Omni-channel commerce: The surrender of legacy retail to the everywhere consumer [#IRE 2014]

Omni-Channel is about true continuity of your experience! Customers want the flexibility to buy according to their convenience, anywhere and everywhere, without compromising on the experience. Multi device ownership and permeative connectivity mean customers now have, use, and expect multiple ways to interact and shop. As a retailer, these collaborative interactions that integrate multiple touch points is a dynamic opportunity, but only if the experience is seamless.

According to a Forrester report, 75% of the time, customers will move to another communication channel if they are unsatisfied with an earlier contact method. Today’s customers don’t just want to be able to switch channels, they want to be able to switch channels and continue the same conversation with the brand. But for omni-channel retailers, it’s very important to understand shoppers and enable them to effortlessly move across touch-points even for a single purchase and have that consistent experience.

At iamWire’s Internet Retail Expo 2014, Sucharita Malpuru, VP at Forrester, very well explained about omni-channel commerce and the importance of mobile in eCommerce.

In retail the physical stores have been the dominant ones for long and web market, even in the developed economies, was seen as secondary, said Sucharita. However, now it has transformed. Today, consumers shop online for 3 reasons viz. convenience, choice and value.

In the past few years, Ecommerce has become a global phenomenon with currently Chinese Ecommerce being almost the same as US. But in India, there still is a long way to go. “Omni Channel due to inventory issues in India is not an option for atleast the next ten years, until a big player such as Reliance comes in,” she added.

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Omni-channel has a number of benefits to retailers and shoppers. For the latter, it’s convenient and often efficient. For retailers, there are theoretically lots of cost savings and the ability to leverage the store footprint more effectively than investing in separate web distribution facilities

However, as per Sucharita, it means different things in different markets. In India, it means “Everywhere Commerce” which includes Mobile, Social, Marketplace, Cross Border and Payments flexibility.

On being asked about the role mobile will play in the overall digital market, she said that it has the power to bring in more consumers online especially in emerging markets. “Adoption of Mobile phones has exploded globally with approx. 76% accessing mobile internet. M-commerce is thus, the opportunity to drive e-commerce. Also, installed base of tablets will grow 10x over the next 5 years,” she added.

While giving an insight into the payment options available, she said that COD is the most popular payment type but new payment experiments are also emerging. The under developed credit market in India, however offers a large opportunity if unleashed.

Also, if anyone is looking forward to get success in Ecommerce, he/she must keep  in mind four fundamentals viz. Strong product detail pages, Strong web marketing, Transparency in post purchase and Fast site speed.

For an overview of the social media discussions around this session, see this Storify. You can also watch this three-minute trailer or the full video.