3 Important Differentiators for Retail Brands to Stay Ahead of the Competition


The retail markets across the globe are becoming increasingly competitive for 2 major reasons. On the one hand technology has disrupted the industry in multiple ways and on the other hand customers shopping behaviors have changed dramatically. Additionally, both these factors are influencing each other to further pose more challenges and create opportunities for retail businesses. In this intensely competitive scenario, retail brands need to differentiate themselves so that they emerge winners.

Below are 3 important factors that can help retail brands differentiate themselves:

Supply chain – Simply put, getting the customer what they want and where they want it is a serious concerns for most retailers as the complexity of processes and operations increase with the different channels and random ways the customer goes about shopping and ordering products. New omni-channel fulfillment options such as click and collect or BOPIS, endless aisles, reserve online and pick-up in-store, and a few other combinations have emerged over the last couple of years. Moreover, same day delivery, drone delivery, collection from preferred location, anywhere returns, and so on, have also come to the fore lately. Offering these fulfillment options requires retailers to have a solid supply chain system that can reduce the chances of stock-outs, damages and other potential risks. Thus it is important for retailers to focus on the supply chain and use technology to optimize it so that there is a smooth flow of the product from manufacturing to the consumer.

Customer relationship – As stated earlier, technology has influenced the shopper. Customers today are more informed and demanding than about a decade ago. In addition to that, they are spoilt for choice thanks to the variety in products, different channels of shopping, payment methods and accessibility to information. The customers are on the driving seats and retail brands need to be ready to fulfill the demands of the customer on their terms. This will be possible only if companies keep their customers at the focal point in the business. They will have to build deep and long lasting relationships with the customer and take appropriate efforts to understand and know their customers’ preferences. Using technology to capture and analyze customer related data and with proper customer segmentation and profiling, retailers will be able to design and create tailored offerings to the customers in terms of products and related services.

Marketing and branding – It is a no brainer that if retailers are not able to get their marketing right, they won’t be able to click. Retail companies are pumping in huge investments and efforts into their marketing and branding strategies and execution. But with so much noise around it is difficult to get noticed. In order to stand out, retail brands must adopt for a unity in diversity approach. Firstly have uniform branding and messaging, secondly identify platforms where their customers are most likely to be and thirdly promoting the brand message across these platforms will help retailers reach the desired audience with higher chance of conversions. Taking this to the next level by designing and creating offers and promotions that are hyper personalized, localized and unique will have customers wanting for more. As customer attention spans are small, retailers need to get their act together and render the maximum impact in a short time.

How Click-and-collect can help boost your retail business (video)

Omni-channel retailing enables retail brands to expand their presence as it removes the dependence on a single channel and allows the use of multiple channels to interact with their customers as well as sell products. ‘Click-and-collect’ or ‘Buy online pick up in store (BOPIS)’ is a powerful omni-channel fulfillment option that is gaining popularity, globally. The below video illuminates some of its important benefits.

ETP Omni-channel Retail Software Solutions provide you with features such as ‘Click and collect’ enabling you to deliver a unified brand-customer relationship across all channels.

7 Trends shaping Asia’s future retail landscape


1. Foreign retailers focusing on core Asian markets

With the likes of China, India and other large Asian countries poised to have a large consumer base in the coming years thus creating a higher demand for international retail brands. This scenario is prompting big-name retailers to focus on capturing revenue from core Asian markets.

2. Big players emphasizing on Southeast Asian markets

As barriers to entry are erected in some of the larger Asian markets, Southeast Asian countries in-turn are seemingly converting into new playgrounds for big-name retailers.  Countries like Indonesia, which is seeing a strong population growth and a rise in the income, and Vietnam, a country which is relatively FDI-friendly, are favoring big retail players to enter these markets.

3. The line between online-offline channels are blurring

As omni-channel retailing is the new rule in the retail playbook enabling retailers to transform their business and add features such as click-and-collect, endless aisles. Further, driving engagement using retail touch-points is becoming popular favoring the connected consumers’ sentiments and preferences of swift and simplified shopping.

