with lesser or no demand during the lockdown. India’s online retail industry is approx. worth $60 billion out of which the essential commodities constitutes only a small proportion. As far as the essential goods providers are concerned, there is a huge demand but there are delays in deliveries due to delay in procuring goods, unexpected transit halts and shortage of manpower. Amid this we are also hearing of many technologies like drones and airships being worked out as a measure to combat the last mile delivery worries also honouring social distancing.

As we still cannot predict how long the pandemic is going to prolong, to put a number or figure to the prediction on its impact on supply chain sector is not feasible due to the uncertainty. With both air and sea freights impacted badly, there is a deceleration to the movement of goods across nations causing a considerable gap in demand and supply. The global investments are going to take a worse hit due to falling economies and a possibly worst recession. As this situation prolongs, the cash flows and reserves of the companies are going to be hit and even employment would become a concern.

 

 

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Five ways to adapt your marketing strategy during COVID-19
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Five ways to adapt your marketing strategy during COVID-19
 

With so much uncertainty surrounding when the pandemic will end, and many restrictive measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, many are experiencing uncertainty and worries around their financial security, consumer confidence is low and sales have dropped in many verticals. As a result, many businesses are experiencing a loss of income. In addition, with the media landscape focused on covering the pandemic, it is more difficult than ever for brands to reach their audience – plus, in such a serious situation when many are worried about health and finance, pushing your brand can be seen as insensitive.

Some brands are choosing to either cut back on marketing activity or stop it altogether during the pandemic. Rather than pausing activity, adapting your marketing during the pandemic can help you to bounce back stronger than ever when confidence returns. Our recent guide, How to stay productive during the COVID-19 crisis, runs through some behind the scene ways to get your digital ‘house in order’ and ensure your business is set up to be successful in the future.

Here, we talk through five ways you can effectively adapt your marketing activity to improve engagement and build brand trust during the coronavirus pandemic.

Adapt your brand messaging

It is crucial that all businesses right now adapt their brand messaging, whether they are in a position to sell or not. The consumer landscape is a vastly different place to what it was pre-pandemic, and it is important that your brand reacts sensitively to the issues your customers face. Consumers are concerned about their health, their family and friends, and their financial security. Using the pandemic as a hook to sell your products or cashing in on coronavirus is a sure way to lose trust and loyalty amongst your customer base.

 Look at different ways you can provide value to your audience

Your business may be in a position where sales activity has slowed or even stopped, but this doesn’t mean you can’t provide value to your customers in other ways. If sales are suffering, focus instead on engagement. Identify opportunities for content that is both relevant to your brand and useful for customers. This will position your brand in a positive light and help promote a sense of trust – something that will be later remembered by consumers when they are ready to purchase.

 Test different platforms for engagement

With so many now at home, online activity is increasing. If your business usually relies on face to face engagement, this is a good opportunity to trial different platforms and content formats to establish new ways of reaching customers. For fashion retailers, this might look

 like hosting an Instagram live Q&A with a stylist on dressing for video conferences provides valuable content for consumers while maintaining positive engagement with your brand. 

 Manage your paid advertising

If your business is in a position to continue making sales, managing your paid advertising is key. With many brands reducing PPC spend during this time, there is an opportunity for smaller retailers to increase impressions and conversions in areas that are normally too competitive. Similarly, a drop in CPM across display, video and paid social means if you can still run campaigns, you can expect more reach for your budget.

Reassess your messaging, strategy, and budgets in line with the current landscape, monitoring where demand is falling and where you are seeing a rise in order to identify your focus areas. As with all marketing during this period, your paid campaigns must be sensitive to the situation. Avoid mentioning COVID-19 terms in ad copy or keywords, and instead focus on where you can genuinely add value for your customers.

 Sort behind the scenes marketing, and plan ahead

Finally, now is the ideal time to tick off the jobs which have continually been pushed to the bottom of your list, such as optimising content, testing new landing pages, and organising your analytics.

Ensure your web analytics is capturing and tracking relevant data, then make informed decisions around what content works best for your customers. Use these insights to update your overall content strategy and plan ahead for key future dates such as Black Friday and Christmas. This will leave your business and your brand in a stronger position to bounce back once the pandemic is over.

 

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How the digital revolution is bringing brands closer to their consumers
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How the digital revolution is bringing brands closer to their consumers
 

Brands in this day and age have the option of choosing from a plethora of electronic communication platforms to help them selectively choose and draw in their customers. Before the advent of technology, the fragmented nature of the market and a lack of consumer data meant that brands knew very little about consumer preferences or if they were targeting their products and services to the right set of buyers.

 We are now living in a digital era where millions of active users are logged in to social media and closely tracking their favorite brands and products. Brands need to be clear on brand purpose, and be authentic to that purpose, only then will they be effective in their digital marketing strategies What this has also done is sharpened targeted marketing for brands, it is important for the brand to know their target audience and that will guide the tools used to communicate with the customer. Because of social media and other innovative digital solutions, brands are able to focus on a select set of consumers that are closely aligned with them. Communication with them has to be on point, if digital is to be an enabler for brand to connect with their consumers

 A brand should be aware of which digital platform to work with basis the objective of the campaign. Some popular online marketing platforms that have changed the way brands reach out to their customers are ads on search engines and OTT apps, social media stories and posts, display ads on music, gaming apps and lastly influencer marketing. Brands are willing to set aside significant amounts for their annual digital marketing activities.

 Brands need to keep themselves up to date on ongoing trends. They should use intelligent tools to build the right customer base and invest in building research and data on consumer behavior patterns. Appealing creatives, out of the-box ideas, Content that has been made for digital specifically are all key to building a successful brand. A successful marketing campaign will factor in customers from different cultures, attitudes, beliefs and habits and a real time testing and optimizing on advertising spends is easy to do.

 Some recent trends we have seen on digital marketing front used by top brands:

  1. Collaborations and partnerships which bring in brand ethos of the brands collaborating
  1. Ad clips that are digitally tested to help brands get better engagement from the viewers

         Use of Facebook filter story app to drive a Women’s Day campaign

 Brands engage with influencers to promote their product

 Clever and trending hashtags to engage the audience on social media

  1.  Brands that create strong and effective digital experiences continue to attract new customers and retain their loyalty.

 

 

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Why Businesses Should Opt For Strategic Brand Ads During The Lockdown -
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Why Businesses Should Opt For Strategic Brand Ads During The Lockdown -
 

As the world adjusts to its biggest behavioral change in the recent past, brands have a crucial role to play. How they communicate now may shape consumer views beyond. Consequently, brands should invest for long-term outcomes.

First things first, let’s assess key reasons why brands should consider putting themselves out there.

 1. Leverage lower cost of running ads

As most would expect, the pandemic has had a notable effect on advertising strategy and performance of brands. With companies decreasing their marketing budgets, there is a drop in ad rates by upto 50%. Subsequently, marketers can reach a larger section of new customers at a much lower cost than before. 

 2. Stay connected with your customers - They want to buy

An important factor to consider here is “audience connect”. If a brand stops advertising, it will have an unfavorable long term impact on brand health. Keeping a continued engagement helps position the brand as meaningful and different for when the consumers start shopping again.

3. More time means higher demand for good content

Because people have been forced into social distancing at home, they have more time to consume content and as a result, the supply of engaging brand content is on the rise. This has led to a change in lifestyle where consumers are spending more time online than ever before. Mobile is now the dominant way for people to communicate.

 As everyone adapts to this new reality, we delve into how brands can utilize their owned as well as paid media to increase reach and improve brand recall. Once the dust settles, remarketing ads can be used for the audience that has interacted with the content to improve conversions.

How can this be done? Let’s dig deeper.

1. Leveraging high engagement channels

Businesses can improve brand affinity by using various online channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Google, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. Brands also need to be mindful of the consumer sentiment. They should use a reassuring tone, offer a positive perspective, and communicate brand values.

2. Defining campaign objectives

A study by Nielsen US shows that social distancing, quarantining, and staying home will have a significant effect on media consumption, which could rise up significantly. As a result, by specifying the campaign goals such as reach, brand awareness, post engagement, and video views, brands can reach out to more consumers and improve product awareness at a much lower cost.

 3. Focusing on tracking parameters for remarketing purposes

URL parameters of current brand campaigns can be used to analyze consumer behavior and demographics. This can fuel future retargeting campaigns and bring in sales once confidence and demand returns.

 4. Deploying captivating ad formats

Since many work from home and stay indoors much more now, users will be spending a lot more time online which marketers may not have anticipated a few weeks ago. Brands can use different highly engaging formats such as Instagram stories, videos, gifs, canvas ads and instant experience ads to interact with the content-hungry audience. 

5. Using trending and creative content/theme in the ads

For a brand, being online has never been as important as today. Identify what’s trending and be agile in judging the appropriateness and the value-add. Brands that can create relevant content to meet spikes in demand always have an excellent opportunity to connect with a new audience and build strong, long-lasting relationships.

 Overall, while an impulsive brand campaign can push sentiments against the brand, a sensitive, well-thought-out plan can win unshakeable loyalty that will have a positive, long term impact on business growth.

About the author

Kiran Patil is the founder and CEO of Growisto, an E-commerce marketing and technology company based out of Navi Mumbai. He has 16+ years of experience in e-commerce, phone commerce, and digital marketing. Growisto helps brands & private labels to grow their businesses on platforms such as Amazon and their own website. Kiran is an alumnus of IIT Bombay and has worked with companies like Evalueserve and Future group before starting his entrepreneurial venture. His personal interests include travelling, cycling and trekking.

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kiran-patil-growisto/

Website: http://growisto.com/

Instagram: https://instagram.com/kiran224?igshid=si3m3wrau76x

 

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HOW THE NEXT GEN MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION ACCELERATING AND TRANSFORMING INDUSTRY 4.0
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HOW THE NEXT GEN MULTIMODAL TRANSPORTATION ACCELERATING AND TRANSFORMING INDUSTRY 4.0
 

Over decades transportation is undergoing major disruption and striving towards to become more organized sector. To succeed and sustain, organizations will not only need to monitor their current ways of working and competition landscape however need to understand and adapt to fast-changing ecosystems, focusing on customer-driven market, reflexive supply chain and multimodal value chains. Transport being the backbone of the entire value chain has to be robust and resilient to market fluctuations. The growth of any organization lies on the agility, adaptability and alignment of its distribution model across the globe. The entire economy is struggling today due to ‘COVID’. The COVID-19 outbreak has led to blank sailings and a reduction in imports which translates to less container volume for intermodal businesses. The COVID-19 outbreak is expected to impact both the supply (factories in China and elsewhere) and demand (shopping around the world) ends of the supply chain. On the demand side, Moody's is now forecasting the automotive sector will see a 2.5% decline in sales for 2020. As shippers see demand for their products shrink, this will be passed along to carriers in the form of decreased demand for freight. However, looking at the brighter side, it is the right time when organizations can ideate and develop ‘Collaborative model – COBOT’, a starting towards Industry 5.0 and more resilient supply chain, to be future ready and withstand these pandemic events. Industry 5.0 is the revolution in which man and machine reconcile and find ways to work together to improve the means and efficiency of production, warehousing, distribution and logistics.

Brief & quick understand on ‘Multimodal’

In simple words, Multimodal transport refers to interlinking of multiple modes of transport (Buses, Metro, and Feeder services, Bikes, Taxis etc.) to create a more seamless end to end transport from source to destination with low cost and better convenience. The main objective to go for multimodal transportation is as follows –

  • Agile and shared mobility with low asset utilization
  • Seamless connectivity and end to end visibility : The connected experience
  • Unified payments system basis last mile delivery concept
  • Institutionalizing ‘One Transport’ concept, thereby contributing in reduction of carbon footprints.
  • Cost-effective

Current scenario: Transport 4.0

Today, Supply Chains are bound by a myriad of factors that call for consideration when offering the best transportation solutions. Multimodal, however is the need of an hour to meet the everlasting demand and address to the dynamic bull whip. Despite of managing the inventory at granular level by TOC (theory of constraints), DDMRP (Demand driven) and other best practices to forecast, still achieving 100% accuracy level is far too go. To support and achieve the desired service levels and OTIF’s, organizations are relying heavily on multimodal transportation. Multimodal networks are an important issue for infrastructure developers. For e.g. in India, Government initiatives like the Sagarmala program, Inland Waterways program and coastal shipping will provide the much-needed fillip to infrastructure development in the country.

Transport 4.0 (Automation revolution) is characterized by the level of automation that we have achieved, where modes of transport can often largely govern themselves, in many ways by using internet technologies, or “the Internet of things.” Other features of Transport 4.0 include the use of cloud technology and the importance of big data.

Certain challenges that industry faces –

With globalization, logistics is expected to play an increasing role in driving the global economy.

  • Infrastructure - It is one of the biggest hurdles that has paralysed the growth of the logistics sector. It gets reflected in inadequate and low-quality modal and terminal transport infrastructure.
  • Information Technology – Slow adoption of new technologies has been another big constraint. Awareness about the economic benefits of using digital technology is low and collaboration among stakeholders far from satisfactory.
  • Skill Development - Availability of appropriately skilled manpower remains a challenge
  • Regulatory Hurdles
  • Performance standards - With a diverse customer base, consumer behaviours and expectations are also diverse. Both individual and corporate customers demand personalized services, flexibility and faster services. Hence, baselining and benchmarking is cumbersome task.
  • The technology to create seamless or connected multimodal transportation exists, but the majority of services are still being delivered to the end customer in a disconnected, piecemeal way.

Every transportation company, regardless of vehicle type, is dealing with network saturation. New solutions are necessary to advance transportation methods, particularly when it comes to capacity. (Source: Generix)

  • Ocean freight makes up for more than 90% of international trade and is the cheapest mode of transportation today. But it is losing touch with current trade challenges due to a capacity crisis causing delays which themselves entail negative consequences. 
  • Increasing the capacity of container ships is no viable solution to the problem because it also limits port capacity to receive larger volumes of cargo. It is rare to find infrastructure that caters to jumbo vessels with adequate installations for loading and offloading freight.
  • As for door-to-door deliveries, road transportation is by far the go-to option for flexibility and cost-effectiveness. A shortage of truck drivers in both Europe and North America is, however, hindering development opportunities in the sector.
  • Rail freight has also reached its peak with high damage rates due to disparate infrastructure across Europe. A trade route world war is currently at play, backed by substantial financial investment.

Issues to be harnessed on priority: Transformational challenges and opportunities for the future of Transport with respect to Transport 4.0

  • Customer Satisfaction: Rethink the 360° experience for customers
  • Collaboration, agility and reliability: Operational efficiency
  • Visibility on the connected movement from origin to destination
  • Technological advancement
  • Safety, security and compliance

 

Paving the way to next gen multimodal transport: A step towards Transport 5.0

Succeeding in tomorrows’ multimodal transport will be a collaborative game. From the start, organizations must think about ecosystems and multi-sided platforms. The prima facie the factors need to critically evaluated and focussed are as follows –

  • Workforce (Skill development) : Shift to lighter and smarter work load and handing strenuous workloads to machines
  • Technology and IT infrastructure
  • Flexible supply chain to address dynamic and vulnerable consumer trends
  • Business strategies, models and tailored supply chains
  • Future readiness i.e. scalability

The last 100 years have brought multiple innovations to the transport industry. Each day, a billion people take a car, bus or subway, around 11 million passengers fly and nearly 200 million parcels are delivered. Everywhere, new entrants are challenging existing transport practices. Online providers leverage mobile to create new relationships with travellers. Marketplaces exploit peer-to-peer to move from a world of vehicle possession to one based on usage. New players use the power of real-time data to offer personalized door-to-door travel and logistics services. (Source: ATOS)

Today’s changes represent immense opportunities for organizations to place themselves at the heart of next-generation multimodal transport ecosystems. Opportunities and focus for 2020 to next five years are more towards collaboration working and knitting people, processes and technology in one basket. More disruptive technologies will emerge. While some may only appear as dots on the horizon today, they will turn out to be transformational in the years to come. Digital technologies that are reshaping the logistics space in time to come –

  • Robotics Process Automation
  • Quantum Computing / Cloud Logistics
  • Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality
  • Block chain Technology
  • Control Towers (SCM Cockpit view)
  • Cognitive Analytics platform
  • Autonomous vehicles
  • API Platforms
  • Prescriptive Security
  • 3-D printing

What could Multimodal look like in next 5-10 years to come?

The mantra going to be ‘Mobility-as-a-service’ or ‘Commuting-as-a-service’

  • Putting a strong focus on Omni channel and multimodal customer experience 540°
  • To attract consumers, transportation will have to be more personalized.
  • Streamlining punctuality, serviceability and reducing costs
  • Not only transportation, rather the entire supply chain model has to be multimodal
  • Hyperloop trains/submarines and autonomous robot-taxis.
  • Building platforms and marketplaces for multi-sided collaboration (Cloud concept)
  • Enforcing trust & compliance (cyber securities, fraud reduction etc.)

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Use case

A global organization having presence across the continents. Maximum focus is on imports as there is zero production in business country. Previously, the supply chain is inventory driven and distribution of goods to customers is warehouse function specific. This led to siloes and decentralised working. As a result lead time in increasing and subsequently dip in service level, finally leading to customer dissatisfaction.

A CONCEPT SHIFT: BRING IN THE CONCEPT OF ‘SUPPLY CHAIN MULTIMODALITY’: RAISING THE BAR

Hereby, organization is looking not only logistics from multimodal transportation to fulfil last mile delivery and meeting OTIF’s but also the entire supply chain function on multimodality. The components of transformed multimodal supply chain organization consists of – workforce, technology, business model, strategy and flow of information. This concept bring in more synergy. The benefits –

  • Achieved more than 98% service levels
  • Inventory accuracy rate ~ 85% - 90%
  • CSAT ~96 – 98%
  • Inventory turn improves to 4
  • Better visibility across value chain & collaboration across functions

The article has been authored by Vibhore Khandelwal, Manager – SCM, Hafele India Pvt Limited

 

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How to boost E-Commerce Sales with Digital Marketing?
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How to boost E-Commerce Sales with Digital Marketing?
 

The global e-commerce market is set to cross the 2 trillion USD threshold, with an impressive sales figure of $667 billion in 2019 as per reports. These numbers stand testament to the fact that the e-commerce industry is massive and will continue to expand in the near future.

In today’s era, brick and mortar stores have become mere shadows of their glorious pasts. There has been a drastic change in the mindset of people with the advancements in the E-commerce landscape. Now, people prefer omnichannel marketing or as I’d like to call it - internet shopping. People spend more time shopping online as it provides them a quick, seamless experience from anywhere using just a mobile device or desktop. 

With the rise in internet shopping in recent years, how can E-commerce players reap maximum rewards?

I’d say Digital Marketing is your best bet.

I've listed a few simple tactics which I feel can get you 10x sales with minimal budget and digital marketing efforts.

  • Paid Traffic - You might be wondering that paid traffic is an expensive affair, but it’s one of the quickest ways to generate e-commerce sales. Paid traffic can take your business to the next level, provided you use your paid campaigns wisely; make sure you spend a small amount at a time and try to get maximum ROI out of it. It’s important not to spend your entire budget on one single ad variation, rather use multiple ad campaigns and ad variations; By doing this you will get more traffic. Closely monitor the ads which are getting you to the desired results. Use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your paid campaigns, get your targeting right and ensure your ads reach the right people to drive more sales.
  • Share 10x Content – "Content is king" is a phrase marketers often swear by. Content marketing can contribute immensely to the success of your business. Provide the best content to your users on your social channels, understand your customers' needs, curate content that resonates with your customers and engage your customers more often than not on social channels. It takes time, but when done correctly, it can not only earn customer loyalty but also improve sales and brand visibility.  
  •  Explore Guest Blogging – The best way to attract a potential customer is to write on websites where they are most likely to be present and portals that they consider credible. Guest blogging is one of the best inbound marketing strategies that has proven to be successful for the B2B niche as well. Guest blogging not only drives traffic but drives a lot of revenue.
  •  Implement Remarketing Strategy – Your goal with remarketing is to get users to visit your website and to convert them into customers the next time they stop by. Sounds easy, but takes a smart brain to implement it successfully. Things take time and you can't expect stratospheric results from the get-go. But if you’re looking at more conversions then look no further than remarketing. You can make use of Google Ads, Facebook ads or LinkedIn for remarketing. E-commerce websites often make the most of remarketing. E-com brands use pixels on their website and these pixels follow the users no matter which website they are on. This ensures that the brand's offerings are always in the customer's line of sight, thus encouraging them to buy their products or services 
  • Implement Email Marketing Hacks- Not every person who visits your website is going to purchase your product. There may be numerous reasons for this. This is where Email Marketing comes into place. With this strategy, you can reach out to potential customers who have abandoned their cart before making their purchase. You can email a customer who has abandoned their cart and try re-engaging/persuading them to complete the transaction. Besides email marketing, optimizing your checkout pages ensures that fewer people are likely to abandon your page.
  • Set up an Instagram storefront - If you are not utilizing Instagram as a marketing tool, then you are missing out on a lot of potential customers. Instagram is one of the effective social media platforms for any business and even more so for E-commerce companies to sell their products. With visually appealing imagery and a host of easy-to-use editing tools, it’s very popular amongst the millennials. Instagram has roughly one billion users according to the latest stats. An increasing number of users purchase products from Instagram and the platform is turning out to be an unexpected source of organic sales. Ensure you add a link below the bio on your brand’s Instagram page, to take the users directly to the shopping page. By doing this, you can improve direct sales without spending much on advertising. 

There is no stopping the e-commerce juggernaut and there's no doubt it will continue to grow exponentially. I hope these useful hacks come in handy to skyrocket your E-commerce sales.

The article has been penned down by Pradeep Kumaar, CEO Neil Patel Digital India

 

 

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[Covid 19] Last ? Mile ? Delivery: Challenges & Solutions
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[Covid 19] Last ? Mile ? Delivery: Challenges & Solutions
 

E-commerce brands have been playing a vital role during the Covid-19 phase with door step deliveries, as citizens avoid stepping out for important supplies like groceries, medicines, etc. equally crucial has been the role of last mile delivery companies like Rapid Delivery, who majorly work with the e-comm sector. The E-commerce sector registered 45-50 per cent growth in GMV overall in the first two weeks of March compared to the same period in February, as per estimates from RedSeer Consulting.

Mitigating the risk with technology

With the recent prohibitory orders from the Govt. to exempt e-commerce operations, the industry is facing major challenges as there is no clarity from authorities on the exempt of operations. Online grocery and medical stores have definitely received a larger flux of orders in the past few weeks, but the lack of clarity from the authorities has only caused this situation to degrade instead. Delivery companies have their warehouse filled with deliveries imperative for the situation, such as masks, sanitizers and medicines. However owing to this confusion with local authorities policing roads and persisting for delivery boys to go back home and shutting down ware-houses, these parcels are going undelivered. The non-clear communication also doesn't help in inventory planning for delivery companies which will eventually cause some financial crunch for smaller companies. With non-allowance to make deliveries, paired with the unclear initiatives by the government to contain the pandemic. The e-commerce companies are bound to bear the brunt of soaring expenses on supply chain operations this pandemic season. 

Societies are not allowing delivery boys inside their gate. There is a work from home model being adopted by most companies mid and high level management. This has also added to the delivery conundrum as most corporate deliveries are returning back to origin due to non-availability of the person. The work from home model has also resulted in a boost in online sales as most states have imposed section 144 to curb the spread of the pandemic. But due to strict social distancing norms, societies are not allowing outsiders to enter buildings which poses a huge challenge for deliveries. The process of calling and coordinating with a customer to pick up the parcel from the gate consumes about twice as much time it takes to make a traditional delivery. Add to this customers not picking up calls will cause a substantial increase in the parcel returning back to origin. There is no work around; around this. However, delivery companies could look at optimising the workflow by equipping the back end team with systems with geocoding and AI. These systems analyse real time data to optimise routes with every delivery.

