The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019 brought the world to a standstill and forced enterprises to rethink their traditional procurement processes. As businesses faced disruptions in supply chains, remote working challenges, and economic uncertainties, the pandemic became a catalyst for the acceleration of digital transformation in procurement. Let’s explore how the pandemic has revolutionized enterprise procurement, leading to a seismic shift towards digitalization. We will examine seven major trends that showcase the before-and-after scenarios of procurement in the post-pandemic era.
Embracing Remote Collaboration Tools:
Before the pandemic, procurement teams heavily relied on in-person meetings and site visits to conduct negotiations and engage with suppliers. However, the lockdowns and travel restrictions necessitated a swift shift towards virtual collaboration. Enterprises swiftly adopted video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, to maintain communication with suppliers and facilitate contract discussions.
Example: A manufacturing company that traditionally held quarterly supplier meetings at their head office moved all negotiations to virtual meetings. This resulted in significant time and cost savings, leading to the adoption of remote collaboration even after the restrictions were lifted.
Cloud-Based Procurement Solutions:
The pandemic underscored the importance of having agile and accessible procurement systems. Many enterprises relied on legacy, on-premises software, which proved challenging to manage during remote work situations. As a result, the adoption of cloud-based procurement solutions surged, offering real-time data access, streamlined workflows, and enhanced collaboration.
Example: A large retail chain transitioned from an on-premises procurement system to a cloud-based procurement platform. This empowered their workforce to work remotely, ensuring seamless procurement operations during lockdowns, and provided greater visibility into their supplier base.
AI-Driven Supplier Selection and Risk Management:
The pandemic exposed the vulnerabilities in global supply chains, prompting businesses to prioritize risk management in procurement. AI-powered tools and data analytics have become instrumental in evaluating supplier risks, diversifying supply sources, and enhancing procurement decision-making.
Example: An automotive manufacturer leveraged AI algorithms to assess suppliers' financial health, geographical locations, and dependency on single regions during the pandemic. This proactive approach enabled them to mitigate potential disruptions and secure alternative suppliers, reducing risk exposure significantly.
Blockchain for Transparent Supply Chains:
The pandemic heightened the need for transparency and traceability in supply chains. Enterprises turned to block chain technology to enhance the traceability of products, increase trust among stakeholders, and combat counterfeit goods.
Example: A luxury fashion brand implemented blockchain to track the provenance of raw materials, manufacturing processes, and transportation routes. This not only boosted consumer confidence but also facilitated compliance with ethical sourcing practices.
IoT-Enabled Smart Inventory Management:
Stockouts and inventory imbalances were common during the pandemic, prompting businesses to adopt IoT-powered sensors and data analytics for real-time inventory tracking and demand forecasting.
Example: A pharmaceutical company integrated IoT sensors in their warehouses and distribution centers to monitor temperature-sensitive products, ensuring quality control and optimizing inventory levels. This approach minimized wastage and maximized availability during a surge in demand.
Digital Supplier Onboarding and E-Procurement:
Traditional supplier onboarding processes often involved time-consuming paperwork and manual verifications. The pandemic led to the rapid adoption of digital onboarding systems, simplifying supplier evaluations and expediting the procurement cycle.
Example: An electronics manufacturer implemented a self-service portal for suppliers, streamlining the onboarding process and reducing administrative overhead. Suppliers could now submit documents, update information, and view purchase orders electronically.
Sustainable Procurement Practices:
The pandemic amplified the awareness of environmental and social responsibilities. Enterprises began incorporating sustainable procurement practices to support eco-friendly suppliers and local communities.
Example: A global food and beverage company revamped its procurement policies to prioritize suppliers with sustainable sourcing methods and eco-friendly packaging. This initiative not only reduced their environmental footprint but also enhanced their brand reputation among conscious consumers.
The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented event that challenged enterprises across the globe. However, it also served as a catalyst for transformation, pushing businesses to embrace digitalization in procurement. The trends discussed above reflect the pivotal changes in how enterprises engage with suppliers, manage risks, and optimize supply chains. As we move forward, the lessons learned during the pandemic will continue to shape the future of enterprise procurement, fostering resilience and adaptability in the face of uncertainty.
Swati Gupta is the Co-Founder of Industrybuying, a leading online platform that acts as a gateway for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and growing businesses to buy bulk industrial items at affordable rates. A seasoned corporate leader, Swati comes with over 12 years of experience in Management Consulting, Supply Chain Management, and Private Equity Operational Advisory.
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India's private label sector and direct-to-consumer sector are currently valued at Rs 13 billion, making up 10-12 percent of the organized retail sector in the country. These labels also enable a significant influence in the offline retail space, dominating a staggering 90 percent of sales in the large apparel and fashion retail sector, while making a substantial 40 percent contribution to sales in the thriving online grocery retail segment. Prominent retailers like Pantaloons, Tata Group’s Trent Ltd, Shoppers Stop, and Spencer’s Retail have been increasingly emphasizing private label retailing, with private labels accounting for 90 percent of Trent’s sales, 80 percent of Reliance’s, and 75 percent of Pantaloon’s overall sales. Aditya Birla Retail is also planning to boost the contribution of its own brands in sales from the current 3 percent to 10 percent over the next 2-3 years.
InGovern, a leading corporate governance advisory firm, released a research report titled, ”Private Labels and Direct to Consumer Brands: Democratising Retail Commerce in India,” analyzing the role of private labels and D2C products and their growing adoption in retail. The report highlights the advantages that private labels and D2C brands bring to retailers and small businesses while simultaneously helping consumers by providing more affordable and higher-quality products.
Speaking on this, Shriram Subramanian, Managing Director, InGovern said, “Private labels and direct-to-consumer brands offer a mutually beneficial scenario in India’s retail sector, empowering MSMEs with increased revenue streams, brand recognition, and global access while providing consumers with cost-effective, customizable, and trusted alternatives. As the e-commerce industry soars, regulatory clarity and streamlined oversight are imperative for sustained growth and innovation. The government can enable the start-up community by creating a policy environment that creates more investment opportunities and selling platforms both offline and offline. There is no reason for the government to bar the D2C approach as long as they are compliant with the law. The government must allow the same equitable treatment of e-commerce e-tailers/marketplaces as they do for offline sellers.”
The report also mentions how these brands are owned and manufactured by retailers/marketplaces for reasons such as generating higher margins, filling product range gaps not covered by branded suppliers, differentiating their store's product range from competitors, and enhancing profitability and customer loyalty. Additionally, it emphasizes how partnering with retailers for private label and D2C products offers MSMEs numerous benefits, including diversifying revenue streams, reducing reliance on single products, and fostering stable collaborations, which, in turn, boosts financial stability through increased sales. These partnerships aid in building brand recognition and loyalty by exposing products to a wider audience over time.
The report concludes by pointing out how sharing marketing and distribution duties with retailers/marketplaces through private labels and D2C products can help MSMEs focus on innovation and product enhancement, and be part of economies of scale by cutting production costs, elevating profitability, fueling economic growth and expanding the customer base.
In today's digital landscape, relying solely on static images on product pages is insufficient to motivate shoppers and ensure they follow through with their purchases. According to McKinsey & Company, live-commerce-initiated sales could account for 20 percent of all e-commerce by 2026. India's e-commerce market is projected to be $220 billion by 2025, while live commerce could touch upwards of $50 billion in terms of Gross Merchandise Value (GMV), according to EY India. To boost the conversion rate and drive successful orders, it's crucial to empower content creators within your marketplace to establish personal connections with customers through live video and chat interactions. This interactive approach enhances the shopping experience by allowing content creators to engage directly with shoppers, answer their questions, and address any concerns in real-time, thereby encouraging them to proceed with their buying decisions.
By leveraging Real Time Engagement (RTE), e-commerce websites can provide a personalized and interactive experience to their users, enhancing customer engagement and ultimately driving conversions. Here are some ways RTE enables e-commerce websites to engage with users:
RTE enables the implementation of live chat functionality on e-commerce websites. This allows users to interact with customer support representatives or chatbots in real-time, getting immediate assistance for their queries or concerns. Live chat enhances customer satisfaction, increases trust, and helps users make informed purchasing decisions.
RTE allows e-commerce websites to deliver personalized product recommendations based on user preferences, browsing history, purchase behavior, and other relevant data. By analyzing user data in real-time, RTE can present tailored product suggestions, cross-sell or upsell offers, and targeted promotions, leading to increased user engagement and higher conversion rates. RTE platforms provide options like live auctions, live streams, and personal shoppers which makes for a hyper-engaging shopping experience.
E-commerce websites can use RTE to send real-time notifications to users. These notifications can include updates about order status, back-in-stock alerts for desired products, personalized offers, flash sales, and more. By delivering timely and relevant notifications, e-commerce websites can keep users engaged, encourage repeat visits, and drive conversions.
RTE enables e-commerce websites to display dynamic content that adapts in real-time based on user interactions or external factors. For example, websites can showcase limited-time offers or countdown timers for discounts, display social proof such as recent purchases or customer reviews, or highlight trending products. Dynamic content captures user attention, creates a sense of urgency, and encourages immediate action.
With RTE, e-commerce websites can offer interactive product visualization tools such as 360-degree product views, augmented reality (AR) try-on experiences, or virtual reality (VR) showrooms. These immersive experiences enable users to engage with products in a more interactive and realistic way, enhancing their confidence in making purchase decisions.
RTE can be leveraged to incorporate gamification elements into e-commerce websites, making the shopping experience more enjoyable and engaging. This can include interactive quizzes, challenges, rewards, leaderboards, or loyalty programs. Gamification fosters user engagement, promotes brand loyalty, and incentivizes repeat purchases.
RTE can help bring a marketplace to life with human interaction. It helps decrease shopping cart abandonment and increase cross-selling by encouraging customers to socialize with each other and influencers to purchase an entire look, find seasonal necessities, get expert advice, and more. RTE empowers e-commerce websites to go beyond static content and deliver personalized, interactive, and real-time experiences to users. By leveraging these capabilities, e-commerce websites can enhance user engagement, build trust, and ultimately drive conversions and revenue.
About the Author
Ranga Jagannath, Senior Director, Agora
To grow digital commerce and leapfrog competitors, it’s critical to establish both the right technological and leadership foundation. It’s not surprising that chief marketing, sales, and revenue officers drive stronger business performance, given their customer-centric focus. But that’s not to say that technology leaders take a back seat. Business leaders can only bring their visions to life when the tech stack supports the experience roadmap. Today, that means hyper-personalized, hyper-channel capabilities that bring commerce functionality to physical stores, mobile and smart devices, chatbots, social networks, and non-standard points of engagement.
Data from a recent study found organizations that combine customer-centric leadership with flexible, future-forward technology that is Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, and Headless (MACH) are best positioned to win the digital race. This framework allows enterprises to handle any new experience and deliver it far faster than traditional commerce technologies.
The monolithic era is over
Like all enterprise systems, e-commerce platforms were historically architected as monoliths, meaning backend components such as Catalog, Pricing, Accounts, Cart, and Checkout all live within a single code base, along with the front end. While many monoliths can be customized by adding code (within limits), they all eventually hit their breaking points – becoming too large and too fragile to maintain without introducing bugs or adding technical debt. With a tight-coupled front end, they also struggle to hook into important, non-standard consumer touchpoints like mobile applications, video, digital screens, social networks, and chat applications to make them natively “shoppable.”
In recent years, a new pattern has emerged, commonly called MACH (Microservices, API-first, Cloud-native, Headless), or ‘composable commerce’. This approach breaks the monolith into smaller, independent pieces (microservices) that communicate with each other through an API layer. Microservices’ independent code and data store enable developers to build new features and experiences much faster and with less risk than hacking the monolith, including experiences built for novel touchpoints. For this reason, it’s rare for an enterprise to procure new systems in monolithic form – MACH has become mainstream.
Because an organization can use microservices alongside existing legacy monoliths (provided they are “headless” with a supporting API layer), migration to MACH can be done fast, or gradually over time using the strangler pattern.
Solving with extensibility
To provide even greater flexibility, this evolved version of MACH can add extensibility to the equation. Where most commercial off-the-shelf microservices can only be used “as delivered” by the vendor, the extensible version uses open-source technologies that can be modified and customized to suit the unique requirements of a business or project. The same tech stack can be used to build bespoke microservices to handle ultra-innovative requirements.
This flexible foundation will ensure that the commerce system is future-proof and can evolve in step with business objectives and consumer expectations. New capabilities can work seamlessly with existing APIs and be deployed anywhere. Keeping API customizations separate from core layers will ensure that organizations are on a seamless upgrade path. This means customizations never need to be rebuilt to stay on the latest version of any microservice.
This is important for long-term IT efficiency, as the cost to redo any work always comes at the expense of new delivery, consuming resources that would otherwise be applied to continuous innovation.
Digital commerce as a ‘team sport’
This ethos of continuous innovation and continuous delivery supports both IT and business objectives, but customer-facing leadership makes a difference in business outcomes. The study found that companies organized around value streams are 50 percent more likely to be among the fastest to bring innovation to market.
This means a company is more likely to lead the market if digital commerce is owned by the CMO, CRO or CSO (marketing, revenue, or sales, respectively). However, the best-performing companies recognize that digital commerce is a team sport and favor a decentralized organizational model where specialized digital commerce roles are deeply integrated across other business functions.
Decentralization makes digital commerce part of an organization’s DNA, increasing its visibility and impact internally and externally. Undoubtedly, technology leaders play a key role in building the ecosystem containing everything that matters — architecture, capabilities, analytics, system integrations, and payments. It’s critical for organizations to have both technology units and revenue leaders work in harmony toward a common vision, enabled by flexible architecture that brings the vision to market, fast.
About the Author
Amit Kalley, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Infosys Equinox
Amit Kalley is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Infosys Equinox, a human-centric digital commerce and digital marketing platform. Amit has successfully driven digital transformations for over a hundred G2K enterprises across the globe for over 2 decades. His experience spans a wide range of industries including retail, CPG, high-tech, manufacturing, financial services, telecom, energy, and media.
With a strong foundation in technology, Amit has created and taken to market several industry-leading products, solutions, and practices. Prior to his current role, he has held leadership positions in the other Infosys products portfolios and at Infosys Labs. He has also been the Global Head of Innovation at Infosys for multiple industry verticals. Amit has an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a B Tech in Aerospace Engineering from IIT, Kharagpur.
Amazon India recently announced a series of initiatives aimed at boosting India's digital economy and exports, aligning with its commitments to the country. In a move that deepens its longstanding partnership with India Post and Indian Railways, which form the backbone of India's logistics and supply chain infrastructure, the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with India Post. This MoU paves the way for an integrated cross-border logistics solution that promises to significantly expand the e-commerce export opportunities available to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) across India.
“Amazon India's recent collaboration with India Post marks a noteworthy development. Currently, over 125,000 sellers participate in the global selling program, allowing for easy registration online. The partnership with India Post offers significant advantages for exporters. They can conveniently drop off their shipments at the nearest post office, eliminating the hassles of logistics and paperwork. This simplification enables exporters to concentrate on their core expertise—developing high-quality products—without the burden of handling intricate logistics. While Amazon already manages much of the paperwork, this partnership further streamlines the process by integrating it with the extensive postal network,” said Manish Tiwary, Country Manager India Consumer Business, Amazon India.
As a testament to their decade-long partnership, India Post and Amazon unveiled a commemorative postal stamp. This stamp not only celebrates the enduring collaboration between Amazon and India Post but also underscores their joint effort to reach customers in 100 percent serviceable pin codes throughout India. It creatively showcases the various transportation modes that Amazon employs to efficiently deliver products from sellers on its marketplace to customers across the country.
Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (I/C), MoS in the Prime Minister's office, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Department of Atomic Energy, Department of Space, Government of India, lauded Amazon's commitment to digitize 10 million MSMEs, create 2 million jobs, and drive $20 billion in e-commerce exports from India by 2025. He emphasized the transformative potential of digitization for small businesses, including economic growth, broader customer reach, reduced marketing and distribution costs, and access to international markets.
The collaboration between Amazon and India Post promises to be a game-changer. By harnessing India Post's extensive nationwide reach, including their Dak Niryat Kendras, and combining it with Amazon's substantial investments in technology, logistics, and infrastructure, this partnership aims to lower the entry barriers for Indian entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the burgeoning export market. It will simplify cross-border logistics and compliance for Indian exporters, enabling them to ship their products directly to customers worldwide with ease.
Under this collaboration, Indian exporters participating in Amazon's Global Selling program will have the convenience of booking shipments, printing shipping labels, and paying for shipping directly from their seller central accounts. They can then drop off these shipments at over 100 Dak Niryat Kendras located across India. From there, these consignments will be efficiently exported to overseas customers.
Shri. Vineet Pandey, Secretary, Department of Posts, and Chairperson, Postal Services Board, expressed his enthusiasm for this collaboration, emphasizing that “India Post's Dak Niryat Kendras have been specifically designed to empower small businesses across India and enhance their contribution to India's overall exports. This partnership with Amazon is a significant step in lowering entry barriers for countless Indian small businesses, enabling them to seize the e-commerce export opportunity.”
The pioneering initiative, the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC), spearheaded by the Government of India, seeks to democratize the e-commerce landscape in the nation. At present, e-commerce contributes just about 4.3 percent to the retail commerce sector in India.
To enable and educate India Inc. about the numerous benefits of ONDC, Deloitte released a whitepaper titled “Commerce@Bharat: Redefining business models and supply chain.”
By fostering an inclusive, competitive, and open network, the initiative aims to amplify its impact across the business spectrum. ONDC is dedicated to establishing an interoperable marketplace that seamlessly accommodates sellers of all scales − from small and medium-sized enterprises to larger entities.
Through this comprehensive whitepaper, Deloitte intends to guide, handhold, and enable stakeholders toward the next phase of transformative growth.
"ONDC is a remarkable opportunity for India's economy spanning diverse industries," remarked Sathish Gopalaiah, President, Consulting, Deloitte South Asia.
"I'm optimistic about India's forthcoming growth phase, where empowerment shifts to consumers and SMEs, aligning with ONDC's mission of illuminating Bharat. At Deloitte our aim is to help customers navigate various challenges whilst leveraging the opportunities that technology and digital commerce bring together with open network.
With a unique proposition built around agility, security, and profitability at the same time, ONDC streamlines value chains, bridges gaps, and endorses innovation, paving the way for the next generation to explore novel paths.”
Four important industry trends emerge in this context:
The ONDC network is poised to disrupt the following four key industries within the economy:
In today's interconnected world, smart homes are becoming increasingly prevalent, transforming the way we live and interact with our living spaces. While smart home devices like voice assistants and connected appliances have gained significant attention, audio products are emerging as a central component of the smart home ecosystem. With advancements in technology and the growing demand for seamless integration, audio products such as active ceiling speakers are playing a vital role in creating immersive, intelligent, and convenient home environments. Let's explore how audio products are shaping the future of smart homes.
The Hub of Control
Audio products are evolving into central hubs for controlling and interacting with various smart home devices. With voice assistants integrated into speakers, users can effortlessly control lighting, thermostats, security systems, and more through simple voice commands. For example, talking directly to home automation AI networks via a Lithe Audio speaker. The ability to connect and control multiple devices through audio products enhances convenience and accessibility, making the smart home experience more intuitive and user-friendly.
Audio products, such as wireless ceiling speakers and in-ceiling surround sound systems, are revolutionising the entertainment experience within smart homes. With WiSA (Wireless Speaker and Audio) technology, brands like Lithe Audio allows consumers to enjoy high-quality, immersive audio without the need for cumbersome surround sound wiring. Wireless Speaker and Audio technology allows for easy installation and flexible placement of speakers, creating a seamless and clutter-free audio setup. From movie nights to music streaming, audio products are enhancing the entertainment possibilities within smart homes. This universal surround sound platform allows speakers to become your wireless concealed surround speakers for any other brand of TV and front of house speakers.
Integration with Artificial Intelligence
As artificial intelligence (AI) assistants become more prevalent, audio products are integrating seamlessly with these intelligent systems. Imagine a future where a whole home ceiling speaker system is voice-controlled by a smart home AI assistant. This integration allows for a truly interconnected and personalised experience. AI assistants can learn user preferences, adjust audio settings based on room acoustics, and even curate music playlists tailored to individual tastes. The synergy between AI and speakers by brands like Lithe Audio opens up a new world of possibilities for smart home enthusiasts.
Surface mounted outdoor products are enabling multi-room audio capabilities, transforming smart homes into synchronised soundscapes. With wireless connectivity and smart home integration, users can enjoy their favourite music or podcasts throughout the indoors and outdoors of their entire home, seamlessly transitioning from space to space without missing a beat. Whether it's morning motivation in the kitchen, relaxing tunes in the living room, or a soothing ambience extending to the patio and garden, multi-room audio brings a whole new level of immersion and convenience to the smart home environment.
The future of audio products in smart homes holds tremendous potential. Advancements in technology, such as spatial audio and augmented reality (AR), promise to create even more immersive and interactive experiences. Users may be able to enjoy 3D audio that adapts to their specific location within a room or virtual environments that merge digital content seamlessly with real-world surroundings. These advancements will further enhance the entertainment, communication, and overall smart home experience.
As the smart home industry continues to expand, audio products are assuming a pivotal role in creating seamless integration, immersive entertainment, and intelligent control within our homes. Speakers can act as central hubs for smart home management to delivering high-quality audio experiences, these products are transforming the way we interact with our living spaces. With future advancements on the horizon, the possibilities for audio products within the smart home ecosystem are truly limitless. As we embrace the interconnectedness of our homes, let us not underestimate the significant contributions that Lithe Audio products make in shaping the smart home of tomorrow.
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Playing your favorite games at popular iGaming venues is already quite an adventure. However, these places usually have something more to offer and we’re talking about serving some of the most delectable dishes that can make your gaming experience even more memorable.
From the clinking of chips to the sizzle of gourmet delights, let’s explore why iGaming venues have become a hub for some of the best food around.
Of course, this article wouldn’t be complete if we don’t talk about specific foods you should be looking for when you visit them.
Why iGaming Venues Have Some of the Best Food Served
You know that feeling when you're having a great time, and suddenly your stomach grumbles, distracting you from all the fun? Well, iGaming venues want to make sure that doesn't happen to their guests.
If they also take care of their guests by serving the best food, they somehow help ensure that you still stay fueled up and energized to play more of your favorite games.
But it’s not just about preventing hunger pangs. These venues are all about creating an immersive and memorable experience for their customers.
Let’s also not forget the social aspect of dining. Casinos often have restaurants, buffets, and cafes that offer a relaxed and inviting environment where you can chat with your friends, companions, and fellow players, or even strike up a conversation with someone new.
Everyone can agree that sharing a meal is a great way to connect with others. Pretty much, the more memorable your experience is, the higher the chance that you’ll keep coming back for the same great experience.
What are the Best Foods They Serve?
So, if you’re craving food that live casino online sites just can’t give, you can go ahead and start planning your next casino trip.
It can be an iGaming venue in any gambling hotspot like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or the Caribbean. What we’re sure about is that these are the foods they most likely will offer on their
Imagine sinking your teeth into a perfectly grilled steak that’s juicy, tender, and bursting with flavor. Steaks are a casino favorite because they’re hearty and satisfying, and provide that protein-packed punch to keep you energized during intense gaming sessions. The sizzle and aroma give you a great sensory experience.
Nothing hits the spot quite like a delicious burger, right? Casinos know that burgers are the ultimate comfort food. They’re customizable, handheld delights that cater to a wide range of tastes. Many of them offer classic cheeseburgers or gourmet creations piled high with toppings to satisfy that meaty craving.
iGaming venues often serve up exquisite sushi rolls that are as much a feast for the eyes as they are for the palate. Sushi is a culinary masterpiece, offering a delicate balance of flavors and textures. The artistry behind each roll adds an element of elegance to your dining experience.
Fresh seafood, anyone? iGaming venues excel at serving up seafood delights like oysters, shrimp cocktails, and lobster tails. These ocean treasures bring a touch of luxury and sophistication. Their light yet flavorful nature makes them perfect for enjoying between bets. You shouldn’t miss out on these especially if you’re visiting a casino in a tropical setting.
Health-conscious players rejoice! Casinos wouldn’t want to skip serving healthy delights, especially salads. They can come as an appetizer but no one would judge you if you want to eat salad as your main meal. Salads are also a great option for those who want a lighter meal without compromising on taste.
Indulgence is the name of the game when it comes to desserts at casino restaurants. These sweet treats are usually a celebration of sweetness and artistry. It’s rare to see these venues serving dull desserts. They serve not only decadent but also visually pleasing desserts that can add that final touch of luxury to your whole experience.
So if you’re more excited about the food as you plan your next casino trip, we just can’t blame you. These iGaming venues simply can’t help but give you the best and most well-rounded casino experience.
Pro tip: before visiting any casino, always check the food menu at the casino restaurant. If they don’t have their restaurant, at least check what establishments are nearby so you already know where to go when hunger strikes.
We hope you’re ready to roll the dice, place your bets, and embark on a gastronomic journey that’ll leave you craving more than just hitting the jackpots. Bon appétit and may the odds be ever in your flavor-filled favor!
Fast-paced digital world has brought a series of changes in terms of consumer preferences and buying behavior. Today, digitalization is the utmost priority for the Indian market with rising technology consumption. However, the country still boasts of more than 400 million feature phone users attributed to frequent model upgrades, affordability and interruptions in the supply chain, which inhibit consumers from getting their hands on a brand-new phone.
Against the backdrop of this, the second-hand smartphone market is rising at an unprecedented pace. The IDC and Indian Cellular and Electronics Association (ICEA) reveals – around 25 million second-hand smartphones were bought and sold in the market and their sales are projected to rise to 51 million units at a valuation of $4.6 billion by 2025. A convergence of factors leads to the rising demand for refurbished or second-hand smartphones in the market.
Value for money
Pocket-friendliness is the most typical reason for consumers to shift to refurbished smartphones. India’s largest demographic segment i.e., the middle class comprises about 300 million individuals and is the major driver of such smartphones. In retail, refurbished or second-hand smartphones are sold at almost half of the Average Selling Price (ASP) of a new one.
The recent market data states – 78% of the users buying a refurbished smartphone have a monthly income of less than Rs. 30,000 while 18% have a monthly income between Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 50,000. Hence, refurbished smartphones fulfill the aspirational demands of this consumer class who look for affordability to satisfy their appetite for high-end devices.
Reduce e-waste footprints
In 2020, more than 20 million smartphones were traded in the second-hand market. This exhibits the possibility of another 100 million smartphones stacked idle at home. Most of the phones that remain at home are kept as spare phones for emergencies or just sitting in a drawer. This could be an appealing choice for environmentally conscious consumers who are becoming aware of their own e-waste footprints.
Refurbished smartphones slow down the e-waste generation process as the refurbishing process gives the device a new life that eventually increases its longevity. Around 85% to 95% of a phone’s annual footprint comes from the energy-intensive process of manufacturing. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 2021 suggests refurbishing can bring down this carbon footprint to almost 55% as compared to using a brand-new smartphone for 2.5 years.
Many smartphone users remain skeptical about the quality which ultimately influences their buying decision. In recent years, the refurbished smartphone market has evolved into a more organized segment. Many players in the refurbishing market constantly gauge consumer demands and focus on customer centricity by providing quality assurance.
There are several organized players in the smartphone refurbishment market who ensure quality assurance. By testing the device internally and externally, these players ensure the quality of devices from multiple checkpoints. For instance, considering at least 80% battery health, the functionality of all ports, key parts functionality, etc. to deliver optimum performance.
Enjoy extended warranties
Previously, the refurbished smartphone market was recognized for the void of warranty on devices. As a result, consumers preferred brand-new smartphones for the warranties and other offers they received from the brand. However, the new-age refurbished smartphones often come with extended warranties. Once the company examines the smartphone, it sends the phone for reconditioning which further helps resellers or dealers to provide replacement and extended warranties to consumers.
Warranty on a refurbished smartphone gives the consumer peace of mind and ensures they have purchased it from a certified seller. It eases their concerns about the maintenance and service of the smartphone and boosts their confidence in refurbished gadgets.
Ease in availability from reputable sellers
The entry of organized players in the refurbished smartphone market is augmenting the sales of refurbished smartphones. Besides the metropolitan cities, tier 2 and tier 3 cities also demonstrate growing demand for such smartphones due to affordability and accessibility that has been eased by refurbishing players.
These refurbishing companies have benchmark processes to extend the longevity of smartphones with additional value-added services. As a result, the consumer gets the similar rights of purchasing a brand-new smartphone when actually buying a refurbished one. Additionally, this can keep customers steer clear of false or deceptive selling as well as misleading promotions.
The refurbished smartphone market is triggering several benefits that were once unimaginable to capitalize on. With accelerated refurbished smartphone adoption across tier 2 and 3 cities, the market is harmonizing the demand and supply of advanced smartphones in the market. Additionally, it is creating a cult of technologically advanced smartphone users that can be a game-changer in enabling India’s digital transformation journey.
Sourav Gupta, CEO, XtraCover co-founded XtraCover, an e-commerce platform that caters to the life cycle management services of smartphones and other electronic devices. As Co-Founder and CEO, he handles multiple tasks including operations management, product portfolio, development of digital marketing strategy & product pricing, and funds management for Business Units.
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The e-commerce ecosystem in India grew significantly in 2022 with over 750 e-commerce startups securing funding, and the direct to consumer (D2C) segment branching out offline. D2C brands alone received funding of over $11.7 billion in 2022.
Amidst this expansive growth, consumer expectations have also begun to shift, with omnichannel operations front and centre. Research has also found that 88% of Indian consumers want to purchase items as quickly as possible, which demonstrates how crucial it is for e-commerce businesses to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
The challenging macroeconomic climate has put these businesses under significant pressure to deliver and innovate. This requires websites, mobile apps, and social media buying channels to be running smoothly and around the clock. Observability is indispensable for e-commerce companies looking to secure sales through their web and mobile properties. It ensures uptime and performance are optimized long before any traffic surges begin, preventing customer defection to competitors.
