The Omni-channel Transformation of Retail Businesses at ETP #Futuretail, Malaysia

ETP Group, Asia’s leading Omni-channel Retail Software company hosted senior representatives from Malaysia’s leading retail organizations to discuss future challenges and opportunities in an ever-changing retail landscape. The key discussion, “The Omni-channel Transformation of Retail Businesses in Malaysia”, was led by team ETP, including Mr. Naresh Ahuja, Chairman and CEO, Mr. Raj Jagasia, Executive Director, Mr. Pranay Pujara, Consulting Manager – Projects and Mr. Danny Foong, Business Development Manager.

The discussion was part of the ETP #Futuretail 2019 event held at the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel, recently. Mr. Danny Foong welcomed the ETP #Futuretail guests and Mr. Raj Jagasia shared an overview of ETP’s growing presence in Asia. Mr. Naresh Ahuja then shared insights on the growth of the Malaysian retail industry in the context of Asia Pacific and the transition of traditional retail to modern retail, e-commerce and omni-channel retail.

Mr. Raj Jagasia, Executive Director ETP

Mr. Raj Jagasia, Executive Director, ETP Group initiated the discussions with an introduction to ETP.

Mr. Naresh Ahuja, ETP Group,

Mr. Naresh Ahuja, Chairman & CEO, ETP Group then shared insights on the performance of retail, e-commerce and omni-channel in Southeast Asia.

Pranay Pujara, ETP Group

Mr. Pranay Pujara, Consulting Manager – Products, ETP Group presented a live demonstration of ETP’s Omni-channel Retail Solutions to establish how ETP can help retailers in Malaysia to overcome the challenges in omni-channel retailing.

Following the live demonstration a panel discussion was held with eminent industry experts. The panel shared their thoughts and opinions about the changes in the buying behavior of Malaysian consumers over the last 3 years, the value of the brand in the mind of the modern day consumers and whether the internet has commoditized brands. The panel exchanged their views on the future of malls and stores in the 3 to 5 years. They also discussed about the digital transformation of retail taking place in Asia in the next 2 to 3 years and whether it will leapfrog the US like the Asian mobile technology did. They highlighted the 3 priorities that retailers should focus on to handle the change in consumer behavior.

ETP will continue to drive the omni-channel transformation of retail businesses across Asia-Pacific, India and the Middle-East.

What’s in store for retail in 2019?

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While everyone is enjoying the festive season frenzy, and eagerly awaiting the New Year with hope and aspirations, it is time for businesses to retrospect and set objectives for the future. Retail businesses, specifically, are more consumer driven. Therefore, it becomes essential to be intuitively proactive in gearing up for what lies ahead while striving to outperform the previous year.

It’s a given that technology will continue to play a major role in the New Year as it did in 2018 and the years gone by. Being an enabler, and also a disruptor, technology will see itself getting strongly embedded into the very genes of retail businesses and will drive the engine. And this is perfectly evident in the prediction by Gartner analysts who say that retailers’ investment in technology will grow by 3.6% globally in 2019 as customer expectations will put pressure on them to perform.

Further, Gartner mentioned that software would be one of the fastest growing technology expenditures in the retail industry, especially platforms for analytics, mobile applications, digital marketing, e-commerce and Artificial Intelligence (AI) increasingly becoming areas of interest for retail CIOs. By these predictions it is clear that technology will be the driving force for retail businesses in 2019.

The next thing in retail that is set to make the waves in 2019 and the years following would be the rise of brick-and-mortar retailing. As global sales of physical retail went up by 4.8 in 2018 and there were more stores being opened than closed, the trend will seem to continue. Even large online players like Amazon have started their own physical stores or are buying out other stores. As physical stores are evolving and are becoming destinations for experiences and not just limited to transactions, customers will continue to flock to the stores to enjoy these curated experiences.

Eventually, retail is no more about the channel, but it is about the consumer. Ultimately, the integration of technology and the business in the right manner will ensure that customers get what they want while businesses achieve their goals in the New Year 2019.

The 3 I Mantra for New Age Retail

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The retail industry has been a trendsetter in adopting technology and digitization. As a result, the industry has been revolutionized by the disruptions caused due to the influence of advanced technologies. In fact, the evolution of the retail industry still continues as businesses and consumers collaborate over trade to further influence the need for progressive transformation.

As the power is now in the hands of the consumers, they are driving retail businesses to constantly strive towards not only focusing on the customer, but also conceptualizing and creating experiences that customers can relish and cherish. Be it brick-and-mortar or e-commerce retail companies, every business is looking to capture a large chunk of the customers’ attention and wallet. As a consequence, the competition has intensified leading to a situation where retailers have only one way out – perform or perish. In order to stay in the game, retailers must look at the 3 I mantra: integration, intelligence and innovation.

Integration: Today’s shoppers are not ordinary shoppers, they are a new breed of shoppers who demand convenience and want speed. Moreover, they want to be associated with retail brands that are tech savvy like them and have more than one channel for interacting and shopping. These new breed of shoppers are ‘omni-channel’ shoppers. Thus retailers need to integrate their channels, operations and processes to be able to provide that omni-channel shopping experience that can leave a mark on the customer.