Mitigating the Risk

Because of the social distancing norm, last mile delivery partners face the challenge of no response from the receiver end whilst their parcel is out for delivery.  To address this challenge, companies can utilize predictive engines to inform the customer on the delivery date to better inform the customer. Such engines ae of great help for last mile delivery partners especially during some crisis for better coordination for deliveries.

With delivery drones being more or less a distant dream, the current pride of a last mile delivery company are its delivery boys. They are the face of the e-commerce as well as last mile delivery brands. It is of utmost importance to keep constant tabs on the staff's health, since the boys are at a greater risk of contracting the virus due to the nature of their job. Apart from the basic precautionary measures such as masks and sanitizers, it is also important to educate the staff on the pandemic, explaining the conditions to be vigilant about. The nature of delivery boys' work may be termed risky considering the current situation. It is therefore extremely important to conduct periodic check-ups for the ground staff and quarantining anyone who shows any symptoms. This pro-activeness towards employees' health in general would go a long way for the goodwill of the brand as well as retain loyal employees. Due to the delivery business being HR intensive i.e. involves a lot of man power, keeping a track on a vast fleet of delivery man-power is essential to ensure efficient utilization of the company's resources to make as many deliveries as well as not partake in anything that could help in the spread of the virus. 

 

 

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How E-procurement is transforming the landscape of Indian businesses?
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How E-procurement is transforming the landscape of Indian businesses?
 

In recent times cloud has been an integral part of turning big data into meaningful insights. Cloud-based data management has made it easier for businesses of all sizes to flawlessly integrate software and hardware to create a unified data environment. Cloud-based tech and the IoT will continue to play important parts in the development of e-procurement platforms for 2020 and beyond.

The backbone of process optimization and strategic sourcing is to get data analyzed thoroughly in real-time and with utmost accuracy. So, Big data will plays and will continue playing a big role in procurement organizations.

The other upcoming trend is Blockchain, which will further enhance automation massively and improve cyber security to processes ranging from procure-to-pay (P2P) to contract management to financial and inventory audits. Though, it hasn’t reached the desired stage as other new technologies but this’ll change in 2020 as more procurement teams embrace the dynamism and the increased security, the blockchain moves from an optional add-on to a core part of next-gen automation and security software.

As procurement teams are increasingly relying on technology to extract maximum savings and value from the supply chain, internal process optimization, and actionable insights, it becomes more critical than ever to protect these systems from tampering, manipulation, corruption, and outright destruction. So, cyber security is another trend that will be in priority in the upcoming years to safeguard sensitive information and for the smooth functioning of organizations.

Nowadays the procurement function is at the centre of business process management, helping all business units to minimize waste and expenditure while maximizing value. This transformation is perhaps the most crucial in the history of procurement and it will keep growing in years to come. 

  • Sectors using E-procurement and what benefits are they reaping from the E-procurement service

The requirement of e-Procurement solutions is not industry-specific. Large, midsize and growing companies across industry verticals that need cost savings will certainly benefit from the e-procurement system. E-procurement eliminates the cost of procurement resources and empowers the organisations to achieve efficiency, transparency and effectiveness in procurement. Construction and Real Estate are some of the sectors rising actively at the e-Procurement front.

  • Market predictions (For the next 3 yrs)

The emphasis on maximizing return on investment (ROI) and value creation, backed by minimal waste and expense, will remain a top priority for procurement professionals worldwide.

Experts at research firms have developed a variety of roadmaps defining the future of procurement. Gartner, for example, has predicted that by 2022:

·        50 % of existing spend analysis and procurement tools will be replaced by AI-driven, cloud-based purchasing platform.

·        75% of all B2B one-off spend (i.e. “tail spend”) will be made in online marketplaces such as Amazon.

·        All best-in-class procure-to-pay services will include built-in chatbots and virtual assistants to further enhance and streamline procurement while improving security and compliance.

  • How Indian companies/startups can leverage from E-procurement to grow their businesses.

The E-Procurement system helps an organization to manage its relationships with its valuable suppliers. It provides a range of built-in management tools to help control costs and ensure maximum supplier performance for those who use it. It provides a hassle-free and efficient way to maintain an undisturbed and a constant line of communication with potential suppliers during a business process.

It helps with the decision-making process by keeping relevant information neatly organized and time-stamped. 

Through e-procurement, all transactions are easier to track because they are made over the internet and managers can instantly see who made what purchases without having to wait for a monthly revolving credit statement to be issued.

E-procurement saves times. Buyers just have to go on the internet and place an order on the portal and the rest is taken care without any hassle. Since suppliers receive the order in real-time, the order fulfilment gets much quicker than the traditional methods of procurement.

The article has been authored by Sanjay Puri, CEO, C1 India

 

 

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5 Steps to Handle Supply Chain Disruptions in the era of Covid 19
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5 Steps to Handle Supply Chain Disruptions in the era of Covid 19
 

In the recent past, we have seen disruptions based on geopolitical conflicts, and now to this list, viruses have been added. During the last couple of months, we have had a disruption in China due to Covid-19, and now the same has spilled across the globe. China plays a vital role in global trade as it exports about 2.4 trillion dollars and has an export share of about 12%. This shows the dependency of China in the world economy.

In today’s competitive world, every second and every penny counts on the bottom line of the organization, and in that process, Supply Chain plays a vital role. Supply chain involves the activities of procuring the material or services from the supplier, and after value addition, the same is transported to the end customer's place. In all activities related to the supply chain, if there are any disruptions, then the bottom line of the organization is impacted heavily. In today’s world of disruption by new age tech startups  or impact due to geopolitical factors that are beyond human control has a significant effect on the procurement, movement of goods, value addition, and timely delivery.

Disruptions are part of the business, and unforeseen situations   create a knee-jerk reaction in the market and prompt businesses to take impromptu decisions impacting customer satisfaction. To handle these disruptions more effectively we could  follow the Five Golden Rules in organizations.

  1. Vulnerability Audit – The whole supply chain process should be audited by a third party for any vulnerabilities from sourcing, logistic planning, value addition process, and the distribution network. The audit should come out on the gaps in sourcing policies, if any key components are sourced from a single geographic location, single supplier, suggestions for alternative materials, how the communication channel works in case of disruptions, etc.,  The audit should be unbiased and show the truth of the existing practice and processes and how robust they are to tackle disruptions.
  2. Technology – It plays a vital role, especially in the case of multi-location and extensive distribution networks. Implementing proper SCM (Oracle SCM, Infor SCM, etc.) will give a holistic picture of the raw materials, but in the case of secondary sales, there is no visibility. Data captured through Distribution Management Software (Logo DMS, Field Assist, etc.) provides data like closing stock at various distributors. This data helps in monitoring and moving material in the hour of disruptions.
  3. Customer Satisfaction – retention of the customer is always challenging, especially during  disruptions. There should be a clear communication channel established for communicating to  customers transparently on challenges faced and steps taken to address them. Key management personnel should chip in and interact with major distributors and boost positive attitude by bringing them into confidence.
  4. Sourcing and Vendor Management – one of the key activities is sourcing, and in Supply Chain, the reliance is more on China. With the lockdown in China due to Covid-19 for many of the manufacturers, the raw materials are in shortage, and they may be able  sustain due to the safety stock they are maintaining. If the situation does not improve and once the safety stock is consumed, it will be a bigger challenge. It is always worth a penny to have material suppliers from different vendors and different locations. In case of such disruptions, it always helps to have an alternative source of supplies and ensure that business is not impacted. In the case of critical materials, it is still worthwhile to have backward integration to avoid dependencies on external factors that are beyond the control of the business.
  5. Crisis Management Team – to handle the adverse situations, there could  be a crisis management team in place, and if required, special teams can be set up to monitor and manage the situation. The employees should not have to run helter-skelter for information and instructions. They should look at the crisis management teams for any information to be passed to external stakeholders. This will ensure that there is no confusion and clear business strategy in place for unforeseen events like now.

Disruptions can be handled effectively if the above are considered in the business plans and implemented. In the hour of crisis, there is always a business opportunity, and it depends on the leadership team on how they leverage the opportunity and make the best use of the same. It is an opportunity for India to migrate from a services economy to a manufacturing economy as the whole world is impacted by it, and everyone is looking out for alternatives. India is well suited to take a stand in the frontline now with its skilled labor, vast reserves of natural resources, and leaders in technology. In our country, there is no shortage of talent or resources. This opportunity will boost  Make in India and also provide huge employment opportunities apart from earning valuable foreign exchange.

( The article has been authored by CMA B Mallikarjun Gupta - Chief Taxologist, Logo Infosoft) 

 

 

 

 

 

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Biggest Trends That Will Govern Loyalty Programs in 2020 and in Future
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Biggest Trends That Will Govern Loyalty Programs in 2020 and in Future
 

Loyal customers generate more revenues for business and that is a proven fact. Customer preferences and behavior keep changing and that influences loyalty programs that will generate the desired results. What worked the last year may not work for this year or the next.

These loyalty program trends should let you craft strategies that deliver results.

Customer Data Collection

One can have generalized data to create a general strategy but, considering that customers expect personalized services, it is important to gather data that gives a lot of personal details. Loyalty programs for 2020 and thereafter will incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning to gather specific data that will give insights on individual customers to help marketers craft personalized strategies.

Personalization is Important

A Salesforce survey finds that 59 percent of customers expect personalized attention. It is not surprising given that people are the target of unwanted and generalized e-mails, text messages, and irrelevant offers. Admittedly it is no easy task to track each customer and know their preferences but artificial intelligence does help loyalty programs improve the degree of personalization. This feature will be accentuated in this year’s loyalty programs by way of improved automation.

Multiple Connects

Businesses may find it convenient, cost-effective, and easy to stick with only one channel of communication but that carries the risk of customer disgruntlement. Older people may be comfortable with email or phone chats. The younger generation would rather text or chat. If you cannot meet them where they want then you lose points.

E-commerce Competition Boosts Loyalty Activities

Savvy customers know that you can buy virtually anything online, ranging from consumer products to industrial goods. Ecommerce is booming and its share of retail space will be about 15.5 percent and in B2B it will be 12.1 percent, according to Oberlo statistics. You cannot fight it. Join eCommerce and give customers another chance to stay loyal.

A consumer products company may deal with resellers who sell in retail stores as well as online so they are not directly involved but what they can do and are doing is to let customers know that their products are available online through their retailers on various e-commerce platforms. Enterprising manufacturers may start their online retail operations. E-commerce transactions happen on e-commerce enabled sites but the drivers may be rooted in sites like Instagram and Facebook, where businesses must maintain a recognizable presence for better connections with customers. It helps businesses to have their e-commerce site, promote retailers operating on other e-commerce platforms, and link everything together on social media. This could boost sales by as much as 300 percent or more.

Gamification is on the Rise

Gamification works. 40 percent of millennials like a loyalty program if it has gamification, according to a Forbes report. PostFunnel finds gamification in loyalty programs is welcome for over 40 percent of millennials. Gamification improves conversion rates by 50 percent. Gamification goes hand in hand with rewards.

Rewards to Increase

People like rewards in exchange for loyalty. They like things like travel vouchers, free tools as gifts, tech products, passes to movies or shows, and similar lifestyle products. The Incentive Research Foundation finds that 50 percent of participants in loyalty programs will earn a reward and businesses are likely to increase the budget to 43 percent. Technology investment in loyalty programs has risen by 43 percent.

You can expect digital marketers to come up with loyalty programs but what you need is AI-powered, data-driven loyalty programs to help you derive maximum benefits. For this, you will want a digital marketer with a tech underpinning to devise loyalty programs that deliver results in 2020 and in the time to come. But do you need to create a loyalty program if your business is doing well?

Statistics Speak

  • Snake oil salesmen can charm you but statistics convince. Business2community statistics show that 55 percent of older millennials and 53 percent of younger millennials and 51 percent of Gen-Z will stick to a brand if they like it. However, the same source also finds that 73 percent of customers are now switching loyalties faster than before. This means there is no room for complacency.
  • Loyalty programs are on the rise as businesses realize their worth. 77 percent of customers are part of a retail loyalty program according to Adobe. There are increases across the board in travel, hotel, and consumer goods.
  • You cannot keep offering the same carrot all the time. If you think the points system is good enough, think again. Customers want different rewards to keep them loyal. 61 percent of customers find financial rewards a good enough incentive and 58 percent find customized programs more suited to them. Loyalty contributes to about 18 percent incremental growth per year.
  • Loyalty has other benefits such as loyal customers recommending your products. Bond brand loyalty report shows 73 percent of members of one brand are likely to recommend it to others in their circle.
  • Statista states that despite the recession the loyalty memberships in the states jumped from 3.3 million to 3.8 billion in 2 years between 2014 and 2016. Recession makes people more conscious about saving money. More than 60 percent of respondents stated they would like codes that lead to discounts at checkout.
  • The B2B segment is latching on to loyalty programs with 70 percent of businesses stating they are implementing programs for personalized experiences.
  • Hyken finds that 62 percent of customers still feel brands are not rewarding them enough.

One can go on and on with statistics but it shows the loyalty landscape is changing like quicksand and you need to be ahead of the trends to keep customers in your basket with the help of specialist loyalty program experts.

About the author:

Hardik Oza is a marketing practitioner with more than 9 years of experience. He helps companies to grow their businesses. He shares his thoughts on additional publications like SEMrush, Search Engine People, and Social Media Today, and a few more. Follow him on Twitter @Ozaemotion.

 

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How These 4 Logistics Trends Will Build the Runway for D2C and Retail 2020
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How These 4 Logistics Trends Will Build the Runway for D2C and Retail 2020
 

As technology makes inroads into the retail industry and D2C companies continuously look to introduce innovative business models and technology-driven processes. On the other hand, with easy access to the internet, wide reach of mobile networks and innovative tech platforms, consumers now can view and be intrigued by the best of products and facilities over the World Wide Web. Find, click, consume – that’s the constant cycle. But how do businesses keep up with this trend?

The answer lies in logistics. As consumers demand more and expect their products to reach them fast and efficiently, businesses need to plan their logistical expertise to hold an upper hand in this game. 

If we had to pick a few key trends that might shape the future of logistics in the retail sector in 2020:

1. The AI Imperative
Retail businesses have already had experimented with automated picking and packing for years. But as the sector witnesses more AI-driven use cases, the scope of its usage in managing and executing logistics also increases. As the need for faster and same-day deliveries balloon, savvy retailers are leveraging AI-powered algorithms to plan efficient delivery routes, predict delays, ensure intelligent dispatching, and mitigate risks and more.

2. The Age of Automation
Shying away from this emerging trend is not an option anymore, especially if you are in charge of retail logistics. Manual methods of executing logistics are a deterrent to the growing need for satisfying customer expectations, improving delivery margins and ensuring scale. Automation is the key to achieving these goals. Future-ready retail businesses are automating inventory management, task allocation, route planning, returns management and more to deliver never before seen logistics efficiencies. Modern logistics platforms automatically send notifications to customers keeping them updated on the delivery progress.

3. The Big Data Boost
Big data analytics have already proved its mettle for the logistics industry. With regards to retail, Big Data is already empowering businesses to understand customer behavior, accurately up sell and cross-sell products. Moving ahead the enormous amounts of data generated by IoT powered delivery fleet will empower businesses to make accurate and fast decisions with regards to in-transit freight movement. The rapid adoption of this technology in the times ahead will also help businesses anticipate busy periods, potential supply shortage and craft insights for making strategic strides. 

4. The Coming of Age for Autonomous Deliveries
Autonomous and drone deliveries are increasingly being experimented with numerous companies in the West already testing and implementing this breakthrough technology successfully. Consultant McKinsey & Co. predicts that in less than a decade, 80 percent of all items will be delivered autonomously. If this comes true, this could be termed as a phenomenal achievement! With this, Retail companies are going to experience a bundle of improvements in terms of shorter delivery times leading to more deliveries being fulfilled, greater customer satisfaction, enhanced operational efficiency which in turn will propel massive revenue growth for them. Another significant advantage for businesses would be a huge reduction in costs.

Adoption of these trends and technologies by the retail sector will surely make 2020 one of its biggest years. Innovation and efficiency emerging from these technologies at the end will not only benefit customers but also push the retail industry ahead and give pioneers in business who implement these technologies a competitive advantage.

The article has been written by Kushal Nahata CEO  Co-founder FarEye

 

 

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How to Foster Innovation for Retail Brands?
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How to Foster Innovation for Retail Brands?
 

Just like all other industries, retail has to innovate and think outside of the box if brands want to differentiate on the market and stay ahead of the curve. However, innovation practices and innovative company cultures are not as straightforward in retail as in some other industries such as tech.

As a retail brand owner, here is what you can do to foster innovation in your company:

Lead by Example

As with any other behaviour within a company, it’s more likely that employees will follow a behavioral pattern if the CEO or founder of the company is known to do the same. This can reflect positively and negatively: for example, if a CEO encourages toxic, competitive workplace structures, employees are likely to follow the lead.

In an opposite example, if a CEO (founder) shows they're not afraid to think outside of the box, take risks and collaborate with other disruptive thinkers, the employees are more likely to take the same path.

Produce Clear Documentation for Your Employees

Technical guides and documentation can significantly help your employees decipher behaviors and actions that are frowned upon, as well as those that are encouraged.

If you want to foster innovation across all your departments, make sure you produce a straightforward guide that will explain both new and existing employees the dos and don`ts of working within your organization. You can use some of the following services for help:

  • BeGraded – a portal for writers who can work on any assigned topic
  • Google Docs – to make communication and collaboration easier within your team
  • WriteScout – comparison of different writing services
  • Slack – a team collaboration tool that you can use to encourage innovation and teamwork 

Make Innovation a Part of Your Culture

Innovation as part of company culture is not a cliche – it's actually something that's very rarely present in day-to-day operations of retail organizations. More than in any other industry, the “don’t rock the boat” mindset is present in retail across all departments and teams.

In other words, if your retail company is more likely to promote and celebrate the status quo and focus on things that are going well exclusively – it’s likely that innovation and idea-sharing is not part of your company culture.

“You have to teach your employees that the benefit of sharing ideas and potentially succeeding will always outweigh the costs of potential failures. It might sound like a cliché, but failed attempts in realization of an idea are just steps to ultimate success. This is something your employees have to be aware of as well”, says Helene Cue, a writer at Subjecto.

Attract the Right People and Build High-Performing Teams

Talent management doesn’t stop after a person is hired, but it’s definitely one of the most crucial steps in the process. If you want to attract talented, fast-thinking people who are capable of innovation, you will have to offer plenty in return. Think about how you will differentiate from other competitors on the market in terms of employer reputation.

Finally, when you hire a sufficient number of staff members who are highly competent and innovative, the next step is to form top-performing teams. Either by yourself or with the help of an HR professional, figure out who works best with whom in order to provide them with the perfect environment where they can produce ideas in the most effective way.

Make it Easy to Share Ideas

We already mentioned some of the structures and tools that you can utilize to promote easy sharing of ideas, but it’s also important that you manage to create an organizational hierarchy that enables any staff member to approach superiors with an idea, with no negative repercussions.

“Many great ideas go to waste in big organizations because it’s simply difficult to reach decision-makers and actually have enough time for a decent pitch. That’s why innovation is the basis of company culture in organizations where staff members can approach the CEO or managers with an idea without doubt or fear”, says Melanie Sovann, a content writer at Studyker.

Conclusion

With the right tools and relatively effortlessly, you can go a long way in promoting innovation and encouraging new ideas in your retail brand. Just make sure innovative thinking is a part of your company culture, embedded into the everyday workflow.

About Author 

Estelle Liotard is a writer who’s currently working as a content marketing specialist as ClassyEssay and a regular contributor at TopEssayWriting. She’s an expert on SEO, digital marketing and eCommerce, and loves sharing her knowledge with fellow writers and marketers.  

 

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5 Ways To Build Brand & Earn Customer Loyalty
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5 Ways To Build Brand & Earn Customer Loyalty
 

This loyalty keeps the revenue flowing besides building the relationship with the clients.

 

For building the brand reputation and the loyalty of the business, it is important to serve customers for their specific requirements when customers interact with the business website or the app.

 

A brand’s loyal customers are those who are going to interact with the business (through app or website) to buy products even if products are not on sale.- (discount)

 

 

That’s how loyalty works for the brands.

 

Your loyal clients will do repetitive business with you keeping their loyalty intacted to the brand.

 

But what exactly goes into building this loyalty?

 

What are those metrics that keep clients a resourceful asset to the business? Is it possible for new brands to be the exclusive choice of the clients? Let’s find out answers to all these queries here.

 

Different businesses have varied approaches to measure customer loyalty. But the most common one is the number of repetitive purchases from a brand by the customers. This could be measured by gathering data around how many times a person has interacted with the official website or made purchases through the app. Though they may not be big purchases, it is likely that revenue from these repetitive purchases has added to the overall revenue of the brand over the years.

 

With only a 5% improvement in customer retention rate business can yield up to 25-100% increase in the profit margin. If customers are happy with the services of a brand they won’t hesitate from frequent buying.

 

Let’s Now Look At The Ways On How Brands Can Build Customer Loyalty

 

#Know Your Customers & Let Them Know You

 

Don’t you feel overwhelmed when you meet a person just for the second time even though he remembers your name and other information that you shared in the first meeting? Same goes with customers when they interact with an app of exclusive brands, do some purchases and come for a second purchase. This initiates a feeling to customers that they are being cared for by the brand. A brand can perform the following actions to establish personal connections:

  • Send personalized emails. Send customers wishes on their birthdays, anniversary, and other special days
  • Make them feel overwhelmed with special discount on any of their special days
     
    #Make Customer Loyalty Easier
     
    Have you experienced the way Amazon or any other eCommerce brand keeps your data (credit card details/ purchase history/ product recommendation depending upon last purchase) with them in order to garner a feeling that they know you even if they don’t? Making it easy for clients to interact with your app is the first step towards earning their loyalty. Brands can perform the following actions for the same.
  • Making brand interaction much easier. Avoid implementing processes that take considerable time
  • Keep them updated about every new update though app notifications or personalized emails
     
    #Reward Loyalty To The Customers
     
    Brands have been actively implementing customer loyalty programs to offer exclusive deals. For example, Starbucks offers stars to the customers with every purchase that they can double at certain days of a month to earn special status in their loyalty programs. This program has considerably helped Starbucks to gather an enormous amount of data about their clients. Brands can rewards loyalty by:
  • Running prime membership programs for exclusive clients
  • Trying punch cards (offering customers punch cards on their every visit and offering them something free of cost after a considerable amount of cards have been submitted.
     
    #Encourage Customer Feedback
     
    Customer reviews go hand in hand with customer loyalty. Good reviews draw prospects to the business, good services make prospects your clients, and satisfied clients leave good reviews. The first step in this cycle is good services. Make sure your customers have good times while interacting with your app and they get overwhelmed while getting in contact with the customer service team. Here are the ways to encourage good customer feedback.
  • Paying attention to every client’s requirement even if it is acute. Include different channels including social also
  • Asking for reviews through email
     
    #Offer Convenience While Providing Services
     
    Making customers’ lives easier is a step forward towards brand building and establishing customer loyalty. Think about the ways that can help make customers’ experiences better with the brand. Streamline the checkout process so that it is easier for clients to get in and out easily. Implement checkout processes that are not long enough to perform. Here are the ways to establish customer convenience.
  • Implement step-by-step checkout process
  • Consider customer appreciation programs on different channel
     
    In Conclusion
     
    Once customers have made a certain number of purchases, they are sure to return to the similar brand for making more purchases. It’s all about how the brand has treated their clients and the customers have felt about it. If the customer engagement  experience of clients has remained an excellent one, Congrats your brand is in the line of their favourite ones. 
     
