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Why Omnichannel is Future of Retail in India?

ram@justransact.com 2018-05-02 14:57:00

Let’s travel back a few years into the past and take a look at the journey of retail industry in India.  In 2005 for example, if you want to buy an electronic gadget like television or washing machine, you would visit a nearby electronic store, speak to their sales person to understand the model, features and price and then make a move to buy it. 

 

But today, thanks to technology, the retail process is multi-channeled/multi-layered with each connecting customers with ultimate efficacy. 

 

The same television or washing machine can now be bought after checking it in different stores, understanding minute technical details, comparing with various brands and choosing the best one in just few minutes and then get it delivered to your home straightaway using your smart phone.  

 

In case you want to check physically before buying the product, you can just order it from your desktop or mobile and go to the shop and check the product at your convenient time. These online-to-offline (OTO)  stores offer excellent customer service to buyers as the later can contact the company instantly via their website messenger service or social media and interact directly with a customer service executive to resolve any issue.

 

New-age retail experience

 

Call it as new-age retail experience, the lines between brick and mortar stores, social selling and online retail are getting blurred. During the last decade, the face of the retail in India has completely changed due to rapid mobile revolution, digitization and e-commerce growth. The growing popularity of multichannel and omni-channel retail shopping is redefining the customer experience.

 

Evolving retail landscape

 

The need to connect customers through multiple channels has forced retailers to open various doors for customers to transact business with them. This multiple retail channel approach has begun its journey a few years ago in parallel to the growth of the e-commerce in India. As customers showed preference to shop on line, retail businesses had no option but to open online stores. Today more than 40 per cent of customers from metro cities, Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities put together shop through e-commerce channels. To remain in the competition and penetrate more markets, retailers use click and mortar business model and online shopping to connect with more customers.

 

Omnichannel is the latest phenomenon which is nothing but the evolution of multi-channel selling approach. While all omnichannel experiences use multiple channels, all multichannel experiences are not omnichannel.

 

A retailer can have a chain of physical stores at strategic locations in cities, use social media and mobile marketing campaigns to promote brand and products and have excellent website, but all of them may not provide seamless customer experience, otherwise known as omnichannel experience.

 

Omnichannel and Multichannel

 

Though it looks similar, multichannel and omnichannel marketing are different even though both use multiple channels to engage with customers. Let’s discuss some of the major differences between omnichannel and multichannel retail.

 

Omnichannel removes the fine line between multiple channels such as physical, mobile, online and social media and creates an integrated shopping approach. That is, customers can contact and interact with retailers anytime through any channel simultaneously and seamlessly switch various channels.

 

On the other hand, in the multichannel business set-ups, offline and online channels function individually with no connection between the two. Though customers can contact through different channels, they are not integrated to provide seamless shopping experience. For example, customers can’t order online and pick up products from physical store.

 

Multichannel uses multiple approaches to grab customers by casting a wider net, while omnichannel believes in more strategic approach. It is also possible to understand customer pain points and eliminate them for better customer experience. Hence, omnichannel is a smarter way to business as it uses data to find customer behavior and difficulties they face and works towards eliminating negatives to improve shopping experience.

 

Omnichannel for retail business

 

Omnichannel will continue to dominate retail industry in India. With boom in mobile technology and explosive e-commerce growth, customer experience has become the central key for all retail businesses to change strategy for omnichannel business approach to stay in the competition.

-K RAMANATHAN   ram@justransact.com

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