Customer unification will be the key in retail: Piyush Kumar Chowhan
Customer unification will be the key in retail: Piyush Kumar Chowhan

Phygital customer experience seems to be the only way forward for online and offline retailers of the country. Exploiting the data in the right manner with mapping pre-commerce to post-commerce of the journey will be the key for decision making to offer sophisticated customer experience. Also to keep up with the trend of customer adoption of tech they need to constantly experiment because there are many technologies and there is no way that one technology will fit all. Thus, talking about importance of unified view of the data, blurring distinction between offline and online retailers, and future of retail among other important aspects Piyush Kumar Chowhan, Vice President and CIO, Arvind Brands spoke to

According to you what are the basic steps that the retailers should follow to go phygital?
They need to basically create an end- to- end customer journey and try to map that journey. They should try to build a technology platform to bring together different channels to offer unified customer experience and that is what phygital is all about. Then retailers should try to give a sophisticated experience to the needs of the customers across different channels.

How can they exploit the data in the right manner?
All they need to do is trace the journey of the customer right from beginning of exploring their preferences. They should map and try to understand what customer is doing in pre-commerce, during commerce and post commerce. All that data needs to be brought into customer analytics platform to get better insight of what are the ways customer is exploring, where he is trying to make choices and what are the factors that influences his decisions. They should look at what are the factors being looked at by the customers while making actual transactions, how is he reacting and what are the factors impacting post transactions. Thus, retailers have to look at the data in its entirety, try to make insights, learn from it so that they can serve and offer better experience to the consumer.

Why do retailers look at eCommerce just as a channel and not utilizing it fully? 
The online retail has actually been disrupted. Even online retailers are opening physical stores and physical retailers are opening online stores. I think it is only matter of time before the line will be blurred. There will be just retailer with having omni-channel capability and having no distinction of online and offline segmentation.

Why 9 out of 10 retailers are losing money with going omni-channel?
I think it is because everybody is learning at this point of time and the business model has to be changed. The same model will not make money neither on the online way or omni-channel way. Something different has to be done and the technology platform has to be different. The way you serve the customer has to be different and that is the only way to make money. Hence, Phygital is the right decision.

How can master data management play a key role in decision making?
I would not call it as a master data management, but I would say it as ‘unified view of the data’. It’s an end-to-end view of the data which is important. The fragmented data like inventory data, purchasing data among others is not going to be of any use in the omni-channel world also customer unification- the one view of the customer will be the key. We have been talking about customer centricity for a very long time, but I think it is now becoming a reality and it will move ahead and be more relevant in the future. 

How can retailers keep up with the trend of customer adoption of tech?
Retailers need to experiment constantly because there are many technologies and there is no way that one technology will fit all. Even if you take top five retailers in the world everybody is trying to build different technology platform and that is what I mean. Retailers have to experiment what suits them and what will bring customers to their value proposition.

What will be the future of offline retail going forward?
There will be no distinction between offline and online, everything will be merged. The retailer will be a retailer his sole purpose is to sale to the customer and make money with offering 3600 customer experience. 

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