Off the Shelf provides a platform for Retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods companies to discuss and gain insights on the pressing problems, trends and solutions.

February 28, 2017

Managing Shopper Information is the Key in Today's Retailing Curve Ball

Technology has transformed the Retail Environment and has made Shopping multi-dimensional. This quote from Scarlett Ballantyne a popular make-up artist on Pinterest is more than relevant: "Nothing haunts us more than the things we didn't buy". In today's world of consumerism, Shoppers are Omni-channel, driven by price consciousness and are bargain hunting. As the touch-points increase in number, opportunities to sell are increasing but it's becoming tougher than ever to make an impact and also earn better margins. Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of US quoted: "About the time we can make the ends meet, somebody moves the ends".

Being better than the competitor in Shopper Marketing will be instrumental to come up roses. Influencing the Shopper through continuous and innovative Shopper Marketing practices has to be enabled by customer relationship management, workforce efficiency, product availability, lean inventory, controlled shrink and efficient value chain processes.

60% of purchase decisions are impulsive and hence the need to influence Shopping pattern and create impact with the "Right" Shopper Centric Retail Environment on any Shopping Channel.

 

Shopper Centric Retail Environment.png

This requires creating an Enterprise Shopper Marketing Information Warehouse to analyze Shopper actions, needs and preferences and work out tactical and operational decisions to make an Impact and earn better margins.

 

Shopper Marketing Information Warehouse.png

February 27, 2017

Rethinking the Shopper Experience Journey to develop Store Associates Behavioral Skills

  - R. Sriram and Krishnakant Kasturi

Products are out of stock, products are shelved incorrectly, shelves are messy, change in the location of the product from the previous visit made by the customer, customers cannot locate store employees to help customers with the products and services that they demand, Long queues for billing products and product returns, "not my department" indifferent responses.

 Are not these regular customer grievances from any kind of Physical Retail Store? Can use of technology improve Shopper experience better without correcting the basics? Probably, not. It is like pouring water into a sieve.  Retailers are losing more than 15 percent of potential sales every day in their stores because of poor staff performance and bad execution of in store processes. Shoppersare likely to buy 60 percent more than their planned purchase in the store if they are happy with the store employees helping them with their purchase. With 85 percent of the shoppers likely to buy their products from a physical store, the potential loss to a retail outlet because of the employees who are indifferent to the needs of their customers is a whopping 47 percent.

The Elephant in the room is the core human behavioral skills that are lacking in the era of accelerated technological Innovation. Store associates seem to be lacking in compassion and empathy. The Gen-Z millennial associates, who are more adept at digital communication as compared to verbal communication, seem to lack the necessary behavioral skills to interact personally with the Shoppers, understand their needs, or do their job efficiently so that the Shoppers are served efficiently. This is observed across as many store formats across retail businesses.

This skill gap is widened by attention deficit, poor verbal communication, lack of structured training and lack of expertise due to frequent job-hopping is the Achilles heel of Retail Operations, which are going through the mill, trying to mature in Omni-channel operations competing with Amazons of the world that sell everything from soap to nuts.

Sports Authority has closed all its 460 stores in the US in 2016, Walmart has closed 154 stores in the US in 2016, Aeropostale, Kmart/Sears, Ralph Lauren have closed 182 stores put together in the US in 2016, all owing to negative profitability. Could the operations have been profitable if they had invested in human skills resulting in more walk-ins and conversions?

Associate training should make up a larger portion of the opex spend in comparison with the spend on technology, rather than consider it as budget dust to comply with organizational guidelines.

  • What are my key KPIs?
  • What are the root causes for the declining performance?
  • What are the basics that are missing that have impact on these KPIs?
  • How can the associates be trained on behavioral skills to improve the performance?

As targets are time-bound, there would be a rush to use technology to keep pace with competitors, with the possibility of overlooking the need to correct basic operational skills and tasks.  Here are a few examples of evaluating the need to correct basics rather than resort to a technical solution.

