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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. 

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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" »

December 18, 2014

Digital wallet and self-check-out - are they the answer to shorter check-out queues.

Market Size projections for Mobile Wallet Range from $41 B (per Forrester Report in 2013) to $64B (emarketer report in 2014) in US by 2017.  There is an even more impressive report card for Global Mobile Wallet market with estimates ranging from $ 191 B for 2017 (ABI Research for NFC Mobile payments) to $ 1602 B (Transparency Market Research, Oct 2014) by 2018 with a CAGR of 31% from 2012-18.

As we debate the correctness of various estimates, the writing is clear - these are well and truly exciting times for Mobile Payments in general and Digital Wallets in particular.

While there is a huge potential to transform the payment space, even at current levels of maturity the market is crowded and fragmented (at least in the US) with many players aiming to take a slice of the pie - see image below on who the players are and what are the various types of offering  (US Context)

DigitalWallet Ecosystem.jpg























Image1: Overview of Different Types of Wallets and Players


One would imagine that with the plethora of options,the awareness and adoption rate will be quite high, however the reality is quite contradictory - there is a high awareness (~ 80% in US) but a dismal adoption rate (< 20% in US) (src: Yankee Group 2014 report)

So what is really the problem - does the wallet not provide the convenience or benefits? Are consumers worried about security and data privacy?

Let's now consider the benefits of a Digital Wallet. Many proponents of the digital wallet will argue that usage of wallet results in shorter check out queues. While there are really no proven data points to quantify the actual saving, on the contrary there are some examples where different digital wallets have failed miserably on usage and performance that they had to be discontinued eventually ex: Starbucks Failed Square Wallet Rollout in 2012. Also, more importantly there's nothing particularly inconvenient about traditional card payments at POS / checkout. Given this kind of a scenario, the Mobile Wallet as a replacement of Credit Card with marginal improvement in checkout times will not be a great business case.

So now let's look at critical success factors that will help in adoption and in providing better benefits to customers. These factors fall under 3 different heads:

1. Superior Customer Centric Design -Foundation of any good mobile wallet offering
2. Address Customer and Merchant Concerns

Key Concerns.jpg






Image2: Key Concerns


3. Provide Value Adds

Value Adds.jpg







Image3: Key Value Added Functionality


In short rather than limiting the benefits of the wallet to just faster checkout times (yes this is absolutely needed but it is the bare minimum), the focus has to be more on looking at the digital wallet as a customer experience enhancement platform with built in components to address concerns and provide value adds so as to enable smooth payments by the wave or tap of a phone.

The success of any digital wallet program will depend on the extent to which it scales across the 3 dimensions of design, handling concerns and providing value adds to customer (see image below)

Attributes of a Good Wallet.jpg
















Image4: Attributes of a Good Digital Wallet Solution

 

To know more about Digital wallets and how your innovation investments can help you achieve business value meet our experts at Retail's Big Show 2015 (Jan 11 - 13, 2015) Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15

 

 

 

 

Sales-Consultant, not Salesmen in the brave new Digital World

 

Picture this scenario - a passionate photographer wants to buy a high-end laptop for his work. He goes to websites of all the top manufacturers like Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Asus, and compares various products within his price range. This enables him to short-list his query to 4 laptops. He goes to various e-commerce websites to check the offers present there, and reads up all the 350 odd reviews across the 4 products. But since he intends to buy a high end laptop, he prefers to buy it from the shop, as he wants to see the product before he buys it, and even though price is slightly higher in-store by 1-2%., He  also wants to see which other add-ons are suitable for him.

This customer is what an omni-channel customer looks like. They enter the store with consideration-set ready and researched, and they come in ready to buy, unless the store is giving him a reason not to buy.

The salesman in this case will need to be well-versed with different makes, significance of technical specifications, advantages of having higher RAM over a better processor, and details of after-sales service. He would also need a tablet wherein he can compare the laptops and discuss if the customer needs better Video-RAM or a better Hard-disk capacity. In case the salesman knows a bit about photography, he can even convince the customer to buy a good quality printer/scanner along with the laptop.

Thus, an omni-channel customer looks for a shop where he can find sales consultants, and not salesmen. These sales consultants need to be aware of what is being said by the reviewers across platforms, and need to be aware of the latest technologies. They need to know not only the price of Xbox-One and PS4, but also the price of games popular on these machines.

In case the customer is happy with his experience, this shop will be his first visit when he wants to buy an upgraded lens for his camera, or when his younger brother needs a new laptop for his MBA.