Intelligence: Again drawing inspiration from the customers, retail businesses need to be ready and prepared for their customer who is equipped with information that allows them to make smart and better decisions. In order to better understand the customer, retail companies must capture as much data as possible about their customer and have the data about their product and service offerings along with the knowledge of their operations and processes. Having this comprehensive information, retail owners must derive the intelligence from the data and use it to enhance their business.

Innovation: Every modern day consumer is attracted to new advancements that happen in the market – be it products, services or offerings. The lesson to learn from this is that retail brands must constantly seek to innovate. They must always look out for new ways to create shopping experiences that are unique and innovative. Using innovation – right from production to packaging and marketing of the products, to sales and post sales services, throughout the entire shopping experience will definitely appeal to consumers and will make them crave for more.

Retail businesses seeking to do something new and unique in their space must equip their business with the right retail technology that enables integration, provides intelligence and aids innovation.

3 Important Factors to take Retail Personalisation to the Next Level

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For starters, more than half (52%) of consumers are likely to switch brands if they don’t receive personalized their communications. Moreover, fifty-eight percent of consumers say a personalized experience is essential when purchasing from a particular company. Those are numbers retailers can’t and must not ignore!

If retail brands are vying to thrive and prosper in this forthcoming New Year, ‘customer focus’ is crucial. As a majority of brands will go customer-centric, one of the aspects that will stand-out as the differentiating factor will be the level of personalisation that they provide. Here are few important factors that will help retailer to take their retail personalisation to the next level.

Data centricity
Before diving right into personalisation, the first step is to understand the customer and then plan as to how to go about the personalizing his/her experience. For that it is important to collect data and as far as possible, the right data. And the easiest way to do that is through loyalty programs and for which brands can encourage customers to register at the point-of-sale (POS) with an in-built CRM system. The end goal of personalisation in retail is to create high-value customers who will stick to the brand and carry out repeat purchases.

Omni-channel strategy
While an omni-channel experience isn’t a necessarily a personalized experience, it is a mandatory building block on the path towards creating a personalized customer experience. After all, a personalized experience cannot be offered if customers are treated differently if they use different channels for interacting with the brand. The very essence of omni-channel is creating a seamless and consistent experience for your customers across different devices both online and offline. They key to omni-channel is providing a consistent and personalized experience to every customer regardless of where they’re interact with the retail business.

Technology
Retail brands need to harness the power of technology, necessarily, as an enabler for optimizing their operations and processes to achieve a superior customer experience. It is with the help of technology that retail businesses can be equipped to capture and assimilate data for basing their personalisation strategy. Also, it is through technology that retailers will be able to implement omni-channel into their business. The right omni-channel retail solutions which encompass multiple modules including a retail POS software with an integrated CRM solution, as well as an omni-channel analytics solution, and many more can help retailers integrate, consolidate their business data and processes and implement the necessary strategies to offer a personalized customer experience across all channels.

Personalisation needs to go beyond than just marketing and sales – it has to truly be at the core of the business, influencing and driving every aspect of it. With the right combination of plans, processes and technology, retail brands must be ready to push their boundaries and innovate and grab every opportunity that comes their way to enable their businesses to take retail personalisation experience to the next level.

Omni-channel Success: Bridging gap between customer expectations and omni-channel retail execution

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New age shoppers are connected, digitally savvy, always-on and at will, switch between channels while shopping. They expect retail brands to understand them better. After all, they are well aware that retailers these days are capable of capturing data – from customer details to how, when, what and where they make their purchases, and also what they are researching online. In other words, customers know that retailers can use the data to formulate an idea of their interests and motivators for purchase. As a result, customers’ expectations have gone beyond mere transactions. However, retailers today are falling short when it comes to satisfying consumer expectations for personalized, relevant shopping experiences.

While 69% of companies said they offer a superior online experience, 51% customers left a company that failed them online. Further, 81% companies said that they have or are close to having a holistic view of their customers, only 37% of consumers agreed to the fact that their preferred retail brand actually understands them. These statistics clearly highlight the gap between customer expectations and retail businesses’ understanding and execution.

How can retailers start to offer a seamless customer experience across channels and rise above the customer expectations?

In order to successfully implement seamless and personalized omni-channel shopping experiences, retailers require a single 360 degree view of their customer. Simply put, retailers need to have comprehensive information about their customers – their details, buying behavior, preferred channels, and so on. Not only this, the data should be handy with retail organizations to proactively plan and implement relevant offers and communications. This is possible only when the brand becomes truly customer-centric and leverages the information gathered to understand their omni-channel customer better.

By investing in the right omni-channel retail technology, retail businesses and brands have abundant opportunities to know their customers and engage with them, no matter which channel the customers prefer.