    Author Bio: Siya Carla is Solution Consultant at Finoit Technologies, a leading custom software development company which turns ideas into reality by providing unique web design and mobile app development services.
    Twitter Profile: @Finoit
     
     
     
     
     
     
 

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Omni channel support and its importance for great customer experience
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Omni channel support and its importance for great customer experience
 

Remember when you picked up the phone and laughed over a WhatsApp conversation you had with a friend? Or referred to a tweet or Instagram post they shared? These simple conversations are everyday examples of omni channel communications. They are taking place all around us—and today’s customers expect their communication with brands and businesses to be the same. Not only do they expect businesses to be available on all the channels they use, they expect these interactions to be seamless.

 What does this mean?

It means that if a customer chats with a business on his desktop during office hours, and then calls them during his commute home, he expects the company representative to recognize him and have access to details he gave during the previous chat. The customer does not want to repeat a conversation each time he switches communication channels.

 The good news is that it is relatively simple for businesses to provide this smooth customer experience. The bad news is that 80% of businesses still do not do it. According to a Customer Contact Week Report released in March, when customers switch channels, they often need to repeat details they might have given in a previous conversation.

 What businesses need to enable omni-channel communications?

 There are two essential components to providing a seamless, omni channel experience:

Businesses need to be available on the channels popular with their customers.

They need to have a unified view of customers across these channels.

 To fulfill the first criterion, businesses need to gauge which channels suit their customers and service. Older customers may appreciate voice, while younger customers cannot do without a messaging channel. A cloud contact center solution allows businesses to choose which channels to provide support on. 

 Businesses can fulfill the second criterion of a unified customer view by integrating their contact center solution with their CRM or ticketing solution. Customer details, along with previous call or chat transcripts will then be available to the customer representative who is conversing with the customer regardless of the channel. 

 Case Study: Integrating WhatsApp with Call Center Support

 Let us consider an omni channel support consisting of WhatsApp and phone support. A customer sends a WhatsApp message inquiring about a delayed delivery. She is greeted by a welcome prompt with a promise of follow-up. A few seconds later, her phone buzzes and a WhatsApp message states why her delivery is delayed and expected time of arrival. She responds with an “OK”. Half an hour later, the customer realizes she needs to step out and won't be available to receive the package. She decides to call and tell the business. The agent who answers is not the same as the agent who answered the WhatsApp text, yet he knows about the customer’s delayed delivery because the details show up on his screen while they speak. The agent and customer talk and fix a suitable delivery time. 

 To manage these conversations smoothly across WhatsApp, phone and other channels, here is what the business requires at the backend:

 Automatic Chat Distribution: Incoming chats needs to be evenly distributed amongst the call center agents.

 Flexible interface: A business may not have dedicated agents to answer WhatsApp messages. In that case, the call center interface will have to automatically switch to chat or call mode, depending on whether the agent receives a message or a call. 

 Integration: The business needs to integrate its contact center solution with its CRM solution and its WhatsApp Business API. This way the agent sees all CRM information about the customer while answering WhatsApp messages or phone calls. They can easily enter details into the CRM, and all chat transcripts and call recordings are available against the customer ticket.

 Chatbots: Businesses may need to use chatbots to greet customers, answer FAQs and deliver basic self-service such as cancellations or rescheduling, based on call or chat volumes. 

 The hottest new channels for omnichannel support 

 So what will be the hottest new channels you need to integrate into your call center in 2020? The phone will remain the hot favorite. Live Chat too will continue to be popular. But the channel, which is expected to see maximum growth will hands-down be WhatsApp.

 In its first year, WhatsApp was being cautious with handing out its business phone numbers. However, now the process to get a WhatsApp Business API number has become much smoother. Of course, WhatsApp still maintains multiple measures to ensure that businesses cannot use its channel to flood people with sales messages. However, with 1.5 billion users actively using the channel multiple times a day, active users, it has tremendous potential as a customer support and a customer engagement channel.

 So this year the WhatsApp messages you follow up with phone calls, and vice versa, won’t be limited to conversations with friends—but will include interactions with the brands you love and trust the most.

The article has been authored by Chaitanya Chokkareddy, Chief Innovation Officer, Ozonetel

 

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How Non-Delivery Report(NDR), RTO impact seller's profitability?
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How Non-Delivery Report(NDR), RTO impact seller's profitability?
 

If you’re an online seller, you might be aware of the perils of non-delivery of shipments. The reason behind incomplete delivery could be anything from an uncontactable customer,incomplete or incorrect address to unavailable COD amount with the customer or even a customer refusing or postponing the delivery. You, however, were liable to pay your courier partner and would’ve paid it out of your pocket. Such instances are called ‘non-delivery’. But can such instances be avoided? If yes, how? Let us find out.

What is NDR?

NDR stands for Non-Delivery Report, which is an industry-wide term used for delivery attempt failure generated by the courier partner. If a seller doesn’t take action on a non-delivery report, it reduces the chance for further success and in turn, increases the percentage of Return to Origin (RTO)

How can one process an NDR?

When an NDR is raised, you have two alternatives available. You can either opt to reattempt delivery or choose RTO for the package. Delivery can be reattempted by furnishing the required details such as correct address and contact number, etc. You must note that courier partners make 3 attempts at most and will subsequently mark the package as RTO or ‘Return to Origin’.

Today, forward-looking logistics aggregators have introduced NDR or Non Delivery Report feature to minimize non-deliveries wherein they include E-tailers in this last-mile delivery process in order to enable better and proactive communication between the buyer and the courier partner. Sellers can update incorrect address or contact details. This feature also empowersa buyer to opt for a different delivery date as per their preferencesor availability. With more transparency and better communication, you get to reduce your NDR and RTO orders just in time and thus, avoid huge losses in the process. A few players have taken such initiatives a step further with programs such as ‘NDR Buyer Flow’ which is essentially, an IVR calling facility, wherein customers can reach out if they are not contactable or have refused delivery. These features help validate the claims of courier partners as well.

Is RTO a genuine problem for eCommerce businesses?

COD, as it has emerged in the Indian market, is a perfect hack where either the trust for online sellers hasn’t been built or the digital payment adoption is yet to occur. It is a magic wand that has beenfuelling the growth of e-commerce majorly in tier 2 and Tier 3 cities.

But it has a bane of its own. RTOs mostly happen in the case of ‘Cash on Delivery’ orders. As a result, a whopping 40% orders are returned industry-wide, which means that 1 out of 3 COD orders are returned overall.This causes monetary losses in terms of operational costs of logistics as well as locked-in capital.In a study conducted by Deloitte ‘Future of Ecommerce - Uncovering Innovation’, it was found that at times conventional logistics partners do not have the required expertise to handle COD, recheck return parcels, and other complexities related to the digital sale. It, ultimately, is making e-tailers to either establish their own delivery network or engage with multiple shipping partners for supply chain management, especially the last-mile delivery.

This is an area where modern logistics aggregator – with their tech-driven infrastructure – make a sizeable difference. They leverage ultramodern technologies including Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to extend the best alternative to e-tailers based on their delivery requirements.

How do the concepts of NDR and RTO impact yourprofitability?

They affect your profitability in the following ways:

NDR:

It helps you track your shipment on a round-the-clock basis. Any activity related to your shipment can be examined by you at the touch of a button, either on your phone or your computer screen.

Let’s say that your shipment failed to deliver for some reason. The tech-driven solution will alert you about the non-delivery and give you 12 hours to ask for a re-attempt or update correct information. You and your end-customer will receive 3 chances before the package is marked as RTO. Attempts are made irrespective of whether a seller participates in this process or not but added information from seller helps expedite this process. 

RTO:

In case of an RTO, any returned item is delivered back to the warehouse and stored until it is examined by the quality department or scrapped. This process could take hours, days, or even months. Just sitting on a product that should have been delivered to the customer in the first place is not a profitable scenario. 

Another big issue is that of inventory. No seller wants to lock in their inventory.It eventually leads to cash-flow-related problems. The seller would have to bear the freight charges for both sides as well (forward and return). This is when no profit is realized on the transaction.Other than that, this scenario needlessly consumes warehouse space and hampers customer satisfaction/retention.

Therefore, it is imperative to keep both the buyer and the seller informed. It gives a favourable situation for both of the transacting parties. On one hand, the seller gets to file for a re-attempt just at the right time in case of NDR. On the other hand, the buyer gets to know the exact date and time when the courier executive is arriving. Ultimately, it greatly decreases the chances of non-delivery and returns. 

RTO is one of the most important concepts to note when it comes to maximizing your profitability. An undelivered package – irrespective of the reason behind it –is never a pretty sight for the buyer and therefore, dampens your customer satisfaction.On top of that, if your company has a poor returns process, whereby there are hurdles in returning the item such as paying for shipping, or restrictive freight carriers, delays in issuing a refund, etc., you as a seller could lose the customer’s business in the future.

However, with an efficient and tech-driven logistics aggregator, you will be having multiple courier partners at your disposal. All of these aggregators are also rated according to their delivery performances in the past which, in turn, gives you greater clarity vis-à-vis the package delivery. You have greater flexibility and transparency in this scenario as compared to sticking to a single one. It will also provide you quick grievance resolution and round-the-clock support. In a nutshell, helping you become more profitable without creating additional financial burden on you.

The article has been penned down by Saahil Goel, CEO & Co-founder of Shiprocket.

 

 

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Bridging The Gap Between Supply Chain & Logistics With Delivery Tracking Software
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Bridging The Gap Between Supply Chain & Logistics With Delivery Tracking Software
 

Communication between various software systems is easier than ever today. Similar applications have standardized data format and advanced technology to aid in logistic challenges. Even when there are ways to overcome challenges in field service management, there are companies struggling hard to close this gap.

While there are methods to keep the supply chain and logistic management in sync with each other, the implementation still seems a herculean task for many organizations. All because some of the companies that had done businesses the traditional way are skeptical about modern operations.

The very first step towards a well connected network of employees from teams working in supply chain and logistic management is having a scheduling app that is commonly accessed by these teams. Knowing the positioning of the teams working in different locations makes it easy for managers to plan the steps further.

With an interconnected team of professionals following things happen:

  • Visibility is established at every stage of logistics
  • The turnout time for performing every step reduces considerably
  • Multifaceted logistics coordination identifies inefficiencies and helps develop a better shipment channel, thus reducing the entire cost

Let’s have a look at the solutions in order to resolve logistic issues:

In order to resolve problems and supply gaps in logistics, there is no better way than getting the processes digitized. Digitization has an influential impact that empowers planning, collaboration, automation, and a number of other concerns for logistic management companies.

Here is a broader coverage of the advantages that come along:

Better Team Collaboration

Digital supply chain helps to collaborate efficiently among multiple internal and external systems. Collaboration among different teams eliminates data silo effect that is one of the major factors for creating the gap in supply chain. A unified and shared view of supply chain through delivery tracking software can easily accelerate the business along with establishing better communication among the employees.

Automation In Processes

Automation in supply chain and logistics considerably reduces manual efforts in performing any of the tasks. Automation also facilitates decision making as the data generated from the several processes can easily be accessed based upon which the decision can further be made. Automation in the business helps make great decisions in terms of choosing the most appropriate shipping mode, scheduling and tracking the professional working on-field, and helping managers to get and store data securely for further references. 

Let’s Talk About Pros Of Having A Logistic Software

Eliminating Human Errors

A software having goodness of automation in your services reduces the recurring manual errors. With such software, manual errors can easily be eliminated from the operations both on-field and off the field. Analysis of logistics data results in huge quantities of data that is tough to process, time consuming, and extensively prone to error when processed manually. These mistakes are easy to eliminate with a specific field service management software.

Automating Functions

As explained above, the introduction of automation is a boon for companies operating in field service businesses. Functions like route scheduling, tracking technician’s location in real-time, keeping the workforce work ready, eliminating extra efforts etc. can easily be done with the introduction of a software that could manage the logistics. Moreover, the biggest advantage is it eliminates paper work and keeps the data stored safely for future references. The software also helps to manage the process much more efficiently.

Cost Reduction

When manual processes are eliminated, it automatically results in reducing the service cost to a greater extent. That way your business could considerably save with the introduction of a field service management software. The traditional process of delivering services and managing the inventory is replaced with an automated software that helps improve other processes considerably, which also contributes in cost reduction to a greater extent.

In Conclusion

Opting for logistic solutions by introducing a feature-rich field service management software is a step ahead in bridging the gap between supply chain and logistic. Besides all the above-written benefits, tracking the real time location of field employees is also possible with a delivery tracking software. Having so many advantages, it is only good to have a delivery management software in your business.

Author Bio:

Bhupendra Choudhary holds considerable experience in managing sales leads as the managing Director of FieldCircle - a globally acclaimed construction and delivery management software service firm.

Twitter Profile of Company : @TheFieldCircle

 

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How retail sector is effected by illegal barcodes?
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How retail sector is effected by illegal barcodes?
 

Barcodes play a key role in supply chains, enabling retailers, manufacturers, and transport suppliers to capture information in an automated manner related to movement and storage of goods. It helps in saving time & effort which would be spent otherwise in manually capturing such information by each trading partner in the supply chain. 

Products / consignments can be uniquely & unambiguously identified using GS1 global identification standards which get encoded within barcodes on product packaging or cartons. Through this, track and trace of products / consignments across the supply chain can be undertaken from their point of manufacture / origin to their point of sale/consumption.

Use of global standards in barcoding helps in product authentication, effecting speedy & accurate product recalls and access to product label information from trusted sources (brand owners). 

Through an application titled, “Smart consumer Mobile App” developed by GS1 India, consumers can scan barcodes on products to verify product label information & access more detailed information on products prior to making purchase decisions. Product claims related to statutory compliances, for example – on validity of certificates of food licenses, as issued by FSSAI (Food Safety & Standards Authority of India), etc. can be authenticated through the use of this app. Information accessed through this app is trusted & reliable since it is provided directly by brand owners and uploaded into GS1 India’s national product data repository called “DataKart”.

Barcode numbers to facilitate unique & universal identification of products is done by GS1, a global standards organization which operates across 150 countries.

There have been instances reported on assignment of GS1 barcode numbers (which are used in barcodes printed on product packaging) illegally & in an unauthorized manner by unscrupulous barcode number sellers. In such cases, consumers using the smart consumer mobile app will not find authentic product information & would thus know that the barcodes printed are suspect. the long-term consequences of purchasing barcodes from unauthorized sources can adversely impact a business.

Here are some of the impacts:

  • If you’re buying barcode numbers from an unauthorized source, you need to locate and pay for packaging and other suppliers to encode barcode numbers into barcode images, which eventually raises your overall cost
  • A large portion of the enormous retail directs in India, both offline and online, allows only items with universally unique GTIN(Global Trade Identification Number) or barcode numbers to be identified in their systems and abstain from filtering issues at the checkout counters. In such cases, barcodes acquired from unauthorized sources become unusable, thus forcing the company to scrap and replace their entire product packaging together with the new barcodes
  • Other major effects include inability to list products on e-tailing websites, failed customer authentication through consumer apps, etc.

Retailers & ecommerce shopping portals use only authorized GS1 barcode numbers in their product item masters / e-product catalogues and they authenticate the barcode numbers through GS1 organizations across the world.

GS1 India barcode numbers which start with prefix ‘890’ code, are trademark protected & any illegal assignment or use of the same, could invite legal action.

About the author:

Mr. Ravi Mathur is the CEO of GS1 India and has been driving the adoption of global standards and best practices in India which help in enhancing operational efficiencies of organisations across Industry sectors and facilitate compliance with regulatory requirements worldwide.    

Social Media Handles:  https://www.facebook.com/GS1India/ , https://twitter.com/GS1Indiahttps://www.linkedin.com/company/gs1india/

 

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How colors can influence consumers buying decision?
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How colors can influence consumers buying decision?
 

Once the issue of affordability is addressed, the visual appeal of a product is the main influence on the consumer's purchasing decision. In fact, the color, brand, appearance, and feel of a product influence 93% of the purchasing decision. Next comes a texture that influences 6% of the purchasing decision and a sound and smell that influences 1% of the purchasing decision. By the time a consumer starts walking on an item that has their favorite color, most purchasing decisions have already been made. When the four parameters of color, design/texture and fragrance are combined, the purchasing decision becomes powerful.

1 - Red

Regarding personality and visual cues, red evokes strong emotions, increases appetite, symbolizes passion and love and increases passion and intensity. In marketing, it is known to increase the heart rate and is mainly used by impulsive buyers. Red creates urgency which is often used in clearing sales. It stimulates the glands of appetite and is therefore used in many restaurants. It is about survival, alertness, security and physical independence.

62 to 90% of consumers quickly assess the influence of this color.

2 - Yellow

This color stimulates the mental process, stimulates communication, stimulates the eyes but also increases joy. In marketing, it is synonymous with optimism, youth, and clarity. It is used to draw the attention of customers to shop windows. In fact, research shows that it is the first color that babies respond to and is, therefore, the color used in most baby products and toys. Color has one of the longest wavelengths, which makes it one of the most psychologically convincing colors. He is also very visible and draws attention to him. Too much yellow color causes anxiety, so here you have to find the right balance when using it in your store.

3 - Blue

This color is mainly associated with water and is the preferred color for men. It reduces appetite and is synonymous with peace and serenity. It increases productivity and is mainly used in offices. It creates a sense of security and confidence in a brand. There is a 15% chance that people will remember your store when it is painted blue. It is also associated with productivity and is non-invasive. The feeling of confidence, inspired by blue, makes it the preferred color of financial institutions. Color is also known to inspire loyalty. Samsung IBM and Volkswagen use this color in their brands.

4 - Orange

It reflects enthusiasm, excitement, and warmth. It is also the color of caution. In marketing, it is synonymous with aggressiveness and serves to influence impulse buyers. Orange marks are considered joyful and reassuring. It is used to create a call to action, that is, to draw, buy or sell. Color is associated with accessibility and cost-effectiveness. This is why it is used in stores like Boulanger and Home Depot. Mozilla and HTML5 also use orange in their brands. Well-known brands that sell high-quality products, Harley Davidson, have their logos colored in orange.

colors

5 - The Green

Greenwood is synonymous with health, serenity, and peace. It indicates nature and relieves depression. The human eye is able to distinguish as many shades of green as possible. It is synonymous with new growth. In marketing, it is used in stores to create a sense of relaxation. itis associated with the wealthy. Traders use it to attract eco-friendly customers to their stores. Green was the favorite color of wedding dresses in the 15th century. Starbuck, Xbox One use this color.

6 - Violet

It is the color of royalty, success, wealth and wisdom. In marketing, it is used to calm and soothe. It is often used in cosmetics and anti-aging products. Purple represents a wise, imaginative, and creative brand. Yahoo, Cadbury use this color in their brands. This color is the perfect blend between the stability of blue and the energy and strength of red, making it the most common color in luxury and branded products. It is the most used color in the creative industry because it is the creativity, the mystery and the power of red.

7 - Black

Black is the color of sophistication, mystery, power, and control. It is the color used to sell elegant items and brands that are sold to those who like reserved brands. It dominates the packaging industry for high-quality cosmetic products, especially for high-quality lipsticks. When used in excess, it can be subliminally repulsive, denoting negativity and oppression and being associated with death in Western civilizations. It is also a color that should be used because it attracts attention in a subtle and refined way. It is an exceptional color and internationally recognized. It is best to use it when you want to create a sense of sterility or institutionalization in your business.

8 - White

Cleanliness, purity and safety and can be used to represent neutrality. White is mainly used to create more space for breathing and to open up a crowded area. It is the most common color used by sellers to advertise coupons and discounts. White is the best color for creating contrast on store shelves and aisles. In fact, some of the biggest brands in the world like Google use white to create contrast on their websites. White is the color of clarity and freshness and is used to encourage creativity. This is why it is the most common color in office buildings.

To conclude

Markets have become more competitive and product cycles have been shortened, which means that every retailer must use all the rules to generate sales. The use of color psychology is common in many industries, including retail, real estate, fishing, the military, automobiles, and restaurants. Subtle changes in colors, distribution, and layout can affect sales, brand loyalty, conversion, and reliability. Ultimately, each business must consider how their brand colors affect customer response and potential sales.

About the author

Digvijay Rajddan is Marketing Manager at Design By Lavassa and has served as the Head of Conversion Marketing at Planet Web Solution. He's an expert in inbound marketing and lead generation.

 

 

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PRIVATE LABELS: Will They Cause Sleepless Nights For Legacy Brands?
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PRIVATE LABELS: Will They Cause Sleepless Nights For Legacy Brands?
 

In the era of direct-to-consumer networking, private labels are emerging as the strong adversaries of national brands. Retailers like Trent, Aditya Birla, Future Retail, Croma are leveraging their in-store brands to increase sales margin and customer loyalty. Not just retailers but customers are also growing averse to the idea of brand loyalty.

Before we dive in further, let’s first understand what a private label is and how it is different from a national brand...

What Are Private Labels?    

Private labels are in-store brands created by retailers to offer buyers a competitive price and unique product design and attributes. National brands, on the other hand, are established household brands with distinctive branding and packaging. They have larger advertising budgets, long-established supply chain system, and a legacy name with great brand recall. Both private labels and national brands have carved a niche for themselves in the retail industry.

In India, private labels constitute 20% of the organized retail business and 10-15% of the e-retail segment, and the numbers are expected to grow doubly by 2021, which begs the question that - are private labels the new legacy brands?

Private Labels Are Best Suited For Indian Consumers

The concept of private labels is not new to the Indian market. Back in 2005, Shopper’s Stop launched its in-store label called ‘STOP’ to offer their buyers a rather lucrative option. However, the revival of private labels is no longer exclusive to economical factors. Customers are consciously opting for private label products due to quality, high food safety standards, product appeal, packaging, and credibility of the retailer.

Private label products in high involvement category are also gaining traction due to their competitive prices, features, and technological innovations.

India’s current economic scenario is also favourable for the growth of private labels and contract manufacturing. The electronics manufacturing industry is expected to be valued at a whopping $400 billion by 2025, which exudes optimism for corporate labs, domestic manufactures, and start-ups. The budget for FY 2020 has proposed a few changes in basic custom duties to push the domestic manufacturing and assembling of mobile handsets; this might encourage retailers like Reliance and TATA to introduce their line of smart phones products.

To align themselves with the government’s “Make In India” vision, e-commerce giants like Flipkart and Amazon have also shifted their product manufacturing and sourcing to the domestic market. Premium smartphone maker OnePlus is also planning to establish an R&D base in India, their biggest so far, in the coming year. Owing to the local manufacturing push, OnePlus has also launched a new range of Smart TVs in the Indian market.

Amazon Basics from Amazon and SmartBuy from Flipkart have already become established household brands in India. Reliance is also set to enter the e-commerce segment with a hybrid online-offline business model so expect more action in this space.

Conclusion

All developments aside, private labels are still posed with the challenge of disrupting high involvement categories. Categories like healthcare, cosmetics, and high involvement electronics (refrigerator, ACs, etc.) are still being dominated by big brand manufacturers. Retailers will have to go the extra mile to create an industrial breakthrough, as competitive prices alone won’t be enough to convince the buyers to alter preferences.

In the wake of private labels becoming commonplace, name brands are also evolving their distribution practices. They are optimising their cost to compete with private labels; additionally, they are launching direct to consumer channels, both online and offline, to establish a better connect with buyers. The fact that this has caused a stir in the processes of legacy brands is a standalone proof that private labels are taking the retail industry by a storm.

Private labels will have to cause a fringe in the mainstream if they intend to disrupt. To tap the high involvement market, retailers will have to streamline their Product Lifecycle Management efforts. Full transparency throughout the stages of production will also ensure high-quality output. Hence, private labels are crucial assets for retail strategy and if done right will yield high results.