Every retailer knows the importance of the Lifetime Value of a customer. The importance of Life Time Value is probably best explained by using the Amazon Kindle example. A Kindle Fire costing $200 has components worth $165 according to estimates*. The margin is no-where close to covering the R&D expenses. Yet an average Kindle owner spends $433 extra per year on Amazon**, making Kindle a very profitable business.

Thus, providing -customer-centric information, without actively selling, can convert a walk-in into a repeat customer with high Life Time Value which results in a satisfied customer and a satisfied retailer too.

 

 

To know more about how retailers and sales associates can leverage all forms of innovation to decipher and deliver on customer needs and wants, meet our experts at Retail's Big show 2015 (Jan 11 - 13, 2015). Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15

December 16, 2014

2015: THE YEAR OF ONLINE GROCERY? (PART - 2)

With the U.S consumers' wallet share on ONLINE GROCERY growing rapidly, there is a subtle battle brewing between traditional retailers and e-tailers to capture their share of wallet. Given this is an industry typically characterized as highly price sensitive, hyper-competitive with razor thin margins and high purchase frequency - 'How to drive profitable revenues and build a sustainable, scalable (mass-market) online grocery business model?' is a key conundrum faced by U.S grocery retailers today.

Without a doubt, the U.S Online Grocery industry is experiencing a structural shift [see Figure 1] in the way consumers shop for groceries today. Few key trends defining this landscape, worthwhile to note are: price-to-value continues to remain an important driver for consumers who are seamlessly shopping for food and beverage across various store formats (no longer shopping at just one stop shop supermarkets), local and private labels are gaining popularity (better assortment mix), and last-mile delivery continues to be more challenging for retailers with diversifying consumer needs. So, what drives a consumer to shop online?[1] 

 

Grocery Image_3.jpgGrocery Image_4.jpg 

 

 

 


Turns out, Convenience still remains their primary motivation, though not the ONLY reason [see Figure 2] - according to a U.S Grocery Shopper Trends 2012 - Executive Summary published by Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Clearly, some of these reasons are easily replicable by the traditional retailers making it a level playing field for them. So, how can grocery players tap onto this opportunity today and make MONEY at the same time?
 
A Grocer's Perspective
 
De-constructing the P&L of a grocery business model [see Figure 3] shows that the overall economics of this business mainly depends on: the type of fulfillment model used (meaning productivity in number of units picked per hour), basket size, consumer demand, and population density.[2] 
 
Grocery Image_5.jpg
Clearly, a one size fit all approach where-in an e-tailer offering only a home-delivery or a traditional brick and mortar retailer offering only an in-store pick-up might not be viable and profitable. Instead, both e-tailers and traditional brick and mortar retailers, will have to strategically innovate to harness the given market opportunity. Consequently, rather than having a home delivery model across all geographies, brick and mortar retailers can play it by the consumer demand and population density to leverage a combination of fulfillment models e.g. in areas of low density and low consumer demand they can offer variations of click-and-collect models (in store, curbside pickups, delivering to your cars - Volvo seems to be innovating on this front), areas of high density with high consumer demand can leverage dark stores (dedicated warehouses) to offer home deliveries. E-tailers too, can leverage a similar strategy in offering variations of click-and-collect models (car deliveries, specific location pick-up) to drive up their revenues. Having looked at the "last-mile" logistics of the food delivery, now let's look at the consumer side of interactions - how can grocery players engage better with changing consumer needs?
 
A Consumer's Perspective
 
Offering a "differentiated digitally connected seamless" shopping experience today will entail: brick and mortar retailers looking at leveraging location based services to offer a more contextualized, and personalized in-store experience. E-tailers can explore the possibility of offering virtual grocery stores, and contextualized basket building features to match the in-store experiences offered by a brick-and-mortar retailer. In my opinion, some of the key capabilities [see Figure 4] emerging for grocery players today are:
 
Grocery Image_6.jpg

Given the relative economics of grocery business, offering a right combination of click-and-collect and home delivery models that "seamlessly" integrates with a "differentiated digitally connected shopping" experience will be the key to position the grocery retailers for success ahead. Grocery retailers to realize this first will continue to stay relevant to take it all.

As traditional retailers build upon their omni-channel capabilities to be more "online-like" and e-tailers continue to expand their offerings to be more "store-like", it will be interesting to see who wins in this unclaimed territory. Whom do you think will win? 
 

