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Rise Of The Retail Phoenix

As demonetisation continues, online retailers are seeing a drop in sales. This is an opportunity for brick and mortar retail to jump-start the long awaited and necessary digital transformation

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As demonetisation continues, online retailers are seeing a drop in sales. This is an opportunity for brick and mortar retail to jump-start the long awaited and necessary digital transformation.

To compete in the age of digital consumerism, traditional businesses will need to transform their current structure, processes, and technology and become more innovative, agile and experience-driven. Such a strategic change is now a necessity for survival. Those who look only to the past or present may miss the future

The Retail Phoenix is waiting to rise from the ashes of its brick and mortar predecessor. It already has the advantage of the physical store. Providing new customer-centric experiences can become a competitive advantage in the new era of the informed and impatient consumer. It is time to put on our startup hats and take data, technology and innovation seriously.

Here’s a summary of our top five trends and implications for retail and brands in India written by the Innovation team at Omnicom Media Group India, in collaboration with ISDI (Indian School of Design & Innovation), Parsons Mumbai and Academy of Customer Experience, BPGroup:

As consumers today buy experiences (not products), retail brands need to sell differentiated content-driven experiences and merge the thrill of discovery with free-style mixing and combining of online and offline shelves. Just being present across multiple channels is not going to cut it. The intersection of technology, content and culture is the sweet spot for retail experiences.

While the vision of transforming any ‘thing’ into media for personalised connect is becoming a reality, the true value of the internet comes from the need to connect people to people, and not people to things. As things around us continue to get more connected, there comes the need to personalise content with context to avoid information clutter. The Internet of Things should improve our daily lives by understanding our behaviours, habits, and interests. To become more sentient, it needs to provide experiences that echo consumer choices.

In the race to improve customer experience, designers are working to convert visitors to customers. Providing real-time information and immersive experiences using Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies helps shorten the purchase cycle and reduce return rates. Such experiences bridge the trust gap that prevent consumers from shopping online, especially for products such as apparel, furniture, beauty, automobile and real
estate products.

The disruptive nature of mobile wallets is a consumer lifestyle enabler with new revenue opportunities for retail and brands. As the Indian shopper continues to drive mobile commerce, mobile-first retail apps should woo first-time smartphone users using unique and innovative approaches

Customer expectations have risen and retailers need to serve information anywhere and anytime. While content and service is available online, it is still too product centric and lacks human connect. Chatbots are on the rise ,however, artificial Intelligence technology still has a long way to go in terms of localising human connect, especially in India, where Indian vernacular languages take precedence over English.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Avinash Jhangiani

The author is chief innovation officer, Omnicon Media Group India

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