However, the situation in India is quite different. Most startups in the e-commerce space view observability as a solution to use only in times of crisis and therefore, not an investment priority. The misconception largely stems from a narrow view that some organizations hold of observability. In reality, observability is at the heart of keeping digital assets up and running, reducing churn for engineering teams, and most importantly, identifying customer preferences and delivering across websites, Order Management Systems, or mobile apps.
For e-commerce businesses that require strong digital systems, observability is a must, and there are two key ways it can boost growth.
Improve the bottom line
Revenue can be vastly affected when system-performance problems impact the customer experience, and ultimately sales-conversion rates. When web pages are slow to load and frustrate customers, it leads to low transaction-completion rates, bearing a direct impact on sales conversion. A recent report from Akamai Technologies, showed that page-load times exceeding 4 seconds can drive away as much as 80% of potential customers, and shopping-cart performance delays and degradations can drive up cart abandonment by as much as 30%.
Additionally, a study by Deloitte found that 70% of consumers cite page load speed on mobile phones impacts their willingness to buy from an online retailer. When considered alongside the fact that approximately half of mobile users won’t download an app with a rating below four stars, the importance of mobile performance issues, errors, and crashes play a huge part in user ratings and in turn, the bottom line.
An all-in-one observability solution can dramatically reduce the negative impact of errors and delays to e-commerce revenue by making it easy to identify, locate, and address issues before customers are impacted.
Insights that Drive Agility and Innovation
Visibility into the IT environment is crucial, especially for digital businesses like e-commerce companies where knowledge on where the site traffic is coming from is essential. Diwali and Black Friday sales would require e-commerce companies to bring more databases online, more virtual machines (VMs) added to a cluster, and more customer service operators staffing online chats — all to ensure uptime when traffic is high.
Observability is pivotal in ensuring seamless performance across cloud, hybrid, and on-premise environments, identifying third-party performance issues that put the shopping experience at risk, accurately identifying sources of latency, errors, slow-loading images, and other performance barriers.
All-in-one observability solutions will ensure e-commerce companies identify such problems proactively. Thanks to having a single source of truth across systems and stakeholders, these businesses can make game-changing connections between system performance, customer experience, and business KPIs, while informing decisions that boost conversions, revenue, and customer lifetime value.
Monitoring customer engagement and interactions then becomes effortless, guiding businesses towards smarter site-investment decisions. It empowers teams to collaborate on problem solving, and enhance customer experiences. Observability sets DevOps teams up for success with analytics to drive iteration and innovation, dramatically reducing manual toil.
With millions of dollars on the line and many balls in the air to juggle, e-commerce businesses need to stay focused on factors such as conversion rate, order counts, payment success rates, and Apdex for key transactions. Building and sharing real-time analytics and dashboards creates visibility into user flow and performance across web, mobile, and infrastructure by tracking key metrics and user satisfaction scores. All-in-one observability solutions lead to better business outcomes, adding significantly to the quality of the digital customer experience being delivered.
E-commerce is a 365-days-a-year business. While a lot is at stake during peak season, ensuring apps, websites and other points of contact are up and running smoothly at all times is critical for online retailers. Successful companies need a flexible, “always-on” approach to development, testing, and monitoring and this is possible with observability.
As New Relic Vice President of Customer Adoption APJ, Rob Newell is responsible for the growth of customer acquisition, customer success and driving observability maturity across
the APJ region. Rob is an experienced technology and business leader with more than 20 years experience spanning sales, solutions consulting, operations and technology delivery
across the APJ region.
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In today's fast-paced world where instant gratification is the new norm, the demand for efficient and reliable last-mile delivery has reached a new high. Consumers today expect their packages to arrive on designated time slots, securely, and in a hassle-free manner. To meet these expectations, the logistics industry is now embracing innovative technologies, and one such technology that holds immense promise is Blockchain.
Transparency is critical in the logistics industry, and blockchain excels in providing an immutable and transparent ledger. A study by Accenture found that blockchain technology can reduce costs related to logistics such as tracking and tracing, by up to 20%. With transparent and auditable records of every transaction, stakeholders can easily track and verify the movement of goods, thus increasing trust and reducing the chances of fraud and theft.
Off late, decentralized marketplaces powered by blockchain are gaining traction in the logistics industry. These platforms facilitate peer-to-peer transactions, eliminating intermediaries and enabling efficient and cost-effective last-mile delivery solutions. This model not only empowers local delivery providers but also leads to improved service quality and reduced costs for consumers.
Efficient route planning is a significant challenge in last-mile delivery. The inefficiencies associated with traditional methods can result in increased delivery times and costs. As per a study by DHL, inefficient route planning can increase delivery costs by 25%. By leveraging blockchain's decentralized nature, algorithms can optimize delivery routes in real-time, considering factors such as traffic conditions, weather forecasts, and delivery demand. This dynamic route optimization can lead to significant time and cost savings for logistics providers.
Another major concern in last-mile delivery is security and blockchain technology has the ability to significantly enhance it. Blockchain's ability to create tamper-proof records of each transaction and shipment movement adds an extra layer of security to the entire delivery process. Additionally, the decentralized nature of blockchain makes it highly resistant to hacking or data breaches, ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of sensitive information.
When it comes to last-mile delivery, trust and reliability are crucial factors. A study by Deloitte found that blockchain technology can enhance trust among stakeholders, reducing the need for intermediaries and improving operational efficiencies. By utilizing decentralized consensus mechanisms, blockchain platforms have the ability to verify the authenticity of participants and ensure contractual obligations are fulfilled. Such an environment fosters confidence and strengthens partnerships within the logistics ecosystem.
As we look towards the future, the potential applications of blockchain in last-mile delivery are vast. It is predicted that by 2025, 20% of all IoT deployments will have basic levels of blockchain services enabled. This integration of blockchain with emerging technologies like IoT devices can enable real-time tracking and monitoring of packages, further enhancing the efficiency and transparency of last-mile delivery.
To sum it up, blockchain holds the key to revolutionizing last-mile delivery in the era of instantaneous logistics. By leveraging blockchain's transparency, decentralized marketplaces, efficient route planning, enhanced security, and trust-building capabilities, we can reshape the logistics industry to meet the ever-increasing demands of modern consumers.
Vishal is the COO & Co- Founder of Shipyaari. As an experienced chartered accountant, a seasoned business
professional, an entrepreneur, and an investor, he has over 10 years of industry experience in Retail, Distribution,
Logistics, and Supply Chain management.
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The global logistics market is experiencing a remarkable boom, reshaping how goods and services are transported worldwide. As economies become increasingly interconnected, the demand for efficient, streamlined logistics solutions has skyrocketed.
Logistics plays a pivotal role in the success of any business, ensuring a seamless flow of goods, optimizing supply chains, and meeting customer demand in time. With the exponential growth of e-commerce, the importance of logistics has become even more pronounced.
To uncover growth opportunities in this thriving market, businesses must stay abreast of the latest industry trends. Hence, we've cultivated a list of fascinating stats and facts that sheds light on the current state of the global logistic industry and its potential.
Global Logistics Market Outlook
Facts on Global Logistics Market
Global Logistics Market Trends
Technology and Integrated Logistics
(Markets and Markets)
Challenges of Digital Logistics
(Markets and Markets)
Recent Developments in the Global Logistics Industry
The statistics above reflect the remarkable growth of the logistics industry. The surging global online retail sector and the increasing demand for efficient logistical solutions in our interconnected economies fuel this growth. In recent years, the industry is also found increasingly focused on lowering emissions and adopting more sustainable practices.
To achieve more efficient supply chains and reduce emissions, businesses can harness the power of logistics management platforms. These platforms enable a seamless flow of goods, optimize supply chains, and ensure timely delivery. These logistics operating systems provide real-time visibility, analytics, and collaboration capabilities, empowering businesses to make informed decisions and gain a competitive advantage in the dynamic global logistics market.
Image Credit: Bosch L.OS
In recent years, social commerce has emerged as a transformative force in the e-commerce landscape worldwide. With proliferation of social media platforms and change in consumer behavior due to COVID-19, the country has witnessed a significant shift towards social commerce. As a result, social commerce has emerged as a game-changing trend that combines social media and e-commerce. These platforms provide a seamless shopping experience, allowing users to discover, evaluate, and purchase products within the same interface.
Here we explore how social commerce is reshaping the e-commerce industry in India and how businesses are adapting to the new normal.
There has been a significant surge in online shopping in recent years, transforming the way people shop and revolutionizing the retail industry. This rise in online shopping can be attributed to several key factors like convenience, access to an extensive range of products, customer-friendly, secured payment options, and many more. Social media platforms have capitalized on this opportunity by introducing e-commerce features, thus transforming casual browsing into shopping experiences. As technology continues to advance and e-commerce evolves, there will only be an upward trajectory of online shopping.
Indians spend a significant portion of their online time on social media platforms. In recent years, social media has witnessed a significant transformation from being merely platforms for communication and networking to becoming powerful shopping destinations. Social commerce leverages this fact by offering an integrated shopping experience where users can explore products, check reviews, and make purchases without leaving their favorite social apps. It truly has revolutionized the consumers' purchasing behavior and the success of social media as shopping platforms is the ability to leverage user-generated content and influencer marketing. Furthermore, this seamless blend of shopping and social experience has made online shopping more enjoyable and convenient.
Social commerce can offer personalized shopping experiences through advanced data analytics. Social media platforms collect vast amounts of user data that can be utilized to recommend products tailored to a user's preferences. This personalization can significantly boost sales and customer satisfaction. By analyzing user behavior, interests, and past purchases, these platforms can curate relevant product recommendations, promotions, and advertisements, enhancing the overall shopping experience. The rise of social media as a shopping platform has transformed the way consumers engage with brands and make purchase decisions.
Influencer marketing holds considerable sway in India, with influencers being viewed as trusted advisors by their followers. The alteration in consumer behavior is one of the main factors contributing to the expanding effect of influencer marketing. Consumer attention is being drawn less and less by conventional advertising techniques like print or television adverts. Social commerce has enhanced the potential of influencer marketing, enabling influencers to sell products directly through their posts and stories, thus bridging the gap between influence and purchase. For advice, ideas, and information, people are increasingly turning to social media and internet material. By continuously producing useful and accessible material, influencers have developed a devoted and active audience as well as the respect and credibility of their fans.
India has embraced the global trend of live shopping, with brands and influencers conducting live streams to showcase products, answer viewer queries, and drive on-the-spot purchases. This trend is changing the face of e-commerce by giving customers a distinctive and dynamic method to find, interact with, and buy things. Live shopping delivers a dynamic and interesting purchasing experience that appeals to a variety of consumers by fusing the power of video content, real-time engagement, and social impact. In the coming days, live shopping is anticipated to play a bigger and bigger role in the retail sector.
Social commerce, which combines the power of social media, technology, and community-driven shopping is altering the e-commerce and retail market in India. It had changed how people shop online by giving small companies a platform, empowering users with real user recommendations, and empowering the customers. Social commerce is anticipated to play a big role in the new normal of online buying as the trend develops and innovates thus providing Indian consumers with convenience, providing consumers with convenience, social engagement, and personalized experiences.
About the Author
Neha Suyal, Co-Founder and COO, Woovly
An engineer turned entrepreneur, Neha Suyal is a name to reckon with in the business of social commerce, video commerce, and influencer-led commerce in India. With their content-driven fashion and lifestyle business, cofounders Neha and Venkat J are wooing Bharat with their venture, Woovly. Woovly is Neha’s first entrepreneurial venture. She has extensive experience in building open-source technologies and improving business operations and business metrics. She is passionate about identifying business problems and loves building solutions to solve them.
The differentiated shopping habits of mass consumers, along with their increasing digital shopping penetration, make them the most attractive consumer cohort for eCommerce platforms. As of 2022, India has 65-70 million households transacting on eCommerce platforms monthly, which is projected to go up to 120-130 million by 2030, with mass consumers contributing to 80 percent of the incremental transacting households. In terms of GMV contribution as well, mass consumers are projected to drive 45 percent of the $300 billion eCommerce GMV by 2030, contributing to $135 billion in GMV.
In a detailed survey conducted across Metros, Tier I, and Tier II+ cities with the target group involving Gen-Z, millennials, and Gen-X shoppers, Redseer uncovered shopping patterns of different consumer cohorts and shed light on predominant purchase factors. As the report puts it, the ‘affluent’ consumers on the survey are a cohort with an average annual income greater than Rs 10 lakh. The ‘mass’ consumers make between Rs 2.5-10 lakh annually, while the ‘strivers’ are a third cohort who earn less than Rs 2.5 lakh a year.
Breaking down the cohort by demographics, Redseer analysts found that 75 percent of the mass consumers comprised of millennials and Gen-Z consumers. While Gen-Z, who are young and independent, show purchase preference for apparel, BPC, and electronics, the value-driven independent millennials tilted towards BPC, food & grocery, and apparel. Gen-X constituted about 13 percent and spent a higher share on food and grocery, followed by health and wellness. Although Gen-Z consumers have distinct characteristics from older generations, they are also value-conscious at the core, the report adds.
The report by the strategy consultants projected that growth in India’s retail market would play out differently across these consumer cohorts in the coming decade, with the mass consumers expected to lead spending on the Indian retail market. As of 2022, mass consumers constitute 53 percent of the Indian retail market, valued at $950 billion. According to Redseer’s projections, this share is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12 percent to touch 65 percent by 2030, making it a $1.3 trillion opportunity for brands and businesses. The remainder of the projected $2 trillion retail market value is expected to be occupied by strivers and affluent consumers, growing at a CAGR of 8 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
Examining the themes playing out across consumer cohorts, Redseer found that online wallet share expansion will be the key theme playing out amongst mass consumers led by their high-value consciousness across categories and the increasing use of the internet across their purchase decision-making journey, wherein, mass consumers are almost as online savvy as affluent consumers. These consumers are comfortable with technology, willing to try new products/brands, are increasingly shopping online across categories, can afford products available on eCommerce websites, and are adopting digital payments for smoother transactions. Redseer’s survey results suggest that 70 percent of mass consumers have increased their shopping frequency on eCommerce platforms in the last year.
A recurring theme across the survey, when it came to online shopping, was seeking value at the right price. The top three decision drivers while making purchases included prices/deals and discounts on eCommerce platforms, quality of products, and trust in the platform. Further, the survey indicated that 60 percent of mass consumers were open to purchasing unbranded products if they liked the quality, while 30 percent of mass consumers preferred unbranded over branded products.
According to the Redseer report, within the $15-20 billion mass eCommerce segment (in 2022), 60-70 percent of the sales were led by large horizontals. While the rest 30-40 percent of sales were led by players who had a specific focus on solving for and expanding the mass consumer segment – this includes platforms like Meesho (which grew by focusing on better regional and local selection and pricing) along with verticals platforms like Purplle (BPC category) and then the longer tail of smaller verticals and horizontals.
The mass consumer-driven offline retail market has also seen a few successful business models. Amongst offline retailers, there is Zudio (in fashion) which has outperformed the industry over the past 3 years, along with other players like DMart, Reliance Trends, and VMart, amongst others across the categories. In China, there is Pinduoduo, which has been growing aggressively by catering to the mass segment as well on the e-commerce side.
Today, technology and digitization have become an integral part of our lives. Every morning, you wake up to the sound of digital alarm clocks or smartphones. Then, you book a cab to work through an app, spend your day using various innovations from simple laptops to AI-led tools like ChatGPT to complete your work, and probably use an app to order lunch before you get back home in the evening. As the day ends, digital home automation systems control lighting, temperature, and security devices, ensuring you sleep in a comfortable and secure environment.
Digitization has changed the way we communicate, learn, entertain ourselves, conduct business, and even manage our homes. The amalgamation of technology and home security has led to revolutionary advancements in protecting our homes and loved ones. This article dives into the various aspects of digitization that have been integrated into home security solutions, transforming the way of safeguarding homes and our loved ones.
Smart Home Integration is the Future
The primary aspect of digitization in home security is the integration with smart home devices. Modern home security systems can now connect and synchronize with a wide range of intelligent devices such as smart locks, cameras, sensors, and doorbells. This integration allows homeowners to control and monitor their security systems remotely through their smartphones or other smart devices. For instance, on the Yale Home app, you can receive instant alerts and video feeds when the smart security camera detects unusual movement or the doorbell rings, enabling timely response to potential threats.
Wireless Connectivity is of Utmost Importance
Gone are the days of cumbersome wiring installations. The advent of wireless connectivity in home security systems has revolutionized installation processes. Wi-Fi and cellular connections now empower security devices to communicate effectively without the need for extensive wiring. This wireless flexibility allows for easy expansion and relocation of security components, making it a convenient choice for homeowners seeking scalability and adaptability. For example; smart voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home can seamlessly integrate with Yale smart security devices, allowing you to control and monitor them with simple voice commands.
Remote Monitoring and Control
Digitization has transformed the concept of home security monitoring. With the power of remote access, homeowners can monitor their properties in real-time from virtually anywhere in the world. Dedicated mobile applications like the Yale Home app and web interfaces allow users to view live video feeds, check on the status of door locks, sensors, and arm or disarm their security systems remotely.
Unleash the Power of Artificial Intelligence and Analytics
The use of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics has elevated home security. AI-powered cameras and sensors can distinguish between routine activities and potential threats, reducing false alarms. Facial recognition technology can identify familiar faces and notify homeowners of unfamiliar individuals on the premises. Additionally, AI analytics can track patterns and behaviors, helping individuals take informed security decisions based on data-driven insights.
Cloud Storage and Backup
The integration of cloud technology in home security solutions has resolved the challenges of local data storage. Cloud storage ensures that valuable security footage and data are securely stored offsite, minimizing the risk of data loss or tampering due to device malfunctions or intrusions. This also enables easy access to historical records and seamless sharing of evidence with authorities, if necessary.
Digitization has revolutionized home security solutions, introducing unprecedented levels of convenience and connectivity. As technology continues to advance, we can expect even more innovations in home security. Going forward, embracing these digital advancements in home security will not just be a smart choice; it will be a fundamental step towards ensuring peace of mind and safeguarding what matters most.
Sharad Kapoor is the Director & Head of Smart Residential, MEIIA at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions. With previous roles at Bharti Airtel and Tata Teleservices Ltd, Sharad possesses extensive experience in managing accounts and expanding business networks.
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In the world of retail, a successful digital campaign extends far beyond mere online conversions. It hinges on the ability to effectively engage the target audience, drive in-store traffic, and ultimately boost conversions within physical stores. To achieve these goals, advertisers must recognize the power of in-store shopping and employ strategic planning, creative content, and targeted digital marketing tactics. By harnessing technology and tapping into the potential of digital ads, brands can navigate the hybrid environment and outperform their competitors. This article explores the importance of in-store shopping and highlights how aligning digital ads with brick-and-mortar can lead to amplified success.
Why Does In-Store Shopping Matter?
Aligning Digital Ads with Brick and Mortar
In today's retail landscape, aligning digital ads with brick-and-mortar is essential for maximizing success. By recognizing the value of in-store shopping, brands can leverage the power of technology and digital advertising to drive foot traffic, enhance customer experiences, and boost conversions within physical stores. By strategically targeting local audiences, integrating omnichannel experiences, offering incentives, and leveraging social proof, brands can create a seamless connection between their digital campaigns and in-store visits. The synergy between digital ads and brick-and-mortar not only drives immediate sales but also fosters long-term customer loyalty and brand engagement. Embracing this alignment is key to unlocking the full potential of both online and offline channels and staying ahead in the competitive retail landscape.
Amitt Sharma, CEO, VDO.AI, embarked on a groundbreaking journey at the young age of 15, establishing his first company and igniting his innovative spirit. In 2018, he founded VDO.AI, a game-changer in the advertising landscape.
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Venturing beyond the bustling metropolitan cities, Tier II and III regions have emerged as promising grounds for ambitious D2C brands to tap into new possibilities. With fierce competition and a tech-savvy clientele, these young D2C brands are arming themselves with cutting-edge technologies and unique offerings. However, navigating the festive season amidst the dynamic landscape of Tier II and III markets poses challenges that demand prompt and efficient logistics services. To conquer this difficult terrain and achieve unparalleled success, D2C brands need the comprehensive support of an all-inclusive e-commerce automation platform like Shipway.
Gauging Prospects in Tier II & III Markets
Tier II and III markets are witnessing a remarkable surge in e-commerce activities, primarily driven by the increasing internet penetration and widespread adoption of smartphones. This burgeoning trend has opened up a golden opportunity for D2C brands to expand their business and for logistics providers to offer efficient order fulfillment services to online retailers in these markets.
As the demand for outsourced logistics services continues to soar, the need for streamlined and cost-effective distribution networks in these remote areas becomes ever more crucial. D2C brands can leverage this favorable landscape, utilizing advanced automation tools, data analytics, and other innovative solutions offered by logistics providers like Shipway to expand their market reach and thrive in these promising territories.
Shipway's Solution to D2C Brands' Pain Points
During the festive season, D2C brands face challenges in selecting appropriate courier shipping partners due to increased order volumes and delivery delays. Balancing shipping costs with service quality, ensuring reliable reverse logistics for returns and exchanges and a lack of customer support can also be daunting.
Shipway has already made a significant impact in easing these pain points by providing revolutionary logistics solutions. With a presence across 29K+ pin codes, Shipway has helped D2C brands extend their reach to a broader customer base. Merchants can choose from 20+ pre-integrated carrier partners or bring in their own and streamline their order fulfillment process. Moreover, Shipway Autopilot allows businesses to allocate couriers based on various factors. This reduces logistics costs and makes the order fulfillment process effortless and increases the delivery speed which leads to lower RTOs and better customer experience. Additionally, Shipway’s Fraud prevention tool can reduce RTO rates by up to 20 percent as it segments orders into high-risk, medium risk and low-risk. As the RTO rates are extremely higher in Tier II and Tier III markets, this tool is a life savior for eCommerce brands.
To improve the overall post-purchase customer experience, Shipway has a tracking & notification solution with which merchants can keep customers updated at every milestone. Furthermore, Shipway also offers a branded returns panel where eCommerce brands can accept or reject returns/exchanges. In short, Shipway is an all-in-one logistics platform.
"As we set our sights on the untapped potential of tier 2 and 3 markets, we recognize the opportunities for D2C brands. These emerging markets often lack robust systems for order fulfillment & tracking and notifications that play a great role in post-purchase customer experience, Shipway is eager to fill these voids. With Shipway, brands can bid adieu to the common challenges they used to face with carrier aggregators like weight discrepancies, late deliveries, delayed customer support, overpriced services, and more. We are a pro at taking care of our customers & our mission is to empower D2C brands to establish themselves and flourish in the promising territories of Tier II & Tier III markets.
With our technology-driven solutions, including order fulfillment, tracking and notifications, returns automation, and data analytics tools, Shipway aims to optimize operations for businesses, enabling them to overcome logistical challenges and drive efficiency in Tier II and III markets. Embracing these challenges head-on, we are determined to revolutionize the logistics landscape and be the driving force behind D2C brands' success in these dynamic and growing regions." said Gaurav Gupta, Co-founder, Shipway.
Milestones and Growth Plans
Since its establishment in 2015, Shipway has revolutionized eCommerce operations for over 15,000+ online sellers, including renowned D2C brands such as Libas and Lenskart. With a growing user base of over 6,000 monthly active users, Shipway continues to deliver reliable and efficient logistics solutions. The company experienced a remarkable 5X revenue growth within the past 12 months, showcasing its commitment to excellence.
Looking ahead, Shipway has ambitious growth plans for the upcoming fiscal year. The company aims to make eCommerce more accessible and user-friendly, empower D2C brands with cutting-edge technology, and achieve 10x growth through expanded customer reach and increased revenue.
In an era of increasing consumer awareness and demand for sustainable and ethical food practices, traceability plays a crucial role in establishing trust and transparency throughout the food supply chain. Traditionally, traceability focused on ensuring ingredient quality, but with the rising concern for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and environmental impact, traceability now extends to tracking the carbon footprint associated with food products.
Deforestation by Chocolate
Take, for example, the tale of a humble bar of chocolate, which commences its journey in the sun-kissed cocoa plantations of West Africa. A case study conducted by Touton Group revealed that producing one ton of cocoa contributes approximately 2.8-19.5 tons of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere. According to a recent article in The Economist, nearly 20% of the world's chocolate products may contribute to deforestation in Africa, unbeknownst to consumers. This alarming statistic raises the question of how consumers would respond if they had access to information about the origins of their chocolate, differentiating between products sourced from sustainable farms versus those associated with deforestation.
The Whole Truth
Reliable traceability, from farm to fork, offers numerous benefits for making claims about ingredient source and production practices. These claims can be categorized into two broad categories: healthier growing practices, such as organic farming, and ethical sourcing, including fair trade and eliminating child labor. Additionally, the need to monitor the carbon footprint of our food choices has become increasingly significant. A report from Poore & Nemecek (2018) indicated that food production accounts for between 21 to 37 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, highlighting the extensive carbon impact of our food systems.
Savvier Consumers, Conscientious Brands
Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their food choices and the quality of ingredients. Consequently, food brands are recognizing the challenges and opportunities inherent in this trend. Brands must now take greater responsibility for their manufacturing and sourcing practices, engaging with the finer points of their supply chains. By embracing transparency and traceability, these brands can differentiate themselves from competitors, capture higher market share, and potentially command a premium price.
A survey conducted by NielsonIQ indicates that approximately 50% of consumers are willing to pay a premium of 2% or more for more sustainable products, while 66% express a clear preference for sustainably sourced products. Brands that view traceability as a mere cost source risk being left behind in a market increasingly driven by conscientious consumers.
A shining instance of this is in the vineyards of Torres Winery, Spain, where each bottle of wine comes with a measurable carbon footprint. By investing in carbon credits, this winery offsets its emissions, creating a balance between indulgence and environmental responsibility.
Intrinsic Constraints of Web2 Solutions
Existing traceability solutions often face challenges and friction due to the involvement of multiple stakeholders, including farmers. These solutions may lack adequate auditability, leaving room for manipulation by vested interests. Additionally, conventional "Web2" solutions suffer from closed architectures, requiring participants in the value chain to submit data and proofs exclusively through proprietary platforms. This often leads to resistance and non-participation from value chain actors. As a result, Web 2 solutions grapple with escalating hurdles related to complexity, scalability, data redundancy, and burgeoning costs, making them untenable for deployment across extended and intricate value chains.
Web3 for Traceability: An idea whose time has come
Traceability solutions built on decentralized ledgers, such as public blockchains, can overcome the limitations of conventional technology. Web3 solutions offer superior features compared to Web2 solutions in terms of trust, openness, and authenticity.
Brand Image vs. Digital Certainty: The New Trust Paradigm
DLT-based traceability solutions eliminate the need for users, including consumers and food brands, to rely solely on the word of the solution provider. The decentralized nature of blockchain technology ensures tamper-proof data integrity, as blockchain-based ledgers are "append-only." Such security and transparency are not possible in traditional Web2 solutions.
Take the case of Bumble Bee Foods, a seafood company that implemented blockchain technology to bring unprecedented transparency to its supply chain. As a result, consumers can trace the journey of their yellowfin tuna from "bait to plate," gaining insight into the product’s origin, freshness, safety, and environmental impact. Moreover, it enabled the company to tangibly demonstrate its commitment to sustainable fishing practices, underscoring the multifaceted benefits of food traceability.
A Quantum Leap: Web3’s Open Architecture Triumph over Web2 Silos
Web3 solutions also offer the advantage of an open architecture. The authentication of data submitters relies on their public key, reducing the need for specialized middleware to transfer data between systems. In contrast, Web2 solutions require access control, rights management, and credential verification at each step, leading to increased complexity.
The Giants are Embracing Web3
Walmart, a notable example of early adopters, implemented traceability solutions in its marine products division in 2021. This initiative aimed to improve safety and convey product quality to consumers. Traceability is becoming increasingly important throughout the food value chain. However, conventional technologies face limitations in ensuring effective traceability, particularly regarding auditability and closed architectures. Decentralized ledger-based approaches, such as web3, offer significant advantages in these areas, alongside numerous other benefits.
Then, we have the audacious experiment by Microsoft and Starbucks. By harnessing the potential of blockchain technology, they have embarked on a journey to enhance the transparency of their coffee supply chain. Their initiative promises to bring to light the carbon emissions associated with every cup of coffee savored by consumers, thus creating an unprecedented level of awareness and accountability.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization states that if about a third of the food that gets lost or wasted were saved, it could feed more than 870 million people. Technology like IBM's Food Trust, which uses blockchain to reduce waste in the supply chain, can play a pivotal role in addressing this issue while curbing carbon emissions.
Who Foots the Bill for Transparency
Web 3 solutions for traceability and carbon credits hold tremendous potential to revolutionize the food value chain. They promise to enhance productivity by enabling real-time, unbroken tracking; bring about economic benefits by reducing food wastage and meeting consumer demand for transparency; and accrue financial benefits to brands by offering sustainable food products at a premium price. As our food systems continue to evolve, blockchain may well be the key ingredient in cooking up a more sustainable, efficient, and equitable future.
Nurturing the Roots of a Greener, More Sustainable Food Chain
Traceability in the food value chain is catalyzing significant socio-environmental impact. As a powerful instrument to build trust and transparency, traceability propels sustainable agriculture, mitigates food spoilage and waste, curtails emissions, amplifies the assurance of quality and safety throughout the food supply chain, boosts farmers' earnings, and cultivates more equitable trade practices.
Swapnil Pawar, Founder & CEO, ASQI
Bikram Mahajan, Partner, Intellecap
In the world of online shopping, reverse logistics is extremely important because it helps businesses handle the process of customers returning or exchanging products. As the popularity of online shopping continues to increase, it becomes more and more crucial to focus on making the process of returning products efficient and satisfying for customers. Let’s delve into the multifaceted landscape of e-commerce reverse logistics, highlighting its critical role and exploring the intricate interplay between efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Reverse logistics and its efficiency
Reverse logistics is the term used to describe the various activities and procedures that are carried out in the e-commerce industry when dealing with product returns, repairs, exchanges, and disposal. Reverse logistics includes a variety of activities that are involved in the process of handling returned products. These activities can range from obtaining return authorization, inspecting the products, restocking them, refurbishing them, and performing other necessary tasks. The process of reverse logistics has a direct impact on the satisfaction of customers, the costs of operations, and the efforts made towards sustainability by e-commerce businesses. Another aspect of reverse logistics is how seamlessly efficient it can be in operation.
