Omnichannel becomes omniscient as retailers gear up for revenge festive celebration

Omnichannel becomes omniscient as retailers gear up for revenge festive celebration
Representative image
  • Consumer-centricity will be the key factor driving high revenues for retail businesses this year.
  • As per the Festive Sentiments Tracker survey by Disney+ Hotstar, 66% of consumers will spend more on festive shopping this year than the last.
  • An omnichannel platform provides a channel-agnostic buying experience for retail customers.
After two years, Indians are finally thronging retail storefronts – physical and online, as they prepare to celebrate the festive season with gusto. And retailers can't stop smiling.

A Retailers Association of India survey showed that the sector is expected to grow by 9-10% annually to touch $2 trillion by 2032. According to the Festive Sentiments Tracker survey by Disney+ Hotstar, 66% of consumers will spend more on festive shopping this year than the last.

While the spending sentiment is bullish, retailers are eyeballing their decisive use-it-or-lose-it moment as they jostle for their share of the consumer's wallet. Nilesh Gupta, director of Vijay Sales, noted that while the festive season demand is traditionally higher given the ambient positive consumer sentiment, the post-pandemic normalcy will propel increased demand momentum this year compared to the last two years.

Complimentary Tech Event
Transform talent with learning that works
Capability development is critical for businesses who want to push the envelope of innovation.Discover how business leaders are strategizing around building talent capabilities and empowering employee transformation.Know More
"Shoppers already purchased items worth ₹1.25 trillion in 2021, the highest for the whole decade," he added. "We now expect a 10% growth in sales during this festive period over last year."

Blurring of online and offline

As retailers pivot to an omnichannel model to reach a broader customer base, technology plays a crucial role in seamlessly integrating backend processes with consumer-facing delivery.


Bengaluru-based Namdhari's Group, which runs the Simpli Namdhari’s chain of grocery superstores, continues to spend 3-5% of its annual budget for tech deployments as it strengthens its omnichannel presence.

Elaborating on the tech deployment done by the company’s retail division, Gurmukh Roopra, CEO of Namdhari's Group, said, "As customers access products through multiple touchpoints, systems and integrations should be flexible to accommodate these needs from a customer-facing and experience perspective, and seamless integration of information within the retail operating ecosystem. The importance of having a single view of the customer and their transactions cannot be overstated."

Since the grocery and food business witnesses rapid changes, Simpli Namdhari's is currently focused on interpreting customer data and buying insights across multiple channels and combining this into a single dashboard. Besides personalising the customer experience, the retail chain also helps them make informed decisions regarding marketing, sales, product development and customer support.

According to Berry Singh, COO of Ace Turtle, which provides tech solutions to retail brands, an omnichannel platform offers a channel-agnostic journey for customers. "Contrary to what brands and retailers often think, customers don't care so much about the channel for shopping. They mostly care about wide selection, low prices and a smooth shopping experience."

Hence, providing multiple opportunities for customers to interact with brands allows more convenient solutions for the ways customers like to connect, leading to a positive customer experience and enhancing loyalty.

Training sights on websites

CaratLane's website is engineered to provide relevant information across every stage of a customer's buying journey by monitoring their online activities.

"We then categorise this based on the level of intent and frequency—high, medium, and low prospects—which become the lead pool," said Avnish Anand, COO and co-founder of CaratLane. "This is further optimised before our team calls the customer since repeat users seek more personalised offers, which finally results in customer retention."

Retail tech company Gokwik's co-founder Chirag Taneja opined that 79% of customers dissatisfied with online shopping are less likely to shop from the brand's website again. Also, more than 50% expect websites to load within two seconds.

While urging retailers to focus on an optimised website performance, he added that they should also invest in personalised shopping for their customers, be it buyer journey, cross or up selling, bundling, discounts, or payment methods.

"These are critical for better consumer experience and for garnering a higher share of wallet from customers," he added. "Retailers should also invest in building trust and security on their online platforms with faster checkouts, fraud prevention and authentic reviews to ensure higher conversion rates."

History comes in handy

Clothing brand Celio created its digital blueprint four years ago to understand consumer behaviour better and take informed decisions across business functions. This included consumer-facing and backend initiatives intending to use artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and data analytics.

However, simplistic as its sounds, the company's India CEO, Satyen Momaya, noted that it was not an easy journey. "More than the financial investment, the mindset, team alignment and their buy-in related to digitisation is needed to underline that it is not for solving a particular issue but to transform the way we operate," he said.

The company expanded its footprint considerably in the past five years. Before moving to AI, it used traditional methods to classify stores based on space and revenue modules before deciding the merchandise assortment. "Implementing AI helped understand consumer behaviour. Hence, the allocation logic is very different from what we did in the past, helping our revenue growth," Momaya added.

While technology tools like data analytics and AI provide some direction, ultimately, the human intent determines the direction a retail technology implementation should take. Hence, the most obvious use of data analytics is for predictive modelling of potential inventory management, stocking and promotions. However, this modelling depends on historical data-oriented models – consumer confidence and mood will lead its direction.

Ajit Narayan, CMO at brand advocacy platform Socxo, added that post-pandemic value-conscious consumption has become more important. "Consumers will use their own tools to compare, seek and review. So, helping them decide through promotions, targeted advertising and social media will make for a great case for tech use in retail."

The retail store is not just a physical touch point for the customers; it can also become an omnichannel fulfilment centre for online marketplace orders. "Omnichannel technology platforms help brands and retailers to reduce delivery time and optimise in-store inventory through ‘Ship from Store’. It is an efficient way to use inventory by preventing stores from holding unprofitable inventory and increasing their stock turns," Ace Turtle’s Singh advised.

Ignore at your own peril

As more services get digitised and personalised, contemporary customers want everything immediately. Retailers are fully aware that using technology is now a necessity rather than an option.

According to every retailer, the ultimate constraint in retail is anticipating consumer traffic. However, successful merchants have the inherent ability to convert a more considerable proportion of their traffic into buyers, with a higher purchase size and a better margin.

Talking about this, retail tech company Onebeat's VP-Sales Roei Raz said, "The overnight rush of customers to online platforms caused unpredictable traffic at retail stores. Moreover, predicting consumers' needs is complex since conventional forecasting methods are ineffective in this chaotic world."

While there has been rising awareness about the adoption of omnichannel in retail globally, the on-ground adoption in India is still lower than expected. While big cities have a large customer base to support opening more stores, smaller towns with small pockets of customers might find managing physical stores unsustainable.

However, they can cater to this clientele through an omnichannel presence, especially during the key festive season. This could mark the difference between success and failure as consumers become more connected, less loyal, more informed, and definitively channel-agnostic