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Panacea to Your Digital and Retail Channel Woes: Omnichannel Strategy
Changing Consumer Habbits
The Indian consumer is doing more with the Internet than before. For every nitty-gritty or information, the consumer is turning to the web. Shopping bag in one hand and mobile phone in other is a normal scene in Indian shopping mall- The consumer is becoming smart with each passing day.
Here is one of the scenario how consumer habits are changing- It's raining heavily in Mumbai but, Megha, age 29, has to shop for clothes for Tomorrowland in Boom, Belgium. You can't go to a music festival unprepared, especially to Tomorrowland! She fires up the Koov's app in her phone to check out the latest womenswear, she adds some of the clothes in her cart but does not buy.
She then launches her mobile browser to check out shoes online on various e-commerce site by putting a search in a Google "latest party shoes", she likes the one on Myntra. She continues to research the same brand of shoe, on other e-commerce platforms, in order to compare the prices and reviews. Meanwhile, her mum calls her for some work and Megha leaves everything to go and help her mum.
Later that day, she returns and starts watching videos on Youtube. While watching the videos, her choice of shoe is being retargeted to her in the form of display and video ads, in between her youtube video. After watching these ads, she is convinced in her head about her choice of shoes, but she does not take any action online.
Later that day, she goes to a shopping mall to shop for cosmetics, She enters the Sephora store and likes the multi-colored fake eyelashes. She scans the barcode to check prices online before asking the salesperson, meanwhile, she tries to convince herself mentally about her rational to buy these eyelashes. She also shares the picture of the product with her friends on Whatsapp group, to ask for their opinion. Further to it, after checking out other cosmetics store in the mall, she gathers, that the price online is cheaper, therefore, she saves the extra buck on the fake eyelashes by ordering it online.
As she places the order online, she stumbles upon a shoe store, which is selling the same brand of shoes she saw online and rushes to make a purchase in-store, at 50% discount, thanks to the offline sale.
Happy with her purchases online and offline, Megha goes back home, content that she has got the products of her choice, at great prices and guess what? Her friends on the Whatsapp group, give a thumbs up for her multi-colored fake eyelashes.
In a Recent Harvard Business Review it is revealed that a customer, interacts with your brand seamlessly, both online and offline, therefore, it is paramount to have your brand presence everywhere- whether you are an e-commerce site like pepperfry or a well-established brick-and-mortar store like Raymond's.
In their study of 46,000 shoppers, they found out that:
- 7% were online-only shoppers
- 20% were retail-only shoppers
- While the remaining majority of 73% shoppers used multiple channels while making a buying decision.
A lot of Research is being done on consumer behaviour in a multi-channel scenario. Customer seeks for all the available information about the product before making a purchase. Customers don't see your brand differently online and offline, as they migrate across channels they want their experience to be seamless.Customer nowadays interacts with brands on their will and as per their convenience and preference to a particular channel, therefore, brands need to communicate and provide information to its customers, at all available channels. A key to success in this omnichannel interaction is consistent communication about your product, offers, promotions and unified experience both online and offline.
According to Forrester research on Indian retail, it is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2020 from $600 dollar in 2015. India is the fastest growing online retail market in Asia with 44% CAGR compared to an overall average of 28% CAGR. By 2020, $70 billion of a retail sale will be influenced by the web, thanks to deeper penetration of mobile and internet in the country.
It's a huge business opportunity for brands to harness. The winning brand in this multi-channel scenario would be, the one who would be able to provide not just a great product but a seamless experience across channels, as per customer convenience.
Integration of channels is important for brands to maximise customer lifetime value, as information from various channels help you to provide a holistic view of your customer- in terms of their preferences, interests, wants, needs and mapping out the customer's journey.
Challenges of Cross-channel Interaction: A case For Ominichannel Strategy
As seen in the above example, what did Megha do, during her consumer journey? - She interacted with brands at multiple channels, doing a cross-channel interaction. In her cross-channel interaction, she checked out a product at the physical store and ordered it online.
