The secret to a truly seamless customer experience

By Elton Noronha

New-age technology has made retail functions even more capable of fulfilling even the most detailed shopping need – be it the choice of selecting 1000 brands at the swipe of your fingertip, or getting your favorite accessory delivered to your doorstep through the click of a button.

As Abhishekh Ganguly, MD, Puma India notes, “Consumers have unlimited resources in discovering new products by the second, making decisions of what to buy, and then exploring the best avenue to source the product. More often than not, all of this happens through the virtual world. The internet as the premier source of information feeds consumers with every last detail they desire, and through this, they can make an informed purchase decision — not only on the kind of product that they must buy, but also whether to buy it online, or at a physical store! That’s the unhinged edge that consumers have these days when it comes to shopping.”

With the plethora of options available to consumers to fulfil their shopping desires, both online and offline, experts note that the key to keeping customer loyalty is by delivering a seamless retail experience.

Nihir Parikh, Chief Business Officer, notes, “It’s about bringing the online experience offline, and vice-versa. For the physical store to be able to offer kind of scale of choice in products that the online world offers, And for the online store to be able to offer the kind of personalized shopping experience that the physical world does. That, I believe is the key to delivering a seamless experience”, as Harsh Shah adds, “And good content, timely education/advice (given to customers and genuineness in the kind of services and products offered are the 3 pegs to achieving this. Educate the consumer holistically, continually influence them via online means, and allow them the convenience of choice to purchase those very products online or offline.”

To this, the key importance of maintaining the sanctity of the customer’s personal space and choice comes into play, as Abheek Singhi, Senior Partner + Director, Boston Consulting Group notes, “The experience that retailers offer must be able to walk the fine line between advisory support and infringing on privacy. Retailers must be able to offer advisory support through smart predictions and various other such means using technology, yet be cautious enough to ensure that consumers feel free to choose and purchase the products they like, as observed in physical shopping.”

Keeping up with the customer in both online and offline worlds was conclusively agreed upon by experts as the key to delivering an optimal seamless experience. As Gaurav Mahajan, President, Apparel – Raymond Ltd highlights, “The consumer now-a-days moves from the online space to the offline space in less than a blink of the eye. All thanks to the smartphone revolution! The key for all of us here is to be able to traversing the physical and digital spaces in sync with the consumer. We must be able to reach and access the consumer across channels – digital and physical, and finally be able to transact with the consumer efficiently, irrespective of the platform. Once you are able to understand how the customer lives inside and outside the digital realm, it will give you clarity on how to align your online and offline stores to deliver the best shopping experience, and ensure that the customer chooses you over the competition, and comes back to shop with you!”

As Vikrant Yadav, Head of Business – India, Grey Orange concludes, “The secret to converting a single channel customer into a multi-channel customer is by allowing the customer to feel and believe that they are in complete control of the shopping process, and by affording them with the options and convenience, the best of both worlds in both worlds, be it online or offline.”

Based on the Retail Leadership Summit 2017 panel discussion ‘The Secret to delivering a Seamless Experience’. Moderator: Lee. S. Gill, Group VP, Global Retail Industry Strategy, JDA Software; Panelists: Abhishekh Ganguly, MD, Puma India; Abheek Singhi, Senior Partner + Director, Boston Consulting Group; Gaurav Mahajan, President, Apparel – Raymond Ltd; Harsh Shah, Co-Founder, Fynd; Nihir Parikh, Chief Business Officer,; Vikrant Yadav, Head of Business – India, Grey Orange.

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Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI is a not for profit organization (registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956), works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. RAI is the body that encourages, develops, facilitates and supports retailers to become modern and adopt best practices that will delight customers. RAI has a three charter aim of Retail Development, Facilitation and Propagation.