Key takeaways from the Future of { Intelligence + Omnichannel } Delhi

Key takeaways from the Future of { Intelligence + Omnichannel } Delhi

On Friday, May 26th more than 50 CxOs from over 40 brands came together to Share, Learn & Decode at the Future of (Intelligence + Omnichannel} (FIO) in Gurugram. The Delhi leg of Capillary’s flagship event provided a great deal of “food for thought” to the attendees, thanks to the brilliant line-up of speakers who were present.

The panel discussion which was moderated by Fortune India’s Digital Editor, Mansi Kapur, included Anand Narang, VP-Marketing, Bata India, Ashish Agarwal, E-commerce Head & CIO, Pizza Hut, Karan Kumar, Head- Brand & Marketing, Fabindia as panelists.

Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India delivered an eloquent keynote at FIO Delhi while Gunender Kapur, CEO, Vishal Mega Mart & Harminder Sahni, Founder, Wazir Advisors had a friendly conversation in a Fireside Chat at the event.

Decoding the future was the main concern in these discussions. The following are some of the key takeaways from them.

1) While Omnichannel is about providing a great customer experience, Intelligence is about making it relevant and personal

2) Today’s customers want the perfect integration between the digital and the physical world

3) Personalization, Conversational Commerce, Unified Experience, and Convenience are the 4 key factors a modern customer expects while choosing a particular retail point

4) The future belongs to the brave. It belongs to brands who have a long-term view and are ready to innovate, fail and WIN

5) Futuristic technologies will only become relevant if it works according to the context of the customers, their needs and wants

From order placement over voice recognition to AI lead business insights for decision makers, every new and upcoming technology that’s shaping the near future of retail was dissected. At Capillary, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with 300+ large brands across 30+ countries in helping them decode the Future. We are more excited now than we were when we started our journey 8+ years ago to build new products that will help brands leapfrog.

The Future of Retail Software is Here!

The Future of Retail Software is Here!

This article was originally published on CIO Review May 2017 Issue.

Today, the success of retailers not only hinges on a seamless shopping experience but also how well consumer activity is tracked, recorded and used. Customers today have more power and choices than ever before, and expect the best user experience both online and offline. With these developments in the background, the retail industry today seems to be on the cusp of both industrial and customer revolution.

With its complex and diverse business processes and requirements, the retail segment has exhibited immense dynamism, despite which, the segment is faced with a myriad of challenges such as countering multiple disruptive technologies and increasingly demanding digital-customers.

Factoring in these developments with the swiftly changing environment, the CIOs and CXOs need to walk hand in hand with the technological and operational evolution. Needing to focus on changing the business rather than simply running the business, with a strong focus on innovation.

Revolutionizing the retail segment, there have been some retail players who have already looked out for their evolution. Aimed at getting future ready, these retailers are launching new store formats combined with multiple selling channels viz. Kiosks, Online, and Call Centers etc. They not only have multiple selling channels, but they are also offering seamless shopping experiences through every channel, transforming retail organizations into a truly omnichannel business.  Having made the allowance for such evolution, there are certain technological trends that will continue evolving and leading the segment.

The Omnichannel Customer Experience

Customer experience is becoming a key differentiator for retailers, over price and product. Retailers continue to invest in newer channels and assess the ROI on each of them. However, with each additional channel, managing seamless customer experience across different touch points becomes progressively difficult.

Seamless customer experience across channels cannot be achieved unless one has a unified platform. That is the nexus for all customer experience. Many merchants realize the need for this; though most have admitted to not having the technological capabilities required to make it happen.

The disparate systems that operate in their own silos will no longer be preferred and with advancements in handheld devices and network infrastructure, unified systems on the cloud will evolve that will eliminate the need of multiple system integrations. Some of the forward-looking requirements are –

  • Single identity across channels
  • Unified order management
  • Single inventory visibility across stores, warehouses
  • Unified promotions, communication strategies, and channels
  • Unified analytics and insights

O2O (online-to-offline and vice-versa) is an integral part of the omnichannel strategy. Amazon Go in the US and Myntra’s brand store in India are classic examples of engaging with the customers across channels seamlessly.

Big Data for Consumers

In the omnichannel retail world, fragmented analytics will not suffice. A natural expectation with technology would be to gather, organize and analyze all kinds of data, namely, transactional, behavioral, price changes, store staff performance, footfalls, stock management, campaigns, and loyalty etc. across channels. With fragmented analytics, data to action analytics may take several days, causing business loss to the retailers.

In order to reduce time taken to arrive at actions, industry is moving towards predictive and prescriptive analytics with actionable insights from traditional diagnostic analytics For e.g., if the performance of a store is going down and it is less likely to hit the monthly target, the analytics tool should be able to make the store staff aware and suggest several corrective actions to achieve the target.

