Top tools and technologies to enhance your omnichannel retail strategy
For MSME's, managing concurrent operations requires an effective Omnichannel Retail Strategy to drive positive results.
The advent of digital technologies in India has become a boon for the Indian retail segment, including a large section representing MSMEs. Further coupled with the merits of Goods and Services Tax, it has today enabled everyone from artisans, small manufacturers, and suppliers to mom-and-pop stores and retail chains to grow beyond their physical reach. The ongoing digitization is gradually transforming India into an ever-connected uniform market, thereby unveiling significant market productivity.
Today, it has become easier for individual players to do their business offline while simultaneously adding to the volumes through online operations.
But the problem of a seamless shopping experience persists with sellers who have just started their eCommerce site. Most MSME's cannot find the right balance between online and offline selling as they aren't acquainted with the tools and technology to provide their buyers with a continuous process that connects them with an offline as well as online store experience. Most operations aren't linked correctly to ensure a smooth supply chain and many times they are uncoordinated causing losses rather than profit.
Most MSME's who have a thriving business offline, fail to deliver online as their strategies do not align with their offline marketing, and more often than not, they cannot figure out the correct channels to sell effectively on both platforms.
For MSME's, managing concurrent operations requires an effective Omnichannel Retail Strategy to drive positive results. So, if you're planning to foray into the digital world or wish to enhance your omnichannel strategy further, here are some tech-driven solutions, tools, and approaches that will help you in the process:
1) eCommerce website
Several website builders such as Shopify, Kartrocket, and Woocommerce can help you in setting up your e-commerce platform through a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) approach. All you need to do is make quick clicks and drags, add product information, upload relevant photographs, and your platform will be up and running within a matter of minutes. They also provide application integrations and support services that will help in synchronizing and optimizing your offline as well as online sales.
2) Secure payment gateways
Security is one of the critical components in the digital world. Cyber attackers hunt for the smallest of vulnerabilities in the digital infrastructure and how they can exploit their customers. So make sure you have adequate security measures as well as secured payment gateways.
3) Supply Chain Management
You also need to work on your supply chain for effective online operations. However, logistics operators including transporters, warehouses, and courier companies only extend cost-advantages if you have high transactional volumes. Also, different operators have different SLAs (Service Level Agreements) which increases the opaqueness within operations. Today, various third-party service providers do away with such needs. Shipping solutions providers like Shiprocket tie-up with multiple courier companies and help streamline supply chain management. They also integrate cutting-edge technologies across various functions and provide greater visibility, faster shipping, while increasing your effective reach cost-efficiently.
Mobile applications for buyers, sellers, and delivery executives improve communication and information exchange between all channels. It also helps in reducing order processing time and leads to increased throughput. Moreover, more customer now prefers buying through their smartphones and make purchases either using dedicated applications or mobile-based web browsers. Make sure you do not lose this essential customer touchpoint to scale your operations.
5) Artificial Intelligence
AI can be utilized to provide the user with a more personalized experience and make it as close to the offline experience as possible. You must ideally consider incorporating it to your processes when you scale up your operations. The technology will also help you to analyze data and preferences of customers such as brands they like, the style they follow, price range they prefer, etc. Using these customer-centric insights, you can create personas and provide the buyer with a personalized shopping experience.
6) Augmented reality
AR can be used to give shoppers a near-to-offline shopping experience with virtual try on, styling, and so on. These provide the buyers with an opportunity to get a virtual experience of the product that they're going to buy, thereby increasing customer confidence.
7) Social media integration
Update your social media accounts on platforms like Instagram and Facebook to make your products more shoppable. This adds to your overall customer touchpoints and boosts the buyer experience. Doing so also intensifies upselling and cross-selling of your products.
8) Marketing tools
You can automate your marketing via tools such as MailChimp to track a user's journey and take insight-driven actions to convert them promptly. Installing exit pop-ups, automated email drips, push notifications are some of the ways through which you can boost your customer conversion rate.
9) Tools for analytics
Data has now become the new oil. It is crucial for you to extract all valuable information from the data that you are continuously generating. This also helps you to make informed business decisions and further gain a competitive edge against your business counterparts. It also gives you a clear picture of your offline and online sales growth. Here, tools like Kissmetrics can help make a sizeable difference.
10) UI and UX enhancement tools
Tools like HotJar help you to study your website in terms of heat maps, recordings, conversion funnels, and related parameters. This increases the visibility around the activities on your site and improves the quality and service experience accordingly.
India is experiencing unprecedented digitization at present and, according to some estimates, has already surpassed the US in terms of smartphone users. As more people continue to join the digital bandwagon, the avenues are out wide and open for retail players in India. Just keep the above-mentioned tips in mind and leave no stone unturned to make the most out of the prevailing business opportunity.
(The writer is the CEO & Co-founder, Shiprocket)
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