Technology has made shopping sophisticated

Speaking to Retailer Media on the launch, Ajay Kelkar, Co-Founder & COO, Hansa Cequity explained about the changing dynamics of Indian retail landscape and why retailers are betting big on digital and are adopting omni-channel strategies. He also spoke ab
Ajay Kelkar, Co-Founder & COO, Hansa Cequity

Hansa Cequity, a customer marketing firm has come up with its first-ever Omni-channel shopper study during the “Cequity Conclave: Data Driven CMO”. The report talks about consumer behaviour and how people prefer to shop in India. The research conducted by Hansa got over 1,300 responses from 86 cities of the country.
Speaking to Retailer Media on the launch, Ajay Kelkar, Co-Founder & COO, Hansa Cequity explained about the changing dynamics of Indian retail landscape and why retailers are betting big on digital and are adopting omni-channel strategies. He also spoke about the Gen Y shoppers and their expectations from retailers and eRetailers.

What is the latest finding that was revealed at the Cequity Conclave event?
As per various predictions, by 2015, CMOs will produce more on technology. This is a huge finding and from what we have seen, some of our own clients believe that the market is moving towards becoming more data savvy. So, we at Cequity thought that it is important to bring a series which is called “Data led CMO” where you bring this concept of how CMOs are using data across industries. There is a series of conferences on the same that we are having across 4 cities. The intent is to invite players from the retail industry who will share their thoughts and experiences about how the marketing organisations are effectively leveraging data and to showcase studies.

With the advent of mCommerce in retail where do you see lies the future of eCommerce 3-5 years down the line?
If you look at the US, their eCommerce is still not even 6% of the total retail and if you look at the top growing eCommerce retailers it’s the bricks and mortars. Our own belief and our omni-channel studies have also shown the fact that there are a lot of opportunities as consumers are not looking at only one channel, they never say we will shop only on the mobile. Though audience for mobile will be very large in India but what consumers say is that we will shop across different channels or a channel that is most convenient to us at that point of time.

Technology, big data and analytics plays a pivotal role in today’s retail industry. What are the major segments of a retail business where data and technology can be leveraged by the retailers?
The way we look at this is recognition and relevance. These are two things very critical for today’s customers. If I am shopping at Shoppers Stop online and I am not recognised the way I am recognised at the store, I might not shop online again. The second piece is that if I have just shopped from Shopper’s Stop and I have brought a lot of apparels and I now come on to the mobile app of Shopper’s Stop, the relevance of a new category or maybe even a relevant category from the apparel purchase behaviour that I have displayed in shop will pop up for me when I use the app. This is becoming important. So, recognition and relevance are two very important aspects and consumers are saying: either know me or lose me.

When we talk about values and services, don’t you think retailers focus less in tier II and III cities of the country?
If you look at the existing retail, major categories such as lifestyle, grocery, electronics etc have gone down to tier III and even IV cities. In reality their business model has defined how the consumers will walk in. If you have a lifestyle store in Nasik, it will still attract a certain set of audience which is similar to what you have in Mumbai. So, the business model of the kind of apparel you stock and how you sell is defining what kind of people are coming in your store.

Talking about mobile, I think what will change in the coming year is that marketers and retailers will together figure out how to relate to the new audiences in a smaller town and what are the differences in the way they sell to them. Buying cannot be complicated, simple buying buttons are needed to be developed in terms of how you need to buy on mobile. Issue with retail is not about location but aspiration. The aspiration to buy diamond is aggressive in tier II and III cities, but the challenge is to ensure variables to address that.

Where do you see the future of bricks and mortars?
In the US, fastest growing eCommerce companies are bricks and mortars. In our reviews, bricks and mortars has the maximum advantage as shopping is not a lonesome activity but a social activity. I shop and when I shop I need to look at recognition and approval from my friends and relatives.

The most social of populations across the world is in Indian and Latin America and in a social population, brick and mortars can never die because you don’t shop only from home, you shop when you go out to eat, when you go for family occasions. This is the reason eCommerce players are trying to develop mobile applications which mimic bricks and mortars. In the next 3- 5 years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see bricks and mortars in India will start leveraging from the eCommerce environment.

Retailers outsource their entire technology wing to a third party solution providing company. How do you see this trend emerging out to be?
Retail is a business of understanding consumer needs and making sure that the product/ services are available as per consumer needs. They don’t run a technology business and so at an extent I think it makes sense to leverage specialists as they have got the expertise to build technology across multiple industries and this also reduces manpower and gives you time to focus more on your product/ services. 

Ajay Kelkar