Think back to the last time you made a big offline purchase. Can’t remember? The retail industry per se has gone through a lot of changes in the last few years. While the industry experts believe that retail in India has performed incredibly well in the last three years, a major transformation has been witnessed after the onset of the pandemic.
As this seismic shift has changed consumers’ buying behaviors, businesses embark on strategic technological transformations to meet the ever-increasing demand. But amid all these evolutions, one this is for sure – Consumers are the driving force behind the retail industry! So what can you do to position yourself as a successful retailer in 2021?
The State of Retail in 2021!
In the current state of the Indian retail system, while India’s retail market is estimated to reach ~1.5 tn by 2030, e-commerce alone has been estimated to cross the $200 bn mark by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 30%, and have a market penetration of 12%.
Does this mean that the next five years are going to be even better for the e-commerce industry?
Well, upcoming trends keep on evolving the habits of the consumers, so you never know what could come up next. But one thing is for sure, e-commerce retail – clubbed up with the traditional selling strategies – going to be the need of the hour. Meaning, you rather need to leverage an integrated approach to achieve success. Don’t you think so?
Let’s go a little back and understand the challenges that retailers like you have faced, or are still facing, and why would you be needing to amalgamate multiple channels altogether.
New Age Problems Faced By Retailers in 2021!
1. Fluctuation in Demand
Both a sudden hike and an unexpected dip in the demand could create clusters and dilemmas in the minds of the sellers. Not to mention how the onslaught of the pandemic made it difficult for the sellers to move their stock. If you are able to relate to this, you need a strategy/system to track and monitor your inventory and align it with the market demand. This is the only way to fight the unconventional situation.
2. Customer Behavioral Changes
The number of e-retailers expanded exponentially in the past years and customers are no longer limited to one choice. In fact, now dozens of vendors sell a similar product.
Customers are no longer forced by ‘brand loyalty’. Not only do they have a plethora of options in from of them, but innovation has also become one of the crucial components to satisfy their demands. They are constantly moving from one brand to another and are open to retailers who can serve them the best.
Due to this, it has become difficult for retailers to keep old customers and optimize their sales between old and new customers.
3. Buying Journey
Another important challenge that retailers like you are facing these days is to fulfilling the consumers’ expectations. As a retailer, you need to keep up with technology and create a smooth buying experience for your customers.
We must not forget that the customer experience is not exclusive to online. Online and offline experiences can (and should) be complementary. Even the biggest retailer online, Amazon, understood this and has already opened a physical store, with plans to open several more.
Retailers are unable to create this fluid online/offline experience for the customers. And they continue to put their channels against one another.
4. Channel Integration
The rise in e-commerce, especially after the COVID-19, opened up new opportunities for retailers around the world. Buying online from various marketplaces is just another channel of sales. Customers who shop online do visit brick-mortar stores.
Now having an online channel for sales is something you’d want for your business. But the real problem arises when retailers are unable to integrate multiple channels. Due to this, customers have a different experience every time they buy from you.
The seller should have a holistic view of the customer, regardless of the channel he/ she is using.
5. Technical Difficulties
Technology plays the biggest role in the whole process of retail. Be it handling huge amounts of data or generating invoices, adopting a technological system is a must.
Retailers today need to invest in technology that can help them handle the huge amount of data generated. Technology will help win a competitive advantage over competitors. This allows you to deliver the integrated and engaging experience your customers expect.
6. Controlling the Quality
Associated with outbound operations, quality control is one of the most crucial aspects of retail. In many cases, it has been witnessed that while indulging in processes such as picking, packing, and shipping, warehouse managers forget to check the quality, especially amid the pandemic, when businesses were trying their best to fulfill maximum orders with minimum staff. Even today – given the aftermath of the pandemic – businesses are facing difficulties in quality control, which in turn increase the rate of order returns, resulting in high operational costs.
Omnichannel Retail – A Solution To Overcome Retail Challenges in 2021
To be one step ahead of your competitors, you need to change your investment strategies, including operational planning.
For example, is establishing an e-commerce website, while building a community over social media enough in today’s timeline?
Well, no! Rather you should focus on integrating your backend operations with your marketing & branding to converging all the sales channels using a centralized system.
“Physical stores will always remain an important part of retail. However, the future belongs to the retailers that understand the omnichannel ethos and figure out how to integrate the convenience, speed, and power of e-commerce with the sensory appeal and excitement of physical stores” — Dave Cesaro, executive director, client strategy, Valassis.
While product differentiation will be the most crucial aspect, the retailers need to focus on revamping their business tactics by introducing an integrated approach. Moreover, given the increasing usage of smartphones, apps, and social media, there is an alarming need for a kind of system through which your customers can communicate with you at any point in time. And that’s when the whole narrative behind the Omnichannel retail takes place. But what benefits does omnichannel retail offers you?
1. Amplified Profit Margin
As mentioned above, consumers prefer those brands that give them multiple options, both in terms of sales channels and variety. And you can definitely vouch for the omnichannel retail strategy by giving a plethora of alternatives to the customers, thereby, marking a sustainable and optimized revenue stream.
2. Satisfied Customers
Retaining a customer has become as difficult as acquiring a new one, if not more, especially after reviving from the hard times. While personalization and customization have become the buzzword, a majority of online players couldn’t devise a plan to incorporate them into their business strategy. Seamless cross-channel integration can help retailers create a buyer’s experience that can combat the fickle nature of today’s customers.
3. Automate Efforts
Switching to automation saves one a lot more time and effort. One of the many advantages of Omnichannel is that you can automate your operations – warehouse management, order & inventory management – and synchronize the efforts.
4. Simplify Logistics Movement
By adopting an e-commerce solution provider like Unicommerce, you can ensure smooth and easy shipping of orders. Integrate with world-class logistics players and expand the reach of your brand by delivering anywhere in the world.
5. Highly Immersive Buying Experience
User experience is the most crucial factor in retail as it determines the engagement and conversion of an e-commerce site. While using UX-focused features and next-gen content management capabilities, you can definitely create full-immersive shopping experiences for your shoppers.
6. Synchronized Workflows
From controlling the quality of the product to automating your cart & marketplace with inventory and multichannel order management system to understanding the levels of the inventory, you can perform anything & everything with omnichannel. Moreover, it lets you handle consumer data with ease, which can help you build a fluid experience.
Ship from store, order offline return online or vice versa, routing of online orders to offline stores, are some of the services that businesses are making the most of. By establishing your “.com” with the brick mortar store, omnichannel retail is giving huge opportunities to the e-tailers to expand their business. So when are you planning to leverage this approach? Don’t wait up, and start now!
Our solutions provide instantaneous cross-channel order & inventory management to retail brands. Request a free demo with us today!