To know more about trends in online grocery and how you can leverage various innovative technologies to provide a seamless and truly engaging customer experience, meet our experts at Retail's Big Show 2015 (Jan 11-13, 2015). Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15



[1] U.S Grocery Shopper Trends 2012 - Executive Summary by FMI: www.icn-net.com/docs/12086_FMIN_Trends2012_v5.pdf

[2] Online grocery winners emerging - A Report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch

December 15, 2014

Consumers can 'bank' upon Wearables

Wearable devices are surely going to make doing business and making consumption choices easy and the retail industry is one of the biggest beneficiaries of this. In fact, the impact would go beyond retailers and the online business and extend to even consumer banking. In fact one can visualize the boundaries between the retail business and banking business blurring in the new digital age.

As consumers seek easier and more convenient ways to shop and then pay, the retail and payments worlds are likely to collide in the internet expressway to create a smooth seamless transaction for the customer.

For example, a customer walking into a store with a Google glass will use the Google glass to do various things such as - find his way to the nearest store, seek the aisle he wants, receive any promotional updates about products, browse product information and the same Google Glass will also allow users to connect to internet and access all bank account related information and conduct transactions using voice commands. The user could look at his account details, pay bills by taking pictures of them and commanding the app to "Pay Bill".  Another use case here could be, that next time round the customer is walking down the retail aisle/or passing by a restaurant/store, he can get targeted and customized offers of products and services on his Glass, which fit his 'client profile' and there is history of a payment made through his account for the particular category.

To extend the use of the Google glass further, the app will also help him find the nearest ATM/Branch. The user could simply deposit a check by looking at it (the image of the cheque is taken and processed for clearing).

Now let's look at a use case which might be applicable to the Relationship Manager of a bank, such a person would also find the device extremely useful. Once he gets a call from a potential lead, he will be able to reach the client on time, using its easy navigation interface. The conversation with a customer in a different language will be far easier, due to speech to text and language translation apps, on the Glass. Incase, the client needs more detailed product information, the same question can be transferred 'live' to a product expert, who can instantly see and hear the query. Once the questions have been answered and the customer decides to sign up, all he has to do is speak required information and a customized app on the phone automatically converts it into text and feeds it into an application form. Signatures can be collected digitally. Finally, customers photograph and copies of on-boarding documents can be instantly uploaded by saying "take picture". Funds for the account could be transferred instantly using a wallet application on the Glass. That's all! This really makes life much easier for a customer, by having a constructive discussion and completing all the mundane paper work very fast. 

The new Avtaar of Transactions

When I hear "Digital Wallet", the first thought that comes to my mind is that it is the Digital version of my physical wallet, carrying the same things as my physical wallet (Money (Cash, Credit cards, Debit cards, etc.) & Proof of identity (Driver's license for example)), but in Digital format.

While there's nothing wrong with the physical wallet, there is only ONE big issue with it, that of SECURITY. It is very easy to lose it, it is very susceptible to theft, and the consequences could be scary:

·         Card Frauds: Worldwide losses due to such frauds are estimated to be around $11.27 billion in 2012a

·         Identity Theft: In US alone, Direct and indirect identity theft losses was close to $24.7 billion in 2012b

Now think of a digital wallet, which has all of your monetary & Identity information safely & securely guarded by a service provider (SP). All that you will need, to use your "Digital Wallet", is a unique PIN provided by the SP.

Safety & Security aside, the biggest benefit I see from a Digital Wallet, when the world is ready for it, is CONVENIENT & HASSLE-FREE transaction experience! And here's how:

·         You go to a coffee shop / bakery, visit their app on your smartphone, place order & pay for it, 'Digitally', and leave.

·         You go to your favorite Grocery store / Supermarket and pick up your items. You will simply make a 'Digital' payment on the store's app for what you picked up, and leave.

·         You go to your favorite electronics / apparel store in the holiday season, but you no longer have to feel intimidated by the check-out queue. You will simply pay 'Digitally' on the store's app for what you picked up, and done!

Digital Wallet, in the presence of supporting infrastructure at the Retailers, will certainly reverse the impact of long queues on Sales & Customer Retention:

1.     Sales

·  Long queues have had detrimental effect on sales for the retailers.

                       i.    In the US, back-to-school retailers end up losing around $21 billion of  $55 billion due to long queues & slow check-outs c

                       ii.    British Retailers lose over £ 1 Billion every year due to long queues d

2.     Customer Retention

·  Long queues create a negative impression in Customer's mind, about the retailer.

                       i.    Poor customer service due to long queues cause UK businesses to lose 21 million customers a year e

                       ii.    Customers in the US leave the store without making a purchase after waiting for more than 8 minutes f

1.     77% of such customers would avoid visiting the store in the future g

                       iii.    The patience is lesser in UK customers, who will leave the store after 6 minutes of waiting time.

1.     56% of such customers would avoid visiting the store in the future h

What other things do YOU think digital wallet can impact & simplify?

