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Guest Column: Role of technology in omnichannel retailing: Rijish Raghavan, PAYBACK India

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Guest Column: Role of technology in omnichannel retailing: Rijish Raghavan, PAYBACK India

Industry buzzwords, evolving business landscapes and inter-channel competitions are compelling the Retail Industry to adapt to the latest trend — ‘Omni-Channel’. Brands and e-commerce sites that have begun to adapt to the new and dynamic Omnichannel experience are making all the right moves. Thus, by consolidating channels under one umbrella brings more benefits in the retail business.

The India ‘transition’ from traditional to digital is sending many retailers back to their conference rooms to reinvent the wheel of business. But here’s a simple question — are sales declining? Or are we pushing ourselves to do more in a short span? The market trends in the current scenario have a multiplier effect; a fact known to all retailers. Will the retail industry conform to new methods?

Traditional stores ruled the space until the digital channels entered the market. With multiple places to shop, the customer journey has changed and evolved. Although most businesses were developing requisite forces to sustain both, many could not meet the high demands. To add to this, was a major reason — storage. Today, it’s a growing concern for many traditional retail channels, that they may lose the competition, while the e-commerce boom gains more from this transition.

So, here’s the theory in retailing — e-commerce channels are thriving, with retail-digital channels reaping massive benefits; they have increased by 22% in 2015. This includes mobile channels, which is a major contributor to the business as well. Thus, this builds a stronger economy for the retail business with varied touch points which engage the customer and generate higher revenues.

Although India will take a little more time in completely changing the market and switching to Omnichannel, marketers are prepared to join the dots and make the last mile connectivity sooner than later. The benefits of this can be seen immediately. Large multinational brands and e-commerce are quick and agile to change their business platforms; their ability to launch a new channel is an advantage. Brick and Mortar stores are adapting the same strategy at their level to meet the dynamic market demands. They have begun to build strong alliances with customers and by doing so, they have managed to retain them. Including this, online has become a popular market place, and many local brands as well as other private players have become digitally savvy and are using all the modern dynamics to cater to the evolving customer landscape.

Today, many online players are ensuring that their priority remains with the customer’s satisfaction. Their aim to bring the best of services with same day delivery options and build a strong and robust network where it enables their customers to buy and pay conveniently. Thus, making the entire customer journey delightful. As the new and more advanced technologies are taking over, the traditional channels are putting in every effort they can, to evolve. 

Will this existential threat put an end to traditional retail? Let’s not make haste with judgments, as there is a solution. Because Omnichannel does exactly the opposite, so it’s a win-win for all channels as long they are under one platform.

What’s the panacea to a hostile environment? Strategic Omnichannel Experience will be the best resolution to a highly competitive landscape. By providing a seamless shopping experience, brick-and-mortar stores will gain a competitive edge. It will drive more sales and will differentiate them from the competition.

Let’s look at the advantages vis-a-via traditional – a commonly known fact is that the number of customers using Omnichannel is higher than online and traditional. They are more valuable to the business as they want to experience every channel individually. Customers who are well versed with the Omnichannel experience say they always get a better deal. With so many touchpoints such as mobile, interactive brick-and-mortar digital tools in-store, coupons and comparing pricing, these are just a few which are major business drivers today.

Considering the plethora of options present to a customer, there are two more interesting modifications in the customer journey. The millennials are known to use both these options – “Showrooming” (test products in the store, and then buy it online) and “Webrooming” (research about a product online and buy it from the showroom). A concept which is perfect for the retailer and complements each other. The same buyer can switch between the two and access countless discounts, loyalty points and compelling engagement platforms offered by brands.

As the retail industry evolves, so does the customers’ buying journey. When we package these with so many benefits to befit their ultimate shopping experience, the results are spectacular.

(The author is Vice President & Head of Partner Management at PAYBACK India)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

Tags PAYBACK omnichannel retailing Rijish Raghavan

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