The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.
Debarghya Poddar, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur.
Omni-channel retailing which is defined as the mode of retailing that flawlessly integrates multiple channels giving seamless experience to the customers through all available channels is well suited the Indian customers in terms of their requirements and preferences. Studies have found Indian customers to be a smart shopper putting emphasis on both value and variety. A smartly crafted Omni-channel Retailing provides both these to the customers. Especially for the time constrained urban customers, Omni- channel Retailing provides a very strong value proposition. For example, a working woman today can browse through the Internet for a garment on her laptop, can share the selected merchandise with her friends on social media through mobile apps for their feedback, can order through a 24 hour call centre for a cash on delivery and in case want to change/ modify can go to the physical store and get merchandise exchanged.
In the past year, online retailers have flooded the market with huge promotions and deep discounts causing a significant dent to retailers’ revenues as consumers shopped online. As consumers moved online, brick and mortar retailers like the Future Group which operates Big Bazaar, FBB and eZone, Shoppers Stop Ltd, Arvind Ltd and Aditya Birla Group’s retail arm have all started warming to e-commerce, launching their omni-channel strategies and websites. Some are even making their products available online on market places like Snapdeal, Amazon and Flipkart.
For the retailer omni-channel means putting the consumer at the centre of its strategy and allowing them to decide when, where, and how to shop. The consumer can order anytime, anywhere, and from any device. They can get their purchases in the store, at a separate delivery location, or through home delivery; to determine their own shopping and delivery or pick-up windows to fit their busy schedules; and to be able to return items at any of the store’s retail locations without any hassles.
However, Indian retailers are still just reacting to online retailers. They are far from ready to unleash the power of analytics, the internet or to use their physical locations as an added advantage over the ecommerce portals. It could take another 2-3 years for Indian retailers’ omni-channel strategies to unfold and even later before their mindsets change to become completely consumer centric.