To know more about Digital wallets and how you can leverage various innovative technologies to provide seamless and engaging customer experience, meet our experts at Retail's Big Show 2015. Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15

 

References

a: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130819005953/en/Global-Credit-Debit-Prepaid-Card-Fraud-Losses#.VIlsx9KUe_Q

b: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vit12.pdf

c: http://www.shmula.com/back-to-school-revenue-loss-waiting-line-frustration/4752/

d: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10702831/Long-queues-cost-British-retailers-1bn-a-year.html

e; http://customerthink.com/21_million_customers_lost_due_to_long_queues/

f: http://www.fierceretail.com/story/report-after-8-minutes-line-shoppers-walk-out/2014-02-27

g: http://www.bizreport.com/2013/08/british-shoppers-patience-runs-out-after-six-minutes-of-queu.html

h: http://www.essentialretail.com/news/article/tech-evolution-reducing-queuing-patience

December 11, 2014

2015: THE YEAR OF ONLINE GROCERY? (PART - 1)

Ever imagined a scenario where we will be clicking online for our books, media and GROCERY together? Yes, you read it correctly. GROCERIES... ONLINE? Today, Online Grocery shopping is not only a reality, but also an industry that is accelerating, quickly enough, towards its tipping pointAmazon Fresh[1] and few other retailers like Walmart, Safeway, Instacart, Peapod, Relay Foods and FreshDirect have been transforming the online grocery space to carve out a market share from this unclaimed territory so far.

As a part of this two blog series, we will take a peek at how the U.S Online Grocery industry is positioned for 2015 and the opportunities ahead for the U.S Grocery Retailers.

When we think of Online Grocery as a business, the first thing that comes to mind is the implosion of Webvan in early 2000s. Thus as a concept, online grocery is not something new to consumers and retailers. Webvan's emblematic failure did leave a wary glance on grocery retailers for a long enough time though. Ever mindful of the quote "Change is the only constant in life" - two vital changes in this case are: 1. the growing evolution in the way today's digitally immersive consumer expects to shop seamlessly, both between physical and digital world anywhere, anytime, 2. more viable grocery business models attracting capital savvy investors.

In 2013, US online grocery spending reached $17 billion [see Figure 1], Grocery Image-1.jpgaccounting for only 3.3% of the total U.S grocery spending  - a $500 billion industry -    according to an article[2] by Bloomberg BusinessWeek citing a study run by online grocer and consumer analyst Brick Meets Click. Further, by 2023, it is expected to reach 11% of the total U.S grocery spending growing nearly 3 times at 13% CAGR annually. Looking forward, in my opinion, online grocery represents a significant and exciting growth opportunity that is here to stay.

So, market side of the equation is looking great. Online Grocery Industry is gaining popularity and exhibits great potential for the years ahead. But, what about the consumer side: the Grocery Shoppers? With time, not only has the grocery market and business models changed but digital consumers' purchasing preferences have too. Especially, the way today's tech savvy digital shoppers are increasingly blurring the line between the online and offline channels.

In 2013, roughly 18% of U.S. households went online in the past three months to buy food, beverages, or groceries. Of these, 75% purchased 5% or more online and 20% purchased at least half online - according to an article by Grocery Headquarters citing a study  Grocery Image 2.jpg  'The Online Grocery Shopper Report'[3] run by The Hartman Group's. Further, the article characterizes an online grocery shopper as a high-value customer, who is willing to spend and shop more every month than the offline (at-store only) grocery customers [see Figure 2]. 

The confluence of societal changes (busy urban lifestyles wanting more convenience and less time-intensive ways to shop), demographical changes (more working women, multi-person high-income households, ageing population), and technological advancements (digitally connected consumer increasingly using smartphones and tablets to complete purchases) have led me to believe that the U.S Online grocery market will soon evolve from a niche segment to become a mass-market mainstream appeal. 

 

Given the U.S Online Grocery's tremendous future market potential, the question however still remains: Who is poised to claim this unclaimed territory? Traditional retailers or the E-tailers? The race is already on. Whom do you think will win?

In the next blog, we will explore the opportunities ahead for the grocery retailers.

 

To know more about trends in online grocery and how you can leverage various innovative technologies to provide a seamless and truly engaging customer experience, meet our experts at Retail's Big Show 2015 (Jan 11-13, 2015). Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15

 

 

 
 

May 12, 2014

Power of Crowdsourcing

Crowd sourcing is a fairly new phenomenon that has shaken the basics of various industries, business models and enterprise decisions. Right from getting inputs to product designs to utilizing pictures from Instagram for running marketing campaigns this practice of leveraging collective intelligence is now becoming  main-stream.