Software in Customer Delivery

Catering to the ever growing demands of consumers, in terms of product and service delivery, is another aspect that the retailers are focusing on today. Using technology, these retailers are making efforts to reduce waiting time by providing real-time delivery options, choices of a time slot, notifications by emails and SMS’s etc. However, led by evolution, retailers are using software like field service management for before-time workforce scheduling. They are also using route optimization software for swift deliveries. Consistently adding value to their services, retailers are introducing new delivery options for various channels such as click and collect, premium same day service, hyperlocal, etc. Taking these services a notch higher, retailers have now started focusing on one-hour delivery services as well.

CRM and Consumer Engagement Solutions

The success of a CRM strategy will depend on the ability of analytics data warehouse to provide automated actionable insights and will have the above expectation of unified data. CRM intelligence such as segmentation/micro-segmentation will be further refined on the unified data to better understand customer behavior and customer triggers that drive them to make a purchase. As the customer migrates to a different channel, CRM will understand and adjust accordingly. The customer engagement solutions will understand customer likes/dislikes at a deeper level and suggest marketing manager’s necessary adjustments.

Different retailers will have different success rates on different channels. The channel communication cost and ROI will be a useful feedback to assess the tradeoff between incremental sales and channel communication cost in addition to the cost of the transaction. CRM solutions will also largely head towards personalizing channels and effectively managing customer experience across channels. The channel engagement strategy will be personalized heavily based on customer’s past purchases and behavior.

Serving Every Order Through Inventory Management

Technology innovations, such as endless aisle, and in-store Kiosks that allow customers to order products, which are no longer in store, keeps retailers from loss of sale, besides improving the breadth of their inventory. With such technology, out-of-stock situations will become history.

Enabling Multifaceted Customer Payments

Offering quality products, accurate products, timely delivery, and range of products to choose from, although play an important role in the success of any retail business, a seamless, secure and convenient payment option nails it. Corresponding to such demands, some retailers have now started accepting multi tender, multi-currency, coupons and customer loyalty cards online. They also link verified customers to transactions for efficiency and security. These endeavors by retailers are making payment process more agile and seamless.

The Emergence of Artificial Intelligence

AI has a dual role to play in the retail segment, while at one end it gives a deeper understanding of individual customers, on the other end it is also facilitating deeper reasoning of the overall business performance.

To give a better perspective on things, AI at the customer level, aids in offering a personalized experience, taking customer engagement to newer heights. This consequently adds to the number of sales and loyalty for retailers. Likewise, at a business performance level, AI technology is enabling retailers to identify the exact reason, hindering better performance, which further aids in better decision-making. With such continuous evolution, the retail industry is certain to take over leading industries in India, particularly in terms of GDP.

Online vs Brick & Mortar

One of the most common question these days: “who will win the retail battle – e-commerce or the B&M stores?” has divided the entire world with solid arguments on both sides, but we may not have a clear answer or prediction at this point. The future may not have a single winner, but the gap between the online and offline is reducing to provide the best of both worlds.

Bringing the Two Worlds Closer

VR and AR on the brands’ web-front and mobile apps give customers an alternative to the offline store’s ‘touch and feel’ experience’. Ability to see store availability of the products on websites makes the inventory management more efficient- this concept of ‘reverse showrooming’ has seen a rapid growth in recent times, especially in large appliances, jewelry, electronics and furniture industry.

Similar innovations are seen in the B&M stores where they leverage the online counterpart to enrich the offline store experience. Virtual mirrors, endless aisle merchandising, seamless checkout etc. will take customer experience at stores to the next level. For retailers, the ability to capture offline store purchases and user behavior data would be a huge leap in gaining deep customer insights.

Enhancement in In-store Shopping Experience

The new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision and Deep Learning will drive a radical shift in the way we interpret and capture data from the offline world, which until today was a big void for the offline retail managers to fill. There are many ways in which the offline or the in-store experience can be seen evolving in the near future.

The store traffic data will help brands plan the store staffs at the stores by predicting when and which stores will expect how many visitors, thereby providing better customer experience. It can also enable retail managers to tweak their sales pitch and optimize the merchandise and aisle placement by understanding the conversion rates across demographic segments and traffic hotspots within the store. At an individual level, the technology is not too far from correctly identifying a customer in the store’s vicinity, thus providing the store staff with a very customized and targeted guidance/instruction for every customer.