In the age of web-rooming, technology should complement the store associates rather than replace them. Here are a few examples where technology and human actions can complement each other:

·         Associates describing a product + reading product information on a mobile app.

·         Associates guiding the Shopper to the shelf and describing promotions + Digital signages/Guided selling tools or product locators conveying location and marketing content.

·         Associates calling and speaking to a customer + personalized messages to mobile/email.

·         Associates  recognizing a high value or regular customer  and greeting them + mobile app triggered welcome messages

 

Self-checkout vs Cashier Checkout: They cost a whopping $15,000-$20,000 with an objective to aid faster checkouts. However, are they productive, do shoppers take more time to learn the tool or do they bring up a host of other new issues to tackle and end up having associates to juggle many frogs?

·         Can the cashiers be trained better on offers, handling complaints and returns!

·         Can they be trained on the Loyalty program!

·         Can promotions be updated on the POS!

·         Can all skus have barcodes on them!

·         Can scanners be working all the time!

Robots for replenishment, stocktaking vs Trained Staff: Robots are replacing Store associates and why? Notwithstanding the augmented value of Digital product information signage or kiosks and interactive technology -

·         Can Associates be trained to comply by planogram!

·         Can they be trained to count skus efficiently!

·         Can they be trained continuously on the new products, offers etc. and in displaying PoP material!

·         Can they be trained to replenish stock on time!

·         Can scheduling be improved to ensure they are found on the aisles during lean, normal and peak business hours!

·         Can they be trained to exhibit product knowledge to help shoppers on the path to purchase!

·         Can they be trained on selling high margin products!

 

Developing Store Associates into the real Shopper Marketers

Store associates are the real Shopper Marketers in the physical store. Investment on Training to couple operational activities to their behavioral skills will lead to efficient retail operations and drive automatic walk-ins into the store.

1.       Rethink and revisit the Shopper Experience Journey in the Store connecting all Shopper touch points in the store.

2.       Map all Operational activities to be executed by associates  for each touch point- Describe the associate roles handling that point, as-is process and experience, shopper pain points, gaps, to-be process and experience, training required to achieve the to-be experience, frequency, methodology etc.

3.       Map behavioral skills to Operational activities: For every training need identified for each touch point in the store, map an activity to a behavioral skill required by the associate for executing the operational activity at each touch point in the Shopper Experience Journey.

4.       Identify Shopper and Store Value for each operational activity and behavioral skill : This would serve as basis for training the associates and as a platform to develop their behavioral skills for achieving operational efficiency.

Here is an example:

Shopper Experience Journey Touch Point

Associate activity Training Component

Behavioral skill or instinct

Shopper Value

Store Value

Shopper searches for product on the Shelf

How to Stack the Product on the shelf in the right place as per Planogram displaying the Shelf Label and Shelf Talker

Understanding the Planogram, reason for adjacencies or facings or stacking method.

ensuring compliance

Shopper is able to find the product immediately and drop the product into the basket

Conversion is ensured.

Basket value is increased.

Shopper does not switch to another store.

 

5.    Mass induction training programs are old hat. Conduct role-based Training conducted by Operations experts rather than Career Trainers.

6.   Conduct training programs continuously for all roles - immediately after induction and on a regular basis on a training calendar. Revise Training content constantly based on the business developments. Conduct Training throughout the year for all associates old and new.

7.   Impart Shop-Floor based practical training with less hours in classroom. The skill learnt has to be demonstrated by the trained associate to assess training effectiveness.

8.   Include more video-based content and less of text-based theory sessions.

9.   Supervise every training session and practical test demonstration by the so that, the desired behavioral skills for each operational activity are learnt effectively.

10.   Organize associates by various bands on a ladder based on their ability to demonstrate behavioral skills in operational activities.

11.   Incentivize associates based on their position in the training ladder.

Developing Associates Behavioral Skills are bound to be the biggest ticket to successful Next-Gen Retailing. Come what may, its always back to the basics !