 

 

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Creating the Warehouse of the future!
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Creating the Warehouse of the future!
 

In today’s day and age, industries are betting on innovation to progress and the supply chain function is not behind the curve. With fast evolving market trends and emerging new demands from consumers, supply chain needs to be well organised and optimised to keep up with these developments. Imagine an ecommerce player receiving millions of orders every day and then dispatching them within one single day! In order to meet these sheer volumes of orders, supply chain becomes a highly critical function across for such companies.

India's retail market is expected to increase by 60 per cent to reach US$ 1.3 trillion by 2020.The phenomenal growth of e-commerce in a relatively short span of time and the rapidly evolving consumption patterns for consumer goods present a wide range of distribution challenges. There is stiff competition among players, more so, with the rise of new delivery patterns such as same day deliveries. With the advent of online shopping and the market expected to cross $170 billion by FY30, consumers today are looking for a more omni-channel experience.Furthermore, the implementation of GST has propelled consolidation of warehouses at one given location, which will make the task to manage the soaring volumes and demands a massive one. These factors have propelled supply chain companies to move beyond traditional systems to meet these challenges.

Businesses today operate in a volatile and multi-SKU environment, handling large numbers of orders to be shipped every day. Increased volumes, cost pressures, and the need to run leaner processes make inventory management in supply chain much more complex than before.

Warehouses are the most critical part of the supply chain, constituting about 60% of the function. They are the hubs for fulfilment and distribution services and catalytic to ensure a seamless supply chain. Hence, with growing complexities in supply chain and evolving market trends and consumer demands, flexible warehouse automation is the need of the hour.

So how are the warehouses evolving?

Convenience of instant gratification is only possible when the operations in the warehouses are driven by technology integration and automation. Retailers are now upgrading their warehouses with flexible automation as they race to meet the consumers’ demands for faster deliveries and omni-channel experience.We are also witnessing a shift towards smart, flexible and agile distribution facilities, laden with applications of robotics, AI and machine learning that help optimize the warehouse functions.

Today, Etailers and 3PL players are moving towards adoption of technology which can help them overcome the challenges that supply chain operations encounter every day. These technologies are also environmentally and workplace friendly which is a huge consideration for businesses. Companies are reaping the benefits of the huge advantage and potential that such technologies offer such as flexibility, cost-effectiveness, enhanced productivity and effective space utilization. For instance, ‘cobots’ or collaborative robots have entered the current warehouse scenario where they workwith a human operator to fulfil orders and enhance picking productivity. By combining AI and Machine Vision to revolutionise picking high-mix SKU inventory, these robots help improve the throughput multi-fold. Another example is where AI-driven autonomous robots are deployed to reduce order fulfilment and inventory replenishment time, thus enhancing business agility and growth as well as eliminating complexity.

As we move forward, we will see an uptick in this trend of adopting these technologies in warehouses to move up the value chain. More and more retail companies are now realising the advantages of these technologies and how it could help in reducing inefficiencies and operating costs in the warehouses. By providing the promise of agility, these technologies also help businesses tackle the growing demands and aggressive competition in the market.  In the years to come, a company’s supply chain will help define its success and how it copes with the ever-growing customer expectations, and how digital transformation and bot economy will lead to futuristic, agile and flexible supply chains to stay ahead of the curve.

The article has been penned down by Vivekanand is Country Manager, India and SAARC at GreyOrange. 

 

 

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A Seamless Holiday Shopping Experience Calls for Supply Chain Management
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A Seamless Holiday Shopping Experience Calls for Supply Chain Management
 

Holiday shopping has begun- which for retailers, means increased demand, extremely high customer expectations, and limited time for execution and fulfillment.In fact, consumers’ expectations of the retail experience have never been higher, which places massive pressure upon retailers’ shoulders to meet these demands.Although the stakes are high, retailers can come out on top this holiday season with efficient technology that supports successful supply chain management. Here are three ways in which retailers can ready themselves for this holiday season:

 

Sufficient Preparation.

Logistics providers need to ramp up their capacity before the holiday season is here. Beginning in the summer months, or even earlier,will leave an adequate amount of time to anticipate the holiday needs. Like with any distribution network, whether for energy, data or inventory, there will be surges when products are moving through the network. Therefore, the network needs to be ready with extra capacity to meet these needs.

 

Logistics providers need to think along three paths: storage, transportation and labor. Storage, in terms of warehousing capacity, needs to be secure and flexible in terms of the location of extra capacity. The same rules can be applied to the transportation aspects. Use historic data from inventory flows to better understand what the needs are for the network and how to start to plan for these potential needs. Supply chains need to avoid what happened to the likes of Best Buy when their network could not meet the demands placed on it by the front-end demand engines. Historical data, coupled with robust planning, artificial intelligence and human planning will better prepare your network. Finally, labor must be taken into consideration. Labor is a seasonal need for logistics providers, but logistics players must look at how can they educate and arm employees with tools to make efficient decisions on hiring and retaining labor.

 

Retailers’ Hyper-Awareness.

Retailers are increasingly dependent on their logistics’ backboneto provide the underlying infrastructure to ensure inventory and service to the customer, but retailers’ roles are also imperative to a smooth holiday shopping season. Of course, the standard efforts are required – when and how to run sales efforts, what products to push, what regions to target with what mix, etc. However,when it comes to the holiday season, retailers must strive to expand their lead times and better integrate within their own organizations. Brands and retailers are always looking to get ahead of customers’ needs, anticipate demand, and lock in the most favorable costs and markets. Therefore, retailers and brands need to be hyper-aware of changes in demand and leverage their digital footprint to better communicate with their networks. Remember the run on Furbies in the late 1990s? How can the brand react faster to unexpected demand? Could they have done a better job reacting to these demand signals? Retailers need to lean on, but not rely entirely,upon the digital data that they have access to. There must be a fine balance between the data, the people, and the systems in place to better address these potential issues and opportunities.

 

Anticipating Customer Needs.

Brands and supply chains are trying to work in harmony to meet the consumers’ ever growing and changing demands. Today we recognize that the power has swung over to the consumer. Via digital and always-on connectivity, the consumer is the entity that drives the conversation. Like consumers during the holiday season, retailers must be better at planning and anticipating needs, otherwise they will be caught scrambling and unable to fulfill customer demands.Access to a plethora of information regarding pricing, availability, size and color, is necessary to navigate the waters of the holiday buying season better that prior generations. But like our supply chains, if we do not use this data properly, how can we expect better outcomes?

 

Closing Thoughts

At the crux of the holiday season,logistic providers and retailers have the ability to better plan for, anticipate and react to what will inevitably be a hectic holiday season. Foundationally, it comes down to better usage of the digital data that is available. This data should power our decision making and our ability to better see what is happening. While in isolation, this data holds minimal value, coupled with the people and systems at our disposal, can enlighten retailers as we enter the holiday shopping season.

 

The article has been penned down by Ranga Pothula, Managing Director, India Business Unit &SVP Global Delivery Services, Infor

 

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Creating New-age Entrepreneurs through Direct Selling in India
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Creating New-age Entrepreneurs through Direct Selling in India
 

Direct selling is a blanket term for a variety of business forms premised on person-to-person sales in locations outside of a retail setup. In this format there are opportunities to earn from direct sales as well as through incentives by introducing new prospectsinto the system and obtaining fine commissions in the end.

The job requisites for direct sales personnel/consultant is mainly communication and convincing skills. This form of marketing is open to all with its flexible timings, sales targets and format making it one of the most sought out careers today. The 2016-17 Annual Survey Report of Indian Direct Sellers Association (IDSA) stated that the direct selling industry in India has grown at a CAGR of 8.42% over the period 2013-14 to 2016-17 when it has increased to INR 1,03,242 million (INR 10,324.2 crores) in 2016-17 from INR 74,722 million (INR 7,472.2 crores in 2013-14). The growth in the number of direct sellers involved has increased to approximately 5.1 million in 2016-17 from 3.9 million in 2015-16 registering a robust overall growth of 30.1%. A study by ASSOCHAM, released in 2018, quantified that the direct selling industry will reach INR 15,930 crore by 2021. The survey also stated that the industry has doubled since 2011 reaching INR 12,620 crore in 2016. 

The format of sales and work culture in direct selling not only creates job opportunities but has also given a boost to entrepreneurship in India.  On 26th July 2018, ASSOCHAM’s first conference on direct selling expounded how it develops entrepreneurial job prospects in India. The conference provided a common platform to identify the road map for implementation of model guidelines. The statements of these guidelines are important milestones towards clarifying the government’s stance in the industry to legalise the Indian direct selling industry. Focusing on the need for India to understand how other countries have a regulatory framework for direct selling,it was recommended that India should positively draft their direct selling laws to create a positive influence on the Indian economy.

It was also brought to light the fact that  direct selling companies have a great opportunity to look at product specialisation and innovation. For highly diversified societies with varying cultures, tastes and preferences, as found in India, the right product for the right target audience – in effect, segmenting the market – would be key. Hence, our marketing strategies need to revolve around motivated direct sellers for specialised products and services. World Federation of Direct Selling Associations (WFDSA) statesthat approximately 117 million people around the world are involved in the industryout of which 74% are women. In India, 5.1 million people are involved in direct selling; 60% of them are women.

In 2016, a FICCI-KPMG report stated that it is estimated the retail sales in direct selling to touch INR 64,500 crore by 2025 and would drive a noteworthy self-employment opportunity for 1.5 crore individuals. Though in India direct selling is facing challenges due to the absence of regulation and a proper regulatory framework, the industry targets to continue creating business opportunity and self-employment for women in focus. The industry has the potential to create an estimated 10 million entrepreneurs by 2022 through this marketing module.

( The article has been penned down by Suresh Venugopal, CEO, AMC India)

 

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How Warehouses are Transforming at the Advent of Omni channel Retailing?
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How Warehouses are Transforming at the Advent of Omni channel Retailing?
 

Warehouses play a critical role in supply chain management. They are the hub of all logistics activities. The advent of ecommerce has significantly impacted the warehouse scenario.  Customers using multiple channels to purchase/shop is changing the demand profile with smaller, more frequent orders. Moreover, “sell anywhere and fulfil anywhere” mantra means customers expect faster shipping that is low cost or free. Dealing with this change require solutions that keep up with the need of the hour.

 

Let us take a look at traditional order fulfilment strategies, known as “wave processing,” - used by many to process large batch distribution orders. In this method, orders are picked in batches, based on assumed processing capacity. This worked satisfactorily for traditional wholesale channel order fulfilment. However, for an omnichannel operation, each order maybe unique with multiple small shipments involved. This new paradigm shift requires a different strategy - waveless order fulfilment.

 

Waveless picking reimagines traditional order fulfilment logic and offers a more flexible, e-commerce-centric fulfilment method. It continuously evaluates the order pool and automatically releases work based on variables such as order priorities and facility processing capacities. As soon as there is capacity in the fulfilment operation, new orders are processed. It is extremely valuable to today’s distribution centres, as the core science-driven methods support continuous analysis and real-time execution strategies.

 

With omnichannel focus, customers expect new alternatives in fulfilment such as buy online, pickup in-store or ship from store. Effectively this transforms a traditional retail store into a fulfilment centre. This requires optimization of store inventory and fulfilment to deliver on customer expectations. Retailers also need to confidently offer these flexible fulfilment options that meet profitability targets too.

Recent advancements in robotics and automation have transformed warehouses. Every resource – man and machine – needs to be orchestrated through efficient workflows to maximize performance. Modern warehouse execution systems need to be embedded within a WMS to efficiently and seamlessly orchestrate workflow across the full spectrum of resources. Several pioneering warehouses are now implementing voice picking and vision picking effectively to improve their picking operations.

 

Effective Employee engagement as well as labour efficiency is important in warehouse management. Warehouse managers need to have employee performance data, analytics at their fingertips (mostly mobiles!), easily accessible for agile decisions. Solutions that help conduct ‘what-if’ analysis to determine optimal staffing requirements are helpful.

 

In conclusion, the advent of positive omnichannel experience will continue to be shaped by consumer choices.  Profitability of an enterprise will depend on key success factors such as well orchestrated execution, availability of real-time information/analytics, optimized inventory and ability to fulfil orders promised.

The article has been penned down by Ushasri Tirumala, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Manhattan Associates

 

 

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This Holi your colours and sweets could be sweeter and brighter - How AI can help better plan the marketing activation and sales?
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This Holi your colours and sweets could be sweeter and brighter - How AI can help better plan the marketing activation and sales?
 

Apart from why they came into being, festivals today have evolved to mean so much more. It’s the time families and friends come together to celebrate, with rituals, gifts and a whole lot of planning. Tapping in this opportunity, E-commerce websites are brimming with offers every festival season, while getting brands to partner with them at different levels for various sales. Holi is just around the corner, and people are going to be looking out to buy gifts, colours, sweets, decorations and the obvious water guns and balloons! There are numerous options for consumers, and even these constantly change with the times.

How do brands ensure they stand out from the rest, then? With emerging technology, keeping a track of trends and consumer behaviour is easier than ever before using artificial intelligence (AI) to personalise the overall consumer experience. Brands are using AI to automate tasks, target ads, and profile customers in order to personalise their experience and achieve a more micro-targeted marketing blueprint, while developing tailor-made products.

Through AI, brands have seen a marked increase in sales, and marketing efforts have been streamlined.A recent study suggests that 55% of established companies either have started making investments in the potential of artificial intelligence or are planning to do so by 2020. This has facilitated cutting costs and giving revenues a boost at the same time. If you implement them in time and customise them according to your specific needs, AI tools are one of the most efficient ways to smartly incorporate data to gain meaningful insights ahead of, during and after the Holi season.

The right messaging

The more data you feed into AI tools, the smarter they get. These tools go over large amounts of data to deliver useful information on customers and their buying habits. Sales and marketing teams can benefit by using tools like machine learning and natural language processing to monitor customer behaviour through the course of the sale. This will help marketing teams plan better for their communication and drive customer engagement by targeting them with tailor-made experiences across segments.

Keyword tracking made easier

Based on what consumers have been looking for, AI tools can identify customer specific queries and help in better categorisation. Tracking keywords can help marketing and sales teams determine what products, services, combos, deals etc. will get a specific customer interested. This will be based on the customer's individual decisions based on search and purchase history, helping retailers reach out to them in a far more impactful manner.

Interactive marketing and selling

To take the customer experience a notch above, brands have begun using AI to help customers “try” before they buy. Eyewear and clothing companies have implemented AI technology that make use of an image of the customer and let them swipe through different types of eyewear/clothing virtually. This ‘novelty’ factor enhances the customer experience by making it fun and also more convenient since they don’t have to physically pick up and try on each item.

Additionally, companies are using natural language processing tools to make machines that interact with customers and help with buying decisions and other product/service related information. Chat bots make for quicker responses with their automated nature, and tracking customer queries and improving overall CRM then becomes a seamless process, as all the data is stored based on these interactions.

For brands to stand out amongst the vast number of options available today, especially during the festival season, retailers have to ensure that the data they feed into AI systems is relevant and based on targeted campaigns/sales carried out in the past. This can only be done if they study the data history and use what has been successful and trending to build on them for to enhance sales figures.

Studying past data includes the analysis of which things appealed most to audiences, what drew most engagement and what led to maximum sales conversions. Analysing all of these can be a tedious task, but implementing AI in the initial stages is precisely what will make the process much easier, as AI technology and bots can accomplish a lot more in a fraction of the time. Using AI, then, along with the expertise of human teams, will help brands make the most of higher purchase behaviour witnessed during festivals such as Holi and optimize their revenue game.


The article has been penned down by Sudeshna Datta, Executive Vice President and Co-Founder, Absolutdata
 

 

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How Godrej Group turns up the volume on customer conversations?
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How Godrej Group turns up the volume on customer conversations?
 

Established in India 1897 as a locks business, the Godrej Group today has 1.1 billion customers globally across numerous businesses including consumer goods, real estate, appliances, and agriculture.

The conglomerate continues to evolve with a 2020 vision to grow its revenue 10 times from what it was in 2010 and become one of India’s most trusted brands. It also aspires to create a more inclusive and greener India. For Godrej Group’s Consumer Product Group, achieving the 2020 vision has necessitated a transformational shift in customer engagement.

Supported by Social Studio from the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, it’s listening to its customers, analysing conversations, and responding in a whole new way.

“By using Salesforce, we can capture insights to define our digital strategy and engage our customers with content we know they want to read,” said Pankaj Parihar, Vice President and Head of Digital Marketing for Godrej Group’s Consumer Product Group.

Social listening informs tailored communication

Godrej Group uses the Salesforce Customer Success Platform to track what customers are saying and what content they are consuming not just about its own brands or product categories but more generally. This helps it to gain a better understanding of its target demographic groups and define a social and content strategy to connect with them online.

One of these demographic groups are mothers with young children. The company knows it can’t effectively engage these mothers with content solely about hair colour or insecticides, so apart from other offline insights, it uses Salesforce to identify topics they’re engaging with online. Where those topics are relevant to Godrej Group’s products or expertise, there’s an opportunity to connect.

Real-time insights improve reputation management and response

Godrej Group’s proactive approach to online engagement is a huge leap forward for a company which relied heavily on TV to reach customers in the past. With that approach, it could not get deep enough insight into its online customers’ interests and what was said about its brands.

Social Studio has resolved both challenges. It helps Godrej Group to gather insights for proactive communications while monitoring conversations about its brand in real-time.

“We now know if customers are talking about us on Facebook, Twitter, or blog sites and what they are saying,” said Parihar. “We can quickly escalate issues to the right department and respond within 24 hours or less.”

“In the past, we had no easy way to track these conversations and it could take us a few days to respond,” he said.

Digital transformation yields engagement and growth

The Godrej Group is now using Social Studio across 15 different brands in India and Indonesia and is considering a rollout in Africa as well. It’s experienced double-digit growth in online customer engagement and user session times are increasing. A 20% growth in organic traffic is further proof that the topical content informed by social listening is having the desired effect.

Through its implementation partner, Mirum, the Godrej Group is also using Social Studio to gather insights about new market categories and inform its broader marketing strategy.

“Our collaboration with Mirum and use of Salesforce has been critical to improving our customer insight and crisis management capabilities. Mirum is also helping us to assess new market opportunities as we work to achieve our 2020 vision,” said Parihar.

“Godrej is a truly a global conglomerate and needed a platform that would help them manage their complex requirements," said Mihir Karkare, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Mirum. "Salesforce provided that platform while we’ve partnered with them in a flexible and scalable manner to achieve their key objectives."

 

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How retailers can transform in store purchasing experience?
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How retailers can transform in store purchasing experience?
 

In an era of strong competition, retailers are continuallyseeking ways to attract more customers with loyalty programs and other methods. With this in mind, mobility solutions for the retail industry have designed in-store experiencesthat contain interactive information of their items, including inventories and pricesand promotions available at their customer’s fingertips.

Mobile devices that contain a retailers mobile solutions empowers theircustomers with real time information. Real time pricing, availability and promotions on any product are instantly available without asking the sales associate.

Introduction TO Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS)

Mobile point of sale (POS) is an in-store solution for the stores to increase operational efficiency and reduce the cost of an additional sales counter.

Basically, mobile POS allows for   customer transactions to be carried by a portable mobile device instead of a traditional checkout register.

Most retail stores and restaurants havea fixed point of sale, during the transactional stage when money is received in exchange of goods.

Today, mostof the transactions are transpiring via credit or debit cards over the POS, which consists of a computer linked with machine, allowing the merchantto swipe/insert the chip and pin the cards. Whereas the mobile point of sale is handheld portable device that performs the same operation, with the advantage of working  remotely for the same system.

 

Increasing the in-Store retail experience with mPOS

Typical brick and mortar stores are still needed, because theircustomer’s desire the touch, feel, look and smell of merchandise. They must also compete with online brands and stores on price.  To retain their business, the merchant should offer a compelling in-store and online experience that provides value and convenience, so that the customers do not go elsewhere.

You do not know whata customer satisfaction failslooks like. If you want your customer to be excited about your brand, then you need to execute a strategy that enhancestheir in-store experience.

Mobile POS (mPOS) adds tremendous value andenhancesthe in-store customer experiences. Mobile POS  is not limited to the retail industry. It is applicable to many other industries like Travel, Hospitality etc.

mPOS Solution Key Benefits

Ease of Searching Inventory and Pricing

Sales associates can easily check the inventory and priceswith the help of mobile point of sale, when asked by a customer. With the portable POS device, the sales associates can easily walk around in the store and can help the customer on demand.

Consultative Selling                                                                                                                                                    

Sales associates have the capabilities for consultative selling with the help of Mobile POS (mPOS). They can discuss options with the customers in store and steer them toward a better product or items.

Sell Anywhere Anytime

Mobile point of sale is the key to facilitating the payment process and reduced transaction times. With mPOS, sales associates can complete the transaction when the customer is ready to make a purchase.

Queue Busting

With the help of mobile point of sale solutions, long waits at the checkout queue are a thing of the past. Customer satisfaction is increased due to the efficient transaction and payment process of mPOS.

Email Receipts

Since mPOS provides the digital records of the customer purchase, they can easily keep track of their purchase records.

mPOS is Versatile

mPOS solutions can be used as a cashier, return station or help desk.

Selling via Pop-Up Stores

Point of Sale solutions are not portable because of the connection to register and payment devices. In this case,it is difficult to increase sales via pop up stores. At pop up stores only the mobile point of the sell is the right option for selling the product. Sales associates can carry the portable devices which are connected with the server remotely with easy installation.

Secured Payment Process

The fully encrypted transaction is processedwithout storing the card data via mPOS. By usingP2PE (point-to-point encryption), credit card information is encrypted upon the initial swipe and then securely transferred to the payment process before being decrypted and processed.

Rewarding a Loyal Customers is Easy

It is easy to integrate the merchant CRM system such as loyalty with Mobile POS (mPOS). Loyalty benefits are given to the customer during purchases by analyzing the customer’s profile and prior purchase history.

Locate the items in store

Mobile POS (mPOS) can provide to customers, real time information about the store layout and location of the Items with the help of BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) and location based services.

Replacing Cash Register with Wireless Cash Drawers and Printing Receipts

Mobile point of sale can replace the cash register and work with wireless cash drawers and printers. The customer does not have the card, yet can make the payment once purchasing is complete. The customer can make the payment via cash with the help of sales associates over the wireless cash drawers.

Easy Payments

Mobile point of sale integration with Apple Pay, or Android Pay makes life easier for the customer during payment. Sales associates can simply tap their card fromthe customer or theirsmartphones. Easier payment is achieved with Near Feld Communication (NFC)that containscard details.NFC technology increases the customer’s  in-store experience.

mPOS creates more opportunities to sell and promotescustomer centricity

Mobile point of sales solutions can handle omni channel touchpoints including“By Online”, “Pick-up in store,”and “Placing orders” in addition to scheduling home delivery or delivery to any nearby store.

mPOScan be configured to process the return on the spot, giving additional opportunities for sales associates to enhance the customer experiences or make an additional sale.

Mobile point of sale allows retailers and merchants to placeconsumers at the center of their interactions, no matter where they are at in theirshopping journey.

mPOS beyond Retail

mPOS is not limited to the retail sector. Mobile point of sale includes more than payment processing and extendsbeyond retail stores.Several examples includerestaurants, health care applications, hotels and resorts.

MPOS is perfect for sporting and other events in fixed venues to avoid the queues and allows forpayment at other locations,  mPOS may be used in similar fashion at conference and conventions in addition to outdoor concerts and festivals that take place at temporary locations.

mPOS solutions continue to experience strong growth with micro merchants. Many micro merchants operate with cash and check only because they cannot afford the high costs associated with traditional card processing equipment, processing and maintenance fee.

