Brick-and-Mortar Retail stores to function as a unified technological platform for both offline and online applications is a much cherished dream for tech-friendly users. However, materialization of the ambition hasn’t yet taken an encouraging step, except for a limited retail brands. Apart from these brands, deploying technology in brick-and-mortar store environment for customer convenience, in several of the developing countries, such as India, very limited numbers of retail players are introducing these facilities or aspiring to transform their stores into platforms that combine both offline and online technologies.
Despite the paramount obstacles brick-and-mortar retail industry is facing while implementing technology, both online and offline, on the other hand, several interesting facts have also surfaced, such as:
- In Europe and US, over 40% of retailers are looking forward to a comprehensive platform that should allow them control over consumer interaction and transaction, irrespective of customers’ preference of a particular channel.
- While only 19% of retailers wish to stick with brick-and-mortar retail model, over 38% of their counterparts wish to diversify for customer convenience and the latter wish to attain the objective by leveraging ecommerce within the model.
These findings are providing one thing – omnichannel fulfillment is a must and the new retail story won’t complete without the combination of online and offline technologies.
Why is this Online-Offline Merge Necessary for Retail?
The idea of smart retailing in India is gradually increasing but still has a long way to go. However, retailers should keep pushing for the necessary technology not only to increase customer awareness but also to reinvigorate their brand image to new age customers. Creating the ‘one platform’ should function as the key to unlock smart shopping experience. The quest for such efforts is not irrelevant anymore, especially when the number of tech friendly shoppers is booming. Smartphones and associative gadgets have made IoE (Internet of Everything) powerful than ever before in India and every passing year, with newer technological advent, the advancement will continue to happen. Furthermore, the ‘one platform’ should also function as the bridge between online and offline shopping.
The benefit, finally, for retailers would be changing themselves in manners that customers should find complementing to their preference. Additionally, a retail platform that combines both online and offline technologies would be immensely helpful for retailers in understanding customers, receive necessary insight about product acceptance, and change business strategies real-time or near real-time to boost sales. Merging online and offline technologies create the much needed omnichannel retail experience – the one-stop solution that customers have started appreciating, increasingly.
The Obstacles, Stopping the Online-Offline Merge:
Replete with such fascinating array of benefits but the online-offline merge in the Indian retail industry is still below the expectation. The most commonly argued factor behind slow adoption of the technology is reluctance to invest among brick-and-mortar retailers. However, the story runs deeper than imagined and before relishing the offline-online convergence, customers should address the following technological imperatives at the first place,
- Remove Market and Internal Landscape Bottlenecks: Before making the online-offline technological convergence successful, one must understand the bigger landscape of the targeted market and the technological solutions that audience use most frequently. Alongside, it is also important to figure out that to which extent organizational structure and stakeholders will be benefitted through implantation of the improvement.
- Create technology Roadmap: Shifting from an existing technological environment to a newer one is a complex process and things may go wrong if not planned properly. The shift not only requires a significant amount of monetary investment but also a well-defined roadmap that would connect the new platform with multiple channels, without compromising on security issues and target milestones.
- Stay Open for Innovation: Offline-online technological integration is not about one-time success. Customer requirement is bound to change and retailers should be ready to continue upgrading the technological platform as per the change. This also means that the foundation should be agile enough to integrate and encompass future improvements seamlessly.
Hail Multichannel Buying Support!
The new retail story of technological integration for both online and offline shoppers, for seamless multichannel experience, can best be written once retailers express their readiness to adapt with a simple architecture, seamless data-synchronization and real-time intelligence. The goal of technological integration is catering multichannel shopping experience, which means customers have the freedom to opt for the preferred product through her preferred shopping channel. Furthermore, support for all the shopping mediums should be consistent. The offline and online technological congregation in retail perfects the multichannel buying support.