February 10, 2017

Agile - A promising way or just another over-rated term

It's not that old when organizations used to work in phases for any IT development starting from Ideation, requirement gathering, solution design, development, testing and until UAT & launch; and things were proving to be successful and satisfactory. Then shouldn't we wonder, suddenly what made the businesses start think it's not productive anymore? There are 3 basic reasons I can think -

1. For long durations the solutions have to be stacked until the big releases so for this whole duration the product used to work with outdated concepts.
2. The handovers used to take time while other downstream resources were waiting to get the final guidelines from their upstreams to start their own work.
3. Poor, negotiated quality of the delivery and sometimes the feature is already outdated if you don't think ahead of time.

Then idea must have been triggered to bring everything together and doing smaller and more frequent releases with minimum valuable functions. The term that was coined was a big hit - 'AGILE'. Wondering why? I guess it was pure luck or may be really smooth execution. This new model of every expertise working together as team like a battalion in a war room creating war plans came out to be extremely productive and beneficial. But the thing here to understand is, there was no-one calling it an "agile migration", may be that was the biggest positive about the first profitable agile execution. Now since the organizations inform everyone 'we are moving to Agile' seems to be a hindrance to migrate the mindsets because of an obvious human resistance that comes due to the word 'migration'. 

Agile is one of the latest and ongoing trend in organizations working with IT support. But 'trends' have their own prophecy, A prophecy of complicating things in the name of making them easier. Let me explain this with a simple example. John, a 20 year old boy from a village thought of starting to sell fruits, For the first day of his new business, he kept standing silently at one spot with his fruit cart, he was able to sell to only 10 customers. after 3 days, he understood the pattern that 7 of those customers at that spot come between 8:30AM to 10AM. He thought why not find another spot after 10AM to sell more, he started walking through streets and then a few people saw him and bought fruits from him. This day he sold to 35 customers. After a week he realized that his target customers don't know when he is in the streets, so he bought a bell and started ringing it every time when he used to pass on a street. This time he sold to 60 customers. In a few days he realized that some new customers visiting his fruit cart doubted if the fruits were good, so he thought let me explain them about my fruits and started explaining the customers the quality of his fruits. However he hardly got a few more customers added. He realized he is missing something, and that is 'the showcase', the customers should see how the fruits are from the inside and be able to taste them. So, he added a small glass box in the cart where he could put the open fruits (peeled oranges, already cut papaya and apples etc.) in display and for taste. This time he realized that he sold to more than 100 customers in that day and this whole thing happened in a 3 week's period. Let's stop this story here and look at this again. The first step John did was efficient utilization of time and resources, the second step he did was Acknowledging presence and availability in market, the third step he did was consultative selling and fourth was visual merchandising & experiential marketing. Imagine that fruit seller to combine all these concepts together and calling it "5 Fruits of John" and then ask the other normal fruit sellers to migrate to the 'new' 5 fruits of John 'set up' which works on efficient resourse utilization, presence & availability acknowledgement, Consultative selling, Visual Merchandising, and Experiential Marketing. What do you think, would it be easier now for a new fruit vendor to do it in 3 weeks?

Same goes with Agile. The idea and concept of agile is very simple - if you know your problem statement, all you need is all expertise on a round table throwing ideas to resolve it. you as a team select one idea, decide what needs to be done, by whom and by when it will be complete. We choose shortest yet quality path to reach there and address the problem. If the addressal is not good enough we will surely get another problem statement soon to make it better :). Scrum is just and just one way of managing agility in organization's development model, nothing more, nothing less. Making this concept flashy with jargons and fancy words is a matter of only of complicating it. all agile means is a flexible and fast thought process. To my opinion this is one good reason for the agile migration failures ;).

PS. I am not promoting any frameworks whether agile or waterfall, I am only promoting to maintain real concepts behind any idea. Hope you enjoyed reading!

January 17, 2017

Timing is Everything: Connecting with Consumers in a Rapidly Evolving Marketplace

The Big Show continues and we have more news and insights from the event. Today, I was thinking about timing. When the announcement that one of the most iconic American enterprises was shutting down occurred during the start of the National Retail Federation's Big Show, there was a bit of irony in the air. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, dubbed the "Greatest Show on Earth" for 146 years, has called it quits. The reason why it's closing is a good lesson for everyone in the retail world.