Efficiency is crucial in reverse logistics as it directly affects cost-effectiveness and operational performance. Optimizing efficiency in the reverse logistics process involves streamlining procedures, reducing cycle times, and minimizing costs associated with product returns. By efficiently handling returns, e-commerce businesses can save time, resources, and improve overall profitability.
Reverse Logistics: The string on which customer satisfaction hangs
Customer satisfaction is a key driver of success in e-commerce. When it comes to reverse logistics, meeting customer expectations plays a significant role in retaining customers and fostering brand loyalty. To ensure customer satisfaction, e-commerce businesses should focus on clear return policies, hassle-free return processes, timely communication, and providing options for refunds or exchanges. Prompt resolution of customer issues and effective communication are vital to maintaining a positive customer experience.
In e-commerce reverse logistics, achieving an equilibrium between efficiency and consumer satisfaction is a delicate commitment. Here are some strategies for striking the proper balance:
Continuous Improvement: Regularly evaluating reverse logistics processes, collecting feedback from customers, and analyzing performance metrics can help identify areas for improvement. Continuous improvement efforts demonstrate a commitment to enhancing both efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Interdependencies between customer satisfaction and reverse logistics
The continuous growth of online shopping has magnified the importance of reverse logistics in the e-commerce industry. In this dynamic landscape, it is imperative for businesses to refine their reverse logistics processes to not only streamline operations but also ensure customer satisfaction at every touchpoint. This delicate balance requires a comprehensive understanding of the factors influencing both efficiency and customer satisfaction, as well as the interdependencies between the two.
By implementing streamlined processes, leveraging technology, prioritizing transparency and communication, utilizing data analytics, and focusing on continuous improvement, e-commerce businesses can optimize reverse logistics operations and ensure a positive customer experience. Finding the right equilibrium between efficiency and customer satisfaction will not only drive customer loyalty but also contribute to the overall success and growth of e-commerce enterprises.
Zaiba Sarang is the Co-Founder of iThink Logistics, a tech-enabled end-to-end courier aggregation service that lets clients ship and track with ease by choosing multiple courier partners on one platform. Her responsibilities include managing the entire sales wing. Representing the iThink team, Zaiba is the face of the brand.
In the world of elevated living, smart home technologies offer boundless possibilities to transform your living experience into something truly extraordinary. From controlling your home with a simple voice command to optimizing energy efficiency, these technologies have the power to enhance every aspect of your daily life. Choosing and optimizing the right smart home devices can seamlessly integrate into your lifestyle, granting you the ultimate convenience, comfort, and security. In this article, we explore the art of selecting and harnessing smart home technologies, paving the way for a seamless and enriching lifestyle.
Choosing Smart Home Technologies
Before you start investing in smart home technologies, it is important to consider your needs and budget. Here are some factors to consider when choosing smart home technologies:
-Compatibility: Ensure that the devices you select are compatible with each other and with your existing devices. Seek out devices that support common communication standards like Wi-Fi
-Select a Master platform: Decide on a primary smart home platform that suits your needs. Nowadays, there are several prominent smart home platforms available, such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Home Kit. While you may have a personal preference for one platform, it might be more convenient for you to stick with a single platform whenever possible, especially if you are not very familiar with smart technology and want to avoid complications
-Network: A solid home networking setup and a strong and reliable network are critical to a smooth-operating smart home. Ensure that you have the proper coverage and equipment to keep you seamlessly connected to your smart home
-Budget: Smart home technologies can be expensive, so it is important to set a budget and prioritise your needs.
Optimising Smart Home Technologies
Once you have chosen your smart home technologies, it is important to optimize them for a seamless and enriching lifestyle. Here are some ways:
-Use a smart home hub: A smart home hub can help you control all your smart devices from one central location
-Keep your devices in range: Ensure that your devices are within range of your network to avoid connectivity issues
-Use geofencing: Geofencing allows you to set up triggers based on your location. For example, you can set up your smart thermostat to turn on when you are on your way home
-Use AI voice control & assistant: Voice control can make it easier to control your smart devices, especially if you have your hands full
-Schedule smart lighting: Smart lighting can help you save energy and create a comfortable ambience. Schedule your smart lights to turn on and off at specific times
-Maintain a strong Wi-Fi connection: A stable and reliable home network is the backbone of any smart home integration. Ensure that you have the proper coverage and equipment to keep you seamlessly connected to your smart home
-Use an all-in-one remote: An all-in-one remote can help you control all your smart devices from one central location
-Buy a Smart TV: A smart TV comes equipped with built-in internet connectivity, providing users with a wide range of exciting online features accessible with a simple touch of a button. These features include media streaming, apps, games, web browsing, and more. Additionally, smart TVs offer remarkable boom sound technology for an immersive audio experience
OKIE is one of India’s leading home entertainment brands that has been making an impact with its products and services. The company is headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, and was established in 2011 by Jitin Masand who has consistently set the benchmark for delivering innovation and excellence in the realm of entertainment technology. OKIE has meticulously cultivated a vast network of over 7500 retailers and 100+ distributors with an unwavering focus on tier 2 and 3 markets. Its influence spans the western and southern regions of India, encompassing eight states of unparalleled significance, including Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Kerala. With a projected target of over 100,000 LED TV units to be sold, the brand aims to solidify its position as a formidable force in the market.
With a firm commitment to enhancing the customer buying experience, OKIE is set to unveil its highly anticipated OKIE Experience Zone. This dedicated space will serve as a captivating showcase, inviting customers to immerse themselves in the world of OKIE and explore its expansive range of cutting-edge products and services. Through this initiative, OKIE aspires to become the preferred destination for discerning individuals seeking the latest advancements in entertainment technology.
In conclusion, smart home technologies offer an incredible opportunity to elevate your living experience. By identifying your needs, researching available technologies, and optimizing their usage, you can create a seamless and enriching lifestyle. Embrace the convenience, comfort, and control that smart home technologies provide, and transform your home into a hub of innovation and well-being.
Jitin Masand is the Founder and Managing Director of OKIE, one of India's leading home entertainment brands. With an illustrious career spanning over 18 years, his talent and dedication have contributed to the growth and success of the brand.
Titan has always been a step ahead when it comes to understanding the pulse of its audience. Before artificial intelligence and machine learning mnemonics gathered steam in India, Titan’s jewelry division has been using it to track and gauge consumer touch points across its businesses.
Oracle has been backing the behemoth up with state-of-the-art technology to stratify business according to latest trends all the way from product discovery to last-mile delivery. Krishnan Venkateswaran, Chief Digital Officer, Titan, and Kapil Makhija, Vice President and Head Technology Cloud at Oracle elaborate further.
With technology evenly distributing web traffic across Tanishq’s 500 stores, it’s not just jewelry but also the other businesses that have been benefited by Oracle’s motley offerings. The Oracle Web Application Firewall protects Tanishq against unwanted internet traffic, while Oracle Support Rewards helps the brand estimate CAPEX and save cost of up to 30 percent. The most prominent innovation for Tanishq has been the endless aisle facility which is supported by Oracle APEX and their database to expand and moderate storage as per demand.
Matching demand with inventory instantly
“Prior to Oracle’s support, customers used to walk in to buy a particular product, exhaust the patience of the staff by surfing precisely the entire inventory of the store and leave. They used to buy from somewhere else. But the endless aisle allows every store to showcase the national inventory of a vertical altogether,” says Venkateswaran.
Filtered results and specifications on price point, composition, and product shape allow any prospective buyer to go through thousands of products per SKU. Once a particular product is liked, the system shows if it is available at that store or elsewhere. If the other store is in the same city, the product is delivered to the customer’s doorstep on the same day. Some deliveries happen as fast as within an hour.
The sales criteria has to be query originating from store A, product delivery from store B to A, and purchase at store A. We’ve also used Apex for our point of sales system in overseas geographies such as the US and Gulf nations. This is how the endless aisle increased engagement and conversion for Titan, leading to sales crossing Rs 1000 crores in last financial year via assisted in-store e-commerce.
This apart, there are also means to showcase the product exactly like the linguistic diversities and sensibilities of markets across India. Tanishq connects the customer with the right sales staff who speaks the language of the buyer and hence, bonds stronger and faster over video calls.
First, the brand limits the search to stores in the city. If the first search is within a 20 km radius of the store, then location is easily obtained through GPS. Suppose the first search is based on a radius of 20 kilometres from the store. The buyers are told that the item will arrive in an hour.
“Transporting jewelry is a risky affair, so we bank a lot on the sales staff’s ability to gauge the buying intent of consumers. If the intent is strong, then we take a chance of bringing the piece to the store for a touch-and-feel experience. Online, it’s just a matter of keying in information such as the contact details of the customer, after which the dashboard gives a glimpse of the recent purchase with Titan. Accordingly, the staff can continue the conversation with the customer by building trust and making every visit to a Tanishq store special.
Benefits of Oracle’s support
Although endless aisle started in 2020-21, existing technology from Apex helped Tanishq reduce the time to market and develop the application 20x faster,” says Kapil. By virtue of 41 data centers across 5 continents, Mr Krishnan’s team has designed the endless aisle in a way that the production center becomes Hyderabad with a disaster recovery module in Mumbai. Similarly the point of sale (P.O.S) operation started in North America and The UAE with two data centers for each country.
As of now, the endless aisle is linked to AI-ML with data giving the brands insight about consumer needs. The recommendation engine will also be integrated to it. While demand for NFTs witness a slump this quarter, Krishnan is positive about an experience with Tanishq on Metaverse, wherein families can create their own experience in the virtual world and not necessarily focus on buying jewelry only.
Innovations prompted by Gen Z
Keeping up with the tech needs of the Gen Z audience, Oracle’s strong application portfolio around customer experience has been used by major Fortune 500 companies, who are also part of Oracle’s advisory committee and play a significant role in predicting the next set of innovations.
Such best practices have led to the launch of Oracle’s Generation 2 cloud data centers, now leveraged by thousands of customers. “The dual data center model helps customers get a seamless experience even in case of a disaster at one center. Through Oracle’s cloud services, customers can do performance analysis and application architecture on the one hand, while brands get their entire upgrades, patching and retrievals done automatically,” concludes Kapil.
The world's population is experiencing a rapid surge, and it is foreseen to approach a staggering 9.7 billion individuals by the year 2050. Consequently, this escalating growth has engendered a mounting apprehension regarding the ability to satisfy the escalating demand for sustenance, all while ensuring the vital aspects of food security and sustainability remain intact.
In light of these concerns, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) applications in the agri-food sector holds extraordinary potential to revolutionize the industry, heralding a new era of heightened sustainability.
Artificial intelligence (AI) embodies the capacity of machines or computer programs to undertake endeavours typically reliant on human intellect, encompassing domains such as learning, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making. The realm of AI encompasses diverse subfields, each contributing unique capabilities to this expansive discipline.
These subfields encompass machine learning (ML), deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, robotics, and cognitive computing. Within AI technology, a plethora of algorithms emerges, including reinforcement learning, swarm intelligence, cognitive science, expert systems, fuzzy logic (FL), Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), and Logic Programming, offering a rich tapestry of tools to leverage in pursuit of intelligent automation.
Innovative Applications of AI in Food and Agriculture
Manual grain inspection is a time-consuming process and is prone to human error, which can result in the selection of lower-quality grains. Therefore, the use of computer vision systems in grain inspection is becoming increasingly popular. These systems use advanced imaging techniques and ML algorithms to analyse images of grains and identify defects or impurities, such as broken kernels, foreign materials etc.
Back propagation neural network (BPNN) has been effectively used to classify rice grain varieties with great accuracy (96%), even with poor image quality.
PEST DETECTION AND WEED MANAGEMENT
Accurate identification of insect species, size variation, and stage of development is crucial for effective pest management in agriculture. By identifying the type and number of insects present in a crop field, farmers can take appropriate measures to control the pest population and prevent damage to their crops. Several AI and ML technologies are being developed and tested for insect detection and counting.
Some of these technologies use computer vision algorithms, while others rely on ML algorithms to identify and classify different insect species.
Similarly, herbicides have been widely used by farmers for many years to control weeds and improve crop yields. However, the overuse or improper application of herbicides can have negative impacts on both human health and the environment. To minimize the negative impacts of herbicides, there is a growing need for more precise and accurate application methods.
Robotic weed control is also an emerging technology that shows great promise for the future of agriculture. Robotic weed control systems typically use computer vision and ML algorithms to detect and identify weeds in crop fields, then use robotic arms or other mechanical tools to remove or destroy the weeds.
Although intelligent mechanical weed control would be more felicitous than weeding devices with cutting action, contrary to time-based weed removal, it is possible to remotely regulate the tendency of tines of spring-tine harrow prototype systems based on the conditions of soil, the density of weed, and crop production.
CROP SELECTION AND YIELD IMPROVEMENT
Robots, such as the Berry 5 Robot from Harvest Croo Robotics (Tampa, FL, USA), are designed to automate the harvesting of strawberries, which is a labour-intensive and time-consuming process.
The robot uses computer vision and ML algorithms to identify and pick ripe strawberries at a faster rate than humans can. This can help farmers to reduce labour costs and improve their yields by ensuring that more strawberries are harvested at the optimal time.
FOOD SAFETY COMPLIANCE
AI enabled cameras are used to ensure safety compliance amongst food workers in food facility. This employs facial-recognition and object-recognition software to determine whether workers are complying with good personal hygiene as required by food safety law. If violation is found, it extracts the screen images for review which can be rectified in the real time. The accuracy of this technology is more than 96%.
AI technology uses machine learning and predictive algorithms to model consumer flavour preferences and predict how well they will respond to new tastes. The data can be segmented into demographic groups to help companies develop new products that match the preferences of their target audience. With these, manufacturers could know what products will thrive before the hit the shelves.
Companies like SPOONSHOT are using AI techniques like NLP (natural language processing) and computer vision to build organised information from unstructured data. They leverage food science domain knowledge to process data relating to physical and chemical properties of ingredients to understand how ingredient interactions impact a final recipe.
SPOONSHOT can scout 3B social conversations, 5M research papers, 84M articles, 4M products, 84M blogs etc to provide actionable insights around product concepts, product and menu innovations, consumer market insights, competitor analysis etc.
MARKET RESEARCH AND SALES ENABLEMENT
AI offers tremendous potential to assist in market research within the food industry, providing valuable insights and facilitating better decision-making. AI algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data, including consumer preferences, purchasing behaviour, and social media interactions related to food.
By recognizing patterns and correlations, AI can identify emerging trends, understand consumer preferences, and predict future demands accurately. This information can help food businesses tailor their products, marketing strategies, and overall consumer experience to meet evolving customer needs.
Social listening tools like CRIMSON HEXAGON and SYNTHESIO helps generate valuable insights around audience analysis, brand intelligence, campaign analysis, customer sentiment, market research, trend analysis, competitor analysis etc, helping make smarter, data-driven decisions. (11)
In the current attention-driven economy, where capturing and retaining attention is challenging due to the overwhelming choices and distractions faced by consumers, traditional market research methods have their limitations. However, AI-powered research offers a promising solution by providing rapid, reliable, and actionable insights.
Companies like THE LIGHTBULB.AI leverage AI-enabled technology to offer a range of research services. These include qualitative and quantitative research, ad testing, as well as UI/UX testing. Their advanced capabilities encompass facial coding, eye tracking, speech transcription, text sentiment analysis, and audio tonality analysis. These modules enable comprehensive analysis and understanding of user experiences and preferences.
By harnessing AI in research, businesses can overcome the shortcomings of traditional methods and gain a deeper understanding of consumer behaviour. AI-based research offers the advantage of speed, accuracy, and scalability, allowing companies to adapt swiftly to evolving market dynamics and make informed decisions based on robust data-driven insights.
AI can significantly contribute to sales enablement by providing valuable insights, automating tasks, and enhancing overall sales efficiency.
INFILECT, a leading provider of advanced retail visual intelligence, offers cutting-edge solutions that can greatly boost sales for organizations. With their advanced image recognition technology and retail data analytics capabilities, Infilect empowers businesses to improve shelf visibility and enhance store execution performance. By analysing visual data, such as product placement, stock availability, and planogram compliance, Infilect provides valuable insights to optimize sales strategies and improve overall retail performance.
In conclusion, the transformational power of AI in the food and agriculture industry is undeniable. From bytes of data to the very bites we consume, AI has become a driving force behind enhanced productivity, sustainability, and innovation.
Through advanced algorithms and data-driven insights, AI is optimizing crop management, improving yield predictions, and revolutionizing farming practices. It is enabling precise monitoring of soil conditions, crop health, and irrigation needs, leading to resource-efficient and environmentally conscious agricultural operations.
Furthermore, AI is enhancing food safety by rapidly detecting and mitigating risks associated with contaminants, pests, and diseases. It is facilitating traceability and supply chain transparency, ensuring that consumers have access to safe and high-quality food.
Beyond the farm, AI is revolutionizing food production, from automated processing and packaging to personalized nutrition recommendations. It is driving the development of novel ingredients and flavors, expanding the boundaries of culinary creativity.
However, it is essential to recognize that the adoption of AI in the food and agriculture sector is an ongoing journey.
Challenges such as data privacy, infrastructure limitations, and ethical considerations must be addressed to fully harness the potential of AI while ensuring equitable access and sustainable practices.
In this age of bytes and bites, AI holds the promise of a transformative future for food and agriculture, ushering in a new era of abundance, efficiency, and global nourishment. Let us seize the opportunities that lie ahead and embrace AI as a powerful ally in creating a more sustainable, resilient, and inclusive food system for generations to come.
Bharat Sawnani is the founder of Elevantus with 14 years' experience across innovation, technology, quality, and 6 years in clinical pharmacokinetics.
Photo credit: <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/smart-farmer-controlling-agriculture-drone-spraying-watering-crops-agriculture-drone-use-precision-farming-new-agriculture-trend-concept-bright-vibrant-violet-isolated-illustration_10782811.htm#query=AI%20in%20food%20and%20agriculture&position=0&from_view=search&track=ais">Image by vectorjuice</a> on Freepik
Is the Metaverse here to stay or is it just a fancy fad? If you are a marketer or a brand custodian, you have probably thought about it. The answer that makes sense is that the Metaverse, while still taking shape, is here to stay. It is evolving and has its ups and downs, just like the Internet in its infancy. But things are changing fast. Investments into the Metaverse crossed $120 million in 2022 and it is expected to generate $5 trillion by 2030 for both consumer and industrial enterprises, according to McKinsey. That is serious business and one that companies are betting big on.
But the true test lies in the adoption by the end-users. Reports suggest that consumers have given the Metaverse a thumbs-up. Even if this popularity is credited to initial euphoria for new technology, consumers are already looking for non-entertainment uses. Over the next two to five years, 70 percent of consumers intend to use the Metaverse in non-gaming contexts. What this hints at is mass adoption in the near future.
For marketers and brands, the potential of the Metaverse cannot be understated or ignored. These facts underscore the growing significance of the Metaverse as a crucial channel for brand engagement. But we need to remember that the success of a new technology lies in keeping the consumer at the center of everything. Because it is the consumers who will grow the Metaverse.
Start with the Why
Before embarking on the Metaverse journey, brands need to carefully assess their motivations and how they want to engage with consumers. Being present in the Metaverse without a clear purpose is an inadequate starting point. It is important to establish specific objectives. For instance, is the goal to augment awareness among untapped audiences or expand the brand's reach and visibility among the target audience?
Alternatively, could the aim be to nurture positive sentiment and foster brand loyalty? By identifying and articulating these objectives, brands can align their Metaverse strategy with their broader marketing goals.
Once brands have evaluated the reasons for their Metaverse presence, it becomes crucial to assess and select the most suitable Metaverse platforms. Each brand possesses a distinct personality, and the context in which it is perceived holds significant importance. Hence, careful analysis is necessary to identify the platforms that not only provide the greatest potential but also align well with the brand's identity and values.
It is important to consider the unique strengths and weaknesses of each platform in relation to the brand's objectives. This helps make informed decisions and maximize their impact within the Metaverse. Moreover, embracing the opportunity to experiment with multiple platforms allows brands to explore and determine which platforms resonate best with their target audience. By leveraging this flexibility, brands can fine-tune their Metaverse strategy and establish a strong presence that truly connects with their intended audience.
After the appropriate Metaverse platform, or platforms, are selected, it is essential to shift the focus towards creating compelling experiences. Within the Metaverse, people are drawn in by the overall ambience, but it is the experience itself that keeps them engaged. Brands need to invest in experiences that captivate their specific target audience.
In this virtual world, where innovation is paramount, the expectation for delivering exceptional and immersive experiences is notably high. Brands will need to strike a balance between merely advertising their offerings and providing truly immersive experiences that seamlessly integrate with the Metaverse while also complementing real-world activations. This delicate balance ensures that brands meet the elevated expectations of consumers within the Metaverse.
Furthermore, brands possess the autonomy to choose their desired virtual locations, allowing them to dynamically exist within various virtual landscapes. This versatility empowers brands to adopt different styles and forms to effectively engage specific audiences. By employing customized strategies and showcasing their unique products, brands can effectively establish a distinct presence that resonates with their target audience within the Metaverse.
When establishing a presence in the Metaverse for marketing purposes, it is crucial to prioritize making meaningful connections with the audience over focusing solely on direct sales. Forward-thinking brands recognize the importance of proactively strategizing to capture the long-term potential of the Metaverse. Once connections with the target audience have been established, there are various avenues to further enhance brand engagement.
For instance, for fashion brands, virtual showrooms, and dressing rooms present significant opportunities to transition from experimental endeavors to widespread adoption. Through virtual showrooms, consumers can explore and interact with products, enabling them to visualize and experience them in a more engaging and interactive manner. Additionally, virtual dressing rooms offer the opportunity for users to try on virtual outfits and experiment with different styles, empowering them to make confident fashion choices.
Prepare for Almost Everything
In order to thrive in the Metaverse, brands must proactively anticipate and mitigate potential risks to reputation. Cautionary examples exist where brands engaged with consumers online without adequately preparing for the rapid feedback loops of the Internet or the viral nature of social media. However, in the Metaverse, the stakes can be even higher due to the real-time and immersive nature of events. Therefore, it is prudent to establish clear rules of engagement that encompass detailed policies and robust enforcement practices.
These guidelines should cover various aspects such as customer experience, intellectual property management, user safety, data privacy, and misinformation. Instances have already arisen where events in the Metaverse did not unfold as intended.
Brands need to reimagine how they evaluate marketing success within the Metaverse. While measuring returns on investments remains crucial, the metrics may differ from traditional expectations. In traditional digital marketing, website visitors, conversions, ‘likes,’ shares and customer acquisition costs take center stage. However, in the Metaverse, marketers may need to redefine their metrics to capture the unique dynamics of user engagement.
Factors such as analyzing engagement data, consumer preferences, engagement time, etc. become significant considerations. By adopting such measurement approaches, marketers can gain insights into the effectiveness of their Metaverse strategies and optimize their campaigns accordingly.
Prepare to Seize the Day
Regardless of the specific direction the Metaverse takes, it is highly likely that innovation and consumer adoption will continue to accelerate at a rapid pace. As platforms evolve and new use cases emerge, brands will need to continuously test, learn, and adapt. In this dynamic landscape, it becomes crucial for marketers to have access to the necessary talent capable of keeping up with the swift advancements in augmented and virtual reality, consumer journey analytics, and social commerce. By staying attuned to these developments and securing the right expertise, marketers can effectively navigate the evolving Metaverse and capitalize on the opportunities it presents.
Undoubtedly, the Metaverse presents abundant opportunities. While certain technological limitations and the current level of mainstream adoption may initially seem like potential hurdles, they should not deter companies from exploring, experimenting, and ultimately achieving success within the Metaverse. By embracing an open mindset, brands can seize the chance to innovate, learn, and make significant strides in their marketing initiatives.
This article is authored by Piyush Gupta, CEO, VOSMOS.
Despite reduced growth rates compared to the initial pandemic period, the forecast for global e-commerce remains bullish. According to the FIS Global Payments Report 2023, the explosive growth in global e-commerce in the first two years of the pandemic has slightly slowed in 2022, with a 10 percent YoY growth in global e-commerce transaction value from 2021-2022. However, the report predicts a 9 percent CAGR from 2022-2026, projecting that global e-commerce transaction value will rise from approximately $6 trillion in 2022 to over $8.5 trillion in 2026.
The report highlights that all regions except Europe saw double-digit growth from 2021-2022, with the highest growth of 21 percent in the Middle East and Africa. Of the 40 markets covered in the report, 37 saw double-digit YoY growth from 2021 to 22. Markets in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, except for Thailand at 9 percent, continue to be high-growth markets. The report predicts a mid-teens CAGR in these regions through 2026.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted e-commerce as people began to rely more on online shopping. The report indicates that the pandemic has solidified the shift in consumer behavior towards digital payments, which has continued to drive e-commerce growth. In addition, technological advancements and improvements in digital infrastructure have made online shopping more accessible and convenient for consumers, contributing to the development of e-commerce.
Global e-commerce is projected to grow in all regions, with a robust double-digit growth forecast in emerging markets. This trend presents attractive opportunities for cross-border e-commerce. Therefore, the report suggests that businesses should develop cross-border e-commerce capabilities to benefit from the high-growth markets.
Common Services Centers under the Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY) said it has invested in the Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) to promote e-commerce and logistics in rural areas. “It is for the first time that CSC has invested in an initiative like this. ONDC will democratize digital commerce by moving to an open network. The partnership will also generate employment opportunities for rural youth by enabling a last mile logistics network,” Dinesh Tyagi, MD, CSC SPV, said in a statement.
However, some challenges still need to be addressed to sustain this growth. For example, the report indicates that the lack of digital infrastructure and financial inclusion in some emerging markets can hinder e-commerce growth. Additionally, regulatory challenges and cross-border trade barriers can create obstacles for businesses looking to expand globally.
Overall, the FIS Global Payments Report 2023 indicates that global e-commerce is poised for significant growth over the next few years, presenting business opportunities and challenges. Companies that can successfully navigate the challenges and leverage the opportunities presented by e-commerce will likely benefit from this growth trend.
D2C brands across the world are born of a mission. A desire to supply today's tech-savvy consumers with hard-to-source goods and trend-focused designs. When one opens social media today, we are thrust into the world of targeted sponsored ads that truly speak to our souls. But how does one trust a new brand and separate the wheat from the chaff?
We tend to rely on the information on the ‘buy now’ page. We look at details like EDD, returns policy, customer reviews, and even, in some cases, the embedded Instagram feed to check the 'real-life' appeal of the product. Clearly, pre-purchase experience is important to us. Post-purchase experience equally, if not more so.
Dipti recently procured two beautiful bedspreads from a long-running D2C brand. She was quite excited about the buy and couldn't wait to receive the package. Unfortunately, the brand offered little to no visibility on the shipment movement.
The predicted 3-4 days did not really stick, and she was left wondering if she had been conned. This is a critical moment, a churning point, in consumer psychology. Vexed, she decided never to re-purchase from that brand. The only solace was that she did receive the beautiful bedspreads a week later, but her post-purchase experience had been so marred it completely threw her off the brand.
Over 95% of online shoppers track their orders. Close to 50% of them give the order tracking page a look-see every day till they receive their package. About 20% check the status of their purchases multiple times a day.
Yes, this points to delivery anticipation and post-purchase excitement, but 7 out of 10 shoppers also said they would rather check tracking status for updates than reach out to customer care in case of delays.
Consumers today are attuned to the ‘instant’ lifestyle. They are no longer used to the speed of dial-up internet and scheduled tv programs. They are accustomed to having answers right here and now. This trait is evident in their desire for visibility on packages.
The state of the ‘restless shopper’ psyche can be a good thing for D2C brands.
And then there was vision…
The crux of superior post-purchase experiences boils down to the quality of two things - communication & visibility. Both intertwined make a formidable force to build customer trust and loyalty. Here are some key features every D2C brand needs in their bandanna to set their board on the visibility wave.
A personalized tracking page is a must for every D2C brand. It is such a simple offering but does so much to elevate the brand’s positioning in the eyes of the shopper. Consumers were once ok with navigating to a courier page to check out the status of their airwaybill number. This unnecessary rigmarole can be safely stowed away thanks to the spectacular range of shipping software currently available.
The trick is to make the tracking page clean, detailed, and tasteful and design it per the brand’s theme and style. Kushal’s, Plum Goodness, Wow Science, The House of Rare…. All offer a clean tracking page in line with their branding ensuring customers never need look elsewhere for information.
When the phone pings saying the package is out for delivery, it better well be! More often than not, shoppers receive their packages days after receiving this message that’s ripe with false promises. Should they stay home? Should they head out? Should they give a heads-up to their partner, neighbor, security person? Enough.
Real-time alerts via SMS, IVRS, WhatsApp, or Email should suffer no lag, nor should they jump the gun. It’s time to chat with best-in-biz service providers to ensure you don’t pitch your customer into a fit of anxiety. Decathlon has perfected the art of providing real-time statuses.
How many times have shoppers become wildly disoriented seeing the abbreviated name of a courier company in their SMS list? Especially considering most shop for multiple products from various online brands at a time. White-labeling is a genuine no-brainer.
When it comes to visibility, it’s time to stop hiding behind third-party doors and display your brand name loud and proud on all forms of communication. When Dipti purchased a watch from Fire-Boltt, she received accurate tracking information from a white-labeled Whatsapp brand account.
If there’s one thing a shopper detests more than being confronted by a strange name, being promised their order is out for delivery when it isn’t, and having to visit a courier page to track their purchase, it’s this - Non-Delivery. It could happen for multiple reasons, none of which is the customer’s problem.
Set up an automated resolution flow to instantaneously resolve non-delivery reports. Reach out to customers with an automated communication flow to sort out any issues ranging from ‘customer unreachable’ to ‘incomplete address’, and ensure that shoppers get their goods on their doorstep right on time. Kapiva and Plix Life recently sorted out their NDR issues with a well-structured communication flow and successfully brought down their RTOs.
