“The future of Retail is not E-Commerce.” – by Kunal Bahl, CEO,...

“The future of Retail is not E-Commerce.” – by Kunal Bahl, CEO, SnapDeal.

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.For a country as vast and diverse as India, with multiple ethnicities and varied shopping preferences, E-commerce cannot be the only future of retail. The consumption appetite of 1.3 billion Indians cannot be satisfied with any single medium of retail. Consumers want their shopping experience to be seamless and as convenient as possible – e-commerce can help with that but it is Omni channel retail that can truly solve this.

Across all major economies E-commerce forms only 10% of the business whereas rest is dominated by other retail channels. Success in retail means serving the customer on the device of her choice and fulfilling her orders the way she desires. I’m proud to announce Snapdeal is at the forefront of this retail revolution.

Snapdeal launched its Omni-channel platform early this month; first of its kind in India – the platform integrates offline and online retail channels to provide a seamless and differentiated shopping experience to customers. Through this platform, customers shopping on Snapdeal will be able to enjoy the convenience of online discovery and ordering along with faster hyper-local fulfilment. Omni Channel will allow customers to access value added and expert services as a part of their purchase, including demonstration, installation, activation or returns at a store near them.

We are thrilled to be the first online marketplace to launch an integrated omni-channel platform, opening a new chapter in enabling the success of retailers and brands in India. Our teams have worked tirelessly to build a seamless omni-channel platform which we call ‘Janus’, referring to the Roman God of beginnings, transitions, gates, doors and doorways. This platform will blur the lines between offline and online retail, demonstrating that both channels can act as gateways to each other. Our newest addition to Snapdeal’s digital commerce ecosystem, the Janus omni-channel platform is backed by our deep understanding of consumer behaviour and partnerships with leading retailers, brands and service providers across the country. The synergies between online and offline commerce in India will be unlocked like never before. We are confident that our customers will find our Omni channel offerings to be very intuitive, making their shopping experience extremely convenient and enjoyable.

Omni channel represents a tectonic shift in the way we think about and conduct retail – it provides a massive opportunity to better serve billions of customers. Convergence simply means that every store must compete with every other store, regardless of format. Ecommerce businesses have already recognized this, since from the beginning every online retailer has had to compete against big box stores and local specialty shops alike. Physical-store-based retailers that have enjoyed a kind of geographic monopoly are also increasingly exposed to the world wide web of retailers thanks to mobile devices and much faster Internet connections. Across the world, ecommerce players are tying up with offline players to provide an overall seamless experience for its customers. Alibaba the Chinese giant, recently tied up with electronics offline retailer Suning and Intime Retail, Petsmart launched its ‘Pethood’ Omni channel initiative and we will see a lot of such partnerships coming up globally and in India in the near future.

The Omni-channel partnership is beneficial for all the involved stakeholders – the offline retailer adding another sales channel increasing its reach extensively; the online companies get deeper inventories to sell on the platform attracting a large consumer base; the consumers will be able to shop online at their convenience for everything possible. Online order coupled with offline in-store fulfilment helps provide better customer experience. Also, both e-tailers and traditional retailers are suffering operational hardships and combining the two can ensure viable operations.

This article was first published on LinkedIn.

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