According to a recent article by ET Retail, based on a study by Hansa Cequity and Retailers Association of India (RAI), future lies in being omnichannel. Nearly 74% of Indian consumers shop across all channels—local retailers, modern trade outlets and online and a large chunk of Indian consumers still prefer to touch and feel a product before buying.
When we think of retail, the picture that comes to mind immediately is online retail. While it was some brick and mortar stores a few years ago. Retail is one of the most dynamic industries now and has become fast-evolving for retailers too. The whole concept revolves around markets being available to shop anytime and across mediums. This gives birth to the concept called omnichannel which includes surfing (and probable buying) across mediums of sale.
The internet coupled with the development of mobile devices has revolutionized the Indian retail sector. Internet has made it possible for shoppers to access information round-the-clock and cross-check the same across mediums. The $11 billion internet market has provided access to customers to shop anywhere anytime, with access to multiple sources of product information including- in-store displays, retailer websites, online review sites, online marketplaces and social media.
This system of retailing, known as Omnichannel, enables customers to explore and purchase products across multiple channels on their shopping journey. Omnichannel customers get access to a wider variety and range.
As the consumers become omnichannel, the retailers can’t stay behind them by any means. Larger brands have established shops across offline and online channels. Retailers are ensuring that they bridge the gap in almost all possible ways. With all efforts taken towards being omnichannel, one very important aspect for omnichannel success is the technology supporting it. Technology can affect key functions of the business, namely, inventory, logistics, and storage.
What are the challenges faced by retailers in omnichannel retail
Centralization of Data
This is one key challenge faced by modern retailers, to be able to meet the ultimate objective of being able to sell anything, anywhere across mediums. It requires an efficient software that can manage the inventory, storage, shipment, payment methods and other important functions as per the business requirements.
The primary concerns for any retailers can be answered is the software has the following features:
– Single window to access all information to all stakeholders
– Information across devices and on the move (cloud-based)Most important functions that an omnichannel software can automate and ease seller’s business:
An inventory model that suits the need of all channels involved whether offline or online. It should also align store planning and fulfillment.
Technology comes to rescue in standarising logistics service, by having a robust logistics management system for timely planning. In-built analytics helps retailers to use data to make better decisions.
3. Distribution Management
The distribution system should be in place and software be able to support this function effectively.
What does the future hold?
Business Intelligence had been aggressively used by corporate, but, retailers are now joining the bandwagon with access to analytics reports being provided by back-end software.
Most retailers as of now are only accessing the reports and not really using them to make business decisions. This would, in the next few years, become a necessity as the industry is moving towards artificial intelligence and gearing up the seller community. Reporting & analytics across omnichannel presence will give retailers insight into consumer behavior and buying patterns.