It’s time this best practice of offering visibility became standard practice. By providing transparency in delivery, you can expect to see an immediate reduction in customer churn and a spike in brand trust and loyalty. And these are good armaments for any D2C brand that desires to become a household name.
Naman Vijay is an alumnus of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology Delhi campus. He founded ClickPost, Asia's largest post-purchase experience platform in 2015 with co-founder Prashant Gupta, an alumnus of NIT Trichy and InMobi. Previously, Naman had worked as Senior Business Analyst at Barclays and was a Co-founder of Pyck.
Online retail penetration is projected to grow at an extraordinary rate, outpacing offline retail by 2.5 times in the next decade. As India ascends to become the world's third-largest consumer market during this period, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP’s (Deloitte India’s) ‘Future of Retail’ report foresees the online retail sector, which stood at $70 billion in 2022, to surge to $325 billion by 2030.
Deloitte India's report attributes these projections to the rapid growth of e-commerce in Tier II and III cities, which have surpassed Tier I markets in terms of total orders. In 2022, these cities accounted for over 60 percent of all orders, with Tier III cities experiencing a remarkable 65 percent growth in order volume and Tier II cities witnessing a substantial 50 percent growth. Meanwhile, Tier I cities observed a modest 10 percent growth.
The surge in online retail can be attributed to various factors. The convenience of ordering and returns, bolstered by a robust logistics infrastructure spanning over 19,000 pin codes, has played a pivotal role. Additionally, India boasts a digitally savvy consumer base of 220 million online shoppers, further driving the growth of e-commerce. Furthermore, the sector has witnessed significant investments from private equity and venture capital firms, totaling $23 billion over the past five years.
Consequently, online sales are poised to surpass organized retail, with a growing emphasis on omnichannel retail strategies where retailers seamlessly integrate their offline and online channels to provide consumers with the best of both worlds.
"Accelerated technology investments are vital to meeting the demands of tech-savvy consumers," stated Anand Ramanathan, Partner, and Consumer Industry Leader - Consulting, Deloitte India. "I am optimistic about the exponential growth potential of India's retail sector, driven by rising incomes, the expanding middle class, and rapid digitalization. By harnessing the power of technology, sustainability, and forward-thinking strategies, retailers can create an ecosystem that not only meets evolving consumer demands but also sets new benchmarks for value, engagement, and unforgettable shopping experiences."
Deloitte's report identifies several key forces that are expected to reshape the retail landscape in India. These include changing consumer patterns, societal and cultural influences, the scale of exponential technology, industry disruptions, climate considerations, and the impact of economics, policy, and power dynamics. The report also highlights that establishing consumer confidence through sustainability initiatives is crucial in the era of conscious consumerism.
Based on these forces, Deloitte recommends six future scenarios for Indian retailers to strategize around:
1. Rise of new commerce: The growing internet user base, smartphone adoption, and e-commerce penetration are reshaping commerce. New commerce channels driven by factors such as increased internet use in Tier II cities, ease of starting online businesses, government support, convenience, personalization, easy discovery, and payment, and trust in influencers are set to redefine the retail landscape.
2. Technology to drive retail towards immersive, frictionless, intelligent experiences: Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), the Metaverse, and experiential retail are transforming customer interactions. Retailers can enhance customer engagement, satisfaction, and sales by creating captivating and interactive shopping environments.
3. Kirana tech: Kirana tech start-ups offer solutions to empower traditional Kirana stores and compete with online giants. Integrating Kiranas into the larger retail ecosystem opens up new markets, expands the product range, and strengthens its business presence.
4. Rise of the luxury market: Following the pandemic, luxury brands are entering the Indian market through online luxury retailers and partnerships with Indian conglomerates. The report indicates that millennials are driving the luxury market, with 60 percent of them making luxury purchases.
5. Private labels to self-sustain and intensify competition: Private labels are gaining prominence, offering higher profit margins for retailers compared to traditional brands. With the growing consumer consciousness around well-being and demand for healthier options, private-label brands offering quality, affordable, and differentiated products are well-positioned to thrive.
6. Experiential retail: Experiential retail goes beyond transactional experiences, transforming physical and online shopping environments. Retailers are prioritizing immersive and unforgettable experiences to create lasting impressions and strengthen the brand perception.
India has witnessed significant growth in e-commerce across various sectors, including healthcare. Several healthcare e-commerce platforms have emerged recently, providing consumers with multiple services and products.
E-commerce has the potential to drive significant growth in the healthcare sector in India by leveraging its advantages in terms of convenience, accessibility, and efficiency. Healthcare e-commerce in India has gained momentum in recent years due to increasing internet penetration, smartphone usage, and the convenience it offers consumers. The global healthcare e-commerce market will grow from $309.62 billion in 2022 to $366.94 billion in 2023 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.5 percent, according to The Business Research Company.
The Role of Digital Transformation in the Rise of Healthcare eCommerce
In recent years, there has been a noticeable shift from traditional pharmacies to e-pharmacies, also known as online pharmacies. Technological advancements and the increasing demand for convenience and accessibility in healthcare services primarily drive this transition.
E-pharmacies offer several advantages over their traditional counterparts. Firstly, they provide a convenient platform for customers to purchase medications and healthcare products from the comfort of their own homes. This eliminates the need to visit physical stores, saving time and effort, especially for individuals with mobility issues or those residing in remote areas.
Moreover, e-pharmacies often boast a more comprehensive range of products than traditional pharmacies. They can stock a larger inventory of medications and healthcare items, ensuring greater availability and reducing the chances of out-of-stock situations. This is particularly beneficial for patients who require specific medications or have unique healthcare needs.
Another significant benefit of e-pharmacies is the potential for cost savings. Online platforms frequently offer competitive prices due to reduced overhead costs associated with maintaining physical stores. Additionally, they may provide discounts, promotions, or loyalty programs, further reducing the financial burden on customers.
E-pharmacies also enhance medication management and adherence. Many online platforms offer features such as automatic prescription refills and reminders, ensuring that patients never run out of their essential medications. This can significantly improve patient outcomes and reduce the risk of medication non-compliance.
Despite the advantages, it is important to note that the shift to e-pharmacies also presents some challenges. One of the key concerns is the need for stringent regulations and quality control measures to ensure the safety and authenticity of medications being sold online. Government bodies and regulatory agencies are working to establish frameworks to monitor and regulate e-pharmacies effectively.
Here are some ways in which e-commerce can contribute to the growth of healthcare in India:
However, it is essential to note that while e-commerce offers significant opportunities for growth in the healthcare sector, certain challenges must be addressed. These challenges include ensuring the authenticity and quality of healthcare products sold online, safeguarding patient privacy and data security, and establishing robust regulatory frameworks to govern e-commerce in healthcare.
In conclusion, healthcare E-commerce is a powerful catalyst for positive change in the wellness sector, delivering accessibility, efficiency, cost reduction, and overall patient satisfaction. Through diligent evaluation and ongoing enhancements, it has the potential to revolutionize the healthcare industry and shape its future.
About the Author
Tanya C Kakaria, Business Head, E-commerce Solutions, Paxcom
In today's dynamic consumer landscape, digital transformation is imperative for businesses, especially in the high-end retail industry. By combining digital and physical solutions, businesses can create seamless experiences, cater to changing consumer demands, and ultimately deliver the right solutions to their valued clients.
In a recent conversation at Indian Retailer’s grand event in Bengaluru – IReC X D2C 2023, Aruni Mishra, CEO, Bergner India, and Sachin Jain, MD, De Beers India have highlighted how to create a truly hybrid shopping experience; a plan for creating a unified, lucrative, and customer-focused omnichannel strategy; what are the prerequisites to establish a holistic and integrated approach, etc.
“Embracing the digital era and leveraging its potential can unlock new possibilities and secure a thriving future in the ever-evolving high-end retail space,” Sachin Jain, MD, De Beers India.
“The concept of phygital or hybrid environments is not about providing identical experiences across all platforms. Instead, it's about seamlessly integrating various formats while understanding and catering to what customers expect from each one. It's essential to tailor the experience based on the specific demands and preferences of customers in each format. Achieving relevance in the phygital space requires acknowledging that customers seek different experiences in different formats. By understanding their expectations and adapting accordingly, brands can ensure their continued relevance and success,” Aruni Mishra, CEO, Bergner India.
Trends Shaping Consumer Behavior
Both Mishra and Jain said that by recognizing these trends and finding the right balance between digital and physical experiences, businesses can thrive in a space where value and trust are paramount.
Shifting from Commodities to Consuming Brands:
Consumers worldwide are transitioning from perceiving products as mere commodities to seeking engaging brand experiences. This shift holds true across industries and emphasizes the importance of creating lasting connections with clients. High-end retail, in particular, is witnessing a move from one-time transactions to cultivating long-term relationships and experiential engagements.
From Digital-First to Digital Everywhere:
The digital-first approach has evolved into a pervasive concept known as "digital everywhere." A recent survey conducted in the diamond industry reveals that customers extensively research diamonds online, with the average client having viewed industry diamonds at least 11 times before visiting a physical store. Approximately 70 percent of customers continue their search while physically present, highlighting the omnipresence of digital platforms and their influence on purchasing decisions.
Consumers now prioritize brands aligned with their personal values and the purpose they wish to fulfill in life. Brand choices and consumption patterns are characterized by a desire to contribute positively to the world. Understanding and embodying a meaningful purpose can significantly enhance brand loyalty and customer engagement.
The convergence of the physical and digital realms presents an opportunity for powerful storytelling. Maintaining consistent brand messaging across various channels, regardless of whether they are digital or physical, is essential for building trust and reinforcing brand identity.
Innovative technologies offer solutions to bridge the gap between digital and physical experiences. Features like physical and digital try-ons allow customers to visualize products on their bodies, eliminating concerns about variations between online images and physical appearances. These advancements provide a more immersive and realistic experience, empowering customers to make informed decisions.
Revolutionizing Biz with Tech
Aruni said that Bergner has introduced a concept called TAP, which stands for Technology, Analytics, and Partnerships. TAP represents the company’s approach to technology that enhances human capabilities rather than alienating them. It focuses on implementing technologies that aid and empower people, rather than eliminating the need for human touch. This perspective on technology comes from a business and sales standpoint, rather than being solely driven by IT. Analytics is another crucial aspect of the organization. In the past, analytics was primarily about categorizing customers into different homogeneous groups based on their behavior and addressing their needs accordingly. However, the approach to analytics has evolved significantly. Today, it involves treating each customer as a unique individual and catering to their specific requirements.
Additionally, partnerships play a vital role in Bergner’s strategy. “We acknowledge that we can't do everything on our own, and building partnerships is essential. We believe in going beyond conventional partnerships and aim to establish deep-rooted collaborations that foster community-building or facilitate content creation. By forging meaningful partnerships with like-minded organizations, we can collectively serve our target customers more effectively,” asserted Mishra.
“TAP encapsulates the core principles within the Bergner organization. We prioritize technology that empowers individuals, leverage analytics to understand and address the unique needs of each customer, and foster strategic partnerships to create a thriving community and deliver valuable content,” he further added.
Meanwhile, Sachin stated that the jewelry industry has traditionally been resistant to change in its operations. Looking back decades ago when e-commerce was emerging, there was a significant debate about the viability of selling jewelry or diamonds online. Unfortunately, we as an organization missed that opportunity. However, now there's a new wave approaching—the metaverse. The initial responses to the metaverse globally and in India have been overwhelmingly positive, and it's crucial for the jewelry industry, as well as others, to understand its potential. To embark on this journey, it's important to carve out your space and engage in conversations about NFTs because that's where younger customers can be found. Furthermore, by the end of this year, 72 percent of the Indian population will be under 25 years old, making this age group highly relevant for any industry.
“To simplify the future, we need to focus on building the metaverse and NFTs. The initial response, especially in high-value categories, has been extraordinary. In the short term, within the next few months, we should also prioritize experiential last-mile delivery. While we talk about brands and the overall experience, the final step of product delivery is often handled by a courier or delivery person,” noted Jain.
There are now three interconnected platforms where customers seamlessly navigate — the physical store, web platform, and mobile platform. It is essential to recognize the value of these platforms and understand that relevance is achieved by being present in them.
“In a physical store, customers seek conversations, assurance, and a pleasant ambiance. On a web platform, value and access to abundant information are crucial. On a mobile platform, speed and convenience in shopping are paramount. To succeed, it is vital for brands to extend their presence across these formats while tailoring expectations and experiences accordingly. By adapting and catering to the specific demands of each format, brands can unlock the key to success in this evolving landscape,” highlighted Mishra.
Furthermore, maintaining consistency across online and offline channels is imperative, and integrating digital elements into physical stores can enhance the overall retail experience.
“Over the past decade, we have witnessed the importance of consistent representation both online and offline. In the Indian jewelry business, we have seen numerous brands that fail to establish a cohesive connection between their online and offline presence. This disconnect is a mistake. It is crucial for brands to maintain consistency in their appearance, values, colors, modernity, and cultural relevance. Whether customers engage with the brand physically or digitally, the experience should be similar,” concluded Jain.
India's total merchandise exports continue to cross the $100 billion mark, for the second consecutive quarter in a row, amounting to $105.8 billion, during Q3 (October-December) of 2021-22. Some key factors for this growth include a massive post-pandemic push that made retailers shift from mere brick-and-mortar establishments and embrace e-commerce both locally and globally. Other catalysts included the active participation of consumers in shopping with global retailers.
Shiprocket X, a cross-border shipping product of Shiprocket, India’s leading e-commerce enablement platform recently published its survey report titled “The State of Cross-Border Trade.” The survey revealed some interesting global insights, along with how India ranked 9th in global cross-border growth.
Simplified cross-border trade has been a top priority for the Indian government as it represents 20 percent of global e-commerce and is a key determinant of the level of EoDB (ease of doing business) in the country. The government of India has actively provided the necessary impetus for the growth of the Indian export sector, which has powered a total export revenue of $417 billion in FY22.
15 additional clusters pan-India clocked a surge in merchandise exports, with Gujarat contributing the highest to India’s overall exports, followed by Rajasthan and Delhi. These statistics point towards a strong demand indication for cross-border trade of Indian products
Akshay Ghulati, Co-Founder, Strategy & Global Expansion, Shiprocket said, “Indian MSMEs are the powerhouse of the country with a significant contribution to our GDP. With the unstoppable growth of e-commerce in India, we are on track to become the second-largest e-commerce industry in the world, making it easier than ever for our small businesses to access global markets. We have witnessed firsthand, the tremendous potential of Indian MSMEs in driving cross-border trade, and hence, at the core of Shiprocket lies the passion to empower the merchants of BHARAT. This survey is a step forward in that direction and helps us decode the challenges and the expansion opportunities for Indian e-commerce brands.”
With the increasing acceptability of Indian products in the international retail market, MSME exports are playing a crucial role in powering 40 percent of India's overall exports, contributing to approx. 6.22 percent of the country’s GDP. The transformational changes in consumer buying behaviors have also played a key role in the growing opportunity in the global e-commerce trade. With around 63.4 percent million units spread across the geographical expanse of India, MSME exports are going to play the role of a catalyst in restoring the strength of the Indian economy.
As per the industry body FISME, a study paper has said that e-commerce export potential is in the range of $200 to $300 billion by 2030.
A continued shift in consumer behavior and evolution of the business ecosystem will underpin the growth of India’s internet economy, from approximately $175 billion of consumption in 2022 to $1 trillion by 2030, according to a report titled ‘The e-Conomy of a Billion Connected Indians’ released by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company today. Based on surveys of consumers and investors, as well as analysis by Bain & Company, the report shares insights into the key sectors of the internet economy driven by digital consumption, such as e-commerce, online travel, food delivery, ride-hailing, and more.
The confluence of three crucial forces - digital-seeking behaviors amongst internet users in Tier II+ locations, the digitization of large, traditional businesses along with a growing startup ecosystem, and the success of India’s homegrown digital public goods or the ‘India Stack’ - has positioned the internet economy for acceleration. Consequently, the contribution of the Internet economy to India’s technology sector is set to expand, from the present 48 percent to 62 percent in 2030, while its share in India’s GDP will increase from 4-5 percent to nearly 12-13 percent.
Sanjay Gupta, Country Head and Vice President, Google India said, “Three foundational forces - deepening consumer digital adoption, technology investments by businesses, and digital democratization with the India Stack - has placed India at a turning point in its digital transformation. Structural shifts in consumption potential are opening up a vast opportunity for startups, large businesses, and MSMEs to power India’s internet economy towards a projected growth of 6x, reaching a trillion dollars by 2030. We’re pleased to join Bain and Temasek in this first-of-its-kind multidimensional view of the digital landscape, and are confident and committed to partner India in this extraordinary opportunity.”
Parijat Ghosh, Managing Partner, Bain and Company (India) stated, “India's internet economy has remarkable potential and is expected to grow at 6x over the next decade, with B2C e-commerce driving 40 percent of the digital GMV, followed by B2B sectors and SaaS. The pace of digital disruption is expected to accelerate as traditional businesses and MSMEs increase investments in digitization, in addition to startups continuing to play a strong role in driving the internet economy. We expect to see players go beyond their core to cater to the consumer of the future and adopt new business models to capitalize on the growing opportunity.”
Vishesh Shrivastav, Managing Director, Investment (India), Temasek added, “Widespread digital adoption among consumers, as well as businesses, is accelerating the growth of India’s internet economy at an unprecedented rate. Temasek has been a major participant in India’s internet economy and is optimistic about India’s growth trajectory due to the country’s sound fundamentals. We expect trends in the consumer and digital space to provide a long runway for growth, and as a long-term investor, we are committed to providing catalytic capital to spur the development of innovative solutions to create a more efficient, more sustainable, and more inclusive society.”
Tier II+ Digital Consumption Geared to Unlock New Business Opportunities
With India’s 700 million internet users transacting more via real-time digital payments and spending more time on online video streaming services and social media than global averages, the internet economy is set to expand beyond its current base. This growth will be founded on consumers seeing their household incomes double by 2030 from approximately $2500 to $5500 by 2030.
Tier II+ consumers indicated a greater openness to experimentation with new brands and products, and to directing their increased spending towards personalization and premiumization, especially for HealthTech and EdTech. Against a national average of 70 percent, presently 82 percent of Tier II+ consumers are willing to pay higher prices for personalized and customized products and services, while 84 percent of consumers in Tier II+ would prefer an e-consultation with a reputed doctor to a live appointment with a friend- or family-recommended doctor, compared to 75 percent nationwide.
Key Consumption Sectors Poised for Strong Growth
Presenting a 2030 outlook across 10 key consumer sectors, the report projects that B2C e-commerce will continue to maintain a leading share of digital services, growing 5-6x to $350-380 billion by 2030. India’s online shoppers are expected to double by 2030, with currently over 60 percent of new shoppers located in smaller towns, and increasingly attracted to the Direct-to-Customers (D2C) offerings and accessibility features of digital platforms.
HealthTech and InsurTech, both currently sized at or less than $2 billion today, will demonstrate the largest expansion, to the tune of 9-15x. SaaS will continue to drive momentum for India’s digital exports, with edtech and e-commerce offerings getting a global footprint. Bolstered by the solid foundation of both adoption and innovation in digital financial services, online payments, lending, and investments will continue to be a cornerstone of the internet economy, servicing the credit and capital needs of both the Tier II+ consumers as well as MSMEs.
Evolving with the Consumer will be Critical for Success
With approximately 80 percent of surveyed consumers preferring digital-first experiences for the convenience and value they deliver, responsiveness to consumer behaviors and preferences will be key to the growth of the digital economy. The industry will need to deliver to the priorities of consumers by innovating for their differentiated needs, being responsive to user preference for language, building safety and security into the consumer journey, and integrating sustainability throughout their operations.
Inclusive content and experiences, such as gamification, will help businesses capture mind share and market share, while personalization will help businesses differentiate and identify new revenue streams from the premium services and products consumers desire. Consumers will also choose brands that align with their values, even willing to forego some convenience for more sustainable options. Along with omnichannel models, consumers have indicated an appetite for novel, India-first experiences, especially in online games and media. These preferences will factor significantly in the demand for digital goods and services, strongly influencing businesses’ success in attracting and retaining customers.
Investors Optimistic on Digital in the Mid- to Long Term
Demonstrating an overall investor optimism on India as a favorable investment destination, three in five investors expect deal activities to rise in the next two to three years, with most investors stating that over 75 percent of their funds’ allocation will be towards digital investments in the next five to seven years. Given the growing emphasis on profitability, growth, and late-stage startups will receive more investor attention than earlier-stage ones. SaaS is likely to hold the most appeal over the medium term, with about 77 percent of surveyed investors ranking it in the top three sectors for investment interest, due to the global reputation of India’s large talent pool and software products, and potential for growth in newer verticals with startups identifying profitable niches. Fintech followed in investors’ ranking at about 59 percent, and B2C e-commerce and B2B e-commerce at approximately 36 percent each, encouraged by a growing consumer base, rising number of micro-pay transactions, especially UPI, and expansion of opportunities for businesses to access credit, get organized and digitized.
In recent years, there has been a remarkable surge in the growth of direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands in India, which has been further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing embrace of digital platforms. India emerged as a significant market for over 600 such brands, generating a market size of $55 billion in 2022, as per Statista. Leveraging technology effectively, D2C brands in India are harnessing digital transformation to establish strong connections with consumers, foster loyalty, and cultivate enduring relationships. By employing advanced analytics, personalized experiences, seamless user interfaces, and AI-powered customer support, these brands are leveraging technology to navigate the evolving consumer landscape, ultimately shaping the future of customer loyalty in the digital age.
Personalized Customer Experiences:
Technology empowers D2C brands to deliver highly personalized customer experiences. Through data analytics and machine learning algorithms, brands can collect and analyze vast amounts of customer information. This enables them to understand individual preferences, anticipate needs, and tailor their offerings accordingly. By personalizing product recommendations, marketing messages, and customer support, D2C brands in India are creating unique experiences that resonate with their consumers, leading to increased loyalty and advocacy.
For instance, a direct-to-consumer beauty brand in India utilizes data analytics and machine learning algorithms to create personalized customer experiences. By analyzing customer data such as skin type, concerns, and past purchases, the brand can recommend skincare products that are specifically suited to each customer's needs. They can also send targeted emails with beauty tips and tutorials based on the customer's interests and preferences.
Seamless User Interfaces:
According to reports, a significant portion of consumers (around 43 percent) feel that the majority of websites do not prioritize user-centric designs. It highlights the importance for businesses to focus on creating intuitive and user-friendly interfaces to enhance the overall user experience and differentiate themselves in a highly competitive digital landscape.
One key advantage of D2C brands is their ability to control the entire customer journey, from browsing products to making purchases. Technology plays a pivotal role in creating seamless user interfaces that enhance the overall shopping experience. Mobile apps, user-friendly websites, and intuitive interfaces simplify navigation, making it easy for customers to explore products and complete transactions. Additionally, secure payment gateways and quick checkout processes further streamline the buying process, instilling confidence and trust among consumers.
Social Media and Influencer Marketing:
India is experiencing a digital revolution, with a massive surge in social media usage. D2C brands leverage social media platforms to engage with their target audience and build loyalty. They utilize social media listening tools to gain insights into consumer sentiments, preferences, and trends. Furthermore, brands collaborate with influencers to reach wider audiences, as influencers have become powerful advocates who can drive consumer loyalty through authentic and relatable content. By embracing social media and influencer marketing, D2C brands in India can connect with consumers on a personal level, building trust and loyalty.
AI-Powered Customer Support:
Prompt and effective customer support is crucial for nurturing loyalty. D2C brands in India are employing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like chatbots and virtual assistants to deliver round-the-clock support. AI-powered customer support systems provide instant responses, address common queries, and offer personalized assistance. By leveraging AI, D2C brands can deliver efficient and personalized customer service, ensuring consumer satisfaction and loyalty.
Data-Driven Marketing Strategies:
Data is the lifeblood of D2C brands both in India and globally. By harnessing data analytics, brands gain valuable insights into consumer behavior, purchase patterns, and preferences. This data-driven approach enables them to create targeted marketing campaigns, personalized promotions, and loyalty programs. By understanding their customers' needs and desires, D2C brands can tailor their offerings and engage in relevant and timely communication, fostering loyalty and repeat purchases.
Inventory and Order Management for Seamless Deliveries:
Technology plays a crucial role in inventory and order management for D2C brands, enabling seamless deliveries. These brands should invest in centralized inventory management systems that provide real-time visibility of stock across multiple warehouses, preventing stockouts and optimizing replenishment. Automation of order processing, facilitated by advanced order management systems, ensures efficient order allocation and fulfillment based on factors like location, stock availability, and demand channels. Additionally, technology enables streamlined supply chain operations, simplifying receiving, placement, picking, and shipping of inventories. It also facilitates return management by reducing transaction timeframes and analyzing return reasons in detail.
Hassle-free supply chain operations:
Let's consider a D2C furniture brand as an example. By utilizing advanced management software and digital tools, they optimize their supply chain operations. With real-time inventory visibility, the brand effectively manages stock levels and ensures seamless restocking to fulfill customer orders promptly. The automation of warehouse processes, including efficient picking, packing, and shipping operations, enhances operational efficiency and reduces errors. As a result, the brand provides a hassle-free experience to customers by delivering products on time, boosting customer satisfaction, and fostering loyalty
Easy return management:
In the year 2021, return rates for online purchases were observed across a wide range of major product categories, with percentages varying from 8 to 88 percent. Technology plays a crucial role in improving return management for D2C brands. With tech-based solutions, brands can streamline the return process, reducing the time frame to close the transaction loop and ensuring a seamless experience for customers. Additionally, technology enables detailed analysis of return reasons, providing valuable insights that can help brands identify trends, improve product quality, and optimize customer satisfaction. By leveraging technology in return management, D2C brands can enhance customer loyalty and drive repeat purchases.
Technology is playing a transformative role in the retail industry, allowing direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands in India to revolutionize the customer experience and shape the future of customer loyalty. With the increasing adoption of digital platforms by Indian consumers, D2C brands are leveraging technology effectively to gather customer insights, personalize offerings, provide seamless online experiences, and engage customers through targeted marketing. As technology continues to evolve, its influence on building customer loyalty for D2C brands will only become more prominent in the digital age.
About The Author
Bhargav Errangi, Founder, POPclub
Bhargav Errangi, the Founder of POPclub, is a visionary entrepreneur who has been making waves in the consumer product industry for over a decade. With a passion for product management, marketing, and branding, Bhargav's journey has been nothing short of remarkable.
As the Founder of POPclub, Bhargav's role is multifaceted. He takes charge of product and strategy, and team building, and fosters a culture of ownership and leadership within the company. His goal is to nurture the next generation of leaders who can independently drive the business forward.
With his unwavering passion for product innovation, strategic thinking, and leadership, he is set to shape the future of POPclub in profound and impactful ways.
Increased access to more channels, choices, and flexibility, mass acceleration to digital has changed customer experiences forever. Multiple customer touchpoints, the rise of mobile and social commerce, and rapidly changing trends and consumer behaviors continue to create even more complex buyer journeys. As smartphones become increasingly ubiquitous in India, it is crucial for retail brands to focus on developing innovative, mobile-first experiences that connect with customers.
The rapid innovation that leads to the connected customer experiences required today is made possible through what is widely known as headless commerce. In its simplest form, headless commerce is a separation of the front end and back end of an e-commerce application. By deploying headless commerce, e-commerce brands can create a personalized, close-to-real-time omnichannel commerce experience.
Headless commerce allows brands to easily update the front-end experience on apps and websites based on evolving market trends and incoming data regarding customer preferences. From micro animations and customizations to entire e-commerce platforms- brands can build the kind of user experience and interface that they want, and how they want it. In other words, brands can create their own front-end processes and tie these back to pre-packaged backend tasks using an API. For instance, in a headless platform, developers can use APIs and tools to send blog posts or customer reviews to any screen or device, while front-end teams can present these in any format or framework as per customer preferences to deliver highly engaging experiences.
This makes headless platforms quite flexible and a preferred technology when aiming for agility. They help brands save time, effort, and cost while unlocking high-performing front-end interfaces. By deploying changes quickly, brands can offer relevant, in-the-moment customer experiences across desktops, mobile apps, in-store kiosks, and digital channels.
There are many other advantages of headless commerce. It allows brands to easily integrate multiple functionalities such as email, mobile devices, shopping carts, online catalogs, personalization tools, and content management systems (CMS), and thus offer a seamless, consistent customer experience that increases brand loyalty.
Here’s how headless commerce enables brands to boost brand loyalty through great customer experiences.
Enables Increased Personalization
Organizations can make quick changes to their websites or digital storefronts based on seasonality or audience segmentation. They can offer customers a personalized experience (via recommendations, custom purchasing preferences, and promotions) by allowing updates and new content to be quickly displayed across devices and formats. Brands can also experiment with the look and feel of the presentation layer to reflect customer tastes.
For example, by using headless commerce, organizations like Netflix and Amazon can offer a customized experience to every user who opens their website or app, without slowing down the speed of performance or reducing the quality of the user experience.
Allows Quicker Adoption of Newer Digital Channels
B2C customers interact with businesses through an average of nine different touchpoints. However, every time a company adopts a new channel of communication, it must create brand-new (and seamless) experiences that are in sync with the features of the channel.
With headless commerce, the backend is minimally impacted by the changes being made to the visual front end. This means organizations can just set up the system once and use APIs to deliver standard information (say about inventory and product details) across various channels. This guarantees consistent customer experiences across different channels. Additionally, it also lets businesses quickly make changes to the UI/UX to add (or remove) new digital channels to the e-commerce experience.
Enables Better Integration Between Program Components
Headless commerce follows an API-first strategy. This means that businesses can select the right tools, languages, and solutions as per requirements and integrate these to build a seamless architecture. This lets companies create a best-in-class platform that facilitates a seamless data flow between various program components. Additionally, developers can add new modules or microservices to keep up with demand and technical advancements, without having to update or replace an entire platform.
