It is generally said, Fashion does not have any boundaries, on a similar note shopping points too will be limitless thanks to the advent of Omnichannel strategy for retailers.
Full Inventory Visibility:
Increasingly the trend might be to become channel-agnostic. Stores have limited catalogue since their physical size is limited. (“All sizes may not be available at one time”). Thanks to Full Inventory Visibility employees of stores( as in the case of Best seller) can look at the entire catalogue across stores and warehouses to help customer. Eg: Lets say the shirt that customer wants is available in nearby store he can perhaps be given that in a few minutes. There is also the possibility of delivering it to his home leading to a more seamless experience.
This helps customers browse at the store through the entire range of the store’s products – some at store, some online and ask to be shipped home. We are at a crucial juncture where offline and online will be working together instead of working in silos and that will turnout to be a game changer when it comes to omni-channel retail in India.
Delivery boy collects the shirt returned by the first buyer and ships it to another buyer who has requested for the same product .The match can be confirmed by the delivery boy using a hand-held device. He then repacks it and prints the label for the package. (Unlike the normal course, where the package will get back to depot but will be directly delivered only if the location is in the vicinity.)
An Able Ally called “Artifical-Intelligence”:
AI tool – Stylumia Market Intelligence:
This has been a big support for Best seller. The tool has the ability to interpret data, collected from videos, social media and e-commerce sites. This can help predict fashion trends and its likely success as well. For eg: Feeding the engine with necessary data can help it suggest which shade of a colour might work in regard to dresses. (Vero Moda tried the option and enjoyed a 15-20% increase in sales). Technology is more about hygiene these days and not much of a differentiator. If done well it can garner lots of customer delight. Customer profiling too becomes a lot easier since we get how time a customer spends on specific designs.
In this case the screen behind the mirror will read products, making it smart. The approximate cost will be 1000 $. This can give suggestions for a jacket based on the shirt we are wearing and suggest other options too for us to consider. The first “shopping wall” will soon be out at best seller outlets in Delhi & Ahmedabad. This can mean that shopping lovers need not rush to the stores before its closing time, they can simply head to towering screen and click on ‘buy’.
Challenges with Omni channel retail strategy:
- Investments need to be made in senior management bandwidth apart from software in addition to technology and what hand-held device needs to be used.
- Money also will need to go in for meeting fulfillment and training costs. (For Best seller’s 240 stores, software costs alone came between 10-15 million INR)
- Investment needed is a combination of technology, fulfillment centers and management bandwidth. (At top end, this could come to 700-800 million for a large player)
Possibilities that Omni-channel retail strategy offers:
- A customer can buy a shirt online and pick it offline.
- As Inventory visibility spreads across the respective retailers’ network of stores(own stores+ sop-in-shops) the scale will increase leading to cheaper more efficient operations(Economies of Scale)
- It becomes more convenient to the buyer. He types his pin code and he is the given the option to pickup right away at a store close to his location or choose to wait for it to be delivered. Similarly replacement too can be made at the store or online.
- From a retailer standpoint products come back faster to him and entered into the system as well. This also reduces costs as the product is going to spend only less time in transit.
- Multiple touchpoints means more data and the retailer can get to provide personalized shopping options for their customers.
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