4. Deeper penetration

From time-to time brands are announcing the grand openings of more and more stores and outlets in Asian markets. As in China, flagship stores are popping up in tier three and tier four cities, going beyond tier one and tier two cities, other regions will also witness a similar trend in the future.

5. Discount retailing

Although the discount retail channel is not as strong as it is in Western Europe, the trend is catching on in Asian countries such as China, India and so on where discount retailing is becoming popular online and Japan in the form of 100 Yen stores.

6. Equipping for m-commerce and s-commerce

Global e-Commerce growth is going to be driven by Asian retail markets, which are equipping themselves for m-commerce and emerging forms of social media commerce. As consumers in the Asian market are heavy mobile users and active on multiple social media channels on a daily basis, retailers adding m-commerce and s-commerce capabilities will favor these consumers.

7. Importance of local shopping cultures to retail markets

As foreign retail players are looking to expand their brands and businesses into Asian markets, they will need to imbibe the local flavor of the domestic retail markets and adhere to their respective shopping cultures as these will prevail over the coming years. As such retailers entered into countries like China (the likes of Starbucks) have opened outlets that feature local tastes and preferences.

Conversion Rate Optimization in Physical Retail

Like online retailers, brick-and-mortar retailers need to focus more of their efforts on converting the store traffic that they receive. In today’s retail environment, no retail business can afford to fritter away their store traffic – it should be treated as a valuable, non-renewable resource. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) when effectively applied, can be the difference between delivering positive same-store sales or not.

Here are some statistics that shed light on the conversion rate scenario of brick-and-mortar stores:

Physical stores have a higher conversion rate than online

Conversion rates vary considerably across retail categories, but they also vary significantly within the same chain as a result of variations in store format, geographical location, product mix, inventory levels, and most importantly, store personnel who serve the shoppers. The reality is, each and every brick-and-mortar store is unique and in order to optimize conversion rates, these unique characteristics need to be considered.

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Impact of Click & Collect on Conversion Rate

Customers expect a seamless experience regardless of how they engage with a retailer and these expectations are blurring the lines between online and physical stores. Concepts such as Click and Collect are impacting store traffic patterns and conversion rates.

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At the store depicted here, the store traffic counts went up from 10 to 12 after the implementation of omni-channel retail solutions that enabled Click & Collect, sometimes also referred to as Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store (BOPIS) functionality.

Since three of the 12 traffic counts generated were ‘pre-converted’ i.e., already purchased online and came to the store to pick-up their purchase; they didn’t generate a sales transaction. If we don’t track that Click & Collect transaction and factor it into our conversion rates, then the only thing that we will conclude is that our conversion rates have dropped from 50% to 42% in this example.

Reasons why in-store shoppers didn’t convert

The most cited reasons why in-store shoppers didn’t purchase are:

  1. They could not find anyone to help them; and
  2. They did not want to wait in a queue at check-out.
  3. They could not find what they were looking for or the preferred item was out-of-stock.

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This draws attention to the impact in-store staff have on conversion rates. Getting the store teams engaged and encouraging them to apply insights from traffic and conversion analytics can play a winning role in driving the conversion rates at the store.

Solutions such as mobile POS, self-checkouts can address the long wait-time at the checkout counters by enabling effective queue busting at the store.

The merchandising and product availability challenges can be countered by deploying omni-channel features such as endless aisle.

In conclusion, modern day retailers need to implement innovative software solutions that allow them to transform their business in to omni-channel as well as equip them with the power of capturing and analyzing data across channels. This will help them boost the conversion rates at the brick-and-mortar store.

Source: http://www.retailwire.com/public/sponsors/headcount/assets/HeadCount-Conversion-Rate-Optimization-2017.pdf

This festive shopping is going Omni-channel


The Singles’ Day shopping extravaganza would not have become a huge phenomenon nor would it have been a record-breaking event had it not been for disruption technology such as omni-channel. That’s not all. As per a survey, 81 percent of holiday season shoppers use up to six channels to make their purchases for the festive season. These are significant numbers and must not be overlooked. All these are clear and straight-forward indications that omni-channel is the best step for retail businesses in the right direction during the upcoming Christmas shopping season.

