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

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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 does ‘Endless Aisle’ enhance the retail customer experience!

Endless aisle is allowing customers to make use of technologies such as specially designed in-store kiosks or other intuitive systems to order items that are currently out-of-stock in that particular brick-and-mortar store. It is a concept that extends beyond the inventory that in tangible form is available in the store at a given point in time. Thus, endless aisle allows retailers to forge a strong link between customer demand and inventory. Retail companies that have been quick to embrace cross-channel strategies have already begun adopting the endless aisle technology to boost their sales further.

ETP Omni-channel Retail Solutions provide you with features such as Endless Aisle enabling you to deliver a unified brand-customer relationship across all channels.

7 Trends shaping Asia’s future retail landscape

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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.

This festive shopping is going Omni-channel

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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.