For brands to earn customer loyalty they must successfully implement an omnichannel experience. Omnichannel retail involves creating a consistent customer experience across mobile commerce, websites, social media, advertisements, and physical stores.
The new-age Indian customer wants to purchase products from different platforms - all effortlessly and seamlessly. They are comfortable shopping directly from social media or in-store and expect retailers to adapt to newer technologies. But what makes a successful omnichannel retailer?
Successful omnichannel retailers need to focus on enabling and empowering customers to use their preferred sales channels at any point of the purchase process. The Coronavirus pandemic has also accelerated interest in buy-online-pickup-in-store, along with e-commerce. These changes won’t just be temporary, either. I expect long-term changes in customer behavior as Indian customers are quickly adapting to a new reality. But which omnichannel retail trends will actually define the post-Covid era?
Here are the top omnichannel trends that will come to redefine this sector, here’s what I see on the horizon:
Home Shopping Giving Rise to Video Shopping: One too many, as well as one-to-one - In India, this is especially coming to use in boutique and designer fashion stores. Additionally, video content has gained immense traction as the most preferred form of entertainment owing to the ongoing pandemic and lockdowns. Shoppable videos or in-video commerce is quickly becoming the simplest way for consumers to shop and for brands to streamline sales.
Social Commerce - Not only will the brand’s products be available seamlessly across stores, websites, and 3P marketplaces, soon they will also be easily available on social platforms like Facebook Marketplace and Instagram Marketplace. Whatsapp commerce in India is another channel that will soon become part of the new normal.
Hyperlocalization + Hyper-Personalization - Loyal customers will expect brands to know exactly what they like, after all, we all know the frustration of receiving irrelevant advertisements. Hyper-personalization or one-to-one marketing is a form of traditional personalization where one utilizes real-time data and artificial intelligence (AI), to display to their customers only relevant and specially curated content, products, or services. Brands will need to provide their customers with a curated collection of exactly what is available in the store next door based on their past purchase behaviors.
Augmented Reality (AR) - The use of AR in-store and online to help shoppers make better, more confident purchase decisions is vital for retail. Augmented reality not only helps the customer get a feel of the product, but it can also help online retailers reduce their cost on returns drastically by providing an engaging ‘try-before-you-buy' digital experience. New age innovative AR solutions allow customers to visualize the products they wish to purchase in real-time from the comfort of their homes or workspaces.
Self-checkouts in Stores/ Contactless Payments - Contactless payment has already become a part of our new normal, it is a secure payment method using a debit or credit card, smartcard, or another payment device by using RFID technology and near-field communication. Share cart/payment links directly to a phone using QR codes or Whatsapp in order to have a contactless, safe, and fast checkout experience. Omnichannel providers offer merchants a secure omnichannel payment processing platform that supports in-store, online, and mobile payments. This empowers them to power sales today and in the future
All in all, to ensure smooth operations, the Indian retail industry needs a sensible approach to the omnichannel strategy for enhanced customer experience and improved ROI. Brands that will consider customer experience an essential factor of corporate strategy will draw substantial value from omnichannel retailing. That being said, setting up an omnichannel solution can also become easier with the right strategy in place.
To conclude, I hope the above omnichannel retail 2.0 trends will help you implement an effective omnichannel strategy with your e-commerce setup.
In a spirited discussion on AI and the retail industry, Puneet Chandok, President of Microsoft India and South Asia delved deeply into India's role in transforming the world through Artificial Intelligence and technology enablement. He discussed Microsoft's commitment to India, not only in training Indian talent but also in leveraging it.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had praised the Tech Entrepreneurs Association of Mumbai (TEAM) for hosting Mumbai Tech Week and their ongoing involvement in building tech startups in the country. During a panel discussion with Haptik CEO Aakrit Vaish at Mumbai Tech Week, Puneet Chandok, President of Microsoft India and South Asia, emphasized the transformative impact AI could have on various aspects of daily life.
Chandok stated, “When we look at India through the lens of demand, supply, and impact, there is no other market like India today. There are 7,000 listed companies in India and one hundred thousand startups. Many startups are in Maharashtra, and one hundred new startups are emerging in India every day. India is the largest SMB market globally, making it one of the most exciting markets today.”
He further added, “When we look at the supply lens and examine Microsoft's data, one out of four projects on AI in GitHub today is run out of India. Every sixth AI researcher in the world is from India. In the next ten years, 25 percent of the global workforce will come from India, meaning every fourth worker in the world will be from India.”
Discussing the growing influence and power of Artificial Intelligence, Chandok mentioned, “Last night, my 12-year-old daughter was creating text-to-video, and she told me that AI will change her life. She is an artist; she draws and paints. This also indicates how the younger generation perceives AI.”
Expanding on this, Chandok continued, “People will stop searching and instead have conversations. I have stopped searching myself; in fact, I was conversing with my Copilot to understand what is happening at the event and what I should speak about. We have shifted from searching to genuine conversations. This is not just chat drama anymore. These are sophisticated engines providing reasoning within.”
Regarding his personal perspective, Chandok remarked, “People say AI is overhyped, but I think it's not hyped enough. The next generation, which will use this in the next few years, will have much higher expectations of what technology can do for them. So, how you build it for that generation, how you build it for that future, will be really interesting to see."
Chandok also emphasized that those who do not embrace AI, risk falling behind in the rapidly evolving technological landscape. He encouraged Indian developers to seize the "lifetime opportunity" to become unstoppable by learning to use and deploy AI effectively.
He concluded, “If you are not learning AI, you are falling behind. I myself spend 30 minutes a day to learn more about AI. Technology is changing every day, and it has been 15 months since ChatGPT was launched. The speed of technology diffusion is unlike anything I have seen in my life, and it is advancing very rapidly. My call to action for everyone is to find a way to learn, otherwise, we will all fall behind.”
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