Yes, timing. For a century and a half, children were spell-bound when the circus came to town. The animals, including elephants, would come to their towns on extra-long railway cars and parade down the main thoroughfares. But during the last couple decades, the preponderance of must-see movies, television, video games, and, of course, the Internet and social media competed with the circus for the attention of its core consumer base: children. And the circus eventually lost.

Continue reading "Timing is Everything: Connecting with Consumers in a Rapidly Evolving Marketplace" »

January 16, 2017

NRF's Big Show 2017 Day 1: A Barometer and a Sneak Preview of the Great Potential for Retail

The first day of any large trade show is a sensory overload. There is so much to see, hear, people to meet for the first time, and people you catch up with for the tenth. One gets to learn about all the changes in and the challenges facing this industry. There is no doubt about it: If you are fortunate to be a part of the retail world, you are in the midst of an incredibly exciting time.

While I could go on and on about the awesome Infosys booth and showcase, here are some pivotal moments from the start of Retail's Big Show. The presentation that people were talking about all day was the Q&A with Rebecca Minkoff, the creator of the one of the hottest fashion brands in the world. Her stores are unlike the usual boutiques you might see in the fashion capitals of Europe. Instead, her bricks-and-mortar operations are considered Retail 2.0 stores of the future.

Continue reading "NRF's Big Show 2017 Day 1: A Barometer and a Sneak Preview of the Great Potential for Retail" »

October 8, 2015

Delivering differentiated customer experience in Omni-channel apparel retail

Conventionally, apparel retailers have segregated their customers into those who shop in-store and those who shop online. However, these differences are blurring as the tech-savvy and personalized experience seeking customer expects a holistic retailing landscape. The shift from traditional apparel retailing approach of 'Brick against Byte' to 'Brick in favour of Byte' has to be rapid and disruptive, rather than gradual and conservative. Thus, the heart of Omni channel retailing lies in the holy matrimony of customer's expectation and retailer's capabilities. 

Continue reading "Delivering differentiated customer experience in Omni-channel apparel retail" »

September 8, 2015

Creating digital loyalty programs

It has been researched and established over the last couple of years that it takes five times more to acquire a customer than to retain an existing one. Today in the retail world, it is difficult to acknowledge everything that's happening around the customers. In such a scenario, retailers cannot afford to ignore the need to constantly connect with consumers on multiple channels and touch points simultaneously and also interchangeably. Looking at the current trends, retailers need to overhaul their loyalty programs in order to create a personalized shopping experience. 

Continue reading "Creating digital loyalty programs" »

August 7, 2015

Inform, Cajole, Coerce - Field tips for CPG distributor sales executives to sell their brands to Mom and Pop retail outlets in emerging markets

Abstract

 

A distributor or a CPG company sales executive is an important element in ensuring penetration of CPG brands in the traditional mom and pop stores retail channel, especially in emerging markets. With as many competing brands within each product category and the peculiarity of each mom and pop retailer, the sales executive's task is complicated.

 

We present a few field tips for the sales executive to improvise and sell to the traditional retailer. These tips along-with sales history, inventory forecast, recommended order quantity, brand sku prioritization and "what if " margin calculation enabled by mobile technology and product training will enable the sales executive to achieve targets in an efficient manner.

 

Overview
 In emerging markets, a mom and pop retailer purchases Consumer goods based on a host of factors such as perceived credibility of the sales executive, time, space, working capital, consumer demand, margin and credit period, attractiveness of competing brands, distrust in a new brand or brand extension etc..

While considering all these factors, the distributor or CPG company sales executive has to engage the traditional retailers in a sustainable and profitable relationship and juggle with the entire portfolio of brands keeping in mind the retailer preference, store size and location, consumer profile, retailer working capital, schemes, new products, competing brand offerings.

