Online or offline, consumer is always at the heart of retail: Aditya Soni

In conversation with Aditya Soni, Business Lead, Flipkart, who talks about how eCommerce has dominated the retail landscape and is still going strong.
Aditya Soni, Business Lead, Flipkart

Artificial intelligence and machine learning may have changed the way a consumer approaches a brand and the way a consumer shops and spends time on buying, but the heart of online or offline will always be a consumer. As technology dives more and more into retail, shopping is all about convenience, says Aditya Soni, Business Lead, Flipkart, in a conversation with Indian retailer.

Automation is expected to take over retail across the globe in the next decade. Your comments.
I would not go as far as a decade, but I will speak for India in the next few years and I think the growth of e-commerce is already out in the open for all to see. The retail industry was mostly dominated by unorganized market but the trend has changed in the last couple of years. Now, there are more and more reasons why the industry is migrating towards a digital platform. For all e-commerce platforms, the criteria is to get the basics right, provide quick and convenient services and ramp up the delivery mechanisms. The idea is to make all transactions easy and I think that’s what automation will do to retail.

Speaking about automation, it’s interesting how retailers are adopting technology like voice assistants and chatbots at brick-and-mortar stores. How do you see this trend growing?
Whether online or offline, the consumer is at the heart of the business and it is indeed very interesting that the offline stores are becoming more tech-aware. The experience of using and benefitting from artificial intelligence and machine learning varies from consumer to consumer. However, what we can learn from technology is the buying habits of a consumer, their app behaviour and who are the loyalists to certain categories like fashion, apparel and others. The data captured from technology becomes super critical for a brand and ML is now becoming a reality. In fact, ML is now a way of life in retail.

What role is personalization playing in ecommerce?
The online platform has become predictive and with ML, retailers understand your needs. But imagine if there is a day or an app that could tell you that you are running out of groceries or your daily essentials like shampoo or fruits. That is the next level of personalization and that could soon be a reality.

Omni-channel is the new buzz word for both online and offline retailers. Your observations.
I think omni-channel is heading in absolutely right direction and the idea behind omni-channel is just right. However, what would work for a brand is not to be present on omni-channel just for the sake of me too strategy, but to make a difference. Timing is extremely important and there should be clear value addition to the whole equation of having omni-channel presence. Having said that, any retailer should make decisions based on the data and the data should speak for itself.

What are the targets for Flipkart for this fiscal? What growth are you looking at?
We are looking at more partnerships and bringing in more brands. We are focusing on more growth and that will be the target this year.


Aditya Soni