In totality, the way forward for the retailer is very clear- Technology. In the generation of an omnipresent consumer, being omnichannel is no more an option, but an imperative need. By focusing on a single channel, retailers stand to lose customers, and without being able to track their own customers they may be unable to provide a personalized shopping experience that today’s consumers demand. This lack of insight may also lead to delayed business decisions. By implementing these technological breakthroughs in their business, retailers stand to fulfill customer expectations and provide a rich and seamless buying experience, irrespective of channels. Retailers also gain from valuable insights that allow them to make informed decisions, which result in profitability and incremental returns.

“Thank you Retailers!” Says Capillary’s New Retail Associates Scholarship Program

“Thank you Retailers!” Says Capillary’s New Retail Associates Scholarship Program

 

Author: Varun Jain

 

In a turn to acknowledge the true makers of the retail industry, omnichannel and commerce-platform solution provider Capillary Technologies recently tied up with retail industry bodies Retailers Association of India (RAI) and Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN) to launch Capillary Scholar: a program aimed at providing a springboard for the retail store staff to graduate and climb the ladder in their career, empowering them to realize their true potential.

The scholarship program aims to fund bachelor programs in business administration (BBA) for 50 retail associates.

“The program aims to support retail associates so that their lives change for the better. Education is synonymous with empowerment and this is a small step towards the betterment of retail associates,” said Aneesh Reddy, co-founder and CEO at Capillary Technologies.

“We are proud to launch the initiative on Retail Employees Day (RED), a day dedicated for all the ever smiling store associates who make every shopping experience, a happy one”

According to BS Nagesh, founder of TRRAIN, the retail industry employs over 43 million people making it the second largest employer in India.

“Capillary Scholar program is in line with TRRAIN’s vision of empowering people in retail and working to achieve immediate and lasting change in the lives of retail associates in India. I wish Capillary Scholar Program grows leaps and bounds and touches thousands of retail associates,” Nagesh said.

“I believe Capillary Scholar program is a small step in creating knowledge-led manpower in the retail world,” feels Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO at RAI.

Survey: The Demographics of Nocturnal Shopping

Survey: The Demographics of Nocturnal Shopping

Curious about our customers, we recently conducted a study that revealed what online shoppers buy after 9pm in the evening.The study had taken into consideration top ten cities based on visitor count, including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Lucknow, Noida and Ahmedabad.

In the process, we realised that contrary to popular beliefs, the night shopper actually preferred desktops over mobile phones while shopping online. Even though 50% of total online shopping happens over mobile phones, desktops still rule with users spending 10% more time on it than the time spent on mobile phones. Buyers would also visit around 17% more pages on their desktops during the night.

Apparels

In terms of apparel shopping, women were found to be far more active than men during the night, accounting for 63% with conversion time peaking between 10pm – 11pm. Moreover, while 18 – 34 year olds comprise the major chunk of online shoppers (more than 50%) at the same duration, a sizeable 35% of the shoppers are in the age group of 35 years and above.

CDIT (Consumer Durables and Information Technologies)

Here, we found men to be far more active shoppers than women at 72%, with visitors peaking at 9 pm. 50% of the shoppers are between the age group 18 – 34 years, while 22% are of the age group 35 and above.

Cosmetics

Interestingly, the average purchase value of cosmetics is 1% higher during the 9pm – 9am slot when compared to 9am – 9pm one, with 76% women and 34% men active, peaking between 9pm – 11pm. The survey revealed a surprising insight: people above the 65 year age bracket actively shopped for cosmetics, while 18 – 34 year olds formed the major portion of online shopper. About 15% of shoppers were over the age of 35 years.

Groceries

We saw that the bulk of grocery shopping happens in the morning between 9am – 9pm, after which, the purchase value drops by 8% with women and men being equally active, thereby accounting for a 50 – 50% ratio. In terms of a demographic split, 18 – 34 year olds constituted more than half of the total shoppers while 34% of the shoppers were seen to be between the age group of 35 – 65 years.

Sports

Given the sheer number of visitors that sports goods entail, they see their maximum conversions between 11pm – 2am with 73% men and 27% women active during the night. Fitness has become a rising concern and is one testified by the 65 year olds who are also active buyers of sports and fitness goods. Of course, 18 – 34 year olds still form the majority proportion of nocturnal shoppers.

Speaking on the survey findings, Abhijeet Vijayvergiya, VP and Business Head, India and South-East Asia, Capillary technologies, commented “While several studies have been conducted in the eCommerce domain, most of these looked at consumer buying behavior during the day and many have derived the conclusion that the mobile phone rules over the desktop as shoppers are increasingly switching over to the former. Brands then adopt a mobile first strategy to retail their products over the internet. Our survey revealed a different reality altogether, with good old desktops toppling mobile commerce during the night and, contrary to the