Adopting MPOS gives micro merchantsa low cost solution and flexible pricing models that makes accepting credit cards feasible. At the same time, mPOS allows forlarger retailers to gainefficiencies, while enhancing the in-store shopping experience for their customers.

mPOS transforms the in-store purchasing experience, leading to greater operating efficiency and reduced costs. Contact Infogain’s mobility team today to learn how you can implement mobility in your organization.

The article is co-authored by Niranter Kumar Dubey, Delivery Head - Retail, Infogain and Ashish Tripathi, Tech Lead-Mobility, Infogain.

 

 

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Rising demands in e-retail segment fast-tracking supply chain
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Rising demands in e-retail segment fast-tracking supply chain
 

The e-retail industry is one of the fastest growing industries in India. Driven by increased digital penetration, a rise in ownership of smartphones, shift towards digital payment alternatives and multilingual e-commerce platforms, the e-retail industry in India has witnessed a robust growth in the last few years. From its nascent stages in the mid-2000s, the e-retail industry in India jumped to a phenomenal market value of USD 19.5 billion at gross level. With continuous automation and evolving consumer behavior, the growth of this segment is expected to continue enjoying an upward trajectory.

While the development of the e-retail industry has been exponential, it has also led to some challenges due to amplified expectations among consumers. With major technological advancements automating the e-retail space, a need to reinvent the supply chain processes to support changing market dynamics has been felt, especially in warehousing and logistics. Further, with e-retail giants like Amazon and Flipkart establishing their own captive logistics units for fulfillment needs, it has become even more important for industry players to incorporate technology as quickly and comprehensively as possible. As automation elevates the e-retail segment, the supply chain has also been fast-tracked through adoption of modern-day technologies to help e-retailers address challenges and meet increasing consumer demands.

Optimization of workflow processes

Since retail supply chain is highly dynamic and consumer-centric, it requires a great amount of synchronization and collaboration. As more and more people opt for e-retail purchases, the demand for a flexible supply chain has risen exponentially. Optimization of workflow processes through automation is the solution. Therefore, leveraging supply chain automation solutions can result in better efficiency and lowered operational costs. These solutions include distributed order management for multi-channel operations, warehouse management and execution systems to control the movement and storage, and adoption of technologies such as IoT, blockchain and AR, etc. While the inherent nature of supply chain is highly fragmented, optimization of workflow processes has the power to bring together disintegrated sub-processes and make one unified end-to-end journey.

Meeting heightened consumer expectations for order fulfillment

According to a study conducted by Zebra Technologies titled ‘The New Retail Mandate: 2018 Shopper Vision Study’, 66% of shoppers prefer same day or next day delivery. These heightened consumer expectations of delivery have shaken up the supply chain paradigm. Since a retail supply chain has many intermediaries, this results in a complex assortment of many touchpoints, increased human intervention, more wait time, inventory wastage, pilferage and stock losses. Therefore, supply chain automation accelerates delivery to consumers and reduce picking errors and pilferage by reducing the number of touchpoints.

Further, to meet the rising consumer demand for timely and flexible product delivery, e-retailers have been increasingly opting for express logistical services. Due to the time-bound, door-step delivery nature of express logistics, it has become an indispensable part of the e-retail industry in recent times. Express industry is continuously evolving and building capabilities to cater to the complex nature of operations of the e-retail industry. Express logistics has helped e-retail players adapt to a consumer-centric delivery model and meet the rising expectations, thereby enhancing end consumer experience.

Making the domain future-ready

Supply chain processes are traditionally human-driven, wherein humans operate the machines. Integrating modern-day technological tools throughout the process can increase both efficiency and reliability of the e-retail supply chain. Automation of the entire supply chain from end-to-end has the ability to improve service levels while saving costs up to 30%, while providing a higher level of visibility across the entire network. Autonomous warehouses are also coming into the picture. Industry players are looking to invest in robotics and IoT systems that would remove the ‘human’ component from the process and transfer all the mundane operations onto machines. This will further enable the executives to find new avenues for progression and drive charge for the entire business instead of spending time on the day-to-day repetitive processes. While making the domain future-ready seems like the ideal thing to do, technology needs to be incorporated comprehensively to ensure a seamless transition towards a completely automated supply chain. 

The article has been penned down by Chander Agarwal, Managing Director, TCIEXPRESS    

 

 

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New-Age Retail Hygiene Management Solutions
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New-Age Retail Hygiene Management Solutions
 

Retail industry, on the world map, stands at approx. US$25 trillion in 2018 and is expected to rise up to approx. US$28 trillion by 2020, and therefore, can undeniably be reckoned as a big slice of the global economy pie. Even from an Indian landscape perspective, retail contribution is estimated to reach USD 1.1 trillion by 2020, with modern trade expected to grow at 20 per cent per annum in comparison to last year’s figures.

Such encouraging statistics clearly defy the long-standing yet proven-wrong claims of on-ground retail’s dead-end owing to the advancement in e-commerce space. The perfect proof to this is the successfully complementing survival of physical and online stores, cash and virtual money and so on and so forth. The key to this happy place discovery in retail can be regarded as the confident acceptance and adoption of technology by retailers – be it the big mammoths or even the traditional mom & pop stores of the world.  

Connecting The Dots

So, what’s the success secret which is fuelling the industry’s exponential growth?

Retail success in today’s context, if seen on a granular level, is all about the experience which is delivered to a customer. How good or bad you fare as a retailer there determines your loyalty score, revenue logs and ultimately your longevity and success rate in the market. And that’s where the concept of retail hygiene management comes in.

It’s not a new subject for retailers anymore, but the struggle to champion it, is still far from over. Apart from excessively competitive industry stance, reason for the same can be attributed to the dynamic nature of the industry, i.e. you can expect newer trends and shifting customer sentiments etc. every now and then or new-age tech upgrades minimising the tasks which earlier required a mandatory human vision and inference.

What’s New With Retail Hygiene?

Quite a natural question to cross your mind that what revolutionary can possibly happen when it comes to a traditional concept like retail hygiene management. After all, it is all about ensuring that things are in order – be it the stock inventory or supply chain management, in-store compliance control, field issues’ resolution, proper promotional campaigns visibility etc.

In fact, that’s true. Things are intrinsically the same, however, the methods of management have undergone a technological makeover and thence, have made the processes more seamless, faster, precise, and most importantly, less dependent upon manual intervention (and thus, less-error prone).

Being an industry which is possibly the one generating the maximum amount of data every minute, the smart leverage of that data has transformed the way retail operations are executed. The impact of this data-driven decision-making in retail can be assessed by the fact that retail analytics market is expected to reach USD 8.64 billion by 2022. When compared to the 2017 figure which stood at USD 3.52 billion, it gives a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.7%.

Digging Deeper

The new-age retail hygiene management solutions (or we can alternately call them retail excellence solutions since they are so comprehensive and all-encompassing) are acting as gamechangers when it comes to defining retail success in today’s scenario.

Firstly, intrinsic elements like seamless interoperability and interconnectivity between mobile and web console versions is the backbone for any solution today. Then elements like proper JCP management, real-time issue resolution workflow and geo-tagged attendance tracking etc. for the store-staff, an adherence check mechanism, progress dashboards, push chat and notification etc. for the auditor and eventually, comprehensive dashboards and reports for the client – these are few foundational elements which constitutes a modern-day retail excellence solution.

While the elements may have sounded common, the difference which has come up is in terms of precision, speed, accuracy and the sheer volume of data which is now being processed in the same time. The provision of offline data upload is also a feature which these solutions come with, hence, allowing the field person to cover larger areas and rapidly collect accurate data.

Also, advanced analytics and highly sophisticated image recognition technology have given a facelift to even the basic elements of these retail solutions. The TaTs have undergone a significant reduction and the processes have become more scientific.

  • Integrated Analytics and Business Insights

Mystery shopping and retail or inventory auditing, now owing to embedded analytics, can boast of intuitive surveys and real-time data collection, analysis as well as presentation of findings. Features like multimedia proof collection or shopper navigation assistance for mystery shoppers and shopper GPS verification, inventory deviation calculation, audit recommendation etc. for auditors are instrumental in helping retailers remain on top of their games.

SKU trends, market insights, new product alerts etc. are all part of the intelligent reports which are brought forward by the analytics and BI engine embedded in the solution and these reports are available in real-time or on-demand to the client.

  • Image Recognition & Compliance Management

Hi-tech image recognition ability in these retail excellence solutions supports the performance measurement of majority of merchandising tasks, be it about planogram compliance, shelf-space arrangement, price tag-product match etc. The reference-based and rule-based backend programming has become more precise than ever. Therefore, tasks like ensuring apt visibility for promotional materialor product facing issues etc. which were completely manual earlier, can be aided sufficiently with the help of IR technology today.

Secret behind the successful adoption of image recognition (IR Technology) into retail hygiene software lies in the accuracy, repeatability and competence of handling multifarious use cases which the modern-day retail excellence solutions comprise.

  • Easy Customisation

The element that can be lauded as the most revolutionary in these retail excellence solutions is their extensive customizability feature which means that the retailer need not say yes to a solution if it meets 90% of the requirement criteria, rather it can get the solution customised based on the precise business needs.

Such customisation requests can be completely managed by the delivery team, hence lessening the dependency on the larger service provider team and thus, shortening the time spent in doing the same.

The Final Word

Now that you are aware of the tech-led developments which are happening in the world of retail hygiene management or comprehensive compliance management, you can’t shut your eyes to the risks which are involved in remaining stuck to the legacy retail solutions.

Eventually, the key to writing a retail success story in this realm is to collaborate with a service provider or a sales enablement partner who not just holds prowess in the retail domain knowledge and backend engineering but also understands your business and your end-objectives thoroughly. Idea is to revolutionise the overall methodology and yet maintain least disruptions in the existing process – so as to not throw the existing system off balance completely.

As a retailer, what do you look for in a retail hygiene management solution and what are your non-negotiables when it comes to investing into a solution? If you’re a service provider, what do you think are the challenges which are still preventing the retail domain from conquering the sky and how does new-age retail hygiene solutions help bridge that gap?

The article has been penned down by Sunil Munshi, India CEO- Denave

 

 

 

 

 

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What retailers should do to overcome inefficient and unprofitable delivery models?
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What retailers should do to overcome inefficient and unprofitable delivery models?
 

A new study from the Capgemini Research Institutehashighlighted that retailer investment in “last mile”delivery -the final leg of the online purchase journey before a product lands in the customer’s hands -is needed in order to uncover new revenue streams.The report found that 97% of organizations believe that current last-mile delivery models are not sustainable for full scale implementation across all locations, and that free shipping costs cannot be maintained unless delivery costs are reduced through automation.

“The Last-Mile Delivery Challenge: Giving retail and consumer product customers a superior delivery experience without impacting profitability,” study surveyed over 2,870 consumers in addition to 500 supply chain executives, and entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

The key insights from the report include:

  • Profitable opportunities lie in getting the last-mile experience right through automation:With warehouse and product sorting representing one-third of supply chain costs, there is a significant opportunity in automation. Recognizing this opportunity, 89% of organizations are investing in the mechanization and automation of store back-rooms to expedite fulfillment and deliveries.
  • 40% of customers currently order groceries online at least once a week: This number is expected to reach 55% by 2021.Forty percent of customers class delivery services as a “must have”when purchasing food and grocery products, with 1 in 5 (20%) prepared to switch retailers if this is not provided.Evolving consumer behavior is also fueling greater immediacy in purchasing: 59% of customers purchase productsonline when they need them, rather than wait until theweekendto buy in-store. 
  • Fast and effective last-mile delivery increasescustomer spend and loyalty:Encouragingly,74% of satisfied customers intend to increase spend by as much as 12% with retailers they frequently purchase from. The majority (82%) of customers have shared positive experiences with friends and family, and just over half (53%) would even be willing to purchase a paid membership for a good delivery service. However, despite 55% of customers expressing that offering 2-hour deliveries would increase loyalty, only 19% of firmscurrently provide thiscompared to 59% of firms that offer a delivery time frame of over 3 days.
  • 65% of customers use alternative grocery delivery services – such as Google Express, Instacart or Ocado – for better services than from traditional retailers: The report finds that consumers are not satisfied with the current state of last-mile delivery withhighprices (59%), non-availability of same day delivery (47%), and late deliveries (45%)being the driving factors of‘delivery dissatisfaction’.Nearly half (48%) of dissatisfied customers would stop purchasing from the offending retailer if unsatisfied with delivery, and those who would continue would reduce their spend by 45%.

By comparing and contrasting attitudes between retailers and customers, the report identified the following trends:

Organizations are currently charging customersonly 80% of the overall delivery cost, and deliveries are now the most expensive part of the supply chain: The report found that 97% of organizations believe that current last-mile delivery models are not sustainable for full scale implementation across all locations. As such, they must be viewed as a key investment for 2019, with only 1% of customers willing to absorb the total cost incurred for last mile deliveries.

Despite low delivery costs being the top priority for half of all customers, only 30% of organizations considered it a top priority for themselves. Similarly, almost three quarters (73%) of consumers expressed that having convenient time slots available was more important than receiving deliveries quickly, yet only 19% of firms rate this ability as a priority.

The report did, however, findthat customers are open to experimenting with ‘crowdsourced’ style delivery options: for an incentive (the most popular being monetary), 55% were willing to deliver products to neighbors in their vicinity, with 64% indifferent if a delivery were made by a retail store employee, private individuals, or third-party couriers. In fact, 79% of customers are willing to deliver these groceriesat a price that is less than the current cost incurred by retailers to deliver it themselves.

The reportcloses with the following recommendationsfor last-mile delivery success:

  • Optimize fulfillment locations: Increasing store-based deliveries by 50% could potentially lead profit margins to soar by as much as 9%. Dark stores - retail outposts with store-like layouts intended only to fulfil online orders - can also process high delivery volumes and are 23% cheaper than conventional stores for same day deliveries. Additionally, if 30% of deliveries and returns are routed through parcel locker collection arrangements, organizations could expect an8% increase in profit margins.
  • Automate delivery options:The report finds that back-room automation could increase profits by up to 14% by reducing the cost of click-and-collect orders and deliveries from store. Furthermore, automation offers a range of benefits including reduction of fulfillment errors, and managing returns (which forms 26% of the delivery cost).

Key highlights of the report:

The key insights from the report:

  • 89% of organizations are investing in the mechanization and automation of store back-rooms to expedite fulfillment and deliveries.
  • 40% of customers currently order groceries online at least once a week
  • 74% of satisfied customers intend to increase spend by as much as 12% with retailers they frequently purchase from.
  • 55% of customers expressing that offering 2-hour deliveries would increase loyalty, only 19% of firms currently provide this compared to 59% of firms that offer a delivery time frame of over 3 days.
  • 65% of customers use alternative grocery delivery services – such as Google Express, Instacart or Ocado – for better services than from traditional retailers

 

( Above Content has been shared by Capegemini India)

 

 

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Top 5 strategies that successful brands are using
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Top 5 strategies that successful brands are using
 

Today we as consumer receive five times more information every day than we did 30 years ago. Moreover, technology has completely dominated that was we interact the world around us. Customers are evolved like never before. Today we have brands such as Google and Amazon which have managed to create dominance in their respective sectors and emerged as  anchor points for entire ecosystem. They think way ahead of time so their business strategies. So how do they work on those?

Here are top five strategies that leading brands have tried and tested and attain success.

Going beyond story telling

Great brands constantly strive hard in creating great product and services which actually solve customer problems. They just not focus on storytelling to sell their products. In fact, their marketing strategy revolves around serving instead of just selling.  These are the brands which primarily drive their business on the principal of positive utility.

As mentioned in interbrands 2018 reports, L’Oréal has shown that traditional CPG companies can also lead with experience, and has developed a number of service offers that utilize digital technologies to transform customer relationships with the brand.  L’Oréal has recently acquired beauty tech company ModiFace which allows customers to experience a live, step-by-step tutorial and coaching with a makeup advisor, virtually try on personalized makeup looks, and even shop online.

Subscription goes viral

Traditionally, the most successful global brands are either born with born with a subscription business model or they have made significant adjustments to offer subscriptions. The recent example of brand which grew on subscription model is Netflix. As per Intra brand 2018, Netflix’s Brand Value grew 45 percent in 2018, the second fastest-growing brand, after entering the table in 2017, and continues to demonstrate globally. Over the years, Netflix has garnered rich consumer base who are prepared to subscribe directly to a media company.

Netflix began its original programming in 2012 and has received tremendous response since then. In fact, its stock market value is now greater than Disney.

Customer-Centricity

As per Global Brands data, brands which have exhibit steady growth in over last decade which have invested on relevance and responsiveness.  In fact, the top 10 fastest-growing brands over the last five years are those where Relevance and Responsiveness are their top-performing dimensions.

As Intrabrand report indicated, Hermès tops on Relevance parameter and has demonstrated a double-digit increase in Brand Value over the past five years. Hermès has continued to stay true to its DNA and origins in leather goods, while growing into a host of other categories as report quoted.

Learning from Luxury

As per Assocham   data, Indian luxury market is set to grow to USD 30 billion in 2018 from USD 23.8 billion by the year end. As per Intrabrand report, luxury was highest growth category this year with 42 percent growth globally.

Global luxury brands have continued to show significant growth despite shifting expectations. Desire for luxury is driving premiumization in other categories. For example, leading mobile manufacture Samsung has shifted its price point and design to rival Apple, unveiling phones valued at over $2,000, such as the Samsung W2018.

The core reason behind luxury brand’s acceptance is their ability to access shifting cultural trends. For example, Gucci took serious effort to respond more rapidly to today’s business landscape helped it grow by 30 percent within the past year.

Brand building

Leading coffee brewing company Starbucks has establish the notion that paying Rs300 for a coffee is an standard norm due to premium price attached to it. That is the power of brand. The drive to make brand a more important factor in customer decision-making is a critical way of fueling business growth.  

Automobile could be yet another category which is heavily driven by the brands. The role brand plays in customer choice for the global brands in our study ranges from 30 percent for mainstream brands to more than 60 percent for luxury brands. That is the reason companies such as Nissan is focusing on increasing its Role of Brand by harmonizing its marketing activities for all products around a single core brand idea, and focusing on the overall Nissan customer experience.

(The above article is based on Interbrand 2018 report)

 

 

 

 

 

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How to attract customers with store display?
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How to attract customers with store display?
 

Visual merchandising is multi-dimensionaland retailers can choose from various ideas when designing displays.  This is one advantage that the retailers have over online sellers- the in-store experience, and the opportunity to show off products in engaging ways.

The key to designing a successful store display is by conceptualizing brand’s value and mission onto the walls and shelves. Merchandising utilizes product placement and displays to drive sales. It's an art form that relies on data and understands what drives shoppers. When done well it pushes a brand narrative that evokes something aesthetically pleasing and relatable. It can also provide touchpoints so consumers understand how to interact with products, especially at a time when the shoppers are distracted.

The intention of visual merchandising is to create stopping points and generate ideas for the shopper.  It's very effective to be able to do that during the festive season as it tends to be a pretty rich and deep merchandising environment.

Below are the sure shot ways to ace the visual strategy;

Color Is King

Color is powerful; it can either make or break the store’s visual displays. A retailer might create an erratic display but if the colors coordinate well, the display can still be a work well together. Consider using contrasting colors or monochromatic colors for creating intriguing and eye-catching displays.

Create a Focal Point

Where does the viewer’s eye focus on your display? Do their eyes move toward a specific location on the display or are they confused about where to look? Create a hotspot--or focal point for the customers.

Examine your display from the customer’s point of view to ensure that they can easily view the hotspots and merchandise. Remember, the hotspot or the focal point is the product, not a visual element you use to add to the story.

Tell a Story

Use powerful, sales-enabling designs to display the advantages of buying the product. Present bullet points that tell customers why they need the product or how their life will become easier because of the product. By telling a story, the customer understands the product better and enables the buying decision.

Use empty space wisely

The section between the displayed merchandise and the ceiling is the most underutilized. This space can be used for many different things, like signage providing information about products or brands. You could display customer testimonials with the customer’s name and picture or profile the designers.

Visual merchandising tells the story of a brand. It's not just about product placement in a store but also about enveloping shoppers in an experience.

In a time of increased competition, thoughtful merchandising can be a key factor for increasing sales. Visual merchandising can create a deep connection of the brand with the consumer.

The article has been penned down by Piyush Bhandar, Co-founder, Jumpinggoose®

 

 

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5 key areas where Indian retailers can leverage AI
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5 key areas where Indian retailers can leverage AI
 

Artificial Intelligence is taking over retail and has been used across the entire product and service cycle. Right from pre production to post sale, retail players are leveraging AI in different forms in order to bring automation. The following article sheds light on different examples where AI is successfully integrated into key retail functions. Let’s go through them one by one.

Supply chain

It is a quintessential area where AI can transform efficiency. As per the Capgemini report, retailers have experimented with optimal route plans in supply chain over their many years of operation. With AI, each optimized route plan is saved for an algorithm to learn and improve its suggestions. UK-based Tesco, China’s JD.com and Alibaba are some of the retailers implementing AI-based optimized routing. Indian e-commerce company Flipkart which was acquired by US retail giant Walmart this year is using machine learning (ML) to arrive at a structured address classification system for order deliveries, addressing the challenge posed by India’s unstructured postal address systems. The ML solution classifies and resolves inconsistencies with a 98% accuracy rate.

AI-powered visual aided picking (within warehouses/ distribution centers)

As report indicated, Physical forms of AI are now extending beyond chatbots to robots in the warehouse. The AI robots markets is expected to grow at 28.8% CAGR between 2017 and 2023. In Ocado’s warehouses, robots also collaborate with each other through visual recognition in addition to autonomous picking and packing jobs. This allows them to come together or split up to fulfill a typical 50-item order in minutes. American retailer Kroger has now partnered with Ocado to build AI-powered warehouses and up their grocery delivery capabilities. Grupo Casino, Kroger, and Morrisons are some of the other retailers partnering with Ocado to build smart warehouses.

Returns management:

To predict customers’ purchasing patterns over the next 30 days, German-based ecommerce player Otto analyzes about three billion past transactions and 200 variables, including sales, searches, and weather conditions. The AI system predicts customer purchases at 90% accuracy, thereby reducing product returns by over two million items a year.

AI for stock replenishments

AI-driven insights from varied data sets offer significant scope to automate stock replenishments. UK retailer Morrisons is working with Blue Yonder, a tech firm, on an AI deployment that analyzes different data sets: internal data sets (such as sales) along with external data sets (such as weather patterns or public holidays). This allows the company to predict demand down to the individual store level and then automates the product orders. As a result, shelf gap was found to be reduced by 30% during trial sessions.36

AI for assortment rationalization (rationalizing SKUs in range)

Global fashion retailer H&M faced a significant challenge: $4 billion worth of unsold stock. To address this, it applied machine learning on different data sets, such as returns, purchases, loyalty card, search results and store receipts. This aim was to customize assortments to each individual store, reversing the previous practice of merchandising based on past sales. The number of SKUs reduced by 40% as a result

(The above mentioned article is based on Capgemini report titled BUILDING THE RETAIL SUPERSTAR”)

 

 

 

 

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How can retail organizations scale their supply chain initiatives?
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How can retail organizations scale their supply chain initiatives?
 

The digitization of the supply chain is one of the most important aspects of overall growth strategy of the business. To address the issue, Capgemini is come up with a report titled The Digital Supply Chain’s Missing Link: Focus. In this report the company has surveyed supply chain executives at more than 1,000 organizations across consumer products, manufacturing, and retail.

The main objective is here to understand digital initiatives followed by the key organizations, the benefits they are deriving, and the ways in which they are transforming their supply chains.

Strategize and plan for the digitization of your supply chain

Involvement from top management

As per the Capgemini report, 57% of executives who participated in the report felt that lack of commitment from leadership is a key challenge since it is lengthy process and requires multiple functions such as planning, procurement, IT, and HR, among others.