While headless commerce makes it easier to offer integrated brand experiences across channels, the decoupling of the front and back end also comes with certain technological challenges. A traditional company that is just embarking on its digital transformation journey should ideally not opt for headless. The business will have to have an extremely skilled in-house IT team that can maintain and sustain headless. Even if brands augment the internal team by collaborating with experts, the external party will have to be deeply embedded in the brand’s ecosystem for the process to work smoothly.
Additionally, the organization must be clear about the value-add headless offers to its customers. Any company that feels a consistent experience works well for its customers should go for the template-based approach, which will ensure consistency and lesser complexity. However, in the absence of the above challenges, headless commerce can indeed revolutionize the customer experience, boosting brand loyalty and ensuring sustainable, efficient business growth in the long run.
This article is written by Sridhar Hariharasubramanian, Senior Director, Solution Engineering, Salesforce. India.
Innovation and value addition are the only two mantras for the expanding consumer technology industry in India. Better features at a lower price create the perfect situation for mass consumers, while stronger brand recall appeals affluent buyers. However, there is a middle ground that thrives only on great features for the right price. Since its inception in 2015, Crossbeats has dominated that category by surpassing expectations with brilliant gadgetry. Abhinav Agarwal, Co-founder, Crossbeats, opened up on the brand journey so far.
“When we started in 2015, our objective was to create a consumer tech brand that resonates with the mid-premium segment of the audience. At that time, we only had the Sonys, Samsungs, and Apples of the world, catering to the crème de la crème of Indian clientele on one hand, and local brands catering to sub-Rs 1000 segments on the other,” said Agarwal. He and co-founder Archit Agarwal inferred that the Indian consumers were lagging behind firstly on the huge price barrier, and secondly on the glaring delay in launch of latest tech from the top global brands.
Crossbeats solved the first problem by accelerating awareness programs strategically across the audience persona in metropolitan cities such as Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, and Hyderabad. Their plan was solid, as they sought value seekers for a range of products priced significantly high for the mass audience. “My end-consumer is an educated, tech-savvy person in the mid-management level of their careers aspiring to own an Apple product in 5 years. Our tagline ‘design to deliver’ attests our motive to create products that last a lifetime,” he said.
Crossbeats’ steady campaigns resolved to bridge the second and much prolonged problem of the country getting late updates of consumer tech. “The Walkmans were introduced in the US in 1970s, but only became popular in the early 1990s. The saga continued with iPods in the 2000s, and India faced an average delay of 6 years in terms of market updates. That strengthened Crossbeats’ determination to become an innovator for the domestic market,” Abhinav said.
With Apple doing away with the 3.5mm jack in 2015, Crossbeats predicted a humongous growth in smartphone use, and went ahead with creating wireless earphones, their first product. Soon, they expanded to TWS products, smartwatches, and headphones.
The traction started from gathering feedback from existing buyers mostly via word-of-mouth. Crossbeats reached out to tech YouTubers and influencers to boost visibility. Soon, they started upselling first-time audio device users with smartwatches and other innovative products such as Torq, introduced during the pandemic to suit the evolving needs of work-from-home professionals. Even at a high price of Rs 6999, unheard of in this segment, the Torq earphones are on high demand with buyers asking for constant upgrades. It happened because Crossbeats fulfilled the needs of the average professional of 25-35 years of age, who sought convenience through D2C product delivery and was heavily invested in digital media for work purposes.
Analytics Accelerating Visibility
It pays well to nurture an existing set of buyers to know the scope for growth, and Crossbeats continues to do that with data analytics that determine their product offering in the market. Their marketing team consists various focus groups, and they send out questionnaires to agencies, who in turn interact with their target audience for feedback on latest trends. “If a user says he wants 4-6 mics for a good work-from-home experience with a battery to last 12 hours, our product team comprising industry-leading designers, does a feasibility check on the price point on offer. It takes 3-4 months for a product to launch,” he maintained.
In the last 1.5 years, Crossbeats has expanded their offline presence across South India, Maharashtra, and the western states. Their distribution network consists 300-400 retail counters and service centres. This year, the brand closed with a turnover of Rs 75 cr, which is almost 100% higher than the last 2 years. Their objective remains the same of finding the right customer, instead of flooding the market while compromising on quality
The time bracket of 2014-17 was very crucial for GreenHonchos, an early mover in the eCommerce consulting space in India, to test the market. In the words of Founder-Director Navin Joshua, the domestic market ecosystem wasn’t prepared for a D2C route back in the day. Standing their ground and creating a demand for the D2C ecosystem aided GreenHonchos to find absolutely futuristic and progressive brands that aligned with the vision and took the leap of faith for all the right reasons into the global arena.
Transitioning to D2C
There were early tell-tale signs that online would be an emerging channel, but marketplaces were still the default way to go online. Customer acquisition was far and behind and there was still a lot to be done in generating awareness about the D2C space. Thus, GreenHonchos had to focus more on consulting to educate brands and generate demands at the primary level. “With us being early movers, the only references of use cases on the market study we had back then were that of the global players. Only the progressive and relatively larger brands pitched in. Internally too, we had to hire, train, and create a best-in-class talent pool to service the brands as the overall ecosystem didn’t exist in the first place. We built our own SOPs and strategies for growing brands via close-contact programs by actively communicating with the customers and clients closely,” said Joshua.
One of the best unique selling points for GreenHonchos became their commitment, from a technology standpoint, to handhold any brand on its spectrum of D2C journey by resuming processes from past performance and scaling up without additional capex requirements. “We also have a very strong network of over 40 partners across multiple streamlines. Be it pre-purchase martech, post-purchase efficiency, or tools optimizing the funnel journey of brands, we are close with the entire ecosystem. Based on the need analyses, we combine consulting and implementation to help brands reach their goals quicker instead of them struggling to make their own KPIs and experimenting on which metrics work,” he maintained.
Pre-Covid surge to tipping point today
Before the pandemic struck, GreenHonchos had cemented its space as a one-stop shop for brands across their journey of eCommerce growth by offering an intricate stream of solutions involving full-stack eCommerce technology, merchandising strategy, SEO, performance marketing, digital brand building, and business analytics. Over time, they developed a center for excellence, a governance system, and an end-to-end client servicing organization. Their internal efficiencies have also become automated, thus making performance prediction and cost learning accurate, thus prompting brands to outsource these core areas to GreenHonchos.
Post-Covid, the surge in demand has settled down and markets are consolidating because brands have identified the true enablers of growth and value. Focusing on the right staff size, core strength, profitability, efficiency, and skill sets are important for any brand that wants profitability and scale simultaneously, believes the founder.
Highlighting how the coming 2-3 years are crucial for GreenHonchos, Joshua is glad for the brand to have received the Best Tech Integration Award for India’s marquee retail brands at the recently convened Indian Retailer Award. “This is a good acknowledgment of the direction and vision GreenHonchos is moving toward by a jury comprising of who-is-who and the key decision makers from the industry. It is that outward assessment that gives us validation that we are on the right path and should continue working in new and emerging markets,” Joshua concluded.
Rohit Batra, Head of Supply Chain and Developing Markets, Ferrero India maintained that increasing consumer expectations for sustainable delivery and logistics had put huge pressure on supply chain management. For Ferrero, the creation of shared value was a practice that affected all stages of the supply chain - especially the support of local communities and their strong commitment to sustainable farming practices, safeguarding, and protecting the environment.
According to him, the top 3 trends this year would be:
Omnichannel Supply Chain - The pandemic accelerated the traditional customer purchasing patterns towards e-commerce, moving away from brick-and-mortar shopping. Ferrero has since noticed a move away from a multichannel retail strategy approach to omnichannel - the seamless integration of the buying experience across all channels.
Predictive Supply Chain - Analyzing past data with the help of predictive analytics has enabled the brand to better identify patterns, risk, forecasts, and trends, make better predictions of future events and minimize downtime; further increasing its efficiency and visibility. This is particularly useful for Ferrero as it has multiple distribution points, and this helps them determine different distribution strategies while adapting to different geographies of the country.
Demand Sensing - Demand sensing incorporates numerous data points that are not deemed important in conventional forecasting practices. Sensing demand early is particularly critical in the ongoing market volatility due to steady D2C growth, which has been further intensified by the pandemic, climate change, global inflation, and other external pressures.
Perfecting the Supply Chain Efficiency
Here are some best practices that have helped Ferrero maintain an efficient supply chain:
Protect the Environment – The company works hard to manage and reduce its environmental impact, increase environmental efficiency in its operations and supply chain, reduce emissions and water consumption, and increase circularity in its manufacturing and packaging operations.
Integrated S&OP and Project Management (Master Plan) - With the S&OP process integrated into its business, the brand balances its demand and supply as all key personnel is up to date on inventory, production capacity, and likely sales.
Finding Opportunity and Communication - Finding the correct opportunity and communication are crucial to supply chain success and yet, they are astonishingly one of the biggest areas in need of improvement. With proper communication between stakeholders and external suppliers, more innovative ideas have been brought to the table, thus enhancing the process.
“We have implemented Order Management Tools to automate the “Order to Cash” process, and this has benefited us to bring efficiency in the customer service area. This ensures higher service levels to the customers and to maintain lean inventory levels,” Batra said.
Shubha Rawal, Director, Sourcing and Marketing, IG International stated that one of the most significant trends that would shape supply chain operations in 2023 was digitization. Companies would increasingly adopt digital technologies to streamline their processes, reduce costs, and enhance visibility and transparency across the supply chain.
“This will include the use of advanced analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) to optimize inventory management, improve forecasting accuracy, and enhance decision-making,” she highlighted.
Based on recent trends, here are some of the top 3 supply chain trends:
E-Commerce Boom: With the rise of online marketplaces and increasing customer demand for convenience, e-commerce has become a game-changer in the supply chain industry. This has resulted in the creation of a new supply chain network, including last-mile delivery services, warehousing, and inventory management.
Technology Integration: Technology adoption in supply chain management has been growing at a fast pace in the world. Companies are using IoT sensors, blockchain, machine learning, and AI to streamline their supply chain processes, reduce errors, and enhance visibility across the supply chain.
Sustainability and Social Responsibility: Consumers are becoming more conscious of sustainability and social responsibility, and this trend is gradually permeating into the supply chain industry. As a result, companies are focusing on sustainable sourcing, reducing carbon footprint, and promoting ethical practices in their supply chain operations.
Akshay Hegde, Co-Founder, ShakeDeal said that the advancements in technology were revolutionizing the way businesses managed their supply chains, leading to improved operations, efficiency, and cost reduction. The Internet of Things (IoT) was one such example of a technology that enabled businesses to track products at each stage of the supply chain, providing real-time data that could inform inventory management and demand forecasting. Additionally, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) were being used to optimize routing, minimize delivery times, and decrease waste. Moreover, the adoption of blockchain technology was enhancing supply chain visibility, increasing transparency, and mitigating risk. Automation was another technological advancement that was transforming supply chain management by reducing human error and increasing accuracy.
“Looking ahead, emerging technologies such as 5G, robotics, and autonomous vehicles will continue to drive improvements in supply chain management, boosting performance and keeping businesses ahead of the competition,” he added.
Adopting Tech in Operations
ShakeDeal has implemented blockchain technology in its supply chain management processes to increase transparency and traceability. By using this technology, it can create a secure and immutable record of every transaction in its supply chain – from procurement to delivery. “This helps us track the movement of goods and identify any issues or delays in real-time,” stated Hegde.
Another technology that the brand has recently implemented was Robotic Process Automation (RPA). “By using RPA, we have been able to reduce errors, improve efficiency, and free up our staff to focus on more complex tasks,” he concluded.
As a pioneer in adapting automation in supply chain management in fashion, Sunil K. Sharma, AVP – Sales & Planning, Madame believes that technology will continue to play a crucial role in the evolution of supply chain management. In fact, Madame introduced fully automated warehousing way back in 2015. “However, we recognize that the systems need to be consistently upgraded in order to maintain high demand and supply. Therefore, we are constantly evolving and upgrading our systems. We have also partnered with the latest technology service providers to keep our systems up to date,” he mentioned.
Issues in SCM
Sharma asserted that the main challenge in supply chain management was to maintain delivery turnaround time, tracking of shipments, and B2C supplies. Madame was working on a system that could connect this data to ERP directly. This would help in improving its operational efficiency by eliminating the need for manual intervention.
“Our ERP system will enable us to track the entire supply chain process in real-time and help us identify any bottlenecks in the process, enabling us to take proactive steps to resolve them,” he said.
“Furthermore, auto replenishment of inventory and real-time tracking of stock has become critical for maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction. Also, implementing omnichannel strategies to deliver products to customers through various channels is the new norm in the fashion retail industry,” Sharma added.
Yatish Vatsaraj, Head - Supply Chain, Epigamia stated that network optimization has always been a crucial trend in the supply chain industry as it enabled an efficient design and execution of a supply chain network. This involved designing a supply network where the procurement, manufacturing, warehousing, logistics, and distribution functions were all designed to reduce the overall cost and optimize the use of resources and improve speed to market – Distributed Manufacturing, Hub & Spoke Warehousing, and Shared/ Reverse Logistics. Carrying out network optimization at regular intervals based on the revised plans and needs of the organization was an absolute must.
“We have been using shared/reverse logistics for optimization for quite some time. We recently started distributed manufacturing to decrease costs and be closer to the market,” he noted.
He further said that technology would help in driving visibility and agility of the entire SC processes, enabling better management of complex supplier networks, providing real-time data for analysis and action, helping with timely and apt decision-making, and acting as an early warning system for disruptions.
“We moved to a demand forecasting tool that helps us in analyzing past and future trends. The inventory management tool ensures that optimal inventory levels are maintained across the system; this in turn also makes sure that we have fresher inventory across depots,” he concluded.
While technology is going to have a far-reaching impact on building supply chain capabilities in the coming years, Avinash Dhagat, VP, Supply Chain, Honasa Consumer Limited believes that there are three areas that are likely to see the most impact. The first is ‘suggestive decision making’, which will impact every decision-making stage in supply chain execution, with human interventions reducing with better quality analytics and outputs. The second is efficiency in operations – be it last mile, warehousing, or planning, it will be enhanced through innovative ways driven by technology and talent. Lastly, skill sets in the supply chain will evolve with more implementation and adoption of solutions.
“We have recently piloted a demand sensing approach to planning (with an AI/ML tool) and it is helping us predict and replenish our nodes better to improve availability and reactivity,” he noted.
The three best practices that the company has adopted to maintain an efficient supply chain include:
Abhay Batra, Co-Founder & CFO, Clovia stated that technology would continue to drive innovation in supply chain management, helping organizations improve efficiency, reduce costs, and provide better service to customers.
Technology was likely to evolve supply chain management in the following ways:
Flight Automation: The world was moving to robotics, autonomous vehicles, and drones to improve accuracy and labor cost.
Data Analytics and Business Intelligence: Data analytics was going to play a vital role in supply chain planning and execution. It would help companies to find out the gray area and open the possibilities of optimization.
IoT and Sensors: IoT devices and sensors were already being used to track goods and shipments in real time. In the future, these technologies would become even more pervasive, allowing for greater visibility and control over the entire supply chain.
Blockchain: Blockchain technology would be used to improve supply chain transparency and reduce fraud. In the future, it could be used to create more secure, decentralized supply chain networks, reducing the risk of supply chain disruptions.
“Currently, our main focus is to widen the supply chain reach by covering maximum pin codes/areas within the country, improve the accuracy and traceability of orders and inventory in the system, reduce the order fulfillment time, and bring automation at critical points to reduce costs, people dependencies and improve customer experience,” he asserted.
Arpit Arya, Supply Chain & Operations Head, Blue Tribe Foods asserted that Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence were some of the key supply chain trends that helped enterprises streamline their operations, minimize costs, and improve overall efficiency. The tools could be used to automate the end-to-end process of the purchase order (PO) to billing in a smooth manner. The machine learning algorithms could complete tasks that included purchase order creation, approval, invoice matching, and processing, as well as tracking payments.
“The automation of such tasks helps free up the employees' time so that they can focus on more urgent and strategic matters at hand. Moreover, these supply chain trends may also help in enhanced supply chain visibility, predictive analytics, and dynamic pricing optimization,” he added.
Optimizing Supply Chain Management
The business landscape is one that is extremely dynamic and continuously evolving, leading to supply chain management becoming complex and unpredictable. Therefore, process automation in a company could be a valuable tool to improve supply chain management as it would lead to higher efficiency, reduction of errors, and overall improvement in supply chain performance.
“There is also a need to anticipate the business requirement for the next year while also constantly engaging with startups, which are agile enough to provide solutions at short notice,” he stated.
According to Manish Aggarwal, Director, Bikano, Bikanervala Foods Pvt Ltd, automation and digitization were the leading supply chain trends in current times, followed by sustainability and data analytics. In the modern era of technology, these pillars have gained significant momentum and were getting adopted by most industries. “Hence, automation & digitization, sustainability, and data analytics can be easily considered the top three supply chain trends,” he said.
Tech to Play Critical Role
Technology was continuously upgrading and evolving supply chain management in many ways. For instance, to improve efficiency and reduce costs, supply chain management technology was expected to become increasingly advanced and automated. Similarly, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) would be used to automate tasks such as demand forecasting and inventory management.
Whilst blockchain technology would be used to improve data security and visibility across the supply chain, with automated drones and robots helping in delivery and inventory tracking. Other technological advancements such as IoT and augmented reality would also play a pivotal role in evolving supply chain management.
“Internet of Things (IoT) enabled sensors and wearables could be used to monitor the condition of goods in transit, and Augmented Reality (AR) could be used to streamline the process of picking and packing items. Furthermore, cloud computing and 5G technologies were expected to help facilitate smoother and more efficient communication between various supply chain stakeholders,” explained Aggarwal.
Mahesh Gupta, Head Supply Chain, Bata India asserted that Bata delivered to both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) verticals, and being aware of the evolving trends and models of the supply chain was essential for pan-India brand like Bata. In his opinion, the most significant trends in the supply chain were:
Block Chain and Intelligent Order Management: Blockchain technology ensures both the data's availability and integrity, by establishing a real-time data update and syncing it with minimum threat.
Intelligent Workflows and Process Automation: Intelligent workflows increase the visibility, flexibility, agility, value, and efficacy of internal processes, and make them user-friendly.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: By adding technologies like AI and automation, it helps in performing diverse and complex activities more efficiently.
Overcoming Supply Chain Problems
Bata’s main concerns are an increase in freight cost due to the hiking prices of fuel. Therefore, in order to overcome this challenge, it converted secondary distribution from the hub and spoke model to a direct warehouse-to-customer form. Upsizing the vehicle and its optimum capacity utilization also helped keep the costs reasonable.
“Apart from this, we often face unexpected delays in deliveries due to lag in imports, which therefore cause stock unavailability. However, increasing inventory holding has been helpful in overcoming delays,” he noted.
Tech Evolving SCM
AI and ML, cloud, big data analytics, blockchain, and automation are transforming supply chain operations. These technologies have assisted in creating an agile, high-performance supply chain that responded to constantly changing business dynamics.
Technology can collaborate end-to-end data, and hence reduce the stress of maintaining and updating the database since updating and syncing the database is an essential feature for any organization.
“Data analysis has also helped to reduce costs by improving operational efficiency with customer delight. Reducing man-hours spent on the data analysis is time and cost-efficient. Additionally, WMS and TMS can help improve data visibility, which can assist in reducing cost with minimum use of resources,” elaborated Gupta.
Efficiently Marinating Supply Chain
First and foremost, Bata has implemented an effective inventory management process. It has increased its efficiency in controlling, storing, and keeping track of its inventory items. Secondly, the implementation of WMS integrated with ERP has been helpful in making a tangible improvement to the full range of business processes.
“Lastly, we have also improvised our network design and changed the delivery system for better efficiency. The improved network design has helped us cut the time and cost required to bring our goods to the market,” he concluded.
As consumers become more environmentally conscious, companies are under pressure to reduce their environmental impact. One of the most significant areas of concern is packaging, which is crucial to protecting products during transit and storage, promoting brand recognition, and enhancing product appeal on retail shelves.
However, traditional packaging materials, such as plastics, have a negative environmental impact and are increasingly scrutinized. To address this, sustainable packaging has emerged as a viable solution, using eco-friendly materials and practices to minimize waste and reduce carbon footprint.
Enhancing Supply Chain Performance
Sustainable packaging has a significant impact on supply chain performance, which is evident in the following ways:
Reduced Carbon Footprint
One of the most significant advantages of sustainable packaging is its ability to reduce the carbon footprint of the supply chain. Conventional packaging materials such as plastics and metals are non-biodegradable and take hundreds of years to decompose, contributing to environmental pollution.
Sustainable packaging, on the other hand, uses eco-friendly materials such as biodegradable plastics, paper, and cardboard. These materials are biodegradable and help in reducing waste generation, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Efficient Storage and Transportation
Sustainable packaging materials are lightweight and occupy less space, leading to efficient storage and transportation. They reduce the number of trips required for shipping, thereby reducing transportation costs and emissions. Moreover, sustainable packaging designs are often stackable and easy to handle, leading to more efficient warehousing and inventory management.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
In recent years, consumers have become increasingly environmentally conscious and are more likely to purchase products that are eco-friendly. Sustainable packaging enhances customer satisfaction by providing a guilt-free shopping experience. It helps businesses to build brand loyalty and enhance their reputation by showcasing their commitment to environmental sustainability.
Compliance with Regulations
Governments worldwide are implementing stringent environmental regulations and standards to mitigate the negative impact of packaging on the environment. Sustainable packaging techniques help businesses to stay compliant with these regulations and to avoid penalties while maintaining standards of local and global regulations.
Reduction in Damages
Sustainable packaging materials are often designed to provide superior protection to products, reducing the risk of damage during transit. It helps in minimizing product returns and associated costs. Sustainable packaging designs also incorporate features such as shock-absorbing materials and tamper-evident seals, enhancing the safety and security of products during transportation and storage.
Increased Cost Savings
Sustainable packaging offers cost savings by utilizing eco-friendly materials that are often more affordable than traditional packaging materials. Additionally, it helps businesses to reduce transportation and storage costs by optimizing package design and material efficiency. These cost savings can contribute to the overall profitability of the business while also supporting sustainable practices.
Maximize Sustainable Packaging Profitability with Technology
We understood that to achieve maximum profitability is by integrating technology into sustainable packaging practices. Here are some ways in which we integrated technology into our sustainable packaging:
Predictive analytics helps us optimize packaging design by gaining insights into consumer behavior, packaging trends, and environmental impact. With this data, we are able to make informed decisions on sustainable packaging materials and design, ensuring maximum efficiency and profitability.
Automation helps reduce packaging waste by precisely cutting materials to the required dimensions, minimizing the risk of errors and the amount of scrap generated. It also helps to streamline the packaging process, improving speed and efficiency.
Blockchain technology helps us maintain transparency and traceability in the supply chain process. Blockchain provides a secure, immutable ledger, ensuring that sustainable packaging materials are ethically sourced, and the environmental impact of the packaging can be accurately measured and tracked.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT helps us monitor the performance of sustainable packaging materials and design, ensuring that they meet the required standards and are optimized for maximum efficiency and profitability. IoT also helps us with predictive inventory management and be prepared for supply chain disruptions.
Addressing Environmental Concerns While Making a Profit with Sustainable Packaging
Sustainable packaging has become an essential component of the B2B supply chain as it addresses environmental concerns while fostering an array of benefits.
Additionally, integrating technology into sustainable packaging practices can help businesses to achieve their sustainability goals while maximizing profitability. As more businesses adopt sustainable packaging solutions, we can expect to see a shift towards a more environmentally conscious and sustainable supply chain, ultimately leading to a better future for all.
Pic credit: Image by <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-photo/natural-material-stationery-composition_13182465.htm#query=Sustainable%20Packaging%20in%20B2B&position=1&from_view=search&track=ais">Freepik</a>
Every brand harbors the ambition to spread its business far and wide. Possibilities are immense, with people finding the products they love online and quickly adding to the cart. The purchase, however, is far from complete as several steps authenticating the transaction with prompts of necessary details cause huge drop offs. That’s where an integrated, merchant-friendly check-out platform such as Shopflo comes into picture.
Solving drop-offs and improving intent
Priy Ranjan, Co-founder & CEO of Shopflo, demystifies the crucial issue of drop-offs. “Many emerging D2C brands use online as a capital-efficient channel to grow in their formative period. But the differentiating factor is in the experience they provide as compared to established brands,” he says. Unfortunately, almost 70% drop-offs are caused during that customer journey. Incremental changes in UI and UX can’t solve that process. The four fool-proof solutions on login, promotion, payment, and analysis by Shopflo helps the merchant control and deliver a great experience to their customers.
These solutions help merchants track the points where the drop-offs are happening and enable deep customization to enhance user experience. This has helped many companies venturing into online space with Shoplo in getting a 15-20% growth. That’s a steep ascent which takes months for companies to reach without the assistance of such platforms. Shopflo now caters to roughly 30-40% of the d2c audience in India and that number is growing every single day.
Shopflo focuses on reducing purchase friction, increasing buying intent, and create urgency, which is a big problem area that customers encounter before paying. They start second-guessing on whether or not they trust the brand, their delivery or return policies. Shopflo helps customers tide over these thoughts impeding the purchase process with a two-step check-out experience, wherein firstly they need to key in their address and pay in the second stage. Also tackling fraud, the brand has taken steps to block certain pin codes and customers with a history of fraudulent interactions. These processes are in-built on the platform.
Shopflo now enjoys a network of roughly 25 million customers getting repeat experience across Shopflo brands. The brand is also creating a seamless mobile-native experience, catering to the internet-rich mobile customer base of India.
When it comes to improving intent, Shopflo now boasts of a discount experience resembling that of top food aggregator platforms, where one can play around with coupons and ladder discounts fuelling purchase intent. These enable deep constructs that help understand customer behavior, while merchants can key in their own brand messaging and connect that back to analytics to customize the user experience. “This helps apparels brands who prefer offering services such as ‘Free Exchange in Returns’ to build trust, and 100 percent refund in 24 hours to build more comfort towards online shopping,” mentions Ranjan.
Optimizing a funnel with customizable reward systems
“These four solutions maximise returns out of every prospective customer and complete the customer life cycle ending with checkout,” says Advait Shankar, Founding product lead, Shopflo. These four key solutions create superb focus through complete freedom to run offers the way any merchant wants to, thus unlocking opportunities for customers to discover offers before or after logging in. “The native Shopify platform may have a hundred other disjointed apps, all of which lack Shopflo’s focus to create the ideal checkout flow,” he adds.
Such levers optimize different metrics for every merchant operating on Shopflo and aiming for a loyal customer base. That’s where a reward system goes the extra mile in any form such as store credit. Citing the classic example of the Starbucks’ wallet system, Shankar says that closed wallet systems have historically been proven on customer retention.
But a solution never existed which seamlessly integrates a close wallet system with customer’s purchase flow for brands to monitor and optimize lifetime value of a first-time or repeat customer. “With a closed wallet system, a merchant can have coins running a wallet system, that allows them to give credits to their consumers or cash-back on a purchase. For D2C brands in India, a closed wallet system, which is in-sync with the checkout flow,” Shankar maintains.
Shopflo ensures a brand-owned wallet system for all types of credits in multiple ways, stitching the purchase flow to the checkout process. Launched in May 2022, Shopflo is live on about 200-plus brands, helping them directly with conversion rates on top of the funnel, says Deeksha Bhargava, Founder’s Office at Shopflo. The metric where you optimize from add to cart to your order, we have helped in boosting conversion to the tune of 15-40%. Our brands have seen, at least 30x to 50x return on investment. Various reputed brands such as Yoga Bar, Sleepy Owl, Dot and Key, Juicy Chemistry, Suta, Dr. Sheth's, and mCaffeine have gone live on Shopflo. Optimizing on their last and most critical step of customer purchase journey directly boosts their revenue,” Bhargava adds.
As more brands come onboard, the team understands the pressing need for a multi-module solution for every form of merchant, instead of offering a one-size-fits-all service. Shopflo gives control to merchants to chart their own way of customer acquisition that reflects the brand's positioning, messaging, and actions. Set to make a big splash with early access to their new wallet system at IReC 2023, Shopflo is determined to provide a seamless rewarding experience with repeat users to every progressive brand.
A few decades ago, technology started influencing every aspect of our existence. Today, it is such an integral part of our being that it is difficult to pinpoint where we would be without it. Every era has a buzzword attached to it, and for this generation, Artificial Intelligence has been at the core of this transformation. AI is evolving different industries by enabling businesses to make more informed decisions, improving efficiency, and reducing costs. It is inevitable that the integration of AI will continue to shape various industries, and companies that embrace this technology will likely gain a competitive advantage over those that do not.
Predictive analysis is one of the most exciting applications of AI in fashion. AI-powered design tools can analyze vast amounts of data on trends, consumer preferences, and market demand to create designs that are both visually appealing and commercially viable. When we break down the product lifecycle of the fashion industry today, we can clearly map the infusion of artificial intelligence from the initial design and actual production to the selling of the finished goods. If used correctly, AI can be a game-changer for retailers operating in this space. For instance, when we speak about the design process, 3D technology has replaced traditional 2D sketches, allowing designers to create more realistic visualizations of their designs, thereby reducing the time and cost of creating physical prototypes. AI-based trend analysis tools enable designers to predict future fashion trends, thereby reducing the risk of designing collections that may not be in demand.
In my experience, this understanding can be further enhanced by knowing what your consumer exactly wants, beyond the trends. And yes! AI has a solution for that as well. Through the analysis of consumer data, designers can understand customers' demands and create designs that cater to their preferences. This enables fashion brands to personalize their designs and offer a more targeted experience. Another aspect that we didn’t think AI could penetrate was fabric selection, because it is the one aspect that needed human intervention in the past. Touching the fabric was critical to know if the quality was up to the mark in the olden days. But turns out that technological advancements can assist in this aspect as well. AI-powered tools can analyze fabric properties, including durability, texture, and elasticity, to help designers choose the best materials for their designs. This helps reduce waste in the production process by ensuring that designers select fabrics that will be used effectively and will work well.
