<p style="text-align: justify;">Today’s consumers demand a seamless brand and shopping experience across physical stores, mobile, web, and social channels. With growing real estate and marketing costs, staff attrition, and lack of skilled manpower, brands and retailers are exploring new ways for expanding their business, and the online channels offer a great option.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnichannel_retail_strategy">Omni-channel commerce</a> enables brands and retailers to reach customers without any physical boundaries and engage with them across the buying cycle. Additionally, Omni commerce reduces customer acquisition costs and provides ways to measure ROI.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">There are various pre-packaged enterprise Omni-channel commerce solutions like Mart Jack that help large retailers and global brands make the digital transformation with ease.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The platform must be agile, flexible, and encompass all the features that a business requires to run an e-commerce store successfully. These include:</p><ul><li style="list-style-type: none;"><ul><li>Master data management</li><li>Catalogue management</li><li>Content management</li><li>Marketing management</li><li>Store/ Location commerce</li><li>Order management</li><li>Customer management</li><li>Analytics and reports</li></ul></li></ul><h2><span style="font-size: 14pt;">The Rise of Online-to-offline Commerce Approach</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">For offline brands and retailers, a part of the Omni-channel approach is online-to-offline commerce (O2O commerce) – a business model that draws potential customers from online channels to physical stores. </p><p style="text-align: justify;">This online-to-offline retail tactic has caused a strategic shift in the retail ecosystem as consumers can now browse products online before making the final purchase in brick-and-mortar stores. Also, this is giving birth to a plethora of new formats that will usher in the future of retail.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">O2O commerce also enables offline customers to transact at online channels through the Endless Aisle – in-store kiosks that facilitate customer self-ordering, eliminating instances of product unavailability. </p><p style="text-align: justify;">O2O commerce has led to the birth of virtual marketplaces and mobile wallets, challenging brands and retailers to align their efforts with disruptive technologies and acquire relevant insights into customer purchase behaviour. </p><p style="text-align: justify;">O2O solution suite helps map buyer behaviour across the online and offline worlds, offering customers a seamless anytime, anywhere shopping experience.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="font-size: 10pt;"><em>The <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/baqar-iftikhar-naqvi-34b27a4/">article</a> was contributed by our expert Baqar Naqvi.</em></span></p><h3>Frequently Asked Questions Answered By Baqar Naqvi:</h3><h2><span style="font-size: 12pt;">1. What is online to offline commerce?</span></h2><p style="text-align: justify;">It is the seamless migration or movement of consumers from one channel (online or offline) to the other for information, product/ brand experience and transaction e.g. a customer can have a look at a product at a shop, but that shop may not have a model/ size etc. available for sale. The customer can immediately buy the SKU he wants on the retailer’s online portal and get it directly delivered at his home. Alternatively, a customer can buy a product online and get it collected after trails from a store. If the product does not fit him or if he doesn’t like the product he can return it then and there.</p><h3><span style="font-size: 12pt;">2. What are the differences between online retail and offline retail?</span></h3><p style="text-align: justify;">Online retail leverages the online mediums whereas offline retail is about the physical retail environment. Online retail provides the customer the convenience to browse, compare and buy products in the comfort of his/ her home. Offline retail in India is still about “the pleasure of shopping”. Indian consumers love to go to malls, see products and then buy. It’s about the “glitz” of the retail environment.</p><h3><span style="font-size: 12pt;">3. How is omnichannel implemented in retail?</span></h3><p style="text-align: justify;">Omnichannel is not just about the product and inventory integration across channels, or about endless isles, it is also the seamless integration of customer data points so as to give a seamless experience to the customer across all touch points. Many retailers confuse multi-channel with omnichannel and think it is just inventory integration.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Today there are many softwares that can help you transition from multichannel to omnichannel structure, but there is a lot of strategic and process alignment that retailers will have to go through to become truly omnichannel. It is something that requires a lot of effort but is certainly worth the results. </p>
KR Expert - Baqar Iftikhar Naqvi
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