Emerging Retail Trends In Southeast Asia

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The retail markets of Southeast Asia today offer a range of opportunities, depending on investor appetite for risk and maturity. Favourable demographics including a young earning population and the region’s high tourism potential contributes to rapidly growing economies and mature retail markets that in turn lead to the creation of new shopping venues of all shapes and sizes. In the coming years, as the region’s consumers become more affluent and its cities expand, following are the top retail trends in Southeast Asia:

Personalization
Consumers today expect quick and personalized customer service. They expect retailers to deliver a wider range of products, faster, through meaningful and targeted mediums. Omni-channel retail technology allows retailers to know exactly where their inventory is, to whom they can make it available and when it will get there, regardless of which channel is calling for it. This helps retailers to offer the best level of service to their customers.

Integrated back-and front-end systems
Retailers in Southeast Asia will continue to focus on ensuring their back-end supply chain operations are fully optimized and streamlined and are aligned and synchronized with their store/online operations and associated front-end systems. This will help improve product availability and order accuracy, reduce fulfilment costs, and improve service levels.

Fast and flexible fulfilment
Few retailers in Southeast Asia are currently offering next day delivery to customers, two-hour click-and-collect, or ship-from-store services. For this to be possible, retailers need to have a 360 view of their channels and maintain accurate demand planning. Omni-channel retailers with this level of insight into their inventory and customers will seamlessly control product, people and processes to dispatch and fulfil orders quickly and profitably.

Social shopping
The increased use of instant messaging platforms and m-commerce in Southeast Asian countries will see more shoppers embracing social shopping. The next development will involve retailers using social channels to take customer orders. The retailers who succeed in this difficult market will probably be those who see social media as a viable retail platform.

Hyper targeting
Big data analytics in retail has advanced immensely, making it possible to track customer transactions, online conversations and shopping habits in real-time. Through this, brands can understand better how to service their customers and engage them sustainably.

The Omni Channel Connect

Your omni channel presence, and not just your product, makes or breaks your brand image today. Market reports estimate online and web-influenced retail sales (US) to reach $1.8 trillion by 2017, showing sustainable growth from the $1.3 trillion mark in 2013.

The Omni channel adoption and conversion will continue to grow as customers embrace emerging technology and its multiple access points. These same customers will expect even faster response time, regardless of how and when they connect with your store. The emergent ‘show rooming’ trend also shows us that consumers still wish to “go out shopping” and value quality brand experience within the retail store. The only difference is that the retail store needs to shed its physical limitations and further contact, communicate, engage and convert customers across multiple channels, as per their convenience. This strategy hits the mark in terms of keeping customers happy, increasing acquisition volumes and reaching closer to the projected business growth. For example, large brick and mortar retailers like Macy’s and Best Buy are adopting omni-channel technology to stay connected and relevant to their growing customer base. Macy’s encourages shoppers to scan products via the retailer’s mobile app while shopping in the stores. Its annual digital plan focuses heavily on mobile and seeks to “close the gap between store, desktop and mobile.” After Best Buy lost $1.2 billion during 2012, the world’s largest consumer electronics retailer looked like it was headed towards oblivion. Its turnaround happened post the decision to invest in omni-channel innovations that reached customers wherever they are—in a store, online or via their phones—and use technology to turn costly physical stores into an advantage.

ETP blog Omni-channel

The advantages of Omni channel are many but the most prominent of the same are as follows:

Brand Connect – Technology has intertwined with our lives and formed the core of how we relate to things and people, including brands. Most of us are always online and “connected” through smart mobile devices. According to Forrester Research, mobile payments will amount to nearly $90 billion in the coming years. This is largely due to the fact that an impactful omni presence will help brands capture the most coveted real estate in retail – the customer’s mind. According to global reports, mobile phone penetration will rise up to 69.4% of the global population, in 2017. As smartphones and tablets continue to become cheaper and 3G and 4G networks more approachable with enhanced security, mobile wallets and captivating additions like wearable technology and new age applications etc. the hyper speed upward trajectory of m-commerce shall remain on track.

Social Network – The above point lends itself to the social network invasion. When brands create an engaging niche for themselves in the popular social networks, they gain much more than possible customer conversions. This platform has become a dialogue center between companies or brands and the enormous and growing number of people on the network. Companies are exposed to real-time problems, perceptions and potential of their products, programs and services. This is invaluable first-hand data that not only bolsters their databanks but also helps retailers with insights unblemished by process churns. The right steps undertaken thus to create a better brand experience shall result in favorable reviews and improved brand equity. Positive word-of-mouth will also lead to desired revenue generation and customer loyalty.

Target Marketing – Omni channel marketing allows highly targeted approach towards introducing brand products, services and company USPs, inducing interest to understand and then buy or recognize the same. Business Intelligence and integrated CRM technology provides retailers the information regarding customers and prospects preferences, needs and desires. Analytical computing takes into consideration various factors like socio-economic and demographical components to fine-tune the learnings. Now that you have the ‘what’, Omni channel paves the next step with the ‘how’ at this juncture. How do we personalize our offerings through the marketing channels most frequented to encourage or incite positive buying behavior? This customized experience is becoming the norm in both B2B and B2C enterprises where the marketing strategies are created to implant a familiar and relationship based communication with customers, prospect and suspects.

The crystal ball shows Omni-channel technology to carry on putting enterprises on the map and level the global playing field of retail.