Farooq, co-founder of Fynd, India’s leading omnichannel platform (a Reliance backed company) looks after the overall strategic vision at Fynd and heads product, engineering, and culture. An IIT-Bombay graduate, Farooq worked for four years with the leading analytics company Opera Solutions in New York before starting Fynd in 2012.
We have entered a new world, shaped by the global events triggered by the pandemic. It has become very evident in this new world that offline retail and online commerce need to converge, to create a shopping experience that is operationally efficient and pays careful attention to customer satisfaction.
When online innovation joins hands with offline logistics & customer experience, that’s when the real magic happens.
The pre-existing multichannel retail offered consumers more than a single channel to make a purchase. Omnichannel uses technology to tie all of these channels together in a coordinated infrastructure.
Ever since the covid pandemic shook the foundation of the retail industry, businesses have understood the value of tapping into every available technology and employing a smarter strategy to keep the sales up. An effective omnichannel strategy aims to synchronize eCommerce with stores through integrations in a multi-layered ecosystem. It doesn’t just end at that, a successful strategy will have to constantly evolve to make full use of the latest technologies.
The way different consumers interact with technology also determines the success of one platform over the other. For instance, Gen Z & Millennials don’t think in terms of traditional shopping methods, they are more in favor of seamlessness of the shopping experience. This pushes retailers to make use of the latest tech for an improved experience.
These 5 tech trends are bound to make a huge impact in omnichannel retail:
Augmented reality that covers both online & offline
Brands had been experimenting with AR experiences even before the pandemic, but ever since social distancing and no-touch safety measures were put in place, augmented reality has become an extremely essential technology. Virtual try-on gives consumers the means to try-on clothes and accessories without touching a thing. AR has applications in both offline and online space, a very useful assist to omnichannel retail.
With augmented reality, customers can try out clothes, easily test how a particular shade of pink looks on their face, check how a piece of furniture would look in their home, and a lot more. It is also a very useful technology to display more product information in offline stores.
IoT revolution to boost multi-channel/platform growth
Smart devices and wearable gadgets have significantly increased in demand over the last 10 years. Now, consumers have a whole host of options to interact with e-commerce brands.
Now, brands would need to update their retail strategies to cater to new and emerging IoT devices and platforms.
An omnichannel strategy that enables brands to display product content and communicate with different IoT devices like smartwatches & household smart devices, will help companies create a seamless experience for the customer.
Additionally, a brand that has an IoT-centric approach will be able to use smart technologies like Geofencing, beacons, NFC & RFID tags to interact with different gadgets. This approach will also give companies access to a different level of consumer behavior, which can personalize recommendations and services.
Any average customer expects a quick response to queries and an approachable support team that is willing to go above and beyond. As the roots of the omnichannel network expand, the challenge to maintain a premium customer experience also grows.
Chatbots have transformed into customer service agents, marketing tools, and even personalized assistants. Omnichannel chatbots can help in maintaining scalable consistency that doesn’t compromise on quality service and is available at any time of the day. The evolution in technologies like Machine Learning (ML), natural language processing (NLP), and natural language understanding (NLU) is accelerating the transformation of chatbots into smart personalized assistants.
Offline digital payment options
Giving in-store customers an option to pay online is an extremely effective way to create a smooth, unhindered experience.
It adheres to social distancing, gets rid of long queues in the store, and makes it easy for the retailers to focus on the customer’s experience in browsing & exploring, rather than decluttering the checkout counter.
Ever since the UPI payment method stepped into the limelight, online payments gained security and larger acceptance.
People who have become adept in online transactions will still continue to go cashless in a post-covid world. Access to online payment methods & self-checkout can offer a greater sense of freedom to customers so they can shop without constraint.
Personalized recommendations will transcend mediums
The e-commerce industry as a whole has acknowledged the importance of understanding customer’s needs, wants, desires and expectations. Personalized recommendations have helped brands significantly scale up.
When personalized recommendations are omnichannel capable then this approach becomes more layered and even more relevant. Adding additional offline metrics like what the in-store consumer looked at, the time it took to make a purchase in the store, etc, empowers the ML algorithm to give more successful recommendations to customers in the future.
India has been witnessing a tremendous shift to digitization since demonetization. The pandemic has reinforced the need for a smarter digital structure that smoothly connects with the in-store experience.
Ever since the smartphone market started penetrating the rural and suburban population of the country, a whole new audience has emerged. An audience that is adopting technology while still maintaining a close connection with offline shopping. This is a great opportunity to give customers the best of both worlds with a modern unified approach using omnichannel strategies.