With the success of this practice manifesting in many walks of life, we can take a look at some of the examples to see how well this model has been adapted.

a) Quirky - Adopted Crowd sourcing into their Product Development process and called it Quirky Social Product Development. Individuals submit product ideas which is then curated by the community, reviewed by a product evaluation team before its designed, engineered and mass produced. A percentage of resulting sales from the product is then shared with the person who proposed the product idea. With projected revenue of 54 Million USD by 2014, Quirky is quietly becoming the Mass Market consumer product manufacturer.

b) Wal-Mart: In 2011-12, Wal-Mart started with the Get on the shelf initiative, where it invited public to submit great product ideas and then through a review process and thrown open for voting. Finalists were chosen based on the votes and rating and their products were available online and in stores. Human Kind in 2012 and Elvis Presley Home Bedding Collection in 2013 were chosen as winners (see https://getontheshelf.walmart.com)

c) InstaCart:  Grocery service provider that leverages the power of crowd sourcing to delivery grocery to homes within an hour of order getting placed. Company began operations in San Francisco but has rapidly scaled up to cover cities like Boston, Chicago, NYC and has also expanded partnership with retailers like Whole Foods, Shaw's, Market Basket, Harvest Coop and more. With revenues rising more than 2X times in the last few months, there is a great growth story for the company.

There are numerous other examples of L'oreal, Coach and other fashion retailers seizing this opportunity to put together marketing campaigns and/or product images that borrow on photos and amateur images from social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest.

Real benefits in Crowd Sourcing? Clearly the benefits are not very hard to see

  • For brands that weave in crowd sourced images for product display or marketing the benefit is plain and simple - imaginative, original and authentic
  • Crowd sourcing helps disrupt the existing business model and creates new opportunities for startups.  A classic example is that of Instacart that has successfully launched same hour Delivery for Grocery orders where larger players were struggling with same day deliveries.
  • For companies like Quirky, it is about accelerating innovation and cutting overheads and operating costs associated with typical New product Introductions.
  • For Walmart it's about finding the next Billion dollar of sales by identifying those high potential new products and getting it on the shelf
  • For players like Utest it is unlimited access to an expanded set of skills and sometimes hard to find skillsets.

Problem Areas: While we certainly want to focus on the benefits and the key drivers of this model, there are few problem areas that needs to be addressed as well

  • The first and foremost would be that of Intellectual Property. Who owns the IP in case the idea is transferred from the founder to companies like Quirky or Kickstarter. Can there be non-exclusive license transfer instead of completely transferring the IP rights?
  • How to sufficiently compensate the founders? Is it a onetime lump sum or gain sharing or a commission on sale?
  • How do we ensure quality of product or service? Take the case of Instacart - for some orders if items are not found in a store then those items might not be fulfilled leading to lower customer experience.
  • Lack of Confidentiality
  • Lack of Proper Communication

Key Considerations: Finally for retailers, service providers and manufacturers trying to leverage the power of Crowd Sourcing the following key points needs to be considered to ensure a very effective process and resultant output

  1. A rating mechanism for the participants in Crowd Sourcing to identify their significance of past and present contributions, social influence, originality of design or ideas. Ex: In case of Instacart rating parameters could include order fill rate and on time delivery by personal shopper. Higher the rating, the better the compensation or assignment for future orders.
  2. Search Mechanism (using an extensive algorithm) for systematically sifting through enormous amount of data, photos, videos, ideas and products and also considering the rating to identify those opportunities that aid future growth, address under served  customers or geographies. 
  3. A workflow driven technology platform that will help the collaborative nature of work right from submission of ideas to reviewing, evaluating, allowing public to register vote and eventually identifying the top picks.
  4. A palatable profit sharing mechanism to reward the Founders (of idea) based on the outcome - sales of the product or service.
  5. Re-defining the various roles in the Internal Organization - Product Incubation, Marketing or service teams to adapt to the new model and to deliver creative outputs (campaign, service, product) both from within and outside the organization. 
Clearly these are interesting times for the various participants in this model - be it the contributors/founders of ideas, new age companies that aid to translate these ideas to sellable products or the retailers that borrow upon the end products for final sale. With more funding and with proven case studies on sustainability and success this model will become a huge source of disruption to as-is business models in the coming years. As they say, the collective intelligence of community (local or global) can very easy surpass the intelligence of corporate giants.

April 24, 2014

Omni Channel Retailing -Are you prepared to win?