Underlining the importance of top management Bastiaan Westhoff, global RCS & Wayside supply chain director at Bombardier, an aerospace and Transportation Company stated (also mentioned in the report) “The most difficult part in such a program is the change management. We needed to get buy-in from the regions. To get the buy-in, you need to reach out to the people directly impacted and you need to ensure you have the full commitment from top management. Without the buy-in you should not even start.”28 Senior leadership should also guide the program leaders on what is critical by setting goals for the digitization. If a supply chain needs to be more consumers centric, the objective and the drive to deliver will need to come from the senior leadership.

Build an ecosystem to support the digitization of your supply chain

Onboard your partners to realize the maximum benefits

More than 78% organization which was the part of the survey informed that they do not see much responsiveness from their supply chain partners. Majority of them felt that they require greater data sharing among partners. Interestingly, the data is most relevant with organization those have not successfully scaled.

However, partnerships can be resource intensive. One approach is to collaborate with a smaller segment of critical suppliers and distributors or retailers. For example, distributors could be segmented according to their logistics needs, and suppliers could be segmented based on their willingness to collaborate, their technology infrastructure, their service level agreements, or other factors.

Work toward establishing a data-driven organization

Lack of end to end visibility is yet another issue that most organizations have pointed out which is quintessential part of mitigating supply chain redundancies and to improve customer experience. For example, Brian Kesseler – co-CEO of Tenneco Inc., a US-based automotive company – highlighted the importance of data in on-time delivery.

As per the company the accurate data with right granularity drives effective data-driven decision. To accomplish this, organizations should focus on creating and developing a data ecosystem – the infrastructure for capturing data, an understanding of data flow across processes and systems, applications to analyze captured data, policies to govern the access, and security measures to protect this data. For example, supply chain control towers – which are central hubs with the required technology, and processes – capture and use supply chain data and provide enhanced visibility for short- and long-term decision making.

The above article has been extracted from a report titled The Digital Supply Chain’s Missing Link: Focus published by Capgemini.

 

 

 

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How retailers can Optimize work force to drive profitability?
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How retailers can Optimize work force to drive profitability?
 

With the looming holiday season, retailers are approaching the crucial Christmas - New Year shopping period with a strong sense of optimism and some worries too. As a countdown from Christmas to New Years, we experience a flood of festive advertising and promotions across all media. The holiday season ushers in a surge in footfalls, packed with customers picking out decorations and gifts for their loved ones. However, from the perspective of the customer, holiday sales can easily become a struggle to find the right products when not monitored by store staff. If one were to imagine the packed crowd navigating through shops without any floor help, it would result in disgruntled consumers, thereby impacting sales. It’s the last mile workforce that makes the difference be the service quality, overall experience to delight and also actually drives the revenue.

In peak seasons like these, it is critical for retailers, to actively engage in finding the optimum number of employees with the right skill being placed at the right time at the stores to drive this experience ultimately resulting in higher revenues. With internal sourcing falling short of the peak loads its important for retail companies to fill in the gaps with part time/contract employees to drive desired outcomes. However, despite fresh hires and an inflated workforce, unplanned absences are a common occurrence. Global research suggests that Retailers are understaffed 25 percent of the time due to last-minute absenteeism. In fact, retailers in the UK and US have recorded unprecedented levels of absenteeism at 44 percent and 41 percent respectively on weekends India these percentages are equally staggering. Retailers are given on an average just one to three hours notice when an employee is not going to show up for work, which makes it stressful for their managers.  Organizations spend precious time in correcting staffing misalignments and shortages, which impacts productivity and finally lowers revenue. Hence, absenteeism has a deep rooted corrosive impact on retailers. Replacements employees too are unable to drive the outcomes as a replacement employee is also only up to 80% effective from a productivity standpoint.  A Workforce Management solution is the right answer to tackling this problem. It is the only scientific, analytical & data driven approach to deliver sustainable success by strategically building a staffing and operating model that takes into collective consideration the needs of the workforce, the customers, and the business.

Absenteeism affects productivity, overtime, morale and business growth monetarily. In an effort to counter instances of unplanned absenteeism a vast majority of retail organizations (88 percent) proactively over-schedule additional labour to cover for probable absences. This practice is most common in France (95 percent) followed by U.S. (89 percent) and then Germany (88 percent). Therefore, 56 percent of global retailers highlight scheduling based on customer, business, and employee demands to be a major concern. Similar trends are being observed in the Indian retail market, which comprises of dynamic and fast-paced industries with an inflated workforce growing constantly. Only 55% of retailers worldwide have the technology in place to manage unplanned absences, India being one of them. It’s Workforce Management technology that can help troubleshoot such issues.

In sectors where workforce is the biggest asset and also the biggest operating cost, it is imperative to manage your workforce even more efficiently and effectively. Retailers are more concerned about finding and retaining the right person in the right place at the right time. This is where workforce analytics can play a critical role in identifying the optimal workload plan and suggest workforce schedules that match these workloads optimally and cost effectively. Workforce Management solutions help empowers managers with accurate demand forecasts using historical data and known events, and in building schedules that optimize the deployment of workforces. An interesting trend that is catching up with Global retail chains is their interest in using Workforce Management tools in order to retain their competitive advantage by achieving operational efficiency, improved productivity, flexibility and agility while still being compliant to the law of land, both on statutory and social compliance front.

In most Countries, retailers are looking at technology as an emancipator of productivity related issues by facilitating effective employee scheduling. However, simple automation of critical workforce processes such as timekeeping, scheduling, and leave management can cater to the needs of permanent employees and gig workers also drives big benefits and acts as the first step on the right path. One needs to consider the adoption of smarter tools that give equal power to employers and employees and serve the purpose of productivity and monitor the workforce but not necessarily control the workforce. Hence, self-scheduling saves time and efforts and empowers employees to manage their absences better through shift swaps with co-workers, and help in improving work quality and productivity. A Workforce Management system not only helps in the efficient allocation of work, it also  provides visibility on the status, progress, and performance, while initiating notifications and alerts in real-time to enable critical business decision within moments.

Technology that is agile and cloud based can address the needs of a highly mobile and remote functioning workforce. Workforce Management solutions embedded with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning functionality that are equipped with data analytics can provide the best recommendations for improved forecasting accuracy, labour analytics, shift recommendations, and employee self-service. The solution is to create a beneficial end-to-end cloud suite for retailers powered by machine learning to streamline store execution and effectively manage work-life balance.  This in fact can help organisations step into the next evolutionary stage in transforming how they are mobilizing their workforce. The conversation needs to move to assessing productivity levels and better deployment of talent, that will align employee skills with operational requirements. This is the step one must take in the direction of human capital optimisation, moving further beyond just management.

The article has been penned down by James Thomas, Country Manager, India, Kronos Incorporated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Supply Chain is helping retailers in this festive season?
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How Supply Chain is helping retailers in this festive season?
 

Modern retail today is a global marketplace which streamlines transactions between manufacturers, producers (farmers), creators (Designers etc.), shopping platforms and consumers. The logistics and supply chain acts as the key enabler in making both the consumers get what they want and the retailers deliver to the consumer expectation in the challenging festive season.

The festive season commences post monsoon and in a short span of 4 months creates a pressure situation for the retailers. It is not just the festivals, but the variety of festivals that are characterised by the choices that consumers want to have. There is no one particular product preference but a combination of products both as regular consumption and a gift factor that add to the complexity.

Retailers are challenged to achieve a balance in the festive season thru

  • Forward planning: not just of 1-2 months by a period of atleast 6 months at one go. Across multiple regions, marketplaces with different economic, traditional and localisation preferences. Same product sold across multiple locations could need a regional colour packing option as a last mile need creating pressure on the supply chain.
  • Alerts and demand expectation management: Consumers demand – no lag – in their getting a product that has been launched in the world markets across time zones to be made available to them. It is not a good situation to be saddled with outdated fashion or old technology models of items.
  • Accelerated processing speeds and reduced error rates: Ability to deliver to a demand centre in a just-in-time manner without errors becomes a norm rather than an exception. Lost sales opportunities can cost a whole season sales in case of inability to address the niche demands and changes in consumption pattern created by external factors.
  • Enhancevisibility and tracking into orders and KPIs: Technology and communication using sensors across the value chain and end products create a load full of data. This data needs to be interpreted in a timely manner and action is taken to course correct logistics decisions to both capture emerging opportunities and stop losses.
  • Reduce operational costs, including fewer overtime costs:  a multitude of delivery nodes in a chain of supply with stocking norms and in-transit warehousing needs to be operationalised to reduce operational costs. Also, there is a need to not create undue pressure on last mile deliveries which can add additional manpower costs.
  • Improve customer experience and higher profits: A timely availability of size, model, colour or any other consumer preference at the retail level needs to be serviced to meet and enhance the customer experience. There is a need to also reduce the reverse logistics of customer returns and low demand goods. Retailers can protect their margins and make a higher margin by ensuring a timely availability or placement of products thru a smarter use of retail logistics.

In the era of e-retail focused logistics, there is a need for e-retail players to demand a different level of capabilities and service levels in order to cater to their customers. E-retail players have scaled up and remain efficient while still providing competitive prices to customers. The dedicated e-retail focussed LSP’s now account fora larger share of the logistics sector while Individual players continue toexpand their operations, reach and capabilities.

Today, as the mainstream logistics sector in India prepares to embracethe digital world and transform towards organised and structured processes, the organised logistics impact on Retail growth will be through:

  1. Just in time Delivery

With features that enable retailers to make informed choices when selecting a freight carrier forprovidingautomated tracking updates, online logistics service providers are creating an ecosystem that drives assurance and trust. Further, the complete process of rate procurement to doorstep delivery, being facilitated on the online channel, gives the clients an added advantage of transparent dealings and regular updates.Asingle dashboard to track and manage multiple orders from around the globehelps clients get a real-time update on the progress of their shipment. Previously, ambiguous costs like customs clearance and documentation etc., are also clearly stated, with adequate information regarding the appropriate route of transportation, agreed service level optimisations and standardised, all-inclusive rates, making the entire process transparent and reliable. Retailers are thus well assured of receiving their shipments on time, ensuring a smooth and positive service experience.

  1. Intelligent processes

Adopting the best of modern technology, new age logistics start-ups are transforming the traditional processes with intelligent, data-driven methods. One such process is that of forecasting, which uses vital data of past shipments, like frequent destinations, frequently used sea or air freight forwarders, average delivery time, average weight/ volume of shipments, quantity, type of material, average costs per shipment etc., enabling businesses retailers to acquire customised costs and eliminate variability, with little to no scope of additional/ hidden charges. Further, this vital data is also useful to retailers to avail contract rates with frequently associated LSP’s, thus cutting logistics costs and driving profits

  1. Smart Consolidation

While logistics is a vital key to timely deliveries and to boost retail, it is also a key expense that can impact the end profits. Consolidation of shipments through centralised warehouses is a trend that is helping shape the organised logistics framework for Retailers. For example, the free flow of goods across India can be leveraged to create a centralised hub for shipping to international destinations. Shipments from all over the country can be clubbed together basis their destination and shipped from a single port, thus creating an efficientlogistics system. Consolidation can help reduce shipping costs through bulk volume discounts, help cut down on other ancillary charges like customs fee and documentation charges (which could have been higher for individual shipments) and facilitate better order management and timely delivery.

  1. Reverse Logistics

The growth of e-commerce and the multi-channel model—which enables consumers to buy anytime, anywhere—has significantly impacted the retail industry. This has given rise to reverse logistics–the flow of goods and products from the point of consumption to point of origin, for purpose of recapturing value or for proper disposal. When a manufacturer’s product normally moves through the supply chain network, it is to reach the distributor or customer. Any processor management after the sale of the product involves reverse logistics. From a logistics and supply chain point of view, Reverse logistics presents one of the biggest operational challenges in the world of eCommerce freight logistics, due to the sheer volume and cost of processing returns. However, if handled effectively by organised logistics providers, reverse logistics can result in direct benefits, including improved customer satisfaction, decreased resource investment levels, and reductions in storage and distribution costs.

Ruchi Dogra, Co-Founder & Director, FreightCrate Technologies says, “Retail, from luxury to e-commerce, is an extremely price sensitive business and especially so in the festive season. Logistics, when utilised smartly, can prove to be a key factor in improvingprofits. Streamlining the processes through advance planning and execution through the help of experienced online logistic marketplaces can not only ease the burden of planning, supervision and management but also helpsto dramatically control costs, thus add to revenue growth through well planned and efficient functioning”.

The article has been penned down by Ruchi Dogra, Co-Founder & Director, FreightCrate 

 

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Only 55 percent of retailers worldwide have technology in place to manage unplanned absences: Global Study
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Only 55 percent of retailers worldwide have technology in place to manage unplanned absences: Global Study
 

According to a survey of 800 retail managers across multiple countries conducted by The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated, for every 10 hours of in-store labour budgeted, more than one hour is wasted due to staffing misalignment caused by unplanned employee absence. Absenteeism drives understaffing worldwide and poses significant workforce management challenges for retail organizations, with many citing a significant impact on productivity, labour costs, store revenue, and customer satisfaction.

The Global Retail Absence survey, conducted with Coleman Parkes Research, analyzes the responses of retail managers across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. to examine the broad impact of absenteeism on retail organizations with more than 1,000 employees. The survey brings to the forefront, corrosive effects that unplanned absences have on store operations, which, according to more than half of retail managers worldwide (52 percent), is one of their organization’s most difficult, complex, and time-consuming issues.

Retailers are understaffed 25 percent of the time due to last-minute absenteeism

  • Faced with a 7 percent average rate of unplanned absence (i.e. shifts are scheduled but unexpectedly not worked), retailers in the U.K. (74 percent), Canada (72 percent), France (71 percent), Germany (69 percent), Australia (64 percent), and the U.S. (61 percent) are understaffed more than 25 percent of the time
  • Retailers in the U.K. (44 percent) and the U.S. (41 percent) are hit hardest by absenteeism on the weekends, while in Germany (33 percent) the highest rate of absence typically occurs on Mondays
  • For the most part, retailers are given just one to three hours’ notice when an employee is not going to show up for work. These numbers are highest in the U.K. (53 percent), the U.S. (49 percent), and Canada (40 percent). The impact of filling these shifts on short notice means that one in four retailers (26 percent) are working with staff that have the wrong skills at least half the time
  • The top three operational downfalls of absenteeism cited by retailers worldwide are staff productivity (58 percent), customer satisfaction (47 percent), and store revenue (42 percent). Findings additionally show absenteeism has an above-average impact on staff productivity in the U.S., (69 percent), customer satisfaction in Canada (52 percent), and store revenue in France (55 percent)

Filling vacant shifts on the fly is stressful for managers and disruptive to a retailer’s bottom line.

  • An average 6 percent of labour hours each month are worked to cover issues such as unplanned absence but have not been formally scheduled. This causes unnecessary stress for more than half of U.S. retailers (57 percent) as well as store managers in Germany (44 percent), Australia (41 percent), France (39 percent), Canada (38 percent), and the U.K. (33 percent)
  • Nearly half of retailers worldwide (48 percent) find it challenging to deal with administrative issues resulting from associates working additional shifts and/or incurring overtime to cover unplanned absence, and 42 percent feel a big impact on labour costs

Despite best efforts, retailers struggle to schedule for low- and peak-demand

  • The perpetual issue and corrosive effects of absenteeism have led the vast majority of retail organizations (88 percent) to proactively over-schedule additional labour each day to cover for anticipated absences. This is most common in France (95 percent), the U.S. (89 percent), and Germany (88 percent)
  • Retailers regularly find themselves with either too few or too many associates during periods of low- and peak-demand, and some admit to being understaffed (31 percent) or overstaffed (22 percent) at least half the time
  • More than half of retailers worldwide (56 percent) say it is a challenge to build work schedules that meet customer, business, and employee demands. This is the most common workforce management challenge for retail mangers across the U.S. (69 percent), Canada (64 percent), France (60 percent), Australia (58 percent), and Germany (55 percent)
  • Despite the fact that most retailers worldwide say work schedules are posted between one and two weeks in advance, retail managers admit that 86 percent of schedules are amended to some degree after they are published

Retail managers are hungry for technology to solve staffing issues.

  • Only 55 percent of retailers worldwide have technology in place to manage unplanned absences, with both the U.K. (41 percent) and Canada (38 percent) reporting below-average use. In comparison, 76 percent of global respondents have an automated solution to manage time and attendance, and 73 percent use technology to manage planned absences, such as time-off requests.
  • Three out of five (59 percent) retailers say scheduling technology has a positive impact on productivity within their teams, with store managers in Canada the most bullish about technology at 76 percent.
  • Retail managers are confident that effective absence management technology can help reduce absenteeism: globally, retailers anticipate an 18 percent decrease in unapproved absence rates after implementing a new absence and shift-swapping solution, with France expecting the best return on investment, anticipating a 23 percent decrease.
  • Quantifying the benefits of absence management, retailers additionally expect a new absence and shift-swapping solution to reduce labour costs by nearly 3 percent. In the U.S., one in 10 retail managers estimate the cost reduction could be as high as 5 percent.

The Indian retail industry is one of the most dynamic and fast-paced industries, poised to grow at a rate of 60 per cent to US$1.1 trillion by 2020. From being largely unorganized or individual owned to moving to a more customer focused sector, retail industry now contributes close to 10 per cent of India’s GDP. However, the sector faces instances of last minute absenteeism which results in retailers being understaffed 25 per cent of the time and filling vacant shifts is stressful for managers, which disrupts the bottom line.

Commenting on the Global Retailers Survey, James Thomas, Country Manager, India, Kronos Incorporated said, “We are seeing similar trends in absenteeism in the Indian Retail market as well. Only 55 per cent of retailers worldwide have the technology in place to manage unplanned absences, while in India this figure would be lower. Recently, we have observed a sudden uptrend in the Online retail segment, where seasonal variability of workforce is very high, and sudden events like sales and promotions builds a surge in manpower requirements, and if not planned for can disrupt their business. Large retail houses in India are increasingly seeing the business value in Workforce Management solutions like Kronos, and we are excited about their interests.”

 

 

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5 Ways to Get Hyperlocal Marketing Right
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5 Ways to Get Hyperlocal Marketing Right
 

Remember how marketing was done earlier? Before the advent of TV, radio, and of course, the internet, flyers and brochures were placed in front of doorsteps and stuck to car windshields. This seemingly old-fashioned form of direct marketing worked like magic because it was the original form of ‘niche marketing’. If done right, it can still garner great results, even today. Since companies/businesses are now allotting bigger budgets for marketing activities, there’s plenty of room for direct marketing efforts of this sort. And when you’re talking about targeted, direct digital marketing, it’s hard not to talk about hyperlocal marketing, and what it allows you to do.

What is Hyperlocal Marketing?

Hyperlocal marketing is a form of niche marketing where you only target people over a specific region for your campaigns. This kind of marketing has gained prominence because it is highly localized, which means that local businesses don’t have to worry about wasting their money advertising to audience who have a low chance of buying the product/service.

With the rise of local and mobile search, Google Trends has shown a dramatic increase in “near me” search, since 2015. As a brand, knowing your target audience in terms of their demographics can be super effective. Hyperlocal targeting can help brands attend to the existing and potential customers’ current needs. As a result, the marketing effort is much easier to implement, personalize and measure.

The increased focus on hyperlocal marketing can partly be attributed to the explosion of growth in mobile adoption. Consumers are always connected digitally through their mobile devices. It is critical for your website and related content to be optimized for mobile browsers and tablets.

There are varied approaches that you can take when it comes to hyperlocal marketing. Some of them are simple, while some of them are complex. Here are 5 ways of getting hyperlocal marketing right for your business.

#1 Get the basics right

For your hyperlocal marketing strategy to succeed, you need to make sure that you have your Google My Business page is ready and optimized. Ensure you fill out every detail about your business, and that you don’t have any inaccurate or obsolete data floating around on the internet. Bad data can have a lasting impact on everything about your business - Bad data refers to information that is incorrect and can mislead the customer.

Once you have your data in place, add some appealing pictures of your business. We can all agree that images help set the tone for the user’s visual experience with your business.  The next important step is to have at least 5 Google reviews from customers. If you don’t have any reviews to show, it will impact your growth and search rankings. Your consumers will not have anything to measure your success, and you will not be considered as a competitive brand. Encourage your past customers to leave a review about your business.

#2 Local landing pages for all your locations

If you are running a multi-location business, make sure you show up on local searches from different regions by having local landing page for each of your business locations. This way, you can optimize your business for local searches, and also create more personalized content for your audience in these specific areas.

Run a keyword search to find out which are most relevant for your business. Working on optimizing your local landing pages for these keywords can help attract more traffic.

#3 Relevant Content around the specific location

Create localised content on your website to engage with people in a specific location. For example: If you run a restaurant in Bangalore, your site should focus on issues related to food lovers in the city, eg: the best place in Bangalore that serves vegan burger, rather than general information that would interest people everywhere.

Your content can also focus on the interest of the people in that particular location. For example, people might search for “restaurants near MG Road.” This can boost your hyperlocal targeting and help your business sound more appealing to those looking around a specific area. You can also send out newsletters featuring seasonal deals, and store coupons for that particular location.

#4 Optimize for Schema Markup

When it comes to optimizing for local search, schema markup is one of the most effective and underrated practices. Local businesses can add schema markup to their websites to make it easier for search engines like Google to provide more data about your business to users in the form of rich snippets.

This makes it easier for your business to appear on relevant search, as well. For examples, you can define your business hours with markup to help it show up directly on search results. 

#5 Embrace the power of Geofencing & Mobile Advertising

If you run a physical store, then you can set up beacons, geofences or microfences that will help you do location based marketing in and around your store Geofencing offers a world of possibilities for marketers; from interactive shopping lists to push notifications and mobile advertisements that can be tied to a business location, you can leverage this in many ways.

Snapchat and Instagram geo filters can also be effective for promotional purposes, as Gen Z shoppers are super active on these platforms. The other aspects you can look into is hyperlocal marketing through Google AdWords, Facebook ads, etc. as these are tried and tested methods, and have proven to get good results.

Hyperlocal marketing plays a critical role in improving your ROI, if you’re a local business. Customers will respond better when they feel connected to your brand, and as a result, will drive your business’ growth.

As a business owner, you need to ensure that your business is ready the new era of online search and marketing. Using state-of-the-art digital marketing trends like hyperlocal marketing will help you get ahead of your competition and improve conversions as well.

The article has been penned down by Ashwin Ramesh, Founder, Synup 

 

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How retailers can maximise profit on ageing inventory during slowdown?
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How retailers can maximise profit on ageing inventory during slowdown?
 

Before and after the build-up of festive season, great sales, consumer buying frenzy, brand offers and online sales festivals, comes a period when almost every business goes through a slowdown! The supply chain plans bullish for ‘the period’ when they it to reach more than 30% of its annual sales during such periods. Occasionally they go a little overboard in stocking goods and hence the capital investment in inventory, among other aspects.

In today’s business scenario, sellers have been innovating new marketing techniques to make their businesses faster, easier, and more convenient for their buyers. Consumers crave easier methods and ways of making a purchase and the same goes for returns. Free returns, 2-day shipping or quick in-store returns, the faster the better, especially during the ‘Great India Sales’ seasons.

All this amounts to huge pressure on inventories once the hype is over. From here, sellers reconcile their actual realizations during the sales period and more often the conclusion is a situation where they need to find outlets and opportunities to maximize profits and returns on the unsold, excess, ageing inventories.

Some of the ways that sellers can deploy to maximise profits during a lull period are as listed below: -

  1. Announce A Surplus Sale!

Clearance sales, flash sales, seasonal sales, and sales on specific items, among other strategies can help clear out the stock and simultaneously make money. Offering an opportunity to consumers through a Surplus Sale Period is an effective way of reducing inventory, especially for the B2B segment. Such surplus sale in the B2B Line of Business benefits the whole supply chain and prepares the next up-cycle for maximising profits.

