Omni-channel retailing is catching up gradually in India as retailers don’t leave any chance to make consumers experience an exceptional one. Biggies like Raymond and Arvind Mills have recently opened their online store, and small merchants are leveraging marketplace majors like Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal’s platforms to have an additional sales channel.
Besides selling on marketplaces, small merchants are also using e-commerce enablers platform to run online store on shoe-string budget. To equip small merchants with an online arm, Bangalore-based Ace Turtle offers whole suite of e-commerce development tools and services with a focus on omni-channel solutions. This is a relevant proposition for those with strong brick and mortar presence and willing to build/integrate with e-commerce.
Brainchild of Nitin and Berry Singh - Ace Turtle is an end-to-end enterprise solution for brands & retailers looking to engage and transact with today’s omni-channel consumers. “Our sole purpose is to grow our client’s online business and achieve their strategic objectives. Unlike other technology or logistics companies we are focused on driving commerce for retailers and brands,” says Nitin Chhabra, CEO of Ace Turtle.
The platform offers features like single view of orders and inventory, store locator system for ROPO (Research Online Purchase Offline), integrated loyalty program, product finder or assistant and easy integration with online marketplaces and online multi-brand stores for consistency in brand presentation.
Evolution of omni-channel retailing
As more consumers embrace technology, more smartphones get sold; the more behavioural changes in consumers will become evident. This fuels the buying behaviour of a generation which demands “now and here”. However, this change propels huge opportunities for brands and retailers. Most of the brands have been working in a multi-channel environment and have tried to keep themselves abreast with technological developments which they have used specifically for each channel.
However, most of the brick and mortar retailers have created silo’s in the organisations as there are clear lines which demarcate each channel and processes, people and roles are defined to handle these channels independently to avoid any channel conflict. Omni-channel can be defined as “ensuring multi-channel seamlessly”, it is delivering a seamless experience to your customers. The customer chooses the channel, medium, method they wish anytime, anywhere. It is about optimizing the journey from a prospect’s first consideration to final sale.
How to start omni-channel retailing?
Whether the brick and mortar retailers want to evolve as a business or not, the consumer has become an “omni-channel consumer.” This consumer will become a central force in shaping the future of brick and mortar and e- commerce stores alike.
“The first step on getting started with omni-channel is by understanding the needs and behaviour of your customers. This will lead to the next step of designing the experiences that fits your brand into their natural habits and day to day lives. Finally, the selection and deployment of right technologies will optimise and deliver these experiences in an efficient, cohesive and consistent manner to the consumer. Brands that can deliver this will create value and increase loyalty,” adds Nitin.
Adoption and transformation are key for delivering omni-channel experience
Moving towards omni-channel is a combination of mind-set shift which needs to flow across the organisation with a buy in from all the key stakeholders and more importantly patience. “The optimization efforts are usually done in silos though the efforts need to be managed holistically to achieve real benefits. Is it sustainable in the long run? Yes, but it needs to survive in the short term and gain some quick wins. There will be advent of newer technologies and applications for companies to be able to assess and adopt each one of them,” points out Nitin.
Competing in the omni-channel world may also require partnerships with others in the retail value chain. The fundamental success of an omni-channel environment will not depend on the amount of investment but on adoption and transformation.
Web will influence around 30% of the total organised retail by 2016
The Web’s influence on retail is increasing every day impacting both offline and online sales. According to a Deloitte - Forrester research report, 36% of US retail sales today are influenced by the Web and this is poised to increase to 70% of US retail by 2017.
The organised retail market in India is estimated to be $76 billion. “Our estimation is that the Web will influence 30% of the total sales of the organized retail market by 2016,” outlines Nitin.
Competition and road ahead
“Most of the companies that are operating in this space are focused on only a part of the solution we offer to our clients. We haven’t come across a company which is offering an integrated service like us targeted to the enterprise clients,” reveals Nitin.
Besides Ace Turtle, startups like Primaseller helps retailers adopt omni-channel. Unlike other omni-channel solutions available in the market, it doesn't replicate typical ERPs which have user interfaces that only specialised tech-friendly users can use.
“We are on the verge of launching couple of mono brand online stores in varied categories, and we are also in discussion with multiple Indian and international brands for their foray in the online space. We have also started receiving traction from clients outside of the lifestyle space and we are in discussions with some market leaders in other segments,” concludes Nitin.