It would not be an understatement to state that ‘for most retail businesses and other entities ‘omni-channel’ should be their go to strategy this festive season. What this implies is, retail owners need to channelize their efforts in delivering a unified omni-channel customer experience throughout the shoppers’ journey right from research through purchase to returns. Enabling omni-channel fulfillment options like click-and-collect, endless aisle, click-and-deliver, drop shipping and so on would definitely help the cause. To make it more impressive, adding new and innovative options such as ‘reserve online, try in-store’ or ‘book online, pay in-store’, could not only pave the way for retailers to have an edge above their competitors, but also prove to be ‘deal clinchers’. Going the extra mile, omni-channel returns also need to be taken seriously. While handling returns the right way should be a priority for brands, they need to improvise on the way returns are accepted so as to make it easier and faster for the end customer. For example, retail companies can provide customers with kiosks at malls and stores for returns.

To be able to do all of the above, retailers need to get these 4 fundamentals right:
– Making their business customer focused or customer-centric
– Integrating all channels (processes, operations, systems) seamlessly
– Having a consistent branding across all channels
– Enabling accurate, real-time information accessibility wherever necessary

Offering a unified omni-channel experience and the challenges of getting that right should be top of mind for retailers looking to bolster their sales this Christmas and New Year. However, retailers who are determined to get their fundamentals right to the ‘T’ as well as adopt forward looking, innovative omni-channel retail solutions could emerge trailblazers in the festive shopping arena.

Unifying the customer experience during this festive shopping season

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With Black Friday and Cyber Monday – presumably, the biggest days for shopping right around the corner, it is one of the best times of the year for two main reasons – the festive season is very near and the festive shopping gets going in full swing. Retail companies looking to ring in higher festive shopping sales this year need to get a few basic things right for the festive shopping such as their display, merchandise, promotions and so on. Having said that, it is the age of omni-channel retailing and as such, brands must also look to leap ahead in their game, in order to deliver the unified omni-channel customer experience that shoppers would be expecting during this festive shopping season.

‘Click and Collect’ or ‘Buy Online Pick up In-store (BOPIS)’ is one of the revolutionary omni-channel retailing techniques that retail businesses can adopt into their strategies and operations to cater to  festive shoppers’ expectations. As the name ‘Click and Collect’ suggests, the concept is that shoppers can make their purchases online and then opt to collect the products at their desired ‘brick and mortar’ stores. This way, shoppers can use both online and offline channels at their convenience to shop and to receive gratification of their purchases. As per a recent survey, 58% of shoppers will use a buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) fulfillment option for their holiday shopping this year. The benefits are multifold. For shoppers, it is the ease and convenience of shopping so that they may avoid the need to look for products at the stores during the festive rush and eliminating the wait time due to shipping. For retailers, it is the enhancement of their brand presence both online and offline, and the opportunity to ‘cross sell’ and ‘up sell’. This could be both online through suggestions and offers, and offline when the shoppers come to collect their products at the store. ‘Click and collect’ or ‘BOPIS’ can therefore enable retailers to offer a seamless omni-channel customer experience during their festive shopping.

Another technique or strategy that retail businesses can employ this festive season to increase sales and boost customer loyalty across channels is ‘endless aisle’. An omni-channel concept, ‘endless aisle’ fundamentally enables shoppers to shop online for products that are not available at that brick and mortar retail store, with the help of handheld devices or kiosks that populate additional product assortments/options through e-commerce sites. The best part is, this can be done right from the store. So a shopper looking to buy a particular product but unable to locate it at the store, can still buy that product from the online portal at the store. This helps eliminate the risk of lost sales for retailers and the frustration for shoppers during out of stock situations. Moreover, it saves shoppers the effort to look for the product elsewhere and thus enhances their experience and trust in the retail brand, cementing the brand-customer relationship. Like ‘Click and Collect’, even ‘endless aisle’ involves both offline and online channels thus empowering retailers to deliver a unified customer experience across channels.

Converging the offline and online retail channels. #Futuretail is here!