Moving on to the production aspect, the role of AI has only grown over the years. AI-powered tools can track production lines, optimizing the manufacturing process and reduce the time it takes to produce garments. By identifying inefficiencies in the production line, AI can help reduce waste and improve quality control, identifying defects that may incur. Machine learning algorithms can also predict demand for certain products, allowing manufacturers to adjust production accordingly and minimize overproduction. This reduces wastage and ensures that production is aligned with consumer demand. Additionally, AI-powered robots can be programmed to perform repetitive tasks, freeing up workers to focus on more complex tasks that require a human touch.
AI has transformed the fashion industry, not just in terms of the production process, but also in improving the shopping experience for customers. With AI-powered systems, fashion brands can personalize the shopping experience, provide virtual try-ons, offer personalized product recommendations, and improve customer engagement. Virtual fitting is another innovative way in which AI is transforming the fashion industry's selling process. AI-powered tools can create virtual models of customers based on their body measurements and enable them to try on clothes virtually.
This technology helps customers choose the right size and fit of clothes, reducing the need for returns and improving customer satisfaction. There also exist tools that can help with categorization- organizing products into relevant categories, making it easier for customers to find what they're looking for. Offering personalized product recommendations is another innovation that has transformed the way the industry operates. By analyzing customer data such as purchase history, browsing behavior, and demographics, AI-powered systems can suggest products that are likely to be of interest to the customer. This improves customer engagement and increases the likelihood of a purchase. Moreover, AI-powered chatbots are helping customers with their queries and resolving issues in real time. Chatbots can provide 24/7 support, reducing the need for customers to wait for assistance. By leveraging natural language processing (NLP) technology, chatbots can understand customer queries and provide relevant answers, improving the customer experience.
Excitingly, marketing efforts can also be optimized through AI, with algorithms predicting which products are likely to sell well and which marketing channels will be most effective. By making the selling process more efficient and personalized, AI is revolutionizing the way consumers interact with the fashion industry, benefitting both retailers and customers alike.
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The idea that technology and software teams are essential for scaling a brand has been prevalent for quite some time. However, the reality is that these teams and technological infrastructure come with a significant upfront cost and could be time-consuming, expensive, and may not be feasible for all brands. However, to deal with all these challenges, there are advanced e-commerce platforms like Hyperinventory now, which can help brands scale without the need for a dedicated technology or software team.
Advanced e-commerce platforms provide brands with the tools they need to manage their online sales operations and scale themselves. These platforms are equipped with several useful features for brands such as multi-channel selling, enabling brands to sell their products across marketplaces, social media platforms, and their own website. Advanced e-commerce platforms also have robust inventory management capabilities, allowing brands to track inventory levels across all channels and automate reordering processes; along with order management features that streamline the fulfilment process, including order tracking, shipping label printing, and returns management. Furthermore, customisation, analytics and reporting are some of the other functions that the advanced e-commerce platforms offer to the brand helping them scale and grow.
With all the features in place, one of the biggest advantages of using advanced e-commerce platforms are the savings in upfront expenses. Installing and maintaining a technology-driven tool, while hiring and training a software team, can be an expensive proposition, not to mention the cost of investing in hardware and software infrastructure. By leveraging an advanced e-commerce platform, a brand can save a significant amount of money that can be better allocated towards other critical business needs.
Additionally, using an advanced e-commerce platform can reduce the time of experimentation, due to the fact that such platforms are equipped with all the necessary features and functionalities that a brand needs to scale without requiring extensive knowledge of technology or software development. For instance, the platform comes with built-in integrations for popular tools such as marketing automation, CRM, and analytics, which can further reduce the need for additional technology investments.
Perhaps the most significant advantage of using advanced e-commerce platforms is the knowledge and expertise of the provider of such platforms. With years of experience in developing e-commerce solutions for brands of all sizes, these platforms can provide the necessary support and guidance to ensure a brand's success. As a result, the brand does not require or does not have to depend on respective teams.
Furthermore, advanced e-commerce platforms are constantly updated with the latest features and functionalities to ensure that it remains at the forefront of e-commerce innovation. By relying on them, a brand can focus on building its reputation, extending its operations, and expanding its business. With the necessary technology and tools to scale, the brand can confidently pursue its growth objectives without worrying about the complexities of technology and software development.
As the world continues to shift towards e-commerce, brands need to have a strong online presence. While technology and software teams have traditionally been seen as necessary for scaling a brand, advanced e-commerce platforms are proving to be a viable alternative. By leveraging the expertise and knowledge of platform providers, brands can save upfront expenses and reduce the time of experimentation, allowing them to focus on their core competencies and growth objectives, without the need for dedicated technology or software teams.
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Kiran Kumar, VP - Supply Chain, WOW Skin Science stated that WOW Skin Science had always been a technologically driven company. Being a D2C brand and a lean organization, it relied heavily on technology to take the business forward. The same continues when it comes to supply chain management. One of the things that makes the system successful is advanced data analytics. Data is crucial for businesses; and in the supply chain system, the quantum of data could be overwhelming and difficult to decipher.
“AI, machine learning, and IoT will drive the next phase of development in supply chain management. One thing to watch out for is digital supply chain management with IoT. It will help businesses to automate processes and reduce labor costs. IoT-based supply chain will give an organization a real-time view of how the systems function and how the processes move,” he added.
Overcoming Supply Chain Issues
Changing consumer attitudes and the current volatility of the market are the two main challenges that WOW Skin Science faces in terms of SCM. Consumers have become highly demanding, and their preferences change almost on a daily basis. “We find that on some days, certain sets of products are in high demand, which can fall from consumer favor within a few weeks or even days. So, being extremely agile is important. We also focus a lot on customer relationship management,” he asserted.
Suchit Sikaria, Chief Business Officer (D2C), SUGAR Cosmetics said that an effective supply chain is essential for the beauty sector to maintain a competitive edge and effectively manage retailer demands while also overcoming the numerous supply and demand-related issues. SUGAR has recently adopted a new technology that is used by brands like Amazon in their warehouses. This technology speeds up the process of in-warding, storing stock, and keeping track of the stock available, considerably.
“This year will be a crucial one for all retailers as they work to keep on top of the delivery and supply chain trends. At SUGAR, our primary goal is to keep up with our omnichannel approach, while also evolving and experimenting with new technology. Some of the key upcoming supply chain trends that we will see would be digital transformation adapting new technology, diversification of delivery partners, and forecasting inventory and delivery needs,” she highlighted.
The supply chain is a crucial part of any business. Here are some of the key practices that have helped SUGAR maintain efficiency and serve its customers.
Structuring a Proper Supply Chain – For the smooth functioning of the Supply Chain, a company needs to have a solid structure in place that acts as the foundation for future processes.
Efficient Teams to Forecast Demand – Forecasting demand is essential for companies to make sure that their warehouses are stocked accurately.
Optimal Utilization of Technology – Using technology in supply chain management can give the brands a competitive advantage over others in their industry.
Saiba Suri, Country Customer Fulfilment Manager, IKEA India highlighted that since innovation is the key to success in SCM, digitalized technologies like computing and machine learning, the Internet of Things, robot process automation, and augmented reality were soon going to enable the next phase of supply chain trends. Companies who were looking for new engineered solutions would require full-cycle supply chain management, execution, predictive analysis, and data analysis.
“We at IKEA are integrating advanced technology solutions like Demand Sensing and acting with agility and flexibility. Through adapting supply chain technologies, there is a two-way benefit – both for us and our consumers. We are effectively working on reducing lead time, cost efficiency, and better product availability, thus creating happy customers,” she explained.
Tackling SCM Challenges
Suri stated some of the challenges that were faced in supply chain management:
Securing the Right Demand Forecast in a Dynamically Changing Environment: Demand forecasting was pivotal in developing strategic and operational strategies, and therefore, crucial for the supply chain. It needed to be considered as the beginning point for the majority of supply chain operations, including manufacturing, purchasing, inbound logistics, cash flow, and raw material planning. It also served as the underlying premise for strategic business activities. IKEA was doing this by integrating advanced technology solutions as highlighted above.
Securing Capacities and Maintaining Cost While Managing Variations: The brand closely monitored trends of shipping lines along with checking carrier and container capacities as an integral part of managing variation in the business. Working closely with partners to secure slots and manage last-mile capacities while focusing on sustainable delivery options helped the brand with securing capabilities and cost management.
Long and Erratic Lead Times: With a well-considered localization plan, IKEA is expanding its local sourcing share to save lead times and costs, as well as providing opportunities for the local population. This also aided in cost reduction since it eliminated import and shipping charges.
Reverse Flow: By rethinking and closely monitoring procedures, as well as cooperating closely with its last-mile service providers to assist initiate quicker reimbursements, IKEA has engineered its systems to run on a faster return cycle.
“We use technology to support orchestrations of orders, order communication enhancements, picking and capacity enhancements, and communication with our service providers. Omnichannel gives us a tailored, customer-centric experience across all the various devices and channels, with a primary focus on the consumer. Delivering consumer value, not a channel-based approach is omnichannel’s core goal,” she concluded.
Sankaranarayanan Alagappan, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Pureplay Skin Sciences Pvt Ltd asserted that digitization was the need of the hour, and D2C selling was not an exception. With logistics SaaS solutions such as route optimization, fleet management tools, and last-mile visibility tools, supply chains could plan delivery networks and routes optimally, reduce costs, build greater visibility in the supply chain, and automate manual processes such as dispatch planning and carrier allocation.
“The new ground reality also demands companies to be prepared for different scenarios and challenges in business. Logistics SaaS tools can enable businesses to come up with optimal game plans that can tackle these challenges efficiently. Whether planning to expand D2C operations or trying to optimize existing D2C operations, it’s essential to consider implementing intelligent logistics tech in your D2C supply chain to gain a competitive advantage while fulfilling customer expectations effectively,” he explained.
Data: A Game Changer
He further stated that Data Tech was extremely crucial for logistics, especially for D2C brands and e-commerce platforms since a good chunk of orders were likely to return in the Cash on Delivery (COD) space. Plum has leveraged tech to track orders once they leave their fulfillment centers till they are delivered by its logistic service providers.
“The biggest way in which we have leveraged technology is to reduce our logistics cost by obtaining double confirmation from the COD customer on whether he/she is willing to accept the order or not, via an OTP-based confirmation. This has enabled our organization to reduce the Return to Origin (RTO) percent and save the logistics cost that goes into order returns,” concluded Alagappan.
Mani Bhushan, Chief Business Officer, Ekart asserted that technology is leading the narrative and influencing business decisions now, more than ever. Technological investments in supply chains are likely to accelerate even more, and demand for new technology solutions to streamline operations is increasing steadily. “With supply chain businesses actively striving for greater digital integration, the emphasis is on capacity building to establish an efficient network that will aid in the development of a more robust logistics ecosystem,” he explained.
To briefly name a few trends that he is currently witnessing:
Deploying Tech in Operations
Ekart is leveraging technology to optimize its entire supply chain – from route optimization for the quickest transit of the cargo across the country to the best last-mile delivery route planning within the city. It has developed an ‘Address Intelligence stack’ that helps improve the address quality with auto-suggestions and prompts for incorrect addresses at checkout and raises alerts to the shipper regarding any address issues, thereby improving the customer experience and helping reduce costs. The intelligent address stack identifies orders with RTO/ fraudulent history and automatically revokes COD options. On the other side of the value chain, the address stack helps prevent any fake updates.
“Overall, process improvement driven by analytics is at the forefront of improving customer experience and reducing unit costs, and we constantly innovate to provide our customers with best-in-class solutions,” noted Bhushan.
Overcoming Supply Chain Issues
An efficient supply chain and logistics network is required to acquire items from thousands of vendors, optimize inventory management, and assure timely delivery – it becomes one of the key challenges while catering to a broad consumer market like India. In order to meet these challenges, Ekart has significantly invested in its transport management system. India-specific mapping technology helps keep track of its trucks in real-time even when they are in remote villages.
“This enables us to tell with pinpoint precision as to when a truck covering thousands of miles will arrive at its destination. We are also optimizing our warehousing infrastructure by increasing capacity utilization of our facilities,” he added.
Amlan Mukherjee, Chief Supply Chain Officer, VAHDAM India maintained that the COVID-19 pandemic and its after-effects had created a paradigm shift in the way the brands looked at the supply chain. From an enabling function, it has been catapulted to a clear competitive advantage. There are various trends emerging in the supply chain, however, as per him, below are the three most important ones in 2023:
- Operations should be resilient and agile. Organizations that are flexible to adapt to changes in global trade flows, climatic changes, and new regulations will be able to maintain stability and high levels of service
- Technological advancement is going to be a big differentiator in the supply chain. Early movers will be able to create a competitive advantage by having a more efficient operation. But this is a journey, in a new and fast-growing organization like VAHDAM, the key would be first having the right data sets.
- In a food manufacturing organization, the right quality and a sustainable operation would be an important focus area. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware and are ready to pay even a premium for the same. There is an increased effort globally to reduce the environmental impacts of the supply chain.
“The extensive adoption of IOT and robotics, etc, by the logistics is helping improve the overall customer experience. The consumer is more aware today and the farm-to-fork traceability will be of utmost importance going forward,” he mentioned.
Samrat Sehgal, Head, Supply Chain, Dabur India Ltd highlighted three practices that Dabur India has adopted to maintain an efficient supply chain. These include:
Shifting from Forecast to Replenishment Planning: Replenishment planning takes you away from forecast and it only indicates how many more products are needed in order to meet customer demand. In other words, it is the process of fulfilling or re-ordering products that are low or out-of-stock. The purpose of replenishment is to ensure that a retailer has the right quantity of product, at the right location, and at the right time to maximize sales and minimize costs.
Increased Automation in Warehousing: Increasing automation in warehouses/manufacturing units means, including all the software, hardware, and other automation-based processes to automate warehouse tasks for improved efficiency and accuracy and support the workers. It helps warehouses increase productivity, reduce labor costs, improve safety, more efficient use of materials, better product quality, shorter workweeks for labor, etc.
Focus on Total Cost of Delivery: TDC comprises aggregate cost associated with raw material sourcing, conversion of materials into finished goods, and delivery of finished goods to customers. To understand the total cost involved, Dabur focuses on the total delivered cost (TDC), the complete cost of sourcing, producing, and delivering products to customers.
“Supply chain can become a competitive advantage for the organization through adoption of technology. It is helping organizations by increasing visibility, driving automation, and improving decision making. This will result in an agile and efficient supply chain,” said Sehgal.
Enhancing Supply Chain Capabilities
Over the last few years, the world has witnessed how technology has played an important role across sectors. With time, Dabur India has also focused on Enhancing Automation, from production to the consumer end. It is also constantly focusing on increasing the visibility in the supply chain to keep an eye on the status of goods to improve customer service and cost controls, limiting disruptions and risk mitigation.
“In supply chain under business continuity planning, we ensure uninterrupted flow of products and services from suppliers to customers within a time frame to safeguard different interests related to the product, along with being the readiness to maintain critical functions after an emergency or disruption, so that it does not affect both the parties – from manufacturer to consumer,” he added.
Piyush Agarwal, Head - Supply Chain, Pepperfry, is of the opinion that technology is expected to play a major role in shaping the future of supply chain management. Pepperfry recently discovered a new supply chain technology called IoT-based inventory tracking, which uses sensors and RFID tags to track the movement of goods throughout the supply chain.
“This technology allows us to monitor our inventory in real-time and ensures we always have the right amount of stock on hand. It also helps us save costs by reducing the need for manual labor, and by optimizing our inventory levels,” he stated.
Challenges in SCM
Agarwal asserted that one of the main challenges in supply chain management was balancing the need to keep costs low with the requirement to maintain high levels of customer service. This could be especially difficult for e-commerce companies like Pepperfry, as they have to deal with a high volume of small and varied orders and have to ensure timely delivery to customers while keeping costs low.
To work around this challenge, Pepperfry has adopted a number of strategies, such as automation, data analytics, collaboration, and flexibility, among others. “By adopting these strategies, we are able to strike a balance, allowing us to deliver a great customer experience while managing our costs effectively,” he concluded.
Swaminathan Ramachandran, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail said that in the future, technology and supply chain will be intertwined and become the key pillars that drive supply chain sustainability and effectiveness. Therefore, organizations must begin to focus on building a digital shadow/footprint throughout the supply chain. This will serve as the foundation for introducing technologies across the chain that use digital twins to become smarter and more effective.
“It is also important not to implement technology for the sake of technology, but rather to align efforts with the organization’s goals,” he asserts.
Maintaining an Efficient Supply Chain
ABFRL follows these three practices for an efficient supply chain:
“One of the main challenges in supply chain management is the siloed functional approach that optimizes each function rather than the entire chain. I have focused on aligning functions and goals with the organizational goals, and bringing the teams together to share a common view of the performance,” explained Ramachandran.
Top Supply Chain Trends
Building Agility in the Supply Chain: Forecasting demand accurately is becoming increasingly challenging in the VUCA era. It is critical that organizations develop the capability to respond to demand signals with agility.
Digitization: The digitization of the supply chain provides organizations with capabilities that were previously unthinkable. Organizations can be smart, sustainable, and efficient as a result of digitization and artificial intelligence.
Sustainable Supply Chain: One of the most important trends is making products and operations more sustainable. Introducing greener products and decarbonizing our value chain are some of the most important tasks ahead.
In the era of mobile-first technological innovations, social media, and digital marketing trends have changed the behavior of consumers in the beauty and cosmetic industry. Indian e-commerce companies disrupted the beauty retail market when they brought multiple global and domestic brands under one roof, erstwhile inaccessible to customers in the country.
Buying off the shelf appears to be a dwindling consumer behavior, as online shopping provides a plethora of consumer-focused conveniences. Virtual try-on, live video consultations, and beauty & health masterclasses, to name a few. The return and exchange policies of such e-commerce businesses have resulted in consumers making online purchases from the comfort of their homes without having to worry about defects and replacements. All of this has led to a shift in retail business perception, as well as in customer loyalty and brand relationship.
Digital marketing was important before the pandemic, but it is now pivotal. According to Statista, a market, and consumer data company, the Indian cosmetics industry is expected to reach $20 billion by 2025 (it was close to $11 billion in 2017). The disturbance caused by the pandemic has made the beauty industry realize that traditional business practices are no longer the only viable solution.
The new growth levers are an omnichannel strategy and a reactive approach to product and consumer engagement. Influencer marketing is one such strategy that evolved with the advent of e-commerce platforms. Many brands work with influencers to help them establish their brand value. They can now create new market trends and have the rest of the world follow them. Alongside, Instagram, the coolest kid in the town, became a leading medium to market beauty products. Furthermore, it appears that many retailers are now not only committed to selling on Instagram but also to using the platform as a compass to explore what products have demand.
According to Google and Bain & Company, beauty and hygiene-related shopping searches are third-most popular after the apparel and cell phones. Astonishingly, these are the categories with a highly fragmented market and few organized players. The beauty and skincare category has traditionally been catered to by multi-brand, multi-category large players, both in brick-and-mortar stores and online. However, certain setbacks of retail businesses such as store travel time, vehicle parking, limited product choices, etc., come to light when we weigh the options. That's when niche category specialists step in to offer a broader range of brands and products, including several global products on their portals.
Within a short period, the rising power of beauty bloggers and vloggers has also created ripples of trends. According to Fashionbi, this group is currently ruling the beauty industry. Consider Bethany Mota; when this YouTube-based beauty influencer with more than 9 million followers recommends a beauty product, the brand receives a 40 percent clickthrough rate to their website. That is more than any amount of advertising could ever buy. According to A.T. Kearney, more and more individuals enjoy browsing peer product reviews or looking for makeover ideas online, resulting in a valid justification for why they choose to make beauty purchases online. But it does not directly lead to people buying cosmetics online. The brands themselves recognized the online potential and saw a need to create an appeal for their products to the digital natives.
The phenomenon of counterfeits and refills was another issue for premium beauty and personal care products. The desire for omnichannel presence is something that all of these online beauty retailers have in common. While these retailers are focusing on the online channel for broad distribution, they are also considering physical brick-and-mortar experience stores as an extension. The disruption caused by e-commerce is a powerful force for change in the consumer products industry. E-commerce is transforming consumer behavior in quite spectacular ways, even in regions where its share is still limited. This, in turn, is straining the ties between producers and retailers.
Ready to dominate the consumer electronics market in India, tech giant Apple unveiled its first store in the country at Jio World Drive, Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai, at 11 am on 18th April, 2023. Apple CEO Tim Cook flung the gates of the state-of-the-art Apple BKC open with the presence of countless fans and customers of Apple products.
Exclusivity runs in the ethos of Apple’s spectrum of product verticals and the imposing store will follow that route with an expanding array of products such as Air Pods, iPads, iPhone, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and many more. With a 100-plus workforce speaking over 20 languages, the store is equipped to serve Apple patrons from across the globe. Committing to ecological preservation, the store is totally carbon-neutral and uses renewable solar energy to power itself.
Cook received a warm welcome by the customers and Bollywood celebrities in equal measure. Film producer Boney Kapoor and actor Rakul Preet Singh met Cook inside the store, while Madhuri Dixit Nene guided Cook to an authentic gastronomic experience of ‘Vada pav’ and posted a happy snap on Twitter on April 17. The spectacular launch syncs with the momentous occasion of Apple completing 25 years of satisfying countless customers and cementing its space in the upper echelons of technology in India.
To bump up the buzz, Apple BKC has several exciting activities lined up such as the ‘Today at Apple’ Series, which starts from April 18 and will run throughout summer. The program will offer exciting interactions about local culture through music, photo, design, and art, through its ‘Mumbai Rising’ division.
The inauguration of Apple BKC will soon be followed by that of Apple Saket in Delhi, which will be open for public access at 10 am on April 20, thus taking the global exclusive retail footprint of Apple to 552. Tim Cook’s itinerary for India also reportedly includes meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and deputy IT Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
India's thriving retail sector, which contributes significantly to the country's GDP and employment, is undergoing a transformation. The rise of e-commerce, especially as a result of the pandemic, has created new opportunities for small retailers who have traditionally operated in the unorganized sector, including family-run neighborhood shops.
According to Invest India, the country's investment promotion arm, the retail sector accounts for 10 percent of India's GDP and 8 percent of its employment. With a population of 1.3 billion, India has a growing base of young and affluent shoppers, also making the country an attractive destination for retailers.
The Indian retail sector is divided into two categories: the unorganized sector, which includes small, family-run shops, and the organized sector, consisting of large brick-and-mortar retailers and online shopping sites. The domestic e-commerce market is expected to reach $200 billion by 2027, with the grocery and fashion apparel sectors poised to drive this growth.
Even in Tier II and III cities, e-commerce has become increasingly popular due to services like cash-on-delivery, free home delivery, deep discounts, flexible payment options, and buy-back policies. The availability of a wide variety of products has also contributed to the popularity of e-commerce. Small-format retailers can greatly benefit from this growth by adopting digital technologies and e-commerce models.
For small retailers looking to transition to e-commerce, the ONDC platform offers a seamless and cost-effective solution. ONDC provides a single platform for sellers to list their products, manage orders, and track shipments. It also offers marketing and promotional tools to help sellers reach a wider audience.
By leveraging the power of e-commerce, small retailers can expand their customer base and reach new markets. ONDC provides an excellent opportunity for small sellers to make the transition to digital retail and participate in India's growing e-commerce market. Small retailers can take some simple initiatives to succeed on this new platform.
Find a Niche or Competitive Angle: Establishing a niche for selling products can prove to be a smart business decision for small retailers looking to establish themselves in a crowded market. Targeting a specific group of customers can help create a loyal customer base that identifies with their brand and offering, resulting in a higher likelihood of repeat business.
Moreover, entering a niche market can minimize competition, allowing them to differentiate themselves from larger companies competing for the mass market. This can be particularly beneficial for those who may lack the resources to compete with big names and instead can focus on delivering an exceptional product and service.
Another advantage of niche marketing is the ability to reduce marketing costs. By knowing precisely who the target audience is, small retailers can cut down costs by running targeted ads and campaigns specific to their audience's needs. Niche marketing also helps build better relationships with the audience, creating a more personalized experience that can lead to increased customer loyalty.
It also helps sellers establish themselves as experts in their field, rather than providing generic products or services. By demonstrating expertise and thought leadership in a specific area, they can stand out from the competition, attract relevant customers, and establish trust with their audience. Catering to a niche market also increases profits. By creating a niche market business, retailers can charge higher rates for products or services due to the supply and demand ratio, particularly for those pioneering a new industry sector.
Building a Comprehensive Product Catalogue and Listing: In the world of e-commerce, a comprehensive product catalog can make or break a business. With so many options available to online shoppers, having a refined and dedicated product catalog can help customers make confident purchase decisions without any hesitation. A product catalog is essentially a marketing tool that lists all the essential details about a product, such as features, dimensions, price, availability, color, and customer reviews. By providing this information in a standardized format across all sales channels, merchants can reinforce customer trust in their brand and increase the chances of making a sale.
Managing a product catalog for e-commerce requires a strategic approach to ensure that the quality of product data remains consistent across multiple platforms. For example, a clothing retailer can create dedicated product data for each outfit, which can be used uniformly on various e-commerce platforms. This process involves curating, standardizing, and publishing product descriptions in a way that resonates with customers and meets SEO best practices.
While some sellers may have in-house content teams to create and manage their product catalog, outsourcing this task to a third-party organization can be a more economical and efficient solution. However, it is essential to ensure that any third-party partner chosen has expertise in SEO tactics and optimization to avoid any counter-productive effects on the brand page and name.
A well-managed product catalog can directly impact the page experience of customers. Merchants who use rich text, high-quality images, and provide detailed product information can improve their user experience and sell better. On the other hand, tactics such as keyword dumping and substandard product data can negatively impact SEO ranking and harm a merchant's brand reputation.
Investing in a comprehensive product catalog and taking a strategic approach to product catalog management is crucial for success. By providing customers with detailed and accurate product information in a standardized format, small retailers can increase customer trust and sales while building and maintaining a strong brand reputation.
Branding is Crucial for Success: Establishing a strong brand is essential for any business, particularly for small retailers in the online selling arena. A brand is more than just a logo or a name; it represents the values and personality of the business and creates a memorable impression on consumers. In a crowded marketplace, branding is what sets you apart from the competition and communicates to potential customers what they can expect from your company.
For small retailers, branding is particularly important, as it helps to establish credibility and build trust with customers. A well-crafted brand sends a clear message about your business and what you stand for, allowing you to connect with your target audience on a deeper level. By creating a brand identity that resonates with your customers, one can foster strong relationships that lead to increased customer loyalty and repeat business.
Another benefit is increased recognition. By creating a visual image and associations, you can make it easier for customers to remember and identify your business. This recognition can lead to increased visibility and brand awareness, driving new business and ultimately boosting brand value. But perhaps the most important aspect of branding is the ability to sell a story rather than just a product. By focusing on the values and personality of your brand, you can create a narrative that resonates with customers and builds an emotional connection. This connection leads to increased trust and ultimately drives sales.
Using Data Analytics to Understand Customer Behavior: In the world of eCommerce, data analytics can be an incredibly powerful tool to help small retailers understand their customer base and improve their business. By studying the data around website traffic and effectiveness, retailers can gain a complete picture of their business and make informed decisions to improve it.
One key aspect of data analytics is the ability to analyze a wide range of metrics, including discovery, acquisition, conversion, retention, and advocacy. By analyzing these metrics, retailers can better understand how efficiently customers find the products they are looking for, what brings visitors to their website, what motivates buyers to make a purchase, what encourages loyalty, and whether customers are recommending their store to others.
This information provides valuable insights into the trends and patterns of customer behavior, helping retailers to identify areas where they can improve their customer experience. For example, if the data shows that customers are struggling to find the products they want, retailers can make changes to their websites to improve the navigation and search functionality. Alternatively, if the data shows that customers are not making repeat purchases, retailers can introduce loyalty programs or special offers to encourage customer retention.
Overall, using data analytics to understand customer behavior is a powerful tool that can help small retailers to grow their businesses and build a loyal customer base. By analyzing a range of metrics, retailers can gain valuable insights into their customer base and make informed decisions to improve their customer experience.
Promoting Products on Social Media: Social media platforms are quickly becoming a critical component of e-commerce marketing strategies. For small retailers, social media can provide an efficient and cost-effective means of promoting products, building brand awareness, and engaging with customers. By leveraging popular social platforms, small retailers can extend their reach and target their desired audience with precision.
One of the most effective ways of promoting products on social media is by driving traffic to the e-commerce website or branded app. Retailers can create enticing posts that highlight their products' features, benefits, and unique selling points, thereby encouraging users to visit their website or app to make a purchase. Additionally, by selling products directly on social media, retailers can provide a seamless and convenient shopping experience to customers, increasing the likelihood of a sale.
Engaging with customers and prospects on social media is another critical tactic for small retailers. By responding to customer inquiries, comments, and complaints in a timely and professional manner, retailers can build a loyal following and establish trust with their audience. Social media also provides an opportunity for retailers to collect valuable insights about their industry and market, including customer preferences, behavior, and trends.
Finally, building an online social media community around the brand can help retailers foster customer loyalty and drive sales. By creating a space where customers can share their experiences, connect with other users, and engage with the brand on a deeper level, small retailers can build a loyal and passionate fanbase that will spread the word about their products and services.
Small retailers can succeed in the e-commerce market on the ONDC platform by following these steps and leveraging the available tools and resources to their advantage. By finding a niche, understanding their target audience, building a comprehensive product catalogue, establishing a strong brand, using data analytics, and promoting products on social media, small retailers can thrive in the online space.
‘By 2025, it is predicted that India's digital payments business would have increased by more than 300% from its current size’, states a study by the India Brand Equity Forum. Digital payments have shown tremendous growth, especially when you consider how many people in India were previously unbanked. India's digital payments sector is employing solutions from banks, fintech companies, and the government with a customer-centric mindset to make the experience as seamless and secure as possible. Moreover, e-RUPI is expected to play a significant role in this regard.
e-RUPI is being pushed by government as a cashless payment solution for government-run health and welfare schemes. Say for example, government announces a free vaccination or health service, a person simply needs to present their e-RUPI digital coupon at the right location. Beneficiaries can access this voucher through SMS or QR Code on their phone. Citizens gain from this pre-paid coupon because they don't have to pay any money at all. On the other hand, the government pays the money back straight to a recognized bank. While the patient receives the benefits, the hospital also gains as it receives a straight payment with no delay. Real-time payments to the service provider are ensured through e-RUPI.