Here are some often heard challenges that sales executives face during their daily routine and some street-smart tips to overcome them

Sales executive woes and tips to overcome them

 "Competition is offering better margins to trade......." "Net profit on product is marginal due to price under-cutting by Retailers....." "Retailers always expect the same margin if not more for the same order quantity, even in the absence of schemes or special incentives..."

·         Attack the Flanks: Dominate in outlets where competitor presence is minimal.
·         Illustrate for impact: Illustrate the margins made by the Top 25 outlets on the sale of these brands at the same price.
·         Keep competitor intelligence handy: Know your competitor. Understand their trade schemes. Take photographs of shop displays or marketing collaterals. If the offers are genuinely better, concede. This will build trust. Inform your distributor.
·         Communicate risk: Recommend the right price to sell to consumers and the risk of price undercutting - margin loss and reduced perceived price of the product brand.
·         Negotiate Hard: Compare margins with other retailers supplied by you or competing brands and show the retailer that his deal is the best one can get. Convince him on his potential to sell. Negotiate hard and do not drop your guard.
·         Compensate with additional incentive on other brands: Cover the perceived margin shortfall by offering additional incentive or cashback on brands in other product categories.

"Retailers demand for extended credit period in next ordering cycle, as product movement has been slow..."

·         Analyze inventory movement: Extend credit period only if it is the last resort. Monitor stock movement on a regular basis. Analyze the reasons for slow movement such as: No consumer enquiries, product complaints, competitor offers, no display, retailer not promoting the brand etc.
·         Transfer stocks: If the movement is genuinely slow, transfer stocks to other outlets where the movement is relatively faster and move in other substitute brands.
·         Improve visibility: If the Retailer is not proactively selling the brand, explore display through fixtures or attractive presentation or bundle the stocks with other brands which are imperative.
·         Illustrate and provide confidence: Compare with a like product brand which has the same lifecycle but was successful eventually and thus build Retailer confidence and avoid extended credit.

"Unable to sell some of the price variants"..." Almost impossible to sell less popular brands or brands with Low Retailer preference...."Retailer is willing to stock but only as a pilot and on consignment basis...."

·         Additional not substitutes: Promote less preferred brands as necessary additional orders and not special orders. Do not promote them as substitute brands. Explain on paper, the additional margin that can be made from selling these brands.
·         Cross-sell with the Winner: Bundle orders of less preferred brands with the power packs. Position them as mandatory without budging.
·         Gradually step on the gas: Increase order quantity and off-take incrementally until the desired order quantity is met.
·         Be cautious about consignment stocks: Supply stocks on consignment only if you are confident about the Retailer's credibility and ability to sell.

 "Need to maximize orders to achieve targets....." "Pressure to push stocks is leading to multiple invoices and delayed payments..." "Appeal by Retailer to not push for payments as other payments with higher priority have to be made first..." "Order quantity is same on every purchase..."

·         Have your Hat in Hand: Maintain a cordial relationship with the Retailer. Step into his/her shoes. Empathize with his situation, provide recommendations to improve stock rotations and tips to display and sell.
·         Challenge the regular ordering norms: Stretch the order quantity through rational explanation. Explain the lost opportunity by not stocking sufficiently.
·         Stay within the retailer's radar and execute your promise: Watch out for the slightest opportunity to promote your brands within the outlet. Ensure prompt delivery of order, participate if possible in displaying stocks and in selling to customers.
·         Avoid salesman productivity paranoia: Before the cycle begins, get the Retailer buy-in for the planned orders. Don't push the stocks too early to achieve your targets. Monitor the sales and schedule the distribution as per weekly sales and coverage frequency to gain Retailer trust.
·         Personalize every order: Communicate only those promotions or schemes which will be relevant to the Retailer in the ordering cycle.
·         Optimize the orders: Forecast and logically communicate the right order quantity based on past history and current schemes.
·                     Keep an eye on Competition at large: Monitor Competing brands new product introduction, volume, trade schemes and pre-empt any move to reduce your volumes.

"Appeal by Retailer to not push for payments as other payments with higher priority have to be made first...."

