Vinculum Group, a leading cloud-based order management, and fulfillment solutions company participated at the India Retail Forum 2016 held on 21st and 22nd September at The Renaissance Convention Centre, Mumbai, India.
One of the foremost events in the country for the retail and eCommerce industry, IRF is a two-day conference held annually, that is aimed at bringing together all eCommerce entrepreneurs looking to optimize their operations and share insights about their businesses.
The rise of the online channel has pushed the entire retail industry to innovate and think of novel ways to attract and retain customers. From the customer’s point of view, the convenience of online retailing is attractive, but physical stores continue to have strong appeal. This poses a great challenge for retailers on how to provide an Omnichannel experience that is personalized but not intrusive.
Vinculum Founder, Mr. Piyush Madan held an exciting discussion on ‘O2O Continuum of Opportunities – the Bedrock of Omnichannel Retailing ’– which highlighted opportunities for the members of the eCommerce ecosystem. The panel members were Arun Naikar of Fabindia, Mohit Dhanjal, Director Retail, Raymond, Vijay Jain, Founder Director & CEO, Retail & Digital, Orra, Kapil Hetamsaria, Founder and CEO, Velvetcase, Shashank Jani, Representative, Provoke cosmetics, Uzwal Kumar Chatterjee, VP and Head IT, ShopCJ, Ranjit Satyanath, Retail CIO, Croma, Rakesh Mishra, Head Marketing, Target, K Radhakrishnan, Cofounder, Grocermax and Kinjal Shah, CEO, Crossword.
Opening the session, Mr. Piyush Madan, Founder, Vinculum observed, “Today, there is no distinction between channels, it is increasingly integrated – giving rise to several opportunities in Omnichannel retailing.”
Elaborating on these opportunities, he said “One such area of growth in cross-border trading. If you have products/services that you feel are unique and can be offered across geographies, you can sell them on various platforms. We are strategic partners to Lazada and other international marketplaces, which makes it easier to sell globally. The marketplaces are happy to store inventory in their warehouses, which they can sell on behalf of the seller. Additionally, as for the residual inventory – that can be sold on flash sale sites. ”
He cited the example of Amazon UK when he said, “Amazon UK, for instance, is a leading online marketplace catering to the customers of UK – and has approximately 17,000 Indian sellers on-board. This number, based on recent information – is only going to grow.”
He spoke at length about the changing face of retail, when he explained, “Customers want to buy online and return at any store. In fact, they want to buy in any medium and return to any medium. This shopping experience is really good because the customer is getting a better offer, and you are getting greater footfall. The basis of a good strategy is – understanding consumer behavior via analysis and setting up targeted campaigns around that. And that has to be supported by systems – otherwise, it just can’t be done.”
Mr. Kapil Hetamsaria of Velvetcase supported this point of view when he said, “We believe in starting from the customer – first analyzing what they want…Is it touch and feel? Do they want the confidence that the product they are delivered is on time, right quality, right value? The customer has possibly moved beyond this offline online continuum, they see your brand in a very homogenous way – they consume content offline and online, they make purchases offline and online. Start from the consumer –to be truly Omnichannel.”
Mr. Uzwal Chatterjee of ShopCJ added, “I would always speak of Omnichannel as bricks n mortar vs. online channel. One of the things that retailers today are trying to crack is increased consumer base, as well as satisfy customers in remote corners of the country and metro cities equally. Omnichannel is a way to reach out to these customers. Technology is a way to find solutions for the end customer. With partners like Vinculum, we can leverage the best of breed of both – offline and online worlds.”
Taking the discussion further, Mr. Arun Naikar explained how Fabindia is leveraging Omnichannel strategies – “It is a classic case – very simple things to get ahead. First, we created a catalog. Immediately, the business profits grew 5X. Second, the customer didn’t have inventory to buy. So, we connected a few stores. Again, profits grew 10X. And now we address a customer when he walks into a store and doesn’t find what he wants – by placing the order for him using a tablet. The profits are going to increase another 5X. It is all about going where the customer is. Then, comes the fulfillment –you need to create a process to fulfill what the customer wants.”
Wrapping up the discussion, Mr. Madan mused, “Mobile phones are set to reach 85% penetration soon, and that is where you have to be if you have to grow your business. The difficult part is getting customers on your site and making them buy. The cost of acquisition of a customer is very high; which is why it is important that we don’t see marketplaces as threats but as partners. Today, it’s a combined world, and the customers don’t care about channels. For them, the entire catalog has to be seamless; the inventory has to be visible across platforms. Getting the correct systems in place can help us go that extra mile.”
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