In August 2021, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), the organisation in charge of managing the Indian digital payments ecosystem, introduced e-RUPI, a system based on vouchers that encourages cashless transactions. It has become a reliable, contactless, cashless method of making digital payments during the past 15 months. It differs significantly from payment applications in that it is crucial to the creation of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) and has become crucial to digital governance. It has effectively integrated technology into people's life. It has become very successful thanks to the internet and mobile phone's quick uptake.
The main factor allowing e-RUPI to flourish to this point has been the fintech-led digital transformation. It assists in ensuring public welfare through welfare programs in addition to economic prosperity. All the same, the customer or the average citizen is the main beneficiary here. When compared to other digital payment methods, e-RUPI can be used more readily because it does not require a bank account. And this is e-main RUPI's advantage.
One of the safest and most reliable forms of payment is this one. The beneficiary does not need to carry a printout of the voucher because it is contactless. They only need to present the coupon, scan the QR code to register it, and use the service. Being paperless will ultimately result in lower carbon footprints as well.
A two-step redemption method governs all e-RUPI transactions. This implies that a person's private information is also secure. With the support of the many banks affiliated with this service, prepaid voucher e-RUPI assures that the customer can use the facility without any problem. In return, the service provider also receives a guarantee of fast payment. Also, for the government, this approach guarantees that the funds are distributed to those in need without having to pass through a number of phases of financial allocation, distribution, and subsequent delays brought on by red tape. Today, the government may announce a program and the recipient will receive the prepaid vouchers right away, thanks to technology. Consequently, it is a quicker method of dispersing social programs at the precise moment when it is of utmost need.
In order to guarantee a speedy turnaround cycle for this process, NPCI worked with banks such as State Bank of India, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, Punjab National Bank, Canara Bank, Bank of Baroda, ICICI Bank, and IndusInd Bank. The purchase of apps such as Bharat Pe, PNB Merchant Pay, BHIM Baroda Merchant Pay, Pine Labs, and YoNo SBI Merchant Pay is also connected to it. The fact that e-RUPI can be redeemed at more than 1,600 hospitals is most significant. Several more companies will collaborate in the future. And in this way, the foundation for integrating u-RUPI into regular citizens' lives is being set. Since businesses can use these vouchers for their employees, e-RUPI has a promising future.
This voucher is an end-to-end digital transaction, so no other physical issuance, such as a card, is necessary; just a digital document will do. This efficient and secure means of delivering healthcare services also makes it simpler to track the voucher, and the businesses are aware of exact transactions. According to experts, the usage of e-RUPI will expand in the future to include MSMEs for business-to-business transactions as well as healthcare benefits provided by private enterprises. And for those industries where prompt and certain payments are essential, this sounds quite intriguing.
The digital revolution has forced all industries to go online, one such industry was retail, and with it also came the emergence of e-commerce. With millions of people now using online shopping as the preferred method, retailers are privy to a host of information. This makes them a hubspot for hackers. Moreover, physical stores using software for monitoring, transactional process, and other services to store sensitive information are also facing threats. With every passing day the hackers are getting more advanced and their attacks more nuanced. They earn profits by using this information as ransom. In 2021 the average ransom payment was $226,044, which is a 53 percent increase from 2020. This has forced the retail sector to up its game for data security.
With the growing rise of cyber threats to retailers, the need for implementing stronger data security measures has become of paramount importance.
Multi-factor authentication provides layered protection for data security. It is an application where a system is required to answer a combination of two or more questions or credentials to authenticate the identity of the user.
Regular backing of data is crucial to reduce the possibility of data leaks after a cyber attack. Retailers can automate the process so as to ensure a more efficient process.
Data encryption is required to encode sensitive information into codes and uses a special key to access any information. Encryption allows for more comprehensive data security of sensitive information, such as the credentials of users.
Cyber attacks are only getting more sophisticated, and the retail industry does collect a large amount of information that cybercriminals can benefit from. Retailers, therefore, need to finance their cybersecurity to prevent any data leaks, ransomware, phishing attacks, or more over their respective companies.
Consumer electronics underwent a seismic change in 2020, with product advancements mostly remaining granular as before. Several companies competing with Lenovo since the early 2010s stagnated and eventually left the market, but Lenovo grew with a three-pronged approach towards physical, digital and omnichannel infrastructure. Dinesh Nair, Director - Consumer Business, Lenovo India, underscores the foresight with which Lenovo churned the domestic market ever since it entered India in 2004, after acquiring IBM’s PC division.
By 2010-2015, Lenovo had grabbed 5-6% of the market share and was gunning for double-digit growth with presence across laptops, desktops, tablets, and phones. Distribution was heavy then but branded or mono retail hadn’t set in. Metro cities still churned out highest revenue, and the time was right for the brand to execute a change in the traditional retail format.
“We were the first brand to convince our distributors to partner with us and create small branded stores across the upcountry market. We built 1000 stores between 2011 and 2014, with some into pureplay retail and others into controlled distribution. Before e-tail kick-started, we had a network of distributors with their branded regional franchise stores,” said Dinesh Nair, Director - Consumer Business, Lenovo India.
Pandemic Push for Product
With rising demand for laptops and a flattening curve for desktops, Lenovo’s business pie in 2019 had 50 percent of DKUs priced below Rs 30,000, 30 percent for SKUs in the Rs 30,000-50,000 range, and 20 percent above Rs 50,000. However, gaming was minuscule, pre-pandemic.
“As lockdowns began, there was a drastic rise in demand for and operation of PCs. Customers were looking for better products, especially in the consumer electronic segment. They wanted more computing power, lighter machines, better start-up time, and resolution, which increased the usage of common components. From a stable 240-250 million base of the global PC market, PC consumption rose to 350 million in just a year,” he maintained.
Consumers were becoming digital-savvy. This surged the demand for assembled desktops, and that trend continues for Lenovo, where an average PC hardware configuration includes GTX machines and graphics cards, a minimum requirement of an i5 processor, and screens as wide as 27 to 32 inches.
Attention toward physical, digital, and omnichannel infrastructure helped Lenovo reach out to customers across touch points. They expanded to 350 new-format, exclusive Lenovo stores in the past three years, taking the national retail footprint to 550+ stores in 230 cities and towns. Apart from this, they are present across all large-format retailers, regional chains, and via shop-in-shop in almost 1500 stores.
“Combined, we are reaching out to 10,000+ stores in the PC retail universe across the three-tier pyramidal structure with our own stores (Lenovo Exclusive Stores) at the top, the big retail stores in the country in the middle, and lastly, we have distribution channels for the masses,” he said.
On grounds of digital infrastructure, the brand unveiled Lenovo.com, a pure-public web interface wherein customers could hyper-personalize products based on series, specifications, graphics card, camera, screen resolution, hardware, and more. They made the customer experience intuitive to the extent of activating pop-up notifications every time a prospective customer hovered their cursors over a particular product on the website.
This has led to a whopping growth of 500% for Lenovo.com in the last three years. The cherry on the top is an end-to-end workable omnichannel model, wherein customers can access the entire network of 550+ stores in a micro site inside Lenovo.com. “If you want faster deliveries, you can either pick up from a desired store or get it delivered at your doorsteps within a day. We started omnichannel in last June and did a business of almost 15,000 PC sales in the first six months,” stated Nair, adding that orders for premium products inclined users to explore nearby stores for greater trust.
Customer service is a crucial aspect for consumer electronics brands and the workforce wins when there is specialization in abundance. Lenovo kept that in mind and segregated its customer service division with experts in different fields. “If a gamer calls up with a doubt, we have a professional gamer at the back-end providing the right solutions,” Nair added.
Doing away with traditional modes of marketing, Lenovo e-rode in on the hot leads. They are catering to an audience in the age bracket of 18-35 years of age essentially, who are digitally active and wooed them with enhanced CX, all the while talking to them about their buying intent, choice, and journey. For instance, they built technology solutions for upping retail productivity and CX at Lenovo Exclusive Stores. They completely automate all their point-of-sale (PoS), and their planogramming across 550 stores is pretty automated. Putting their partners first, Lenovo also became the first brand to benchmark all its stores on Google My Business.
They also launched the Lenovo digital academy during the pandemic. Their price parity portal helped partners across scales perform better. Recently, they launched an app titled ‘Earn with Lenovo’ for small partners, who can register themselves and keep a track of the Lenovo products they sell, in exchange of incentives and commissions.
Success is earned when customers have sufficient knowledge not only about the brand, but also their products. This prompted Lenovo to create a digital academy for its target audience during the pandemic. The brand is currently working on a new product range catering to content creators which will bring together the right hardware and software. With larger screen sizes and better visuals, Lenovo’s journey of disruption continues in the ecosystem.
The growth of digital payments and their acceptance in India over the years has gained positive momentum. In Q2 2022, UPI clocked over 17.4 billion transactions in volume and Rs 30.4 lakh crore in terms of value. It has emerged as one of the most popular modes in the country for carrying out digital transactions. As per reports, UPI payments are expected to comprise 8 percent of India’s total GDP by 2025 and the increasing online purchases and adoption of UPI is estimated to rise to $1 trillion by FY26.
Challenges of Digital Payments for SMEs
Emerging businesses and SMEs typically face the challenge of limited resources to build tech systems that can be integrated with payment infrastructure. Similarly, merchants who want to take their business online face several obstacles like building a website, integrating with digital infrastructure for accepting online payments, etc. Also, SMEs usually need 4-5 features to manage payment collections, and can't afford expensive ERP tools, webstore, or physical POS machines. Longer payment collection cycles that arise due to cash collections are another problem for SMEs as it negatively impacts their working capital and cash flows. Lack of digital presence in the form of online stores and limited payment modes like cash often impact potential sales for SMEs. Manual tracking of payments in small businesses creates an inability to track settled & pending payments resulting in increased payment defaults.
Innovative Payment Solutions are Coming to the Rescue
To begin with, for the ones who are in the nascent stage of their entrepreneurial journey, digital solutions like payment links can help in accepting payments online for their business. Payment solution companies offer businesses over 100+ payment mode options, including NetBanking, Credit Cards, Debit Cards, UPI, etc., to collect online payments using shareable online payment links on SMS, Email, and WhatsApp.
For slightly evolved merchants, SaaS-based Payment FinTechs offer API-based solutions like Payment Gateway, EasyCollect, InstaCollect, SmartPay, SmartBilling which not only act as a payment layer but also can be used as a mini ERP. For SMEs who want to either shift their business online or complement their offline business with an online presence for omnichannel customer experience and increased sales, products like Webstore integrated with an inbuilt Payment Gateway can help.
From enabling secure digital transactions to ensuring automated payment reconciliation, payment solutions providers in India are offering affordable one-stop solutions for all payment collection needs of SMEs.
How can Businesses Digitize Payment Collection & Reconciliation?
Digitizing payments is becoming easy for businesses of all sorts and sizes. For example, retail stores, restaurants, D2C & Ecommerce or travel booking agents, etc. can digitize their payment collections using solutions such as Payment Links, InstaCollect, etc. Small businesses can easily get onboarded with payment platforms and get their payments taken care of.
Businesses operating on subscription-based business models can use SaaS-based products offered by these Fintech platforms that are easy to embed and come with an integrated Payment Gateway for reminder-based recurring payment collections.
Whether it is an apparel store, bakery/ cafe, grocery store, or restaurant, merchants once onboarded with the payment providers can simply create a payment link from the dashboard and share it with customers to get payments instantly. The hustle and bustle of buying, renting, and repairing a POS machine are also replaced with an ePOS app that comes with beneficial features such as Instant KYC & Onboarding, UPI QR, Invoice generation, etc. Merchants can share QR via SMS, WhatsApp, and Email and get paid instantly. Furthermore, a real-time transaction view can help merchants understand the transaction flow. And merchants can withdraw their money anytime from the ePOS App or Payments Dashboard to their Bank Account.
Similarly, a retail store business that does not have any database management system, ERP, or CRM can make use of SaaS-based API products, like EasyCollect API, Forms, etc., to manage customer databases and can easily create payment links and share with customers for collecting payments. Businesses can start accepting payments in no time and also get notified for each payment via Webhook, Email, or SMS. Accepting online payment from customers has never been this simple and easy where the merchant can instantly share the payment link and simultaneously get notified of the payment status.
Reasons to Go for All-In-One Payment Platforms
Usually, small businesses and merchants have to rely on discrete third-party vendors to manage the backend collection operations, which are generally expensive and complicated. Payment service providers offer full-stack tech-enabled solutions that are not only customized for each of the sectoral needs but also are affordable as they are plug-and-play in nature.
SaaS-based payment solutions powered by API integrations provide end-to-end, scalable solutions that can be tailored to exact business needs. The array of benefits with the all-in-one payments platform includes easy reconciliation of payments, improved efficiency, higher productivity, greater transparency, robust security, and better business conversions that aid multi-fold growth.
Moreover, Indian Fintech platforms help small businesses to not worry about data privacy and compliance as the platform comes with PCI DSS Level-1 security, and payment transactions are protected using multi-layered policies like tokenization, data encryption algorithms, etc. These practices reduce the burden on the merchant when it comes to protecting sensitive consumer payment information. This empowers small businesses to engage in online commerce, as the safety & security aspects are taken care of by the payment gateway platform itself.
More often than not, businesses are not able to adopt digital solutions because of accessibility and affordability, thereby losing the opportunity to generate revenue online. Whatever the sector, the merchant may belong to including eCommerce, Travel, Retail, Restaurants, Services, etc. they now have the opportunity to easily digitize the payment to scale their businesses. What’s more on the other end, customers of these businesses can enjoy the benefits like convenience, safety, and faster way to make payments using digital payment platforms.
Retailing has been a significant part of consumerism since the beginning of time. All businesses relied solely on the delivery of retail outlets. However, with the shift in technology and internet advancement, this industry faces many changes that may lead to a whole new concept of retailing.
The New Era of Retailing
If you actively shop for various products, you might have relied on the internet for convenient services. Since e-retailing has come into consumers' lives, businesses are looking to provide their services in the most convenient manner possible. However, solely depending on the online mode of retailing may lead to the doom of many organizations.
It is why the retailing Industry is shifting towards providing an omnichannel experience to customers.
What is Omnichannel Retailing?
Omnichannel refers to providing services through different channels. Customers can interact with the business on any platform, whether online or offline.
These channels may include print, in-store, email, and messaging, among other channels.
Retailing in 2023 with Omnichannel Marketing
Omnichannel marketing is an excellent way for brands to communicate with a wide range of customers. Every customer is different and would prefer a different form of communication. When brands communicate on every other platform, it ensures that a maximum number of customers interact with the business.
Here are some trends why Omnichannel marketing will be the future of retailing:
The evolution of the store is rewriting the omnichannel retail story. Retailers are now using new technologies to create immersive and interactive shopping experiences. A retail company's success depends on its ability to adapt, be agile, and be customer-centric. Every business decision revolves around customer centricity, and delivering personalized customer journeys is essential for new and existing customers.
Pic credit: Image by <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/isometric-young-people-using-technological-devices-background_4262886.htm#query=omnichannel&position=2&from_view=search&track=sph">Freepik</a>
This is rightly said to be India’s coming decade of outperformance. Besides its technology and budding manufacturing prowess, India is at a demographic advantage. Its workforce will soon surpass one billion people, making it the largest working-age population in the world. This advantage, coupled with rising education levels, holds enormous potential for India's economic and social progress and India must adopt an unconventional approach that goes beyond relying on job creation by public and private sectors. Embracing entrepreneurship as a possible option for women is an underutilized opportunity that can have a multiplier effect on economic and social outcomes.
Empowering women, unlocking future
Despite significant advancements in education, it is undeniable that women still encounter formidable structural, social, and economic obstacles in accessing employment, engaging in the workforce, and pursuing entrepreneurship. Industry estimates tell the same story— the number of women-owned enterprises in India ranges between 13.5–15.7 million, representing 20 percent of all enterprises. There is little doubt that providing a level playing field for women entrepreneurs can be a game changer for individuals, societies, and economies alike.
For starters, entrepreneurship presents a transformative opportunity for women to take on a central rather than peripheral role in the economy.
Women entrepreneurs are more inclined to hire other women and are less susceptible to gender-based stereotypes. In fact, promoting women's entrepreneurship can lead to positive outcomes, due to their community-focused outlook on running businesses. Additionally, women's entrepreneurship enables more women to attain greater financial independence, autonomy, and control and can lead to higher rates of women staying in the workforce. The key to unlocking India's development trajectory lies in ironing out any roadblocks in realizing the potential of the largely unaddressed women entrepreneurs.
Leapfrogging to success with technology
As we course correct, a closer look reveals the need for a multifaceted push to improve women’s involvement in starting businesses. Besides focussed interventions on skill development, driving financial awareness and funding, access to role models and mentors, and providing the right infrastructure to run scalable businesses can support growth. The adoption of technology, particularly online selling, has created a realm of possibilities for women entrepreneurs, enabling them to initiate and expand their businesses in unprecedented ways. It has also provided an expansive online customer base, especially for those women entrepreneurs with limited mobility.
E-commerce has helped women entrepreneurs navigate cultural and social challenges, keeping them from giving up on their ambitions. E-commerce offers substantial advantages in terms of flexibility, especially for women who bear caregiving responsibilities or reside in areas with scarce job prospects. By leveraging e-commerce, women can launch and operate a thriving enterprise from the comfort of their homes. This allows them to work from any location, granting them greater autonomy over their work schedules and facilitating a better work-life balance.
Furthermore, by maintaining an online presence, women-led businesses can operate round the clock, even when owners are unavailable physically. This, in turn, empowers women to commence and conduct business operations on their own terms, utilizing the internet to attain financial independence and self-sufficiency. Finally, with the online marketplace, women can sell their products to customers all over the country, without having to worry about ancillary needs like building distribution networks, managing logistics, and receiving payments.
A new dawn is upon us
As e-commerce continues to break down barriers and empower women in the world of business, more and more such businesses are emerging from every nook and corner of the country.
Today, women entrepreneurs are pioneering new markets and more gender-responsive innovations. A case in point is Himalayan Origins, a company based in Dehradun that offers a range of skincare and hair care products. Co-founders Soumya and Neha Parmar started this business to provide consumers with products that support sustainable living. Today, a loyal customer base purchases their products- from the home state Uttarakhand, all the way to Andaman and Nicobar.
These journeys illustrate how e-commerce has leveled the playing field for women entrepreneurs in India, allowing them to showcase their talent, creativity, and hard work on a national stage. With technology and e-commerce, there's no limit to what women entrepreneurs can achieve, and the impact they can create.
Marketplace and Carts Conclave, India’s largest e-commerce-focused technology convention organized by SaaS major Unicommerce brought together India’s leading platforms, brands, and technology players including Shiprocket, Amazon Global, Flipkart, Jio Mart, eBay, FabIndia, TMRW, Bombay Shaving Company, Shopify, Tally, NetCore, LogicERP, Upriver, House of Chikankari and many more to discuss strategies to leverage technology to build robust online businesses and drive growth.
Business leaders and entrepreneurs from some of the biggest marketplaces, service providers, D2C brands, and retail companies shared their insights and interacted with aspiring entrepreneurs present at the event.
One day-conclave hosted on 17th February ‘23 at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi acknowledged the ambitions of emerging businesses and new players in the e-commerce industry and offered detailed insights on establishing processes to streamline operations and leveraging technology to expand businesses in the rapidly evolving e-commerce ecosystem.
Kapil Makhija, CEO Unicommerce, inaugurated the event with a welcome note and shared his vision behind the initiative. Post that, the conclave kicked off with an insightful fireside chat between Varun Alagh, Co-founder and CEO Honasa Consumer, and Kapil Makhija, CEO of Unicommerce where he said strategies about building robust operations, how to build a house of brand and Omnichannel business strategy.
Mentioning building a brand, Varun Alagh, Co-founder and CEO of Honasa Consumer said that reaching out to the right kind of people is the most important aspect while starting the journey as a brand. Looking at the changing consumer preference, it has become imperative to have consumer-led innovation and be in the consumers’ space to deliver the messaging of your brand.
Various panel discussions at the conclave covered topics ranging from launching products and scaling up on marketplaces, managing marketplace operations and cart integrations, cross-border e-commerce, finding the right D2C strategy, and adopting omnichannel to provide a seamless shopping experience and driving profits. One-on-one discussions through a series of fireside chats focused on addressing the challenges of the sellers of Bharat (tier II and tier III towns), extending operational support to traditional brands to go online, and leveraging technology to grow on e-marketplaces.
The event provided an opportunity for India’s budding entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses through its masterclass sessions that focused on building the next-generation workforce, understanding the evolving e-commerce ecosystem, retail export opportunities, and others.
Moderated by Gautam Kapoor from Shiprocket Fulfilment, the panel Decoding D2C observed the participation of distinct brands and their leaders including Siddhant Rana from Shopify, Ankit Gupta from FabIndia, Ritika Taneja from Group M and Smita Singh from Samsung among others. The audience learned multiple new strategies on how to build a scalable D2C brand with strong unit economics.
On the sidelines, industry experts and participants discussed issues concerning early-stage challenges in establishing an online business, implementing brand-specific strategies to foster brand loyalty, and evaluating various technology solutions that are shaping the operations of India’s online businesses.
Kapil Makhija, CEO Unicommerce said, “Hosting Marketplace and Carts Conclave was a phenomenal experience. The energy amongst aspiring entrepreneurs is truly contagious and it showcases that India’s e-commerce ecosystem will continue to grow in the coming years. The experiences and strategies shared by the business leaders will help all of us in driving exceptional business results.”
Saahil Goel, Co-founder, and CEO, Shiprocket, “We are excited to be co-presenting this event with Unicommerce. The Marketplace and Carts Conclave furthers Shiprocket's mission to democratize Indian eCommerce and create a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country by providing them with a one-stop solution for all e-commerce needs. With this collaboration, our vision is to create the biggest idea-sharing platform, uniting global marketplaces, carts, brands, and solution providers under one roof to enable the collective growth of the Indian e-commerce industry.”
After the phenomenal success of the virtual edition of Marketplace and Carts Conclave in 2020, this was the first in-physical edition and over 4000 aspiring entrepreneurs, MSMEs, retail companies, and D2C brands attended the event.
Deliberating on the benefits of Enterprise Resource Planning software, Inayat Guram, Business Development Manager at Logic ERP delivered a masterclass describing the power of ERP for driving business growth and how it can deliver great results.
With the evolving e-commerce landscape, India’s young aspirational consumer too has evolved. The event brought together leading brands that delved into the nitty-gritty of changing consumer patterns. Leaders from across the industry including Harshit Vij from Freecultr, Saurav Adlakha from Daily Objects, Anuradha Rao from TMRW, Nitin Garg from Google, Anshuk Agarwal from Adyogi, and, Baqar Naqvi from Upriver addressed the key factors that drive young consumers and their buying choices. Key points focused on the need for more value-driven experiences, matching brand voice and philosophy with today’s consumers, and reaping the benefits of technology to enhance the buying experience of the consumer.
The concept of the marketplace and Cart conclave was conceived by Unicommerce in 2020, with a vision of empowering retailers with knowledge and important processes for building strong marketplace operations. Marketplaces and Carts are modern tools of technology and their correct application can unleash the immense potential of building a robust online business. The conclave witnessed massive support from leading brands and technology providers including Adyogi, ENS Enterprises Pvt. Ltd, Blumangoes, Upriver, Voovly, DTDC, Tally, 99 Years, Calls for Loan, Netcore, Website Speedy by Makkpress, and Voila Kart. Power Gummies, Portronics, and National Handicraft Enterprises (Ecoleatherette) acknowledged the inputs of eminent speakers and delegates with their gift offerings while Indian Retailer supported the initiative and joined as the exclusive media partner for the conclave.
Working with thousands of retail brands over the years, Unicommerce understands the challenges that brands face in starting and scaling up online businesses ensuring that it's an open platform so that everyone is willing to learn and be a part of the e-commerce ecosystem. The Marketplace and Carts Conclave provided curated access to interact with established and emerging technologies that are powering India’s online businesses.
India is pushing for the adoption of 5G, and as a result, eCommerce and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies are increasingly relying on more cutting-edge digital solutions to enhance their customer experiences.
The fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry has been significantly impacted by e-commerce, with online sales of FMCG products expected to reach $1 trillion by 2023, according to a report by FMCG Gurus. The accessibility and reach of online platforms, which enable FMCG companies to broaden their clientele and boost sales, are the main drivers of this expansion.
Furthermore, according to a recent Nielsen report, eCommerce will account for 11 percent of FMCG sales by 2030. That is eight times the present level. Therefore, FMCG firms must have robust eCommerce platforms to meet anticipated consumer demand in the upcoming years.
Additionally, a PwC report reveals that nearly 75 percent of customers have bought FMCG products online, with millennial and Gen Z consumers leading the trend. E-commerce offers FMCG businesses a range of sales-boosting capabilities, including tailored recommendations, targeted marketing, and faster checkout procedures. E-commerce enables FMCG companies to compile insightful information on consumer preferences and behavior, which can guide product development and boost supply chain effectiveness.
eCommerce Developments will Benefit FMCG Companies in 2023
A new class of market participants is emerging that is quickly upending the status quo and posing a significant threat to well-established market players due to the development of digital technology and the growth of eCommerce. These digital-native businesses stand out due to their creative business strategies and adaptable operational frameworks, which allow them to respond quickly to shifting market trends and consumer needs. They are therefore anticipated to significantly contribute to growth in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry in the upcoming years.
In addition, both new and established firms are reinventing their business operations by connecting with reliable and larger eCommerce companies. Local kirana retailers are getting digital assistance from new eCommerce start-ups to increase their operational footprint. This symbiotic relationship enables these small businesses to tap into the vast potential of eCommerce, while eCommerce platforms benefit from the rich diversity and local expertise of these traditional retailers.
This trend is leading to a surge in demand for online marketplaces and small local shops, which are well-positioned to capitalize on the growing preference for contactless and secure deliveries. As a result, we can expect continued growth in eCommerce channels, driven by the convenience and ease of online shopping and the ability to access a broader range of products and services.
Over the past few months, the purchasing environment has seen a significant transformation. While retail is still substantial, eCommerce has gained traction and is anticipated to further help FMCG companies by boosting sales, expanding market share, and luring new customers. FMCG companies gain in a variety of ways from the direct-to-customer (D2C) model that e-commerce encourages, including:
Reach Customers Faster: Compared to the old system, the direct-to-consumer model enables businesses to reach consumers with their products quickly. Additionally, since no middlemen are involved, businesses can make higher revenues. Additionally, D2C lets companies initially reach out to clients in small numbers before making the necessary adjustments to reduce risk based on the market's response.
Gaining Trust: When customers visit a brand's official website. Businesses now have a great chance to communicate with customers more effectively by providing a streamlined user experience, interface, and relationship-building process.
Improved Operational Efficiency: By automating inventory management and order fulfillment processes, FMCG companies can reduce costs and increase productivity. Additionally, e-commerce platforms can also be used to streamline logistics, making it easier for FMCG companies to manage the supply chain.
Effective Monitoring: Once a product hits the market, it is difficult for businesses to track it. While manufacturers are unaware of how consumers perceive a brand, retailers are nevertheless aware. The D2C model closes this gap by giving businesses greater control over messaging and packaging marketing and a better understanding of how buyers perceive their products.
It is now essential to adjust to online shopping trends. Given that the new generation, which has been raised in a digital world, will make all of the buying decisions in the coming decade, businesses that want to connect with consumers must do so on the platforms they prefer. FMCG companies must seize this chance and make an immediate, decisive investment in eCommerce.
While brick-and-mortar retail outlets still hold a significant amount of importance, eCommerce has gained ground and is anticipated to continue assisting FMCG firms in providing seamless user experiences and developing greater trust. This will help attract more customers and ultimately unlock larger sales potential and growing market share in the long term.
eCommerce platforms and FMCG companies may consider expanding the range of their online offers shortly by expanding their delivery coverage, providing more practical options, and perhaps going a step further by offering products that are difficult to find offline to improve the personal experience for the customer.
CBRE South Asia Pvt Ltd has announced the findings of its report, ‘Voices from India: How will people live, work and shop in the future?’, which is based on a first-of-its-kind survey wherein more than 20,000 people were polled globally. According to the SHOP section of the India report, while COVID-19 accelerated the reach of e-commerce among consumers, many shoppers went back to physical retail once cities started reopening and have since then adopted ‘hybrid commerce’ – offline + online.
Most consumers in India prefer to buy items both via e-commerce and in offline retail stores. According to the survey, 60-65 percent of city center residents prefer to shop online for gifts, cosmetics, clothing, and footwear along with essential items (grocery & toiletries). However, more than 55 percent of small-town residents preferred online shopping for gifts, clothing & footwear, and electronics; only 31 percent preferred shopping online for essential items (groceries & toiletries).
Millennials have shown a flair for online shopping across clothing & footwear, electronics, cosmetics, gifts, and essential items (grocery & toiletries). In fact, more than 70 percent of late millennials preferred to buy their clothing & footwear, and cosmetics online.
In line with APAC and global trends, more than 65 percent of consumers across all generations have shown a strong preference for shopping in brick-and-mortar stores for big-ticket purchases such as luxury products and jewelry, irrespective of their location (city center/ suburbs/ small town, etc.). Consumers want to see such products in-store and may require sales staff assistance for making a purchase. Brick-and-mortar stores continue to remain a prime retail channel for DIY (Do-It-Yourself) and essential items (grocery & toiletries) at the APAC and global levels.
Preference for in-store shopping among Indian consumers of all generations corresponds with their desire to try on an item before buying. This is consistent with the APAC and global sentiments. Examining the products remains the top reason driving people to brick-and-mortar stores across most categories; with the exception of essential items where immediate availability of products takes priority. The ready availability of products across homeware/ home decorations and furnishings, etc., DIY (Do-It-Yourself), luxury/jewelry, and cosmetics segments has also been rated as the second most important reason by Indian shoppers.