·         Collect Partial payments: Split the collection of larger invoices into convenient sums to ease the pressure on the Retailer.
·         Extend Credit period only where required: Collect partially and extend the credit period if required, for the balance amount.
·         Distribute with exclusivity: Don't generalize and push all product brands everywhere. Provide exclusive schemes only to those Retailers who are willing to pay on time and those who will provide the volumes that you had planned.

"Focus is always on few key Retailers, hence less chances and time to play around with the trade budget or stock to develop other Retailers..."

·         Improve penetration: Expand the distribution network to remove dependency on a few retailers.
·         Create Clusters: Create clusters of outlets with common characteristics. Plan schemes for targeted clusters rather than one-fits-all schemes. Distribute incentive/promotion budget across clusters over time.
·         Develop Mascots: Develop a network of key retailers who can influence smaller retailers to join the network and/or purchase the brands, thus improving the overall order quantity.

 

Wear the ICC rule on your sleeve: "Inform, Cajole & Coerce" !

About the Authors 

 

Krishnakant Kasturi (KK) is a Principal Consultant Infosys Consulting.. He as 15 years of cross-industry and cross-functional experience spanning Retail Sales, Operations, Marketing and Business Consulting. He specializes in helping Retailers and Consumer Good Companies in business process improvements and building solutions in the areas of Sales Operations, Merchandising, Consumer Insights, Loyalty program management and Brand Management. He can be contacted at Krishnakant_k@infosys.com.
 
Sriram.R is a Senior Consultant in the Industry Solutions Group of Infosys. he has 10 years of hands-on experience of Sales and Distribution of leading CPG cos. in the Indian Market and 5 years in Business Process Consulting. He specializes in Sales and Distribution Strategy and Merchandising. He can be contacted at R_Sriram@infosys.com.
 
 

 

January 9, 2015

Deciphering the right ecommerce model for India

ecommerce Models2.jpg

















Multiple ecommerce models have evolved in the market starting from Pure Inventory Model (capital intensive) on one extreme to Pure Market Place Model on the other (technology based agent model that is light weight on capital).  In US 3 models dominate the space, they include

-      Pure Inventory Model

-      Hybrid+ Model- ex: Amazon

-      Pure Market Place Model - ex: eBay

However in India, while the market initially started off with Inventory led ecommerce model the capital intensive nature of business, concerns from stakeholders on profitability and scale as well as threat from International bigges like Amazon has led to emergence of new class of ecommerce Model namely

  1. Hybrid Model
  2. Managed Market Place Model

Each model has come into existence for similar reasons but with different intentions. The Managed Market Place Model has been adopted by Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon to circumvent FDI Laws and bring foreign money to beef up capital. While there are debates on whether it is legal to bring FDI under the Managed Market place model, for the time being it is seen as a quick source of much needed capital for these companies.

On the other hand Myntra (in early 2014) also introduced (but did not switch completely) to a Market Place model while retaining the Inventory based ecommerce model. Per one of the earlier announcements from the company, Myntra will continue to operate both models (one needs to read this with caution as Myntra got acquired by Flipkart in mid 2014) - src: www.economictimes.com

       Sell premium and private label brands through inventory model

       Sell Local and Boutique Brands through Marketplace model

While managed market place model is one sure way to scale profitably without needing too much capital and providing right level of control towards customer experience, there are still multiple problems to deal with

       Limited or Lack of control over Product availability and quality  from third party sellers

       Humungous task of managing a large supplier base that is fragmented and Limited ability of 3rd party suppliers to scale and meet demand fluctuations

       Delays in shipment and marginally higher shipping costs as multiple products in an order needs to be fulfilled from multiple suppliers consolidated at a Fulfillment center and then and shipped to customer

       Loss of competitive advantage over the long run as the technology platform offering (for managed marketplace) can be replicated by other players leaving little or o differentiation between various players in the market

Managed MarketPlace.jpg











In my view the model followed by Myntra** in India (hybrid model) or the one followed by Amazon in US (hybrid+) has greater appeal over the managed marketplace model for the following reasons

       Provides leverage to sell premium and exclusive brands through their own inventory

       Focus on private labels and improve margins

       Provides an option to the company to scale and sell other products/categories (from their own inventory) when 3rd party sellers are not providing the right quality of product or service

       Utilize marketplace to derive trends and insights on new products and gaps in current offering and use the Inventory model to exploit those gaps.