I wanted to buy a new smartphone and my brand engagement began with a Facebook recommendation from a friend who kept raving about his new possession, Galaxy S5. Interested, I googled the phone on my tablet, went to the product site to understand new features and also watched its video on You Tube. After reading expert and user reviews on CNET and exhaustive price search, I ended up buying it online from Best Buy, and picking up the same day at a store next to my home.

Today's empowered digital consumer has dynamic, non-linear shopping journeys.   They are demanding and have more power and choice than ever before. With rapid evolution in consumer buying behavior, emergence of new technologies and constantly changing competitive landscape, retailers need to rethink their business and operating model to stay relevant. As retailers transform, they will need to focus on 4 key dimensions to successfully convert an anonymous buyer to an engaged consumer.

  • Delivering consistent Consumer experience: Consumers expect the retailers to know and inspire them at every touch point, make shopping easy and convenient while valuing them for their loyalty, influence and life time value. For this, retailers need to know their consumers and their interactions across channels, engaging them early with inspirational content and easily searchable rich product information, providing access to enterprise wide inventory alongside personalized offers and flexible payment, shipping, and return options. Retailer will need to understand different paths to purchase and be there at every touch point to optimize the buying process.
  • Flawless Execution to match consumer expectation of product assortment, location, price, delivery and service. Retailers are taking on several measures to bring in agility in their supply chain. For example, leading retailers are now shipping products for online orders from stores closer to consumer to not only improve delivery time but also reduce shipping costs Retailers are also accessing social network data to refine demand forecasts and localize assortments. Retailers are leveraging predictive analytics to ensure inventory availability at the right place and time to minimize stock outs and reduce mark down.
  • Retailers also need an integrated, flexible and scalable digital platform powered by a common data set and technology services hub, ready to be tapped into from anywhere and any device. Such a platform will enable integration of business functions often spread across different departments and enable a single view of the customer, order, product information, inventory and price across channels. This foundation is crucial in driving consistent experience as consumers suspend and resume transactions across channels. This will also bring in increased agility to add new capabilities and onboard newer markets.
  • Last but not least, organization structure needs to align to reduce channel silos. Several leading retailers have created roles like 'Head/VP of Omni channel' as a step towards eliminating channel boundaries. Other retailers have reorganized by brands in order to deliver a unified customer experience across channels. Changes in the operating model also ushers in new processes, system, and shift in roles and responsibilities which needs to be managed deftly.

Omni channel transformation has a profound impact on an organization's value chain. Hence, it is imperative to have a clear vision and a multi-pronged strategy focused on consumer, operations, technology and change management to be successful. What strategies have you focused on to enable Omni channel? I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially challenges faced in transforming your organization.













 




    1. Continue reading "Omni Channel Retailing -Are you prepared to win?" »

      January 16, 2014

      Yin-Yang of online and offline-from two different worlds to a state of harmony

      On behalf of : ** Jaspreet Singh**

      Not too long ago, we didn't have any identity on the Internet and there used to be only one world for us. Online space was restricted to governments and academic institutions- it was a separate life-less world with little connection to our daily lives. Gradually, with the mass adoption of email culture and the advent of socialization, collaboration and personalization in the online space, it seems to be brimming with life. Now each one of us are active online and our personal life, work life, education, etc. seem to be imbued with the online world.

      Continue reading "Yin-Yang of online and offline-from two different worlds to a state of harmony" »

      January 14, 2014

      Online shopping in small town India: Will it be a feasible model?

      On behalf of : Manideepa Talukdar

      India is the fastest growing e-commerce market in Asia according to a study conducted by Forrester Research in 2012 for ASSOCHAM's 2nd National Conference on e-Commerce 2012. In 2013 the Indian e-commerce market grew by a mind boggling 88% to $16billion as per a survey conducted by the industry body ASSOCHAM. In the early days Indian e-commerce market was being led by Tier I cities but the trend has moved on to smaller towns. For instance online shopping website Jabong.com derives 60% of its revenues from smaller towns.

      Continue reading "Online shopping in small town India: Will it be a feasible model?" »

      January 12, 2014

      How to engage your online customers' brains

      On behalf of : Jayalakshmi Subramanian
      Is social commerce even worth discussing? There is a lot of noise being made about social media and how it is the manna from heaven from marketers. While one can safely say that investing in social media might give some monetary returns and returns more in the form of intangibles such as brand building and consumer intimacy, the real question is - Is there any spending happening aided by social media or in other words is Social Commerce a reality now?

      Continue reading "How to engage your online customers' brains" »

      January 7, 2014

      Gaining Insights into Competition (through Social Media) like never before

      On behalf of : Princee Jain

      A couple of previous blogs (Can insights from social analytics be the final piece to the "360° customer view" puzzle?) explain how social media can help profile consumer behavior towards a brand, a product, an event etc. In this blog I would like to throw light on how social media can help companies know their competition far better than before especially from the days when there was no social media.

