With a more maturing market, every retailer now desires to offer an extraordinary customer experience that can turn a unique consumer to a repeat consumer. Few years back, shopping in malls was a trendy choice to make and then the e-retailing concept became all the rage. Now Omni-channel Retailing has arrived with more options to choose from. It gives a choice to see a product on ‘A’ channel, buy the same on ‘B’ and collect the same on ‘C’ channel. Perhaps, it can offer a win-win proposition to both the consumers and retailers. A closer look!
What is omni-channel retailing?
Omni-channel retailing is more about offering seamless consumer experience through all available shopping channels like mobile internet devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalog and so on. Lalit Agarwal, CMD, V Mart Retail Limited says, “Omni-channel retail has expanded retailer`s reach beyond geographical constraints, Now Indian customer has an array of channels to get shopping experience from which, it is relatively proving beneficial to such retailers. Indian consumers now being more tech savvy enhance the prospects of using varied channels; reaching customers through mobile phones & tablets have enabled retailers to customise their offering through proper data mining & data analytics”.
Bharat Agarwal, Clay Craft India Pvt Ltd feels, “Omni-channel retailing is really beneficial to a retailer who wants to give 360 degree support to its customers. Benefits are a lot, but it needs heavy investments too. Technology implementation and up-gradation will be the core part that will support to sustain omni-channel retailing. One has to convert the customers’ reviews into action plan that resolves the errors and makes the processes more convenient to customers”.
As per Agarwal there are many retailers planning to foray in this platform. He says Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco and Toys R US (dealer distribution network) are some of the retailers that are doing well in Indian market.
How to manage inventory
Agarwal says, “Inventory Management can be done effectively through Centralised Distribution Centers which can cater to nearby states/ cities altogether. The focus should be on real time data exchange between the warehouse & demand generating platform in order to ensure easy availability of products. Proper synchronisation of inventory report with sales & procurement dept can add value to the supply chain. Inventory Holding and turnover ratio will be the key driver and hence it should be maintained at central level and distributed using all channels.
•Overcome the limitations of existing format
•Expanding market presence
•On-demand self service storefront means 24/7 virtual salesman
•Ability to capture and analyse the insights into customer shopping behaviour
•Testing products before stocking them
•Cross-channel strategies increase sales conversion
•Enhance overall experience to foster loyalty
•Huge market potential
• Stronger brand recall and enhanced brand image
• It provides a platform to enhance customer service and customer relationship management
• Word of mouth publicity.
• Real-time data may be necessary when moving towards an Omni-channel approach
• Effective supply chain strategies to match consumer demand as demand generates from many channels simultaneously
• Expert human resource pertaining to that domain/channel is critical to the success
• It is difficult to provide customer satisfaction without employee interaction
• Communication to customer in terms of product quality, price, benefits, value using electronic medium may be difficult. Proper channel mix and medium should be used for better conversion.
One size fits all?
While it’s yet to find out if the concept is appropriate for midsized & small sized retailer, omni-channel retailing is gaining popularity for sure.