  1. Market 2.0! Push for better marketing & information to sell unsold inventory

Sometimes the excess inventory may not sell because of the way it is being marketed. Remarketing the product in an effective manner would be a good way to begin. Adding new images of the product(s) with fresh looks, placing items on new places on the site, and using keywords for the product title and product description are some of the proven ways to increase sales and clear out excess ageing inventory. Rejig when things being to look stale. Presentation has a definite impact on the way consumer perceive products while making a purchase.

  1. 1+1 = 11 - Bundle products

Bundling up products is the most popular pricing method (besides discounts), which can help maximize profits from excess, overstock ageing inventory. Bundling is basically grouping a few products to create a set and selling them together at a price lower than at their individual prices. Some of the best hacks in bundling are, to group the fast-selling products with the slow-moving products, to bundle multiple units of the same product, and to bundle complementary products, among others. For example, bundling a high quality ear-phone with an aggressively priced laptop is something a consumer may find more value in thus inducing purchase. One of our sellers recently utilized this strategy to successfully expedite sales with amazing results.

  1. Best Bet! Check out platforms / marketplaces which liquidate excess, ageing, overstock Inventory

An excess inventory platform will buy all your excess or unsold products with market accepted offers, will ensure capital is unblocked. Furthermore, an online marketplace like Excess2Sell will do it Confidentially, Anonymously & Neutrally without disturbing your current market operating price to get you the best deal. Moreover you choose the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ), Method of Payment (MOP), and Location & Terms.

All businesses have to face the situation with Overstock, Ageing, Excess and old inventory during a slowdown. However with the tactics listed above, one can definitely clear out the shelf space and thereby earn revenue in the process.

The article has been penned down by Rajan Sharma, Founder & CEO,  Excess2Sell.com

 

 

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The neglected General Trade Networks of India
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The neglected General Trade Networks of India
 

General trade is vital for the success of manufacturers and the trade network ecosystem. Due to all the hype around e-commerce, it’s easy to forget that general trade is the backbone of our economy and it is here to stay for decades to come. However, it is failing to perform as desired due to varied problems and challenges. The General Trade Network can be revived with restructuring the distribution network and technological support.

The Background

Peeping in the past, the only form of trade that earlier existed was Barter System without monetary transactions. However, with rise of the internet, you can simply buy anything and everything with a click of a button. Although, this sounds convenient, but it has also brought up problems and challenges, most of which can be overcome.

In India, manufacturers reach the consumers in two different ways:

  1. Modern Trade

MT consists of local and international supermarkets and hypermarkets or convenience store that retail FMCG goods. It is also known as organized retail and has been slowly gaining importance.

  1. General trade

GT is local retailing i.e. small scale businesses who are serviced by the distributors or agents. They serve the consumers who shop day to day necessities in small quantities.

Thus while general trade is largely consumer dependent and is similar to the traditional way of doing business, modern trade depends heavily on marketing and promotions.

The Current Scenario: Modern Trade v/s General Trade

With the entry of modern trade things have greatly changed, its share of the market is consistently increasing. Massive infrastructure development, catchy interiors, technological development, standardization, marketing and promotion has all helped boost its smooth penetration.

But the general trade systems have remained the same. There has been no significant technological innovation in this arena over past five decades. As a result there has been stagnation in the general trade network of India. Today, the manufacturers and distributors are struggling to keep pace with the fast changing consumer demands. They are fighting multiple battles: On one side they are fighting Modern trade while on the other side they have Ecommerce companies, that have not just made shopping convenient but have also put the finest assortment of products in front of the customers. Also, the low cost goods supplies from China have been a great hindrance for the general trade.

While the modern trade is developing a strong foothold with technological development and support the general trade system is losing it all being a helpless watchdog.

The Neglected Problem: What went wrong for General Trade?

Witnessing the growth of these E-commerce and MT companies, the traders haven’t done anything to compete and elevate their own selves except retaliating against them. Although, some have tried to match the pace with minor tech innovations (for example building their own websites and apps, leveraging social media etc.) but there has been no major disruption in this space.

In the past couple of years, the major focus was only on B2C disruptions which have led to multiple innovations across varied categories like travel, E-commerce, entertainment, logistics and many more. But the backbone of Indian business i.e. the General Trade Distribution System has remained neglected all this while.

Another issue that plagues the GT ecosystem is the lack of access to credit and logistics. Distributors, wholesalers and retailers struggle with getting loans and rely heavily on their upstream sellers to extend flexible payment terms and setup the right logistics. This creates a massive problem for sellers, since financing and logistics are not part of their core business. Also it limits their scope to only those buyers they can fully trust. Given the explosion of NBFCs, logistics companies and insurers there is a massive opportunity for startups to help match these companies to the right buyers.

The Billion Dollar Question: Is General Trade still relevant?

While the overall retail market is expected to grow at 12 per cent per annum, the modern trade will expand twice as fast at 20 per cent per annum and traditional trade at 10 per cent in the coming year. But as the saying goes, “All that glitters is not gold” here comes the harsh fact about the ever-growing Modern Trade. It is reported that In FY17 organized retail market contributed only 7 per cent of the total sector while unorganized retail market contributed the major chunk of 93 per cent.

Perhaps, the game is yet not over for the General Trade System, as it is still playing in the forefront of India’s Trade Network ball game. Startups and large players who can digitize the general trade network and solve these lingering problems will not only ensure the survival of the network but also take a big winning in the process given the scale of the problem.

The Need of the Hour: Solid Solution

In this competitive era of digitization, when survival itself can be threatened, steady growth can only come when the general trade network ecosystem quickly adopts technical and business model innovations. Since many of these businesses operate on low margins and are not that tech savvy, to ensure large scale adoption its important that the technology is extremely intuitive and affordable even for the smallest players such as a retailer in a small town.  Only then can the entire national network of manufacturers, distributors and retailers be upgraded in the way they connect, transact and deal with each other. There is a strong need to develop such a system that serves the general trade network ecosystem and simplifies the trading process.

Analyzing the scenario of trade network system, Mr Sriram Subramanian, Founder and Director of Bnext said, “Today the small and medium businesses understand the importance of digital transformations but so far the solutions available have been either expensive or complicated. The market needs an affordable and highly intuitive digitized solution that works in sync with the present system. The major shift of the companies in future will be towards transparency and data-driven business intelligence and only digitized supply chains could move them towards ‘open data culture’ entities.”

 The Bottom Line

While we know the future is digital and it largely demands data-driven transparency, we need a smart and systematic business solution that not only empowers manufacturers but also distributors, wholesalers and retailers, i.e. the entire supply chain. As disruption is not just about changing the system but about adding value to the present systems by enabling positive outcomes for all stakeholders.

The article has been penned down by Dipti Singla, Founder, Bnext.in

 

 

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How retailers can deliver personalised experience?
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How retailers can deliver personalised experience?
 

Digital disrupters are finding ways to serve unmet customer demands through the ways, which were unheard of. They’re creating disjointed buyer journeys that are hard to stay ahead of, riddling the total customer experience with infinite touchpoints and removing barriers to entry. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, 73% of shoppers surveyed used multiple channels along their shopping journey, with omnichannel customers spending more compared to those who used a single touchpoint.

Even though the traditional sales funnel is officially extinct, with this new digital journey comes opportunities to collect customer data that we’ve never had before, allowing businesses to take back control.

Here are three equations rooted in data that will personalize the customer experience you deliver:

  • Always on service:Your customers have a growing number of channels at their disposal. To be where customers already are, savvy businesses are integrating chatbots into popular messengers and apps to deliver the level of personal service that’s expected at the first “hello.” With chatbots, data and machine learning join forces to extend an always-open arm of your customer service team and use data to tailor the experience. The second your customer finds you, you’re ready, willing, and able to knowledgeably respond. As an added benefit, communicating in these private chatbot environments encourages engagement – research found that private messages sent by companies have a 96% response rate.
  • Get complete customer view: Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the hottest topic in tech. At a high-level, AI uses machine intelligence to filter through, analyse, learn from, and interpret data in ways us mere mortals can’t. AI has superhuman power that makes sense of millions of customer touches to tell a 360-degree story of individual needs, wants, and expectations – and, it only gets smarter each time new data is fed to it. In near future, it’s certain that customer experience will be fuelled by AI to make interactions more valuable and enhance how we connect with the customer.
  • Data + IoT – Real Time Improvements: Simply defined, the term Internet of Things (IoT) is used to describe the connection of people and things – such as appliances, automobiles, electronics, and consumer goods – to the internet in order to report on configuration, usage, condition, and much more. Even better, it reports problems back to the “mothership” to make real-time improvements on the product itself or others’ use of it. The IoT is the reason you’re able to raise your home thermostat via a mobile app, wear a smart watch that tracks your health and suggests lifestyle changes, and watch a car drive by without a driver.

By unifying all available data, companies can perfectly personalize customer interactions at any moment to amplify engagement – and, both emerging and traditional ways to apply it make those engagements more meaningful.

The article has been penned down by Ratnesh Mehra, Customer Experience Strategy & Transformation Leader-India at Oracle

 

 

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How Supply chain companies handle festive rush?
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How Supply chain companies handle festive rush?
 

In India, the e-commerce sector has seen an unprecedented growth in the recent past. This growth was driven by rapid technology adoption led by the increased use of devices such as smartphones and tablets, and access to the internet through broadband, 4G etc, which led to an increased online consumer base.

The impact of this growth is especially visible during the festive season. With e-commerce now penetrating into tier 2 and tier 3 cities, over 80% of the total sales occur during this spell. According to a report by market research firm RedSeer, the five days of Diwali were expected to fetch a gross merchandise volume of $2.5 billion to $3 billion, up from about $1.5 billion in 2017.

However, the sudden growth doesn’t come without challenges. A surge in demand and an increase in customer expectations mean that the supply chains for the e-commerce players are under pressure like never before. The customer is prone to travel during the holidays and is depending on e-retailers for their gifts to friends and relatives. This means e-commerce companies now need to ensure that they adhere to their SLAs to provide on-time deliveries to their customers.

The day-to-day challenges for e-commerce players also increase many folds during this period. Fuzzy addresses and lack of first-time strike rate are some problems that add to the headache of the e-commerce players. Paper-based receipts and delay in deliveries are other reasons that cause last-mile friction with the customers. Lack of visibility of resources and the failure of normal estimates during the festive season are other issues that plague the e-commerce industries.

More often than not, these problems are beyond the scope of human intelligence, and the supply chain leaders require additional help to make business decisions. This led to Locus come up with AI-based solutions like Dispatcher and IntelliSort that caters to the needs of the e-commerce companies, especially during the festive season.

For starters, Dispatcher is the route optimization solution from Locus, whereas, IntelliSort provides automated sorting of shipment packages. These AI-based solutions use advanced geocoding and accurate address detection IP to automate the primary and secondary sorting processes. Clubbing of orders is based on properties such as preferred delivery time slots, priority orders, location preference, and order specifications (weight, size, content etc.). The solutions further provide an optimal fleet mix and route plan for the vehicles respecting business as well as local constraints such as traffic, or any special route restrictions.

This leads to reduced turnaround time for the customer by optimising first-mile operations, locations of warehouses/distribution centres, reducing sorting times at fulfilment centres and last mile distribution centres. The customer experience is further improved by predicts time windows of delivery, and Electronic proof of delivery (EPOD) which reduces friction in the last mile delivery and leads to the digitisation of the processes. The turn-around time is reduced for the customer by optimising first-mile operations, locations of warehouses/distribution centres, reducing sorting times at fulfilment centres and last mile distribution centres. The solutions also provide a hawk-eye view of on-ground resources and analytics to provide a comprehensive performance analysis of different business units.

Modern logistics solutions not only ensure higher profitability for e-commerce companies but a better experience for their delivery staffs owing to lesser hassle, truly adding a glint to every part of the supply chain.

The article has been penned down by Nishith Rastogi, co-founder & CEO, Locus

 

 

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Setting up shop: empowering small retailers and kiranas
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Setting up shop: empowering small retailers and kiranas
 

Small retailers and kiranasform the backbone of Indian consumption with a 98% share in the entire grocery retail business – there are about 12 million of them dominating the segment. There are some practical reasons for the success of these models. First, they are easily accessible and can be found on every street corner. Second, they have a unique knowledge and assortment of locally relevant goods for the customers. These shops are spread across urban and rural India as they manage with fewer stock keeping units in small spaces.

The profound knowledge of the local consumer community allows these small stores to use their limited storage space and create a smart turnover essential goods. The wholesaler acts as the warehouse while they keep stocks indesired quantities. Apart from this, these kirana shops and small retailers provide free delivery in less than an hour with convenient credit facilities for their regular and trusted consumers.

Small retailers and kiranasare a source of employment for millions of local entrepreneurs and workers with minimal skills. They may either prefer to set up shop in their local villages and towns or migrate to other broader parts of the country. These shops are also embracing digitization by implementing online digital payments for both small and medium transactions.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been kind to small retailers with an annual turnover less than ₹20 lakh. They are exempted from registering under the Central Goods and Services Tax Act, 2017.Further, the billing and compliance burden has been eased on them as they don’t have to issue long invoices detailing the prices and taxes for each item under the GST regime.

The Davids of this David and Goliath battle have thus given plenty of reasons why they ought to be prioritized and empowered in our country. To ensure that both sides of the table, the consumers and producers benefit, these shops must be further modernized to keep up with the digital world in a manner where the human connect isn’t lost somewhere in between. There is a need for hyper localization and digitization through point of sale (POS) billing, increased digital payment and back-end integration with wholesale suppliers to meet the demands of consumers. Cloud printing, where mobile applications can scan and issue bills from printers would be the next step to evolve this sector.

Small retailers and kiranasshould be supported by offering them training in assortment section and product placements within stores to improve their markets. This is because the location involving height, visibility and placement of a product can substantially increase margins of sales. There are various shops that work on a credit-based system with their customers and suppliers.  Systematic financial support can be provided to these shops to overcome any mounting debts.

In conclusion

The collective of small retailers and kiranashops deserve their due recognition for the integral power that they possess. The government must be more attentive to these groups to scale them higher up the ladder and improve conditions for producers, consumers and intermediaries involved. It is not about offline versus online in the future but rather how online can complement offline. Both will continue to thrive in different ways. Having said this, the small retailers and kiranaswill immortally be evergreen because of the close human interface involved thereby creating scope for increased economic development. Kirana stores continue to the be the mainstay of Indian consumption and have a personal relationship with customers, who in turn entrust these with their monthly budgeted grocery needs.For this reason, kiranas will continue to succeed and therefore, should be appropriately supported and empowered.

The article has been penned down by Venkatesh K, Chief Executive, Printer Business Unit, WeP Solutions Ltd

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How machine learning is enabling data driven retail transformation?
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How machine learning is enabling data driven retail transformation?
 

Retailers have been struggling to predict and analyse shopper behaviour forever. No amount of data is enough. Data is the heartbeat of any retailer. Retailers are bombarded with data from digital channels, offline channels, social media and more. There is always the conundrum where there is enough data about what to do with it and how actionable insights can be derived. There are several tools available in the market but then retailers are trying to find the silver bullet.

The quantity of data is not a problem anymore, but the accuracy and relevancy are. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have provided the light at the end of the tunnel for retailers to build models with available data and to predict shopper behaviour.  For example, if you look at transactional data, models can be built to segment customers, increase sales and predict inventory. Machine learning models can help retailers predict the early adopter customers who buy the product as soon as it comes to the store. The same way we can predict the followers and the late adopters. With this data, ML can help build associative relationships between all the categories i.e. early adopters to late adopters which can also predict which product will take off and which will not. By building relationships with the influencers and the followers, customer segmentation can be achieved just by building models using historical data. Imagine this is just for one product. If we assume retailers who have around 100- 200 SKUs, the combinations are mind boggling. This is where Machine learning comes to the rescue. The above is just one of the use cases.

By analysing social media data, correlations can be built by studying buying patterns of customers who buy early in the cycle and how they play a role in the lifecycle of that product. Customer segmentations can be created with associative data of one group of buyers with other groups who have no connection whatsoever with the former. All these segmentations, analysis of data can be executed through machine learning. We have just scraped the surface of what machine learning models can do.

Retailers are at a great advantage of benefiting from the intersection of machine learning and big data. The pressure to handle substantial amounts of data across various product categories and geographies and to track consumer shopping habits makes machine learning a compelling technology to adopt. If applied correctly, Retailers will now be able to:

  • Target shoppers with more accuracy and relevancy to increase conversion
  • Gain ultra- personalized recommendations
  • Have better usage of shopper data than before
  • Know more about buying habits
  • Provide superior ultra-personalized experience
  • Build a scientific model behind all marketing initiatives
  • Have better supply chain planning
  • Build price optimization and promotions

According to Mckinsey, Data driven organizations are 23 times more likely to get new customers, 6 times as likely to have loyal customers and 19 times as likely to be a profit-making enterprise. 58% of the products sold by Amazon are attributed to their recommendation engine. The algorithms used for recommendation not only looks at shopper behaviour but also the purchasing profile of other consumers who are similar in nature.

This helps Amazon to create customer profiles and provide targeted product recommendations. Some of the common customer segmentation models are Collaborative models wherein it analyses relationship between customers’ social interactions. Content based segmentation looks at the historical behaviour of content consumption i.e. similarity in purchases. Segmentation through Categorization is another way of forming customer groups based on product category. When recommendations are rightly done, shoppers keep coming back and which in-turn offers superior customer experience. This is possible only when existing data is used the right way.  Better use of data will help retailers to shift towards optimization and efficiency and move away from the excess. ML data models can help retailers in reducing cost, better decision making and process automation.

Supply chain and inventory management are getting radically transformed once retailers figure out what to sell to consumers. Machine learning models can predict real time the inventory that is needed and can give vendors notice to keep stocks ready and the location of the store or warehouse where the product needs to go.

Machine Learning and AI usage by retailers are on the rise. It can boost efficiency, productivity and profitability while at the same time give customers an ultra-personalized customer experience. By efficiently using the existing data, retailers can optimize their operations and marketing initiatives. The onus is on retailers to deep dive into data analytics and to connect with shoppers to provide intuitive and complete shopping experiences through better decision making.

The article has been penned down by Raghunath Vijayaraghavan, Director- Global Marketing, Aspire Systems

 

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How retail merchandising is getting a Tech Facelift?
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How retail merchandising is getting a Tech Facelift?
 

Science and sales were never two distant worlds and industry experts will vouch for this fact. With technology taking a shift to higher gears, which meant a more paced-up evolution, even the sales industry didn’t lag behind and caught up with its modern-day avatar. Looking at the retail domain of sales, which had traditionally been perceived as being less tech and more human driven, has shed the said camouflage and what we witness today is a scientifically evolved version of the same. Be it the leverage of AI, ML or the incorporation of 3D holographic techniques, the industry has come a long way. And one trend gaining extensive traction these days is the leverage of advanced analytics in retail.

A retail biz means lots and lots of data and in fact, a continuous stream of data. The scale and scope of can be assessed from the fact that retail industry stands at approx. US$25 trillion in 2018 and is expected to rise up to approx. US$28 trillion by 2020.Since the dawn of the age of analytics, attempts are continuously in action to be able to make intelligent insights from that data – the extent to which those attempts have been successful, certainly varies. While such integrations were experimental since a long time, lately the leverage of analytics to enable businesses to make informed and intelligent choices, has become a non-negotiable.

Industry Forecast &Transformative Trends in Retail Analytics

Before the trends, let’s look at some industry-level forecasts to have a foundation for the market tendencies which are projected:

  • As per a recent global survey, retail analytics market is predicted to be worth US$8.64 billion by 2022.
  • Proliferation of cloud-based analytics and growing inclination of vendors toward merging in-store and digital operations would be the key opportunities that would fuel this growth.
  • In India, the size of retail analytics market revenue stood at US$137 million in 2017 – thus signalling huge opportunity potential.
  • As per an industry survey, 76% of retailers assert that analytics churned insights are critical to their organisational performance.

Now let’s see the trends’ tide which the market is expected to take:

With predictive analytics already aiding in the makeover of the industry, empowering the businesses with more power than ever, prescriptive analytics is gradually taking the industry by storm. Advanced BI engine crunching data and giving out insights which are helping organisations optimise their profit margins – is becoming a sought-after scene lately.

The focus shift from product to experience was gradual until now but has taken the centre stage at present. Consumers are spending their bucks not just for the product but for the whole experience which drives them to that final ‘yes’ for that product. Hence, marketing campaigns designed with scientific precision based on analytical insights are going to become a bigger trend.

Leveraging analytics for finding the pricing sweet-spot or the elasticity extent of the same, thereby helping retailers understand the best mark-offs or accurate product lifecycle maturity etc. is also going to be a huge game changer for the industry.

Certainly, getting closer to more accurate assessment of how a product will fare, is one of the biggest benefits which analytics offer. Therefore, its leverage for creating experiment launches or concept testing labs is again, going to attract major strategy mind space from retailers. pending tons of money in new launches or novel concepts would make more sense if the same is done with complete preparedness.

Apart from these, the regular features of retail analytics – be it pertaining to data collection and assessment or stock-inventory management etc. are also up for scaled-up adoption as well as, continuous advancements owing to the regular tech-upgradation affair.

Merchandising Analytics Breaking the Mould

Calling the span of retail analytics as huge may still be regarded as an understatement. However, out of that extensively large scope, the branch of merchandising analytics has lately been getting many eyeballs – and all for the right reasons.

The sales journey which starts from the moment a consumer spots a campaign signage or a product in the display and traverses along with him when he walks past the shelves and continues even when he is at the payment counter with all those smaller accessories or products lined up at the kiosk – it’s all about how effective (or not) the merchandising has been. Leveraging analytics to master this game of merchandising, while not a new affair for retailers, is gaining more influence owing to the advanced engineering and scaled-up benefits which the modern-day analytics boasts of. 

Bigger Challenges Call for Revamped Approach

While the retail industry is still becoming systematic and structured gradually shedding off its earlier fragmented outlook, when it comes to merchandising, the road is still an uphill. It is one of the most unstructured segments of the industry and that is where the challenges stem from.

With the glocal extension of the market space, newer challenges have cropped up in front of retailers, such as:

  • Non-standardised data collection and metric definitions owing to geo/ language etc. disparities
  • Lack of integrated reporting platform impacting the decision making
  • Unstructured process improvements owing to improper tracking of any new development
  • Distributed and multiple data repositories causing inefficient operations
  • Rise in conflicting interests with portfolio expansions and newer players’ entry
  • Increasing limitations in the display space with flexibility issues

Other common concerns like budget constraints or security risks etc. have also plaguing the industry for long enough now.

With advanced analytics coming into picture, these challenges are looked after to a major extent. By bringing an integrated approach to a mess of scattered yet precious database, the most critical of the challenges is addressed with intelligent analytics and advanced BI.

Decoding the Backend Magic

Assortment management and shelf-space optimisation is one of the trickiest affairs of the merchandising journey as per every retailer. Let’s look at the science which goes behind in cracking this code.

  • Data collection

A standard platform ensuring the mandatory fields for requisite data is formulated after extensive research and demography-specific business process understanding. The uniform platform allows scientific performance measurement with establishment of clear-cut KPIs.

A centralised repository for storing the master data allows for operational optimisation by significantly reducing TaTs.

The ideal bet is a geo-language agnostic platform which allows complete agility for future scale-up otherwise there looms a risk of complexity whenever the scaling-up would be required.

  • Data Assessment

The integration and cleaning of the data is followed by its crunching and analysis in an intelligent data assessment engine. The data which comprises of details such as inventory levels, replenishment status, product lifecycle inputs, market-basket details etc. provides a foundation for product ranking as per profitability.