‘Click-and-collect’ or ‘Buy Online, Pickup In-store (BOPIS)’ is one of the many offsprings of omni-channel retailing and a way of shopping for many modern-day shoppers. It involves both online and offline channels of retail becoming a part of the customer’s shopping journey from demand to fulfilment. As such, it harnesses the pros of both the retailing channels, thus enhancing the overall customer experience as well as helping the retail business to be able to optimize both the channels to drive more sales and increase profitability. So also, there are other benefits that ‘click-and-collect’ brings to the table for both retail owners and end customers, and it goes without saying that the former need to make use of this powerful omni-channel technique.

All said and done, to reap the benefits, there are some essentials that need to identified, worked upon and put in place for the entire system to function optimally. For ‘click-and-collect’, there are 3 important pillars that need to be working in tandem.

E-commerce: As click-and-collect needs an initiation at the online channel, the e-commerce site becomes very important. As it probably is the first customer facing touchpoint in the ‘click-and-collect’ customer journey, it has to be up and running well, right from the word go. Importantly, it should be updated timely with the right and relevant information to enable easy reference and decision making while shoppers are online with the intent of making purchase. Moreover, it should not be siloed but well integrated with the offline channels.

Order management system: Order management systems (OMS) initially were used to handle e-commerce only and store only sales. But with the advent of omni-channel and click-and-collect, order management systems need to be more comprehensive and robust to not only handle orders from both channels, but also be able to orchestrate them through the right fulfilment centre as well as keep track of the order till the last mile. This demands an extremely complex order management system that is centralized and integrated with both channels. This serves as the backbone for managing inventory and routing the information flow that is almost real-time and updated, across the retail enterprise to perform the operations better.

Point-of-sale: As the point-of-sale (POS) is essentially at the check-out counter of the brick and mortar store, it is an important component for ‘click-and-collect’ to happen smoothly. Modern day POS systems must be designed to meet omni-channel requirements of the retail business. One such requirement is enabling the store associates to ensure the easy and error free processing of orders that have come from the e-commerce platforms. Further, from the POS, the store associate should be able to forward the request for using another store or warehouse for fulfilment and this can happen if the POS is integrated with the OMS.  Finally, it is at the POS where the order is realized by the end customer, which makes it an important and the ultimate customer facing touchpoint for the overall customer experience.

While the e-commerce and POS could be considered to be the alpha and the omega of the retail customer’s ‘click-and-collect’ journey, it is their integration with each other through the OMS that makes the entire process successful. It is necessary for the updated, accurate and real-time information to be shared between these 3 components at all times, and this is only possible through integration and not working in isolation.

ETP Omni-channel Connect is a powerful technology that enables retail enterprises to efficiently integrate the 3 components: e-commerce, OMS and POS to ensure a holistic view of the customers’ data and a unified view of inventory information to handle ‘click-and-collect’ and other similar features such as ‘endless aisle’ and ‘click-and-deliver’. Moreover, the ETP V5 Omni-channel Retail Solutions which include a robust omni-channel POS solution, an integrated CRM Solution, a powerful promotions engine and many more can enable retail owners to drive the omni-channel transformation of their retail business to stay relevant in #Futuretail.

Retail and the importance of integration


Operating an e-commerce website should not be considered as a separate and isolated business practice instead it is an extension to the retailer’s physical presence that helps drive sales and improve the bottom line. More often than not, it is the inability of retailers to understand the necessity of integrating their physical stores with their e-commerce website or marketplaces, which could cost them dearly in terms of sales, revenue, and clientele.

E-commerce websites, if implemented efficiently could help increase footfalls at the physical stores by enabling retailers to implement newer and innovative strategies such as Click and Collect, Click and Deliver among others. However, operating an e-commerce website in isolation cannibalizes their own physical stores. There’s a reason why most of the e-commerce and online market players make losses despite of clocking healthy sales. To improve the online sales, retailers often indulge in offering hefty discounts and free deliveries, without realizing that it causes the overall sales to take a hit. They should realize that to compete with marketplaces and e-commerce giants, they are not needed to have a price war with the existing players. Indulging in a price war might increase the number of visitors to the website but it also makes customers search for newer avenues where they can find the desired product at a lower price.

