Multi channel Retailing has become very relevant in India and the changing scenarios are making it mandatory for retailers to offer products across multiple channels in order to grow sustainably in the retail ecosystem. This was the perspective provided by Girish Kasliwal, Director, Global eApplications Pvt Ltd @ CRS 2013.
The changing retail scenario
- From the small kirana and mom-and –pop stores the Indian retail industry has become one of the pillars of the economy.
- The conservative Indian consumer is now spending and giving importance to the words like “Brand, Quality, trends etc.” – researching before buying a product.
The digital connect
- Customers are looking at new channels like Internet, mobile, social networks etc. to explore brands and improve shopping experiences.
- Absence from any of these channels may mean that consumers are missing out on your offerings/brand
- This condition made Multi Channel Retailing (MCR) a mandatory practice for the retailers.
Growth of digital retailing in India
At the current rate of growth India will have around 370 million Internet users in 2015.
What is Multi Channel Retailing?
- Multi-channel retailing is a retailing strategy that offers your customers a choice of ways to buy products.
- The channels include- Purchases from a store, purchases from a website, telephone ordering, mail orders, interactive television, catalogue ordering and comparison shopping sites.
Various Channels of MCR
- E-retailing (e-commerce)
- M-commerce (mobile)
- Social shopping
- Research & purchases at kiosks
- Research & purchases over phone call/IVRs
- Information & shopping on TV
- Traditional shopping in store outlets
- Coupon & gift-cards – own/partner outlets
- Catalogs – leaflets, magazines & newspapers
- Direct selling agents
The World has adopted MCR
- Majority of consumers in developed economies like UK & USA perceive the ability to purchase from a retailer from different channels as critical.
- Consumers regularly use the Internet to research products before purchasing from a local store.
- Consumers frequently use reserve and pick-up services in developed economies.
- The proportion of consumers shopping through their mobile phones has doubled in the UK and US since 2011.
Digital & Offline is getting connected
- 80% of UK shoppers have reserved products online for collection in stores in the past year (up from 74% in 2011).
- 44% of UK shoppers always research purchases on the internet before buying offline
- Only 4% never use the Internet for product research.
- 43% of UK shoppers now use smartphones while on the move to compare prices and read product reviews (up from 19% last year).
Cross-purchasing is a real phenomenon
Studies across US show that consumers like to move across channels during the shopping process for research as well as purchasing.
Typical Cross-Channel Services Being Deployed Today
- Buy online, pick up in store
- Check store item availability online
- Cross-channel offers/promotions/gift cards
- Browse and purchase from e-commerce site while in store
- Online registration/scheduling for store events and consultations
- Multi-channel gift registry
- Cross-channel returns
- Online access to account/loyalty program information
- View and order from inventory in other channels/stores
- View and edit customer profiles/history from the store
- Access cross-channel customer/order information from call center
New trends among consumers
- Consumers in India/China walk into stores to touch/feel products but research pricing online to close the purchase.
- Interactive experiences through digital QR codes, in-store kiosks, order booking through phone/kiosks for home delivery or pick-up – are rapidly becoming popular in Latin America and other geographies.
Benefits of MCR
- Reach more customers at lesser costs
- Improve “presence” before consumers
- Improve consumer experience & convenience
- Compete effectively & across geographies
- Grow the business efficiently
- Balance risk, costs & revenues smartly
What is needed to implement MCR?
Multi-Channel retail relies on three pillars –
- Coherent & Inclusive Strategy
- Relevant Capabilities – Digital & offline processes
- Complete Operating Model
Retailers of all sizes need to adopt MCR
- Smartly stay competitive with larger competitors
- Drive multi-channel strategy from a senior corporate level
- Develop deeper insight on customers’ evolving needs and shopping flows
- Understand the costs of individual activities in each channel
- Prioritize investments through careful balancing of value and cost/risk
- Establish clear metrics and track results
- Foster cross-channel and cross-functional collaboration by aligning incentives
- Build an open, flexible IT infrastructure
Increased relevance of MCR in India
- Over 11% of population already online
- Increasing adoption of broadband, smartphones
- Increasing cost of rents/property is making physical expansion difficult
- Increasing consumer need for convenience & information access 24×7
- Consumers are dispersed across a large geography – including Tier II and Tier III towns
- Availability of local partners for technology & operations is making MCR feasible & affordable
Indian consumers are already purchasing online!
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