Hygiene, completeness and logical consistency of data is tested at this stage and any compliance related issues are also called out. Image recognition mechanism is also leveraged for integrity assessment of merchandise.

In-depth regression analysis with assortment simulator and optimiser then provides insights into store-wise product assortment suggestion along with a suggested timeline for the products. 

As the next step, optimal assortment in the given shelf-space is also prescribed keeping in mind the store cluster specificity.

  • Application and Review

As part of any deployment, the final insights upon application are reviewed and the reaction data generated is again fed into the analytics engine to assess any probable need of course correction.

Understanding of the correlations &impact and leveraging the insights for better planning & forecasting are also carried out.

Even the training requirements for field agents can be deciphered through the data assessment and eventual sales review.

Bountiful Brigade of Benefits

  • Complete integration of previously scattered data with majorly improved compliances scores
  • Smaller TaTs for measuring the impact of any implementation, allowing for quick course correction, if required
  • Improved visibility of the segment and category along with optimised availabilitywith information around aisle traffic increase tactics
  • Improved VM compliance scores owing to scientific and real-time retail space audit conducts
  • Identification of revenue opportunities with suggestion around co-merchandising opportunities, if any
  • Prevention of holding and spoilage costs and provision of higher inventory turnover rates
  • A localised strategy with a unified and transparent view offering a single version of truth

With effective analytics implementation, eventual goal of improving the availability and visibility score is met with actionable planogram strategy, thereby beefing up retailers’ revenue.

Analytics leverage in retail is nothing new for the industry. However, the extent of incorporation, scale and scope of implementation have made the road revolutionary in the present context. Use of advanced analytics for lessening visual clutter in the store, precise identification of max. footfall spots, deciphering consumer behaviour etc. has been a key driving force behind making merchandising go beyond its visual display stance and positively impact the consumer psychology. For the organisations too, the operational optimisation and improved compliance have deeply impacted the prevention of revenue leakage.

As renowned management guru, Peter Drucker also said once, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” – Analytics brings the power of measurement and logic-based decision making to retail and more so when it comes to its merchandising arm. And that’s why, it is the new non-negotiable for retailers and a boon for the industry in totality.

The article has been penned down by Geeta Khurana, Global Head – Transformation at Denave

 

 

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Blockchain set to supercharge global supply chains by 2025
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Blockchain set to supercharge global supply chains by 2025
 

A new report by the Capgemini Research Institute today reveals that blockchain could become ubiquitous by 2025, entering mainstream business and underpinning supplychains worldwide. Through investment and partnerships, the distributed ledger technology will dominate manufacturing as well asconsumer products and retailindustries, ushering in a new era of transparency and trust.

The report, “Does blockchain hold the key to a new age of supply chain transparency and trust?”, provides a comprehensive overview into the businesses and geographies that are ramping up their blockchain readiness, and predicts that blockchain will enter mainstream use in supply chains by 2025.Currently, just 3% of organizations that are deploying blockchain do so at scale and 10% have a pilot in place, with 87% of respondents reporting to be in the early stages of experimentation with blockchain.

The UK (22%)and France (17%) currently lead the way with at-scale and pilot implementation of blockchain in Europe, while the USA (18%)isa front-runner in terms of funding blockchain initiatives.These “pacesetters areoptimistic that blockchain will deliver on its potential, with over 60% believing that blockchain is already transforming the way they collaborate with their partners.

The study also found that cost saving (89%), enhanced traceability (81%) and enhanced transparency (79%) are the top three drivers behind current investments in blockchain. Furthermore, blockchain enables information to be delivered securely, faster and more transparently. The technology can be applied to critical supplychain functions, from tracking production to monitoring food-chains and ensuring regulatory compliance. Enthused by the results they are seeing, the pacesetters identified in the study are set to grow their blockchain investment by 30% in the next three years.

Despite the optimism surrounding blockchain deployments, concerns remain around establishing a clear return-on-investment, and interoperability between partners in a supply chain. The majority (92%) of pacesetters point to establishing ROI as the greatest challenge to adoption, and 80% cite interoperability with legacy systems as a major operational challenge. Additionally, 82% point to the security of transactions as inhibiting partner adoption of their blockchain applications, undermining blockchain’s status as a secure technology.

Sudhir Pai, Chief Technology Officer for Financial ServicesatCapgemini said, “There are some really exciting use cases in the marketplace that are showing the benefits of blockchain for improving the supply chain,but blockchain is not a silver bullet solution for an organization’s supply chain challenges. Blockchain’s ROI has not yet been quantified, and business models and processes will need to be redesigned for its adoption. Effective partnershipsare needed across the supplychain to build an ecosystem-based blockchain strategy,integrated with broader technology deployments, to ensure that it can realize its potential.”

 

In a previous report[3]conducted earlier this year with Swinburne University of Technologyin Australia, Capgemini found that experimentation in blockchain will peak in 2020 as organizations explore proofs of concept and branch out from Fintechs. According to the report, blockchain transformation will mature in 2025 as organizations undertake enterprise transformation and integration, establishing policies for privacy and data management.

 

Professor Aleks Subic, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Development) of Swinburne University of Technology said, “Organizations trust blockchain technology to solve key issues and create new business opportunities, and it lends credibility to the digital ecosystem across the supply chain. We believe that blockchain technology will play an integral role in the digital transformation of supply chain channels for a wide range of industries in the near future.”

 

Despite the barriers facing blockchain today, organizations are trying to drive wider adoption now while the technology is in its early stage. One example isthe Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI), a consortium comprised of a group of auto and tech companies focused on getting carmakers to assign digital identities to vehicles so that cars and systems can transact with each other.[4]

 

Current industry use cases

Capgemini Research Institute’s report identified 24 usecases for blockchain, ranging from trading carbon credits, to managing supplier contracts and preventing counterfeit products.Capgemini applied these usecases to retail, manufacturing and consumer products, findingthat blockchain can be and is being used for tracing the production, provenance and inventory of contracts, products and services. The report highlights that consumer product organizationsare notably focused on tracing and identifying products, with Nestlé, Unilever and Tyson Foods implementing blockchain trials. Retailers are focused on digital marketplaces and preventing counterfeits, with the likes of Starbucks investing in blockchain trials.More critically, blockchain can safeguard food supplies, tracing food from farm to fork, to head off contamination or product recalls.

Sudhir Paiconcludes, “Our study underscores blockchain’s potential but also shows that currently there are few large-scale implementations of this technology and clear barriers to adoption. Organizations should use our analysis of the pacesetting organizations to understand how feasible blockchain is for them, strengthening their blockchain program, and turning hype into a reality.”

 

 

 

 

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Unlock the Potential of the Personalized Supply Chain
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Unlock the Potential of the Personalized Supply Chain
 

The so-called “retail apocalypse” is completely overblown, but it does indicate that the retail industry is undergoing a transformation, driven by changes in the way consumers shop across all touchpoints. While it's true that e-commerce has certain advantages over traditional brick-and-mortar, physical stores have their own benefits, which aren't as easily replicated by the likes of Amazon.com. The two key assets of the traditional retailer are people and locations.

The trouble is, many retailers don't leverage these assets to maximize full potential, making it increasingly difficult to differentiate and compete. Those retailers that can figure out how to differentiate themselves in the crowded retail landscape are the ones striving and staying ahead of today’s e-commerce behemoths.

Today’s customers want the flexibility to choose the way in which products are delivered. Sometimes cost is the driver, other times it may be speed or convenience. Nonetheless, the end goal is to keep customers happy while driving down costs. The key to breaking through the retail noise: unlocking the potential that every retailer has in its people and locations.

1. Ensure 360-degree visibility into the supply chain

Today’s consumers shop their own way, at their own time. As such, retailers need the flexibility and real-time visibility to serve consumers, 24/7. One such way is full visibility into products, leveraging locations and inventory as warehouses and reducing out-of-stock items by fulfilling them from all locations. This sets the correct expectations with customers, while optimizing shipping costs, delivery speed, labor costs and even the number of boxes shipped.

2. Choose the right fulfillment option

For most retailers, there are now multiple fulfillment options, including distribution centers, stores and drop-shipping directly from vendors. Retailers must understand which fulfillment options meet the needs of both the buyer and the seller, in both B-to-C and B-to-B scenarios. Not to mention, choosing the right option is critical for companies that want to keep their costs down while still meeting ever-evolving customer expectations.

3. Always think customer service first

The supply chain isn't perfect, but success lies in anticipating potential problems and keeping customers informed along every step of the fulfillment process. This includes handling customer calls, flagging issues for intervention, and managing orders from beginning to end.

4. Perfect in-store execution to lower costs

For retailers, leveraging store locations as warehouses helps reduce costs and increase customer service. Customers can buy online and then either pick up in-store or have it shipped from the store. By deploying functionality in the cloud, companies can get up and running quickly without having to worry about scaling for peak, upgrading software or managing backups.            

In the simplest, and perhaps most cliché, terms, the customer is always right. Every decision, be it in adopting certain technologies, hiring certain employees or choosing a store location, should revolve around the wants and needs of the customer. If this goal stays top of mind, the impending “retail apocalypse” will barely seem like a bump in the road.

The article is authored by Ashish Dass, Vice President and Managing Director, South Asian Subcontinent, Infor. 

 

 

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How marketing automation platforms are transforming Retail Sector?
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How marketing automation platforms are transforming Retail Sector?
 

A few years back, experts predicted that brick-and-mortar is on its last leg. Contrastingly, retail is entering an entirely new era now. Online players such as Amazon, Alibaba.com, Lenskart, and Nykaa have started investing in brick-and-mortar stores; offline stores like Max Fashion, D-Mart, Chaayos and Shoppers Stop have made their online presence by launching their websites and apps.

Although e-commerce, with its digitized outlook, is here to stay, physical retail stores will thrive too. The key is to intertwine online businesses with the offline world. The offline-to-online (O2O) synergy - the next frontier for retail is here.

Today, buying happens in various forms: Consumers do a thorough research on the website before buying a product; many have also adopted the click-to-collect route where they place their orders on the website/app and pick it up from the store; some walk into the stores, try the products and place orders using the kiosks.

Products also get delivered to doorsteps on the same day - thanks to the concept of hyperlocal stores. Given the fast-paced lives modern consumers are living, they are also following the micro-trips routine - a shopping trip that takes about five minutes. It’s a behavior that is becoming common as grocery stores let customers place orders online and pick the products up in person.

In addition to the multi-screen, multi-medium buying behavior, the human element and emotional connection play a significant role in shaping the consumer buying patterns. Undoubtedly, modern consumers have become smarter, impatient and demanding. But the desire to receive flawlessly humanized experiences remains.

 This radical shift in the buying patterns of modern consumers has given roots to the online-to-offline synergy for the retail universe. Regardless of the channel and medium the purchase happens on, consumers must be fed with appealing omnichannel experiences - experiences that are linear online as well as offline.

Sometime back, Shoppers stop (an Indian department store chain) invested about 60 crore rupees in omnichannel capabilities and digitization. Today their investment is paying off and the number of customers visiting the store has only doubled.

Seeing this visible change in the buying patterns of consumers as well as the multi-medium offerings by retail businesses, B2B marketers like us had sensed the future and recognized the need of the hour - the marketing automation technology. Marketing technologists comprehended that the key to creating an effective omnichannel strategy is understanding how consumers interact with the brand at each step of the customer journey.

 

In simple terms, a marketing automation platform enables retail businesses to capture online as well as offline leads and convert them seamlessly through cross-channel engagement. It aids marketers in elaborately implementing this process - gather the online and offline data, combine the data and access it on a single platform, understand the user behavior with a holistic view, and deliver data-backed omnichannel experiences. The technology facilitates engagement across channels like email, SMS, browser and mobile push, in-app messages and so on.

Two years back, online Indian eyewear retailer Lenskart invested about 100cr to open physical stores across the country. Today the brand has over 400 stores across India. Their customer services are well aligned offline and online, as well. As a customer enters the store, the store representative instantly logs into the Lenskart website using the customer’s information and offers products based on their previous online activities or stored information. It is so delightful that consumers do not have to fidget around the entire store and get exactly what they want, even in person. It's like consumers are treat like best friends.

While most retail brands have discovered that a ‘mass approach’ no longer does any good to their business, there are several which haven’t yet dipped their toes into the O2O synergy using the right technology to grow their business. The reason is either the dilemma in choosing the right automation tool or the lack of awareness. So even today, a large chunk of consumers remain dissatisfied with the experiences that they have with the retail brands. Modern consumers clearly dislike content and experience that is shady, irrelevant or disconnected.

To make it easier for businesses, some marketing automation platforms also facilitate deep analytics of the data. Retailers can dive into the customer data to find out every customer’s buying behavior, attributes, and motivations. Further, segments of users can be created based on similar attributes and information.

Moreover, businesses can devise lifecycle marketing campaigns for these segments. Using this, retailers can orchestrate an entire set of communication for every stage of the customer journey.  Additionally, cohorts automatically get created on these platforms.

Cohorts are simply a group of consumers who share a significant experience at a certain period of time or have one or more similar characteristics. For example, people who bought a particular product in a particular area of Mumbai on the Christmas day become a cohort.

A retail bookstore can have a cohort of customers who bought a book of the specific genre from a particular store. The store can then use this information to target this cohort with an email about a few other books of the same genre.

A retail lingerie website can have a cohort of all those ladies who bought a particular colored set of lingerie on a particular day. The brand can send an SMS to this group offering a special discount on similar sets of lingerie items.

Retailers can literally visualize their marketing abilities to drive quality growth, maximize customer loyalty and supercharge user engagement through highly personalized, omnichannel experiences. This reassures the convenience, consistency, and customization of consumer experiences.

Marketing Automation has been a gamechanger for the retail industry globally. Evidently, O2O space is slated to become a multi-trillion-dollar industry soon. By thoughtfully utilizing the O2O data and designing campaigns that make customers feel wanted, retailers can witness a complete transformation in their growth and engagement strategy. In the age of customer-centric marketing, retailers can deliver omnichannel experiences which create an emotional connection by employing marketing automation.

The scope of growth using marketing automation is certainly enormous for retail businesses - retailers can do wonders by promptly embracing the technology.

The article has been penned down by Avlesh Singh Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at WebEngage

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 5 trends of IT deployment in HR functions of retail companies
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Top 5 trends of IT deployment in HR functions of retail companies
 

According to the India Retail Report released last September, India has replaced China as the top retail destination. This has led to an increased global participation, with Indian retail space witnessing a number of big ticket deals.

With digital disruptions becoming the norm of the day, future of Indian retail has received strong headwinds for a transformed landscape led by huge investments & technological advancements. These disruptions are new normal applications of emerging technologies like Blockchain, Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and are increasingly becoming strategic to Talent & People management functions for the retail sector.

According to the research conducted by PeopleStrong, more than 53 percent of CHRO’s representing over 500+ retail enterprises in India believe that their HR verticals are still 6 quarters away from embracing AI in their day-to-day work. Leading the way, PeopleStrong is transforming & advocating growing use of Digital aids and has seen major benefits delivered by these transformations in some of the largest enterprises in Indian Retail sector. 

Analyzing the research findings, Prakash Rao, Founding Member and VP, HCM, PeopleStrong said, “There is a tremendous potential for this number to see a hike in the coming months.  We are already seeing the change in the mindset of CHROs for adopting new age HR Technology solutions shifting away from Traditional ERPs”

Here are top five trends of HR tech deployment

  • More than 53 percent of CHRO’s representing over 500+ retail enterprises in India believe that their HR verticals are still 6 quarters away from embracing AI in their day-to-day work
  • One of the major reasons, as observed by around 59% of the respondent CHRO’s, is the absence of seamless flow of data between different HR functions as the information lies in Silos and different platforms making it difficult to have a unified view of this data for better insights
  • While only 24.49 percent of organisations spend more than 10 USD per employee, this number is expected to significantly increase in the next two years when organisations from the 5-10 USD spend bracket (currently 45 percent of the organisations are present in this spend bracket)  would hike up their per employee spend on HR technology
  • Of all the HR functions, 55.1 percent of CHROs allocate a major portion of this spend towards Core HR functions that includes Human Resource Information System because this supports their need of maintaining a centralized repository of employee master data. However, only 18.37 percent of CHROs dedicate this spend to Recruitment & Onboarding because they are still accustomed to the traditional ways of hiring. The spend allocation towards workforce management which includes leave and attendance management (currently stands at 10.2 percent) is expected to increase in the future because CHROs are now understanding the full impact of HR technology on speeding up  time-taking tasks and simultaneously increasing employee productivity
  • Around 59. 18 percent of these retail companies are already using cloud to store their HR Data, a number that will only increase given that by adopting cloud they are enabling data availability anytime, anywhere
  • According to the respondent CHRO’s, with the number of HR Tech Solution Providers in the market on the rise, it becomes essential to focus on vendors that have a standing credibility and expertise in the industry. Therefore, more than 50 percent of the CHROs invest in evaluating less than 5 vendors before selecting an HR Tech Solution Provider

 

 

 

 

 

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How to connect with customers?
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How to connect with customers?
 

While apparel brand Lifestyle’s ‘Life is Good’brand donates 10% of its net profits to Life is Good Kids Foundation, Everlane promotes ‘radical transparency’ as a core business value by openly sharing details about product labour costs, water recycling efforts and so on. Further, luxury soap maker Lush, in addition to donating all its proceeds from its Charity Pot lotion;hosts in-store demonstrations that support the brand’s commitment to environmental conservation, animal welfare, and human rights.

And what’s common with all these brands? They all have business values that resonate with their shoppers’ values.

According to the latest study ‘Shopper –First Retailing’ by Salesforce, today’s shoppers are relationship-driven and favor brands that bring value and meaning to their lives. Brands must look for new ways to differentiate by appealing to customers’ emotions and forging connections based on shared beliefs and most often shoppers reward the brand that go beyond transactions and orders to be relevant and resonate. The study stresses that retailers can give meaning to brands when the brand value resonates with shoppers’ value, drives loyalty and gives importance to personalization.

Value shoppers’ values 

The study further highlights that globally, at least 9 out of 10 top scoring brands have above average scores in emotional connection with its customers, while 45 per cent of shoppers were more likely to buy from brands and retailers that offered a charitable donation with purchase.

It says, “Today’s shoppers seek to put their wallets where their values are. Brands can appeal to shoppers’ emotions in any number of ways – through donations, activism, material sourcing, or advocacy. Many brands have significantly increased their efforts in this area.”

Commenting on this trend, Tiffani Bova, Global Customer Growth & Innovation Evangelist, Salesforce, observes, “Customers remember the experience they have with a brand longer than the price they paid. Social responsibility is part of that experience and it impacts the way brands must market and differentiate their products.”

How to win loyal customers

Meanwhile, suggesting that shoppers reward brands that create lasting relationships over time — specifically through loyalty programs and 1-to-1 personalization efforts that extend across both digital and physical channels, the study says 66 per cent of shoppers were likely to buy from brands offering a loyalty program. Citing examples of tech giants like Amazon, the study stresses that 9 out of 10 top brands had clear evidence of a strong loyalty program.

It says, “We are in a new era of loyalty programs that aren’t just about accruing points, but about rewarding shoppers with better experiences and building more meaningful relationships. In some cases, these loyalty programs cross into the membership territory, as they prove to be so valuable that customers are willing to pay for them.”

“A modern loyalty program isn’t about the points. It’s not a transaction or an exchange. It’s about a sense of belonging and participation. Great loyalty programs are about a brand relationship that the customer wants to bring into their everyday life,” says Zachary Paradis, VP (Experience Strategy) of Publicis.Sapient, in whose association the study was conducted.

It’s all about personalization

As a customer walks in to the store of Sephora, a digital world of beauty wellness comes to life. A customer can not only get results in-store from Color IQ, Fragrance IQ, and Skin Care IQ cosmetic kiosks, they can even sync them with their Sephora digital account. The Sephora app recommends in-store products based on previous purchases once users select the in-store mode. These recommendations are individual-specific and most often connect with customers instantly.

While personalization already has a measurable impact on customers’ shopping experience, the study reveals that personalized experiences yield 4.5x higher cart rate in e-commerce and 5x higher per visit spend.

“Personalization might take the form of personalized search results on an ecommerce site, predictive ‘you might also like’ recommendations, or a store associate studying a shopper’s past purchases before offering up new items to try on in-store,” the study says.

 

 

 

 

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Ecommerce Companies Losing Money Because 45% of Indians ‘Ditch’ Their Shopping Cart: SAP Study
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Ecommerce Companies Losing Money Because 45% of Indians ‘Ditch’ Their Shopping Cart: SAP Study
 

According to new research from SAP,more than half (56%) of Indian shoppers ditch their online shopping carts sometimesor all the time. The SAP Consumer Propensity Study focusing on online shopping behaviour found that this isbecause they use online shopping carts to compare prices of similar products with no intention to purchase (45%). They also stop short of clicking ‘purchase’ as they are put off from higher than expected shipping costs (54%), or face issues with out-of-stock items (42%).

1,000 consumers in India were surveyed on their behaviour at checkout stage and motivations to complete the purchase, with the results revealing that Indian consumers tend to procrastinate when making online purchases.Almost a third of Indian consumers surveyed are also more likely to leave their items in the shopping cart for more than a week and have a higher tendency to forget about their intended purchases, with close to a third (32%) forgetting about the items in their carts, as compared to a fifth (21%) in other APAC countries.

“The e-commerce journey is not a linear path, with multiple factors and touchpoints influencing purchase behaviour.Cart abandonment data such as items selected and discarded, navigation steps, amongst others,provides a valuable trove of insights for retailers to identify friction points, map out the consumer journey, and make improvements to the overall purchasing experience”, saidKrishnan Chatterjee,Chief Customer Officer and Head of Marketing, Indian Subcontinent, SAP.

Prices are the main driver, with Indian consumers indicating that promotions (54%) and discounts (44%) succeed in nudging them to complete the purchase. However, they also appreciate an individualised shopping experience. They aremotivated to buy whenever the brand demonstrates a full understanding of their shopping history (41%), and when prompted by reminders about their ‘forgotten’ carts (31%).

There are many options for retailers to remove the friction and entice follow-through on the purchase.For example, giving visibility of shipping and tax prices sooner, providing assistance via a pop-up chat window if a shopper seems stuck, retargeting to get consumers to visit again, sending reminders if they left something in the cart, or following up with a special promotional code.

Brands and retailers cannot rely solely on competitive pricingor discounts. Since stock availability is a huge barrier to purchase, retailers in India need to be conscious that their supply chain and logistics decisions directly impact sales. Integrating back-office systems into e-commerce systems and tools providing real-time visibility of stock availability online and in stores, different stock options, and delivery options and timelines, will encourage customers to complete transactions.

The study reveals other ways Indian consumers wish for brands to enhance their shopping experience.

“Deploying the latest customer applications and technologies might seem to be the silver bullet to drive purchase and retention,but what the results really tell us is thatIndian consumers wantonlineshopping experiences that are personalised, catered to their individual needs and lifestyles.This extends to ongoing service and support throughout their consumer journey. To achieve this, brands need a robust omnichannel approach based on having an overview of each customer across all touchpoints at all times, and advanced analytics to anticipate customer behaviours and understand their real-time intent. With this in place, brands will be able to provide a personalised and responsive consumer experience before and after the checkout process,” added Chatterjee.

Report highlights:

  • More than half, (56%) of Indian shoppers ditch their online shopping carts sometimes or all the time
  • Almost a third of Indian consumers are more likely to leave their items in the shopping cart for more than a week and have a higher tendency to forget about their intended purchases
  • Prices are the main drivers in completing purchases: promotions (54%) and discounts (44%) succeed in nudging consumers to complete the purchase

 

 

 

 

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