      Continue reading "Gaining Insights into Competition (through Social Media) like never before" »

      December 25, 2013

      The Hybrid shopping experience

      On behalf of : Ugandharji HM

      Retailing has been evolving over the years. What started as independent 'mom and pop stores' transformed into the first true self-service grocery stores in the form of Piggly Wiggly, where customer selected merchandise as they walked through the maze to the cashier. This further changed with the advent of the 'Big Box' retailers such as Walmart and Carrefour, which completely changed the landscape of retailing- the customer now had the option of shopping all under one roof. The rise of the digital era, completely redefined customer shopping experience with Digital retailing such as amazon and ebay, and shopping now could be done anytime, anywhere as long as one was connected to the internet.

      Continue reading "The Hybrid shopping experience" »

      Soft Goods Retailing: Where to draw the boundaries?

      On behalf of : Anup Kumar

      Should retailers continue with 'Make to Stock' or adopt 'Make to Order'? Apparels industry has moved on to force fit the consumers in one of the five defined sets - XS, S, M, L, and XL. The question that needs to be answered is how to address the changing consumer demands. A consumer may still like to go ahead with one of the five sets, but they have continued to evolve in terms of the selection between color of the dress, texture and fabric of the cloth, design and fashion trend, etc. Though consumers have been picky on these aspects ever since the industry existed consumer demand has evolved to find out what offer is just exclusive for them. Now retailers need to redraw the boundary between the traditional way of fulfillment and the way to address the changing buying pattern of the consumers.

      Continue reading "Soft Goods Retailing: Where to draw the boundaries?" »

      Online Grocery Shopping: The Next Big Thing or The Big Avoid?

      On behalf of : Roary Lee

      What ever happened to Webvan? Over a decade ago, Webvan was the hottest thing since sliced bread. At home, from the comfort of my favorite couch, I would go online and select all of the grocery items that I wanted. Then, I would checkout and select a delivery date and time. Like clockwork, when the scheduled time would arrive, I'd see that tan Webvan truck heading into my subdivision. All I had to do was answer the door. The driver even brought the groceries into the house!

      Continue reading "Online Grocery Shopping: The Next Big Thing or The Big Avoid?" »

      Customer Centricity in Retail Grocery: 3 Effects on Warehouse Operations

      On behalf of : Roary Lee

      It's 4:30PM, and it's almost time to pick up the kids from daycare. I am a husband, father and executive chef of my household, and I am struggling with choices for tonight's dinner. I'm quickly running out of time. Suddenly, I have a bright idea. I go to my favorite grocer's website which has already defaulted to my home store's page based on my zip code. I link to this week's sales flyer for my home store, and I notice that chicken cutlets are on sale this week. Then, I link to the Recipes page and check out a few suggestions for chicken recipes and voila! The "Basil Chicken with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Cavalier Couscous" recipe sounds delicious, so I decide to go with that. The same page allows me to print a grocery list of items that I will need for the recipe. So, I print the grocery list, grab my keys and head to my favorite grocer before picking up the kids. Life is great. Welcome to the world of customer centricity.

      Continue reading "Customer Centricity in Retail Grocery: 3 Effects on Warehouse Operations" »

      December 2, 2013

      Are you insane yet?

      On behalf of : Venkateshwaran A.

      blog_1.jpg

      ....Was Infosys bold question to the world a decade ago. We usurped traditional consulting models by applying flat world economics, conceiving and translating strategy to reality through global delivery execution model.

      Infosys' Retail Digital Practice is at it again. We are declaring that insanity reigns in the Digital commerce world. Allow me to explain; you see, for humans old habits die hard. In the olden days (I mean the pre-internet era), when you needed something, you would dash to your retail store around the corner, pick up whatever you need and be a happy camper. When e-commerce evolved, retailers and technology designers dutifully translated the physical store model into the virtual world. Mash up a website, get the consumer to the website and dish em' whatever they need. Then the marketer spends all the time and money in the world trying to figure how to drive site traffic; digital footfalls if you will.

      Continue reading "Are you insane yet? " »

      November 21, 2013

      Can insights from social analytics be the final piece to the "360° customer view" puzzle?

      On behalf of : Sathish Kumar R

      Like cryptozoologists in search of a mythical creature, retailers have tried numerous customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives and tools available to capture the still elusive '360° Customer View.' Many have also been buying demographic data from third- parties to supplement these efforts. Today, the hopes of many rest on social analytics, but can insights generated from it really be the final piece to the 360° customer view puzzle?_

      Continue reading "Can insights from social analytics be the final piece to the "360° customer view" puzzle? " »

      November 18, 2013

      NowCommerce - We want it fast!!!