Consumers believe that they are also able to find better product assortment in brick-and-mortar stores, especially when customization/ personalization takes precedence. The experiential element also becomes a differentiating factor during in-store shopping.
Despite all the aforementioned factors, online shopping remains a popular way to shop among Indian shoppers, especially millennials, the survey highlighted. ‘A wider choice of products’ was also stated as the top reason to shop online by survey respondents. The presence of a larger inventory has led to more competition among online brands, causing them to introduce promotional offers and discounts to differentiate themselves and encourage sales. The wider breadth of offers provided by e-commerce channels was stated as the primary reason for online shopping in categories such as electronics, luxury/jewelry, and essential items.
More than 70 percent of Indian shoppers agreed that they have shopped more online since the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to do so going forward. On the other hand, consumption via offline channels will be driven directly by product and in-store experience.
Sustainable Consumerism on the Rise
According to the survey, more than 70 percent of survey respondents have stated that they have chosen to buy environment-friendly products despite the additional cost associated with it and the sentiment is stronger among the older generation - early millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers. This demographic includes mostly high-income earners residing in city centers who are homeowners with a certain sense of security and are in a position to make sustainable choices while buying any product.
About 65-70 percent of respondents, especially late millennials have stated that have purchased more locally sourced products and smaller / independent brands. Shoppers have also indicated their attempt to reduce consumption not only in a bid to be sustainable but also frugal. High price points of certain products and a desire to have varied options have led many of the young respondents to rent instead of buy.
Ram Chandnani, Managing Director, Advisory & Transactions Services, CBRE India said, “As consumer behavior is fluid in nature, placemaking continues to remain relevant and it is imperative for developers to adopt a layered, holistic approach to create a compelling, competitive destination that emotionally resonates with consumers. It is not just about brands or the right tenant-mix, but about creating an authentic environment that keeps diversification, convenience, and experience in mind.”
“Consumers increasingly expect to be able to shop anywhere and anytime across multiple channels. CBRE recommends that apart from investing in omnichannel capabilities, retailers should also offer real-time inventory visibility, facilitate seamless returns/ pickups and transform in-store supply chains to be more adaptive and resilient to customer needs.”
While hybrid working (hybrid working excludes both ‘fully office’ and ‘fully remote’ categories) has been more widely adopted across India, 69 percent of the respondents preferred to work at least three days from the office. However, a slight variation in trends amongst genders is visible as female employees tend to place a greater emphasis on flexibility when evaluating potential job opportunities, as they may have higher family commitments and strive for a better work-life balance by preferring to work remotely. Preference for working in an office under the hybrid working model is likely to increase from the current 67 percent to 78 percent in the future in India - in line with global and APAC trends.
More than 60 percent of both sets of future employees (office and hybrid) across generations indicated that compensation remained the overriding factor in job selection. As we increasingly move to a “phygital” world with limited physical interactions, trust in the company's management has emerged as another important factor for both sets of future employees (office and hybrid).
Further, 50 percent of both sets of workers place importance on workplace services and amenities. Hybrid workers also place higher importance on when and where they can work while considering a new job.
According to the survey, the top three reasons for employees to visit the office included more effectiveness in working, preference for in-person interactions, and more connectedness while working in an office. About 39 percent of respondents prefer hybrid/remote working patterns in India as their physical presence was not required for their roles. This was also due to their personal responsibilities and their reluctance to commute. About 39 percent of the respondents cited health concerns as a reason not to visit the office, mainly delaying RTO – resulting in employers introducing health & wellbeing programs.
Anshuman Magazine, Chairman & CEO - India, South-East Asia, Middle East & Africa, CBRE said, “The survey indicates that majority of respondents prefer workplace quality and focus space for them to be regular at the office, while especially after the pandemic, health and wellness has become the most important factor for them to consider for frequent office visits. In addition, technology, space design, location, and services & amenities have become desirable factors for the employees at work.”
The survey revealed that Indians display more flexibility towards moving or relocating than their global counterparts. The survey found that respondents display a stronger intention to move to a new home in the next two years (44 percent vs 31 percent in the previous two years). This is significantly higher when compared to both global and APAC respondents.
It is also interesting to note that as most cities in India swell to the beam, the definition of a true city center continues to evolve. Most leading cities, especially Delhi- NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Pune are witnessing the emergence of suburbs that in many ways redefine the erstwhile “city center”.
Gen Z led the preference towards moving to a new home in the next two years, compared to only 29 percent of baby boomers. This indicates that the younger generation will primarily drive upcoming housing demand. Except for Gen X, all other generations displayed a higher preference for locations near the city centers. Gen X displayed a slightly stronger preference for remote locations and a greater desire to move to another country as more experienced professionals seek overseas opportunities. In fact, across age groups, the preference to move to another country was the highest in India (when compared to global or APAC respondents).
The survey also highlighted that of those planning to move, more than 70 percent wanted to buy a house, instead of renting. While India has always been an economy where home buying is preferred over renting, the uncertainty around the pandemic has further accelerated the need for homeownership and security.
With the pandemic raised the importance of health and safety, the demand for professional property management services, particularly in apartment buildings has been on the rise. There is also an increasing need for dedicated office space at home as hybrid working becomes more widespread.
The Indian e-commerce market has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and this trend is expected to continue in the coming years. According to a report by KPMG, the Indian e-commerce market is projected to reach $200 billion by 2026, driven by the increasing penetration of the internet and smartphones in the country. As a result, the e-commerce sector is expected to generate employment for around 9.5 million people by 2025.
In this article, we will take a look at the emergence of the Indian e-commerce market and the retail trends that are expected to shape the industry in 2023. We will delve into the historical background of e-commerce in India and the factors contributing to its growth. We will also discuss the retail trends that are expected to dominate the market in the coming year and the opportunities and challenges that the industry will face.
The emergence of the Indian e-commerce market:
E-commerce in India has come a long way since the first online retail store was launched in 1999. Back then, the market was small and primarily focused on selling books and music. However, over the years, the market has grown and diversified to include a wide range of products and services.
The growth of the Indian e-commerce market can be attributed to several factors. One of the most significant factors is the increasing penetration of the internet and smartphones in the country. According to a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), the number of internet users in India is expected to reach 735 million by 2021. Additionally, the increasing affordability of smartphones has also played a role in the market’s growth.
Another factor contributing to the growth of the Indian e-commerce market is the increasing number of consumers who are comfortable with online shopping. The convenience and ease of shopping online have made it a popular choice among consumers, particularly in the metros and Tier I cities.
The Indian e-commerce market is also unique in the sense that it is heavily driven by the sale of fashion and lifestyle products. In contrast, in other markets in the region, such as China, the e-commerce market is primarily driven by the sale of electronic products.
Retail trends to watch in 2023:
As the Indian e-commerce market continues to grow, a number of retail trends are expected to shape the industry in 2023. Some of the key trends to watch out for includes:
The Indian e-commerce market has come a long way since its inception, and it is expected to continue growing in the coming years. The increasing penetration of the internet and smartphones, as well as the changing consumer preferences, have been the major drivers of this growth. In 2023, the market is expected to see the emergence of new trends such as mobile commerce, new payment methods, and the expansion of e-commerce beyond the major metropolitan areas.
Retailers will need to be aware of these trends and adapt accordingly in order to remain competitive.
However, the growth of the Indian e-commerce market is not without its challenges.
The market is highly fragmented, and retailers will need to navigate the complex legal and regulatory environment in order to be successful. Additionally, with the increasing competition, retailers will need to focus on providing a unique and personalized customer experience in order to stand out.
Overall, the Indian e-commerce market is poised for significant growth in the coming years, and it will be exciting to see how the industry develops in 2023.
Retail innovation in consumer electronics is lightning fast today and ASUS’ reputation precedes itself in that space. Ranking second in India with a 20 percent market share in Q3 2022 in the Consumer NB segment, ASUS executes a 360-degree diversification strategy across product verticals, retail and e-tail footprint to serve its customers as per their convenience. Shortly after the inauguration of its third Pegasus store in New Delhi at Nehru Place, Arnold Su, Business Head, Consumer and Gaming PC, System Business Group, ASUS India, explained the brand’s omnichannel retail strategy.
ASUS officially unveiled its Indian online store in 2021 that offered the brand’s laptops and smartphones to buyers across the country. The e-shop offers the brand’s extensive range of gaming and consumer laptops, and the company’s flagship smartphones. The website has conveniences such as free delivery, promo offers, call centre support across 220+ service locations, and real-time status tracking through MyAccount. Besides the dedicated e-venue, ASUS products are also available on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and Flipkart.
Matching such digital agility is its massive retail network of 190 plus ASUS-exclusive outlets and 1,200 premium kiosks in Tier III and Tier IV cities. In addition, the brand deploys products to 6,000 authorized dealer shops, and is available at multi-brand retail outlets such as Croma, Vijay Sales, and Reliance Digital. Executing emerging trends in retailing, ASUS also takes pride in its autonomous entity Republic of Gamers (ROG). As the name suggests, ROG houses all the latest technology and geek gadgetry for the bustling gaming community of India.
Ensuring a seamless functionality across such digital and retail touchpoints is ASUS’ real-time stock availability information on their store locator page. This means that a customer can check the availability of products online before accessing any store of choice.
Serving Pro-digital Consumers, Post-pandemic
Tough times during the pandemic demanded drastic disruptions to provide value to customers at their doorsteps. Dependent completely on internet, consumers began relying on social media and opinions of influencers, designers, creators, vloggers, and artists, who majorly shaped their preferences.
“In the pandemic period, people realized that mobile phones were for content consumption and laptops were for creating serious content. Therefore, demand for premium laptops with good hardware configurations rose,” said Su, explaining the uptick in the average selling price of laptops in general, and a steady rise in demand for gaming and creator-series laptops.
As the social media savvy consumers preferred to scan several digital platforms before arriving at an informed purchase decision, ASUS offered experientially grand outlets for customers to have a physical interface with products, especially for high-end deals. Adding on to the wow factor of retail experience was the plethora of payment options, ranging from easy installments, Buy Now Pay Later options, percentage discounts on using particular credit cards or payment gateways, cashback incentives, and vouchers.
‘Buy Now Pay Later’, particularly, became popular during the Covid period, prompting the tech MNC to offer various options between paper finance and card finance. “We on-boarded top players in each of this space including Bajaj Finance, HDB, PineLabs, and Paytm, to name a few. To suit the customer needs, we have several short-term and long-term EMI options on these platforms. EMI schemes have helped customers opt for higher ticket-size products, thereby helping us grow our ASP (average selling price),” he maintained, adding that cashback offers also enticed customers browsing online, while offline purchases were more on credit card.
Arnold Su, Business Head, Consumer and Gaming PC, System Business Group, ASUS India
USPs of the Tech Giant
Constant innovation is mandatory to surpass market standards, and ASUS has earned its reputation as one of the leading global laptop brands through extensive customer research and application of new technologies to enhance stability, performance, ergonomics, and productivity.
The brand is confident of its two recent innovations — OLED Display and ASUS AI Noise-cancelling Technology. “We recently launched the world’s first 17.3” foldable laptop, the ‘ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED’, which uses a proprietary foldable hinge design.
ASUS has also established itself as the pioneer in the dual-screen laptop segment. “Our experience with dual-screen machines and a typical form factor helped create new segments in the market that didn’t exist before, with the introduction of ROG Zephyrus Duo and Zenbook 14 Duo OLED that play a significant role in our premium segment and business,” said Su, sharing the aim to democratize OLED technology.
The Pegasus stores of ASUS adds on to the immersive journey by providing first-hand experience of the iconic innovations ranging across consumer PCs, gaming laptops, creator series, All-In-One desktops, and other accessories. Live demonstrations increase retail differentiation, which in turn boost the appetite for gaming devices and laptops. Su corroborates the fact with average selling price of this vertical becoming more affordable.
“Earlier, for a proper gaming laptop, you had to spend around Rs 80,000, but in 2022 you can buy a decent model for Rs 50,000. In 2016, India’s gaming laptop market was only 40,000 units, as compared to 2021, when it increased to 800,000 units. The consumer laptop division also expanded from 4 million to 6 million,” he explained.
The brand is also gaining mass exposure with their ‘Try it’ touch points at eight of its gaming exclusive stores. These touch points allow e-sports enthusiasts and gamers to enjoy latest tech tools at designated gaming zones, free of cost.
Collaborations That Excite Users
Understanding the pulse of the target audience is mandatory, and in the ever-evolving world of marketing flooded with influencers of all scale and expertise, credibility alone helps brands break the ice with new customers.
Therefore, ASUS partnered with the right set of celebrities and influencers such as Aawez Darbar, Harsh Beniwal, Funcho, JS Films, and Beebom. The tech giant also made its mark with a TVF Originals collaboration for a new web series titled ‘Followers’.
The ROG gaming segment reached out to budding and veteran gamers through the ROG Academy, which trains budding e-sports players. “We have collaborated with e-sports psychologists, international coaches such as Dr Janki and Ewok, and pro gamer Vikrant Pujari to help players with a new perspective as well as equip them with tips and tricks around e-sports,” Su said.
ASUS relies on the increasing purchasing power of suburban markets, which often have a higher demand for convenience and accessibility. “We are continually onboarding new dealers. Our strategy is to open stores in high-traffic locations that are easily accessible to customers, both in urban and suburban areas,” he added.
With more than 190 ASUS exclusive stores and 9 ROG exclusive stores, ASUS is doubling down its retail footprint to secure the top position in the Indian market. By the end of 2023, the brand plans to gain a target market share of 30 percent, with a resolve to add at least 20 stores every quarter.
Retail technology encompasses innovation and digitalization in physical retail and e-commerce, from checkout to inventory management, order fulfillment, and in-store service. The use of retail technology plays an essential role in enhancing the consumer experience.
Online and in-person retail in India is progressing faster than ever. Technological advancement is leading that charge and so are shifting consumer expectations. As a result, the global retail digital transformation market was valued at $145 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $390 billion by 2026, with an expected CAGR of 18.2 percent over the forecast period (2021–2026).
As digital citizens, we know that technology will continue to play a key role in our lives. But, as we enter 2023, we wonder what the next year will bring. So, here’s a look at five retail technology trends that can shape business outcomes in 2023:
Within the physical bond in which the retail sector is immersed, obtaining, channeling, analyzing, and taking advantage of data that can be obtained 24/7 from shop traffic, returns, purchases, sales, etc., is a spectacular tool for optimizing strategies, processes, and services. It means learning deeper and much better about how customers consume. In-store distribution, seasonal campaigns, and sales strategies in physical commerce must leverage this key asset to sell more.
When we talk about offline shopping, understanding consumer journeys means learning about our audience and what they want as they walk into the store – just as an e-tailer would when users arrive at their website. In online retailing, it means developing methods of delivering the same experiential shopping experiences that people enjoy in a physical setup. This could be through innovative technology enabling personalization or virtual and augmented reality solutions.
Hybrid shopping combines the best of both worlds, online & offline, to create consumer journeys that tick all boxes. Online retailers must learn about building personal relationships with consumers and delivering immersive shopping experiences. In 2023 adopting this hybrid mindset can be a crucial strategy for retailers looking to continue to build brand awareness and consumer loyalty.
In a market like India, the consumer's entire shopping experience is being continuously revamped by both retailers and online sellers. Many storefronts now offer “buy online pick-up in-store” (BOPIS) services, same-day delivery, and online shipping. With so many new ways to order goods, businesses must implement point-of-sale systems more intelligently.
One critical component of bridging the gap between offline and online shopping experiences is through payments. Accepting various digital payment methods adds consistency and convenience to the user experience. For example, accepting QR code payments, buy-now-pay-later (BNPL), virtual payments like Google Pay, and even e-money can provide better accessibility for offline and online shoppers.
Regardless of one's view about what the future of AR in the metaverse might look like, there's no denying that businesses plan to provide more immersive and digitally consistent experiences to consumers. A few paths toward delivering these immersive experiences involve indoor navigation, virtual try-on solutions, and other applications powered by AR. This is one of the vital technologies currently bridging the gap between digital e-commerce storefronts and brick-and-mortar shopping and is thus worth evaluating.
Concern for the environment is behind much of the shopping experience of consumers today, who more than ever demand sustainable packaging, care for the environment, production models based on recyclable items, and reducing negative impact. As a result, retailers have a golden opportunity to distinguish themselves as a business, build value and engagement, and base long-term relationships with suppliers and consumers based on adopting sustainable practices.
Businesses leveraging new and innovative solutions tend to stand out among the rest and be more profitable. To leverage the potential of technology and provide consumers with exciting ways to browse, buy and save, both offline and online retailers are turning to technology in several innovative ways.
In view of Dayal, technology goes far beyond being an enabler. Technology has the potential to cause massive disruption in industries and has been playing this role in the retail industry. Omnichannel is deemed as the future of retail and technology plays an instrumental role in providing omnichannel experiences to consumers.
“One of the big technologies which I feel has been crucial to the Indian retail industry has been the public cloud. The public cloud allows organizations to quickly build and launch products at a rapid speed due to the democratization of server infrastructure and tooling. It also allows a pay-as-you-use model which allows managing costs based on usage instead of doing a large upfront investment,” he said.
The other technology which Dayal spoke about is Big Data and Analytics. “We are living in a world of ever-increasing data and thanks to the technology of Big Data we are now empowered with the tools and power to harness data and get rich and deep insights into consumer behavior, industry and business trends, and forecasting,” he added.
How to Enhance CX?
Speaking about consumer experiences, Dayal stated that there are multifold touch points for a consumer across the retail landscape and technology that can be leveraged to improve these experiences manifold. We can explore how technology can enhance CX across these 3 consumer journey stages.
Inspiration and Discovery: Technology can help this consumer journey both via active and passive modes. For eg: Newer technology mechanisms like Virtual Reality can provide a true lifelike discovery and inspiring journey.
Shopping Experience: Many consumers shop via apps and websites and these experiences can be made much richer and personalized by leveraging technology. If you take the example of e-commerce features like a recommendation, supply chain optimization is now the default standard of the consumer journey.
Post-Purchase Experience: It’s possible to make triggered communications to consumers powered by automated systems and machine learning to improve the post-purchase journey of the consumer. For eg: consumers can connect with a chatbot to learn more about products and get help on returns/ exchanges etc.
Dayal said that he is looking forward to experiencing how Metaverse and blockchain technologies bring about the next big innovations in retail and e-commerce. It may not be far-fetched to imagine the store of the future existing only in the Metaverse and purchases being done via cryptocurrency. While all consumers are comfortable with visiting retail stores, it's hard to build personalized experiences in physical retail.
“Metaverse has the potential to provide the best of both worlds, consumers can get the rich experience of a traditional retail store in the Metaverse and it also allows the unlimited capabilities of personalization in the entire store,” he added.
Chauhan said with human evolution, each problem statement now has a better, and at times even disruptive, solution to it. And all these solutions center on better-evolved processes and tools to run these processes. And this is where technology is at the center of it all. Be it running processes or using various tools and solutions to enhance the overall retail experience.
“The technologies that are changing the Indian retail landscape include supply chain forecasting, no-tag-based analytics, and content creation through AI,” he asserted.
Improving User Experience
Mamaearth is using technology to both identify and then remove the major friction points from its users’ journey, thinking omnichannel.
“With technology, we are trying to ensure that we are just a thought away from our user,” Chauhan stated.
He further elaborated on the technologies that should be introduced in India to revolutionize the retail sector — 3-D printing for more customized/ personalized product offerings; at-home genome testing, with baked-in security, for the best product solutions for users; and AR in retail for easier online purchases.
EMI payments are not a foreign concept in India. People have been making big purchases like automobiles, and large appliances such as refrigerators, TVs, etc. However, it had its limitations. It required a lot of physical documentation and bank approvals. EMIs were also not made available to a huge majority of the population. Big firms limited their EMI option to affluent customers and high price point categories. The estimate is that out of 550 Million PAN card holders in India, only 45 Mn have access to credit. This eventually left only the affluent with the power to purchase an EMI. Fintechs have come in to change who has access to credit and where they can use it.
The shift came during the post covid era when contactless payments became the norm. RBI pushed UPI, recurring payments, and online verifications (KYC) for easy payments. Most of the D2C brands shifted their focus online. Their ideal audience group online was the Tier I city audiences as they are recognized as internet savvy. However, brands quickly discovered that Tier II-V cities had significant demand too. Another segment that also came to focus was the Gen Zs- people who are just entering the workforce.
Today, most D2C brands recognize Gen Zs and Tier II-V city audiences as their target group. Due to various EMI payment options available in the market, this generation holds greater purchasing power. Opposed to the traditional way of getting EMI financing, online verification today is convenient, hassle-free, and requires minimal to no physical documentation. Most of the payment platforms use underwriting to predict credit history, all in under 2 minutes.
Split payments solved issues for both brands and consumers. While consumers were more likely to purchase an item when they had to split the payments, brands were able to up their sales and revenue. One important trend to note here is the narrative of EMI payments for D2C categories. Before, EMI payments were associated with big price points. Now, one can split payments for hair dyes, protein shakes, earphones, etc. For brands, the win was when their COD (cash on delivery) purchases and return rates were reduced when they partnered with splinter payment platforms. This boosted their Average Order Value and gave them the onus to partner with platforms that gives their customers a smooth and fast approval rate.
EMIs have also been accepted by the women segment rapidly. Research shows that 22 percent of Indian women are likely planning to adopt installment payments for their personal finances in the next 12 months. Thus, split payments have helped to make waves in the traditional narrative of the purchasing power majorly lying with men. Even in the women segment, Gen Z women have been more actively taking EMIs to purchase in the fashion and beauty categories.
The D2C trends have shifted towards catering to people who can purchase on credit. EMI payment platforms have been successful in addressing the gap for the segments that need credit. Currently, there are 700 million consumers on the internet to leverage split payment offerings by sitting in any remote corner of the country.
Tiwari said that the world is moving from traditional methods to an automated and virtual world. Mobile tech makes the shopping experience more efficient, more personalized, and more convenient. A positive customer experience is important to any retailer. It enables quick product/service discoverability, simplifies the checkout processes, and leads to a seamless customer experience.
“I believe these technologies work best - Payment Integration System (PIS): UPI automates payments, refunds, and cancellations, automates marketing and data analytics: pricing tools, marketing and reporting, and chatbot: delivering seamless customer experience and has changed the way we communicate and understand our customers,” he added.
Enhancing Consumer Experience
Bagzone Lifestyles Pvt Ltd (Lavie) is utilizing technology to coordinate and collaborate with its customers and gather and analyze data on customer behavior. It is also using tech to personalize customer experiences and automate marketing and data analytics.
Going forward, I believe the following technologies should be introduced in India to revolutionize the retail sector - Augmented Reality for consumers and workers, personalized shopping experience basis user behavior, and use of beacons for proximity marketing,” asserted Tiwari.
In the last two years, online retail/e-tail has gone through massive changes. Verma said during Covid and lockdown, technology has risen up to be the biggest enabler for the retail and e-tail segment. It has been helping brands in streamlining processing and curating personalized user experience by using artificial intelligence and machine learning along with 24*7 customer support using chatbots and more.
“E-tail is all about holistic consumer experiential marketing and with the innovations beauty tech as an industry is introducing, technology is improving the user experience thereby improving the sales volume overall,” he noted.
Technology: An Enabler for Transformation
As a startup organization and as the only leading clean beauty e-commerce marketplace, Vanity Wagon strives to ensure the highest order of user interface experience. Keeping this in mind, as an evolving beauty tech brand, it resorts to using the below technologies to the maximum:
Artificial Intelligence - AI reveals valuable insight into customer preferences/lifestyles, thereby enabling marketers to come up with customized user-driven marketing campaigns. It also helps the brand to understand consumer preferences and curate personalized experiences based on relevant and useful information on consumer mapping. AI-based product sections on the website help to provide users with more curated products as per their past shopping history, hence providing a seamless experience in the customer buying journey.
Omnichannel Platform - A single platform to integrate all the modes of communication and sales channels thereby giving more dynamic service to improve the shopping experience
Chatbots - It helps to provide a variety of services and automated customer support as an immediate response to consumer queries. Chatbots help to provide 24*7 services which is a need of the hour. With increasing consumer dependency on e-tail, shopping is not restricted to any specific time of the day. Hence, using AI in chatbots resolves majority of the customer issues from order tracking to customize product recommendations.
Jain said that there are numerous benefits that the retail industry has gained because of technology. From understanding consumer behavior regarding their buying pattern to analyzing their research-based investment decisions and anticipating the demands and aspirations of target audiences from their preferred brands to making logistics fast, traceable, and easier, technology has been phenomenal in revolutionizing the retail industry, especially at the outset of e-commerce.
“As per my observations, the three most remarkable contributions of modern technologies to the business world are – digital payment, e-commerce, and IT-enabled supply chains,” he stated.
Challenges in Technology Adoption
Today, India is one of the leading tech players in the world and its engineers and technocrats not only empower the country’s infrastructure and business but also facilitate the growth of foreign companies across the world. But, being a large and complex market, some challenges are evident such as the cost of implementation of novel technologies and the scarcity of trained manpower, Jain asserted.
“Another regular issue is the shortage of quality training programs and trainers for up-skilling and re-skilling human resources,” he added.
Utilizing Tech at its Best
Being a prominent B2C player in India’s flourishing consumer durable market, Compaq’s focus remains on customers. It is always quick and receptive to smart technologies which can enhance user experience and customer satisfaction. That’s why CRM and CDP are always the brand’s priorities.
“In addition, anything that can add value to customer experience becomes an integral part of our organizational culture,” Jain concluded.
In the current digital era, customers want everything in the blink of an eye, whether it’s product selection, quick delivery, or hassle-free payments, said Ganatra. Technology is the reason we’re able to achieve all this and more. Not to mention the way technology has changed how we access and analyze data. Every online retail business is dependent on data insights today.
Here are the three technologies that Ganatra believes in:
Augmented Reality: It is and will remain a game changer for the retail experience. From trying out products while sitting at home to customizing them virtually, the possibilities are endless.
Unmanned Stores: This can be the next big thing. Many companies and countries are already experimenting with it, such as Amazon Go stores in the US.
Entirely Digital Check-Out Experience: This is similar to unmanned stores, but not necessarily. The idea is to quickly pay for the selected products without waiting in a queue, at offline stores.
Some of the tech-enabled experiences that The Good Glamm Group has included are:
“Apart from more focus on technology to drive unmanned stores and self-checkouts, live selling of products via virtual appointments can be a big boost to the retail sector in India. It would allow store executives to help customers buy products from the actual store over a virtual video call,” Ganatra stated.
“Another area where we as retailers can experiment is by introducing NFTs with the retail experience; it could be too soon for this idea as of now, but the NFTs can be used as a ticket for an exclusive retail experience as well,” he added.
As India progresses on its digitalization journey, Venugopal said that e-commerce has been at the forefront of helping drive digital adoption across the country through India-first innovations and solving for the end-to-end funnel of a customer’s journey. Keeping customer experience at the center point, technology will play a pivotal role in not just getting more customers to connect with e-commerce but also building trust, confidence, and reliability.
“Some of the technologies that we are excited about are virtual and augmented reality, Metaverse, AR/VR, and live commerce and all of these are crucial from a future customer experience perspective. There is a need and an opportunity to bring real-life purchasing experiences to customers and virtual and augmented reality will play a great enabler for an immersive experience for customers while empowering them in their decision making,” Venugopal noted.
Venugopal stated that another exciting opportunity is Metaverse, a future where individuals could be shopping in a virtual world. With the launch of Flipverse, a Metaverse space where customers can discover products in a photorealistic virtual destination and shop on the Flipkart App, the potential for e-commerce to make a difference is immense.
Furthermore, AR/VR shopping has transformed the way customers buy products and services online. Flipkart has deployed 3D and AR capabilities via Flipkart Camera which offers 'View in 360°', 'Try On', and 'View in Your Room' features on the mobile app.
Additionally, Live and Video Commerce are becoming one of the most preferred mediums of touchpoint with the internet in India. Flipkart is witnessing an increasing adoption of Live Commerce by customers since it was launched a couple of months ago with more than 7 million customers and 30-plus brands having participated in over 1,000 live streams till October.
“We are also seeing increased participation from fashion and beauty brands and sellers who are leveraging the power of video to communicate the latest trends and style tips. This concept has become quite popular in smaller towns and cities as well with nearly 65 percent of the customers joining Live Commerce from Tier II and beyond cities,” he explained.
Lastly, AI/ML technologies are becoming increasingly important to cater to a diverse set of use cases for Flipkart customers. From enabling new customer experiences through regional language interfaces and voice capabilities to driving seller delight through computer vision-enabled cataloging to improving efficiency and lowering the cost of delivery through address intelligence - the applications of AI/ML are immense.
“Moreover, as a homegrown e-commerce platform, we extensively use AI/ML to deliver personalized and curated experiences across our multiple user segments,” Venugopal concluded.
Rudra believes that technology has been the key enabler in the retail industry. It has helped improve and personalize buying experience.
“For businesses, it has helped streamline and automate processes that eventually help in increasing sales. Tech-enabled solutions can improve the customer retention rate, and offer cost-saving benefits to the company,” he noted.
Tech: A Key Enabler
Here are a few technologies that Rudra believes in:
Virtual Services and Digitization of Offline Model: It is critical to have your brick-and-mortar offering on digital platforms to not lose out on your customers.
Logistics as a Service (LAAS): All brands depend on a robust supply chain model and strong logistics support forms the backbone of any good supply chain.
Data Analytics: If you are taking any decisions on your business without reviewing the data then you are bound to fail sooner or later.
CloudTailor is reviewing and analyzing heat maps on its website and app on a regular basis to identify the gaps and where users are dropping out. It conducts customer research and surveys to identify their pain points and come up with solutions accordingly.
“It is important to keep in mind that our existing customers are more important than acquiring new customers as they would not just be loyal towards your brand but also would promote the business through word of mouth. And a strong retention strategy is crucial for any business,” Rudra asserted.