But what is the issue, you would ask. Let me answer it for you, Sephora lost its sales to its online competitor. If Sephora would have invested in an ecosystem where it's customer gets a seamless experience both online and offline, then eventually they would have earned a customer- irrespective of the channel customer used for buying. Further adding to these woes, it might be possible that due to a difference in prices in the physical store and online, Megha would never purchase any product from Sephora's physical store and would rather just use it as a testing bed.
Therefore, it becomes paramount for Brands in India to implement omnichannel strategy and align it to their business objective. Omnichannel implementation will help brands in following way
- Optimising of marketing budgets to the channels, as per their role in the customer journey: Majorly, all brands have both an online and offline presence therefore, it is important to find out what channels your customer are using to interact with you, what role a particular channel is playing in a customer journey, at which channel the major conversion to sales in happening, and which channel is working best for your brand in creating awareness.
- Proving seamless experience to the customer, at every touch point with your brand, whether it's online and offline and as a consumer are interacting cross-channels, it is important they have parity of information across channels.
- Enhancing consumer experience through information gathered at every touch point and mapping customer journey thus, providing valuable insight about your customer- what they like, dislike, need and want, resulting in better marketing communication, developing better product for your target audience, and providing world-class after sales services
- Consumer loyalty tends to increase when they are served with relevant information at every touch point. When they have products which are customised as per their needs, and if they face any issues during the course of using the product, the solution is provided at the store or the helpline number. Checking customers previous interaction, therefore helping your after sales team to provide right solutions with a personal touch.
Technology trends driving omnichannel in India
Technology advancement throughout the years has disrupted the way we do things or interact with outside world. It has helped companies in various aspect of the value chain. Technological advancement has opened various channels and way to sell the product to the end customer.
Taking a step further, technology is now helping brands, to source a flow of information from all these channels and providing a hawk eye view of the customer's journey. This advancement is helping brands to be more relevant, better targeted, and at the right moment, ensuring a call of action from the customer.
Technology Trends Driving Omnichannel in India
Big Data and Attribution Model
As the line between the online and offline is getting blurred, it is very important to track, how your customer is interacting with your Brand? In today's world, brands need to handle peta, exa, and even zettabyte of information. Big data helps brands in getting meaningful information like mapping customer journey, how they gather information and which information they found most relevant to your brand, what are the touch points and what is it that helped the brand in making a sale.
Google and Facebook have launched attribution models, providing more insight to their clients about their customer's journey, rather than giving full credit to the last conversion point as customers are searching online and finally buying at their offline store
Beacons and Personalisation
Beacon is the device, which works on Bluetooth low energy(BLE), they emit la ow-frequency signal which then can be picked up by the apps in your smartphone which trigger push messages, alerts, app actions etc.
As a brand, you can install beacon at your physical store and serve the user of your app, with tailor-made communication as they pass the store, for instant conversion. Beacon also helps in tracking your micro-local position, thus helping brands in tracking where you are exactly inside the store and providing you with valuable information.
For more information : How beacons are changing the shopping experience
Augmented reality helped Brands like lenskart increasing their sale online by providing its audience with a facility to try their favourite sunglasses and eye frame by superimposing the eyewear over their uploaded photos. This gave confidence to the consumer to order online.
Similarly, brick-and-motor brands like Raymond's, installed virtual reality screen in some of their stores, giving their customer, the ease of trying different styles and designs, without going through the trouble of changing, which resulted in greater interaction and more sales.
Mobility with High-Speed Internet
According to Forrester Research 2015 report, the top priority for online retailers is mobile, as mobile internet users are expected to touch 450 million by June 2017. In India, most of the people use their mobile to access the internet, therefore, having marketing campaign optimised for mobile is inevitable.
Mobile is an important part of a customer's journey. In India, it is majorly being used to do the product research or reviewing the product. People check the prices online or research about the product before making their purchase decision.
As per the latest report in next 18 months, India will usher into the age of high-speed internet, thanks to the three satellite launch by ISRO, which by 2018 will provide data speed of 60-70 gigabytes per second.
The brands now have to gear up to incorporate technological advancements and understand the customer's choices in order to not only thrive but also survive.