Retailers should rather focus on customer loyalty, inventory management, assortment planning, promotions planning and in-store shopping experience which can certainly be done by integrating the e-commerce website with the physical stores. Integrating the two helps in getting real time updates regarding customers, sales and inventory, while allowing the retailers to come up with innovative business strategies. For instance, retailers can implement click and collect that could increase the chances of cross selling and upselling along with serving the aforementioned purposes. This in turn would help retailers in improving the bottom line while being on the right path of growth that ensures sustainability and scalability.

In most cases, cannibalizing can have catastrophic repercussions on the overall performance of the business. It is better to research on the possible outcomes of having an e-commerce website along with preparing an efficient plan to integrate it with the physical stores using the right technology, such as ETP Connect. This being done, there does not exist the minutest possibility of missing out on the advantages of going omni-channel.

Why managing inventory the right way matters?


Technology has completely transformed the way people make purchases. From online marketplaces to brick-and-mortar stores, retailers tend to implement innovative measures to better cater to the needs of customers. They incorporate promotion planning, customer analytics, and mobile payments to enhance the shopping experience. But, one thing that forms the backbone of retailing is somehow neglected in the entire retail chain. Yes, we are talking about inventory.

Managing inventory is not just a single task encompassing certain limited activities; it is a process that involves some complex calculations such as sell through rate, inventory turnover ratio, GMROI among others. It is an uphill task to perform the aforementioned calculations, which in turn makes it difficult for retailers to manage their inventory. Retailers require a tool that bridges the gap between brick-and-mortar stores and marketplaces, and provides them with a single, simple, and holistic view of the inventory.

One such powerful tool is ETP Connect – a robust, multifunctional, and comprehensive tool that connects the brick-and-mortar stores with the ecommerce sites and marketplaces. It provides real time updates to the stores and head office of the retailers about the purchases being made both offline and online. Whenever a purchase is made through website or marketplaces, ETP Connect routes the information to the head office, where the designated authority can view the immediate effect on the inventory in real time.

Also, since retailers get access to real time data, it simplifies their task of computing complex inventory calculations, thus enabling them to take timely decisions to further speed up their entire retailing process. The effects of this are manifested in the form of satisfactory customer experiences and a robust bottom line.

ETP Connect is a one stop solution for leading retailers to end their inventory management woes, by enabling them to better plan their business strategies. It also allows retailers to have a unified view of customers, endless aisle, and features such as Click and Collect, and Click and Deliver. Put an end to all your retail woes by implementing a futuristic and powerful ETP Connect and embrace the omni-channel transformation the right way.

ETP amongst the 25 Most Promising Retail Solutions Providers – 2017: APAC CIOOutlook

ETP Group, a leading provider of Omni-channel Retail Solutions in Asia, India and the Middle East is honored to be amongst the 25 Most Promising Retail Solutions Providers – 2017, as presented by the editorial board at APAC CIOOutlook. The key points of consideration while compiling this carefully selected list of new age retail solutions providers were their expertise, innovation and the ability to provide the right intel and resources to implement a scalable, cost-effective and easy to implement retail solution.

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ETP is specifically focused on brick and mortar retailers as well as online retailers, and in fact is the change agent for the convergence of the two. ETP’s Omni-channel Retail Solution – ETP V5 serves large retailers for their enterprise class requirements of scalability, security, compliance and high performance. “We are very happy to be recognized at this moment in time for our leadership in the retail industry, when we are helping retailers transform from traditional brick and mortar models to a fully omni-channel model and embrace the new age consumer”, says Naresh Ahuja, Chairman and CEO, ETP International.

ETP is an Omni-channel Retail Solutions company headquartered in Singapore, driving change in Asia Pacific, India and the Middle East. ETP’s software includes Omni-channel POS, Mobility, CRM, Marketing and Promotion Campaigns, Procurement, Warehousing, Distribution, Omni-channel Analytics and Omni-channel Connect. ETP V5 is used to serve customers across 22 countries and thousands of stores for over 300 brands.

ETP is enabling brick and mortar retailers to embrace omni-channel commerce and drive their brand-customer relationships in a unified manner with features such as Click and Collect, Click and Deliver, Endless Aisle, a holistic view of the inventory and a single view of the customer. ETP helps its customers get it right in omni-channel retail.