      Online shopping has continuously been gaining grounds. Today, this selling channel is competing head-on with the brick and mortar channel. In wake of this competition, e-tailers are continuously working towards reducing their fulfillment times by targeting ever elusive issues like 'Same day delivery (SDD)'. SDD popularly referred to as NowCommerce, implying online retailing of goods that can be delivered within hours of ordering.

      Continue reading "NowCommerce - We want it fast!!!" »

      October 28, 2013

      Can Foldit change the Retail supply chain landscape?

      On behalf of : Majush Koshy Philip

      Will you ever approach a gamer for a planning strategy task? Or will you ask crowd to help you with retail problems?" No." if this is probably your answer, you may be wrong in near future. Recently a group of gamers playing a game called "fold it" has proved that they have the potential to replace computers and scientists by solving problems which computer took many years to solve . The question here is if Crowd (read as gamers) can replace computers in various high skilled activity, why use them for optimization of retail supply chains or planning activities in general?

      Continue reading "Can Foldit change the Retail supply chain landscape?" »

      October 23, 2013

      Next Generation Call Center to continuously connect with Customers in the Mobile Internet Era

      On behalf of : Vijey Rao
      Calls centers have been a critical part of an organization's customer engagement process since their emergence in early 1970's. Over the years call centers have matured in the functions carried out by them to cover sales prospecting, enquiry, complaints and technical support. However the activities performed hasve not changed much over the years with the vast majority of call center processes/activities driven by static prepared scripts to execute inbound or outbound calls to prospects or customers.

      Continue reading "Next Generation Call Center to continuously connect with Customers in the Mobile Internet Era " »

      October 18, 2013

      Promoting the Feel factor - The Future of Online Retailing in India

      On behalf of : Soumyendra Kumar Mohanty

      India's new generation is making purchases online. Although it is convenient, when they do not like the product, they return it. But would they have returned it if they had 'tried' it out beforehand? Maybe not. So what was missing? I would like to call it the 'feel factor'.

      The human ability to try and feel the product is at the core of human psyche and it cannot be completely written off in the online retailing world. Let's glance through the options that can provide this feel factor:

      1. Virtual Studio or Virtual Trial Room
      2. Try Samples and then Buy Product
      3. Order, Try and then Buy

      Continue reading "Promoting the Feel factor - The Future of Online Retailing in India" »

      October 15, 2013

      "Rethinking the Supply Chain Strategy - Adding colors and sizes to smart phones"

      On behalf of : Manish Thukral

      The pioneer and leader of the smart phone industry set a new trend by introducing colors to the look and feel of smart phone. The company gained its highest revenue in the first week of its launch in comparison to its earlier launch. The industry had already introduced size as a characteristic for smart phones like xPad, min xPad, xPhone 4 inc. in height and xphone 5 inc, in height etc.to serve different user preferences. Adding color to the design allows customers to make a style statement to augment their choice of apparel. For example, a person carrying smart phone with gold or velvet red color adds uniqueness to the personality and puts him to different class of people.

      Continue reading ""Rethinking the Supply Chain Strategy - Adding colors and sizes to smart phones"" »

      October 10, 2013

      Competitive Strategy in a digital world

      On behalf of : Rahul Bindlish

      Multi-channel commerce is exploding and it is a no-brainer to have a digital presence and a digital strategy. Every retailer has one, or is in the process of defining one for its business. Most of them treat it as a marketing / channel strategy and it makes sense for many of them - with sales from mobile / ecommerce channel only a small % of the overall sales. For eg. the largest retailers - Walmart, Target, Kroger, Safeway, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. have only a small (low single digits) percentage of sales coming from the digital channels. However, there is a big risk with this - as retailers may not completely understand the impact of the digital strategy on their competitive positioning.

      Continue reading "Competitive Strategy in a digital world" »

      October 3, 2013

      Omnichannel Retailing: A vision of utopia or a realistic proposition?

      Posted on behalf of : Atanu Nath

      In an era driven by the digital revolution, the concept of omnichannel retailing is becoming increasingly relevant. Not very long ago, the idea of ubiquitous presence across all available shopping channels would seem far-fetched & difficult to envision strategically & implement operationally. However, with the increasing proliferation of the internet, both in developed & developing economies, omnichannel retailing no longer seems a utopic proposition but more of a reality.

      Continue reading "Omnichannel Retailing: A vision of utopia or a realistic proposition?" »

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