       Strikes a fine balance between Capital Requirements vs control on product quality, inventory and fulfillment

hybrid model.jpg











To summarize, in the near term the market in India will move towards the Managed Market Place model for ecommerce for obvious reasons. However once the restrictions on FDI in online retail (B2C) are removed and when capital is available at acceptable rates most players will settle for a 'hybrid' model where Inventory and Market Place models will co-exist on their ecommerce platforms allowing players to exercise right amount of control on product quality, inventory, price, fulfillment and order tracking. Think about a hybrid model where high value-low volume and designer goods are sold through inventory model and categories that have high volume/low value and low margin goods are sold through marketplace model.

Other interesting proposition to consider would be that of Brick and Mortar retailer like Reliance Retail or Tata*** to build or acquire one of the ecommerce platforms and provide a compelling business case. A player like Reliance Retail has the following advantages

       Established supplier network for multiple categories as they already operate various formats like Fresh, Hypermart, Digital and Fashion - helps scale the business faster

       Faster rollout into Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets by leveraging well established store network in these cities.

       Availability of capital from parent company which will help scale the business. Deep  pockets and easy access to capital ensures staying power in the low margin online business

       Omni channel support by leveraging stores as fulfillment centers ensuring faster deliveries and improved customer experience

Clearly these are exciting times for online retail in India. The extent to which any model succeeds will depend on positive policy changes, efficient usage of available capital, trust quotient, scale, optimal customer experience and supplier network management and tight control on operations (price, quality, availability, fulfillment and returns).

* Includes Control on Product Quality, Inventory, Price, Logistics, Fulfillment and Tracking

** Myntra got acquired by Flipkart in Mid 2014 and hence their business model might be subject to change

*** Tata has already made investments in Bluestone, UrbanLadder and Snapdeal in 2014

January 2, 2015

Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds

I am a technophile, and I believe sincerely that technology is going to make tomorrow's world better than the one today, just like it made today's world better than yesterday's. The retail shopper will be among those who enjoys increased conveniences and better shopping experiences with the technology trends sweeping the Retail industry today.


One such trend - a vital piece of the Omnichannel puzzle - is interconnecting the physical and digital customer touch-points, thanks to various technologies including geo-fencing, NFC tags, GPS and mobile devices like smartphones. By bridging the physical and digital worlds and allowing them to interact with each other in a seamless manner, the Retailer can improve the customer's shopping and service experience resulting in increased conversions.


Let's take an example from a real life situation. Say I want to buy a smartphone and I research various smartphone brands online, select one and add it to my shopping cart or wish list. The next time I walk into a store, an alert can be made to appear on my smartphone asking if I need assistance buying the smartphone in my abandoned shopping cart or my wish list. The customer experience could then be taken further, by paging a customer service rep to come help me or by allowing me to navigate to the electronics section using my phone. The experience could be completed with price comparisons, a mobile checkout and feedback on the product and experience.


This is just one example and the possibilities are endless - including personalized in-store offers, price and availability alerts, proximity based product information, showrooming and analytics of in-store behavior; not to mention upcoming technologies such as Automated Shopping Trolleys, 3D Printing and Augmented Reality. And while Retailers improve their experience, Shopping Mall operators are also starting to connect shoppers to the digital world, for added conveniences such as automated parking garages and price comparisons.


Shoppers may look forward to an exciting future where their shopping trips resemble a sequence from a science fiction movie. Retailers already have several tools to launch themselves on the way to that future.


To learn more about the various ways for Retailers to bridge the physical and digital worlds, meet our experts at Retail's Big Show. Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15.

Continue reading "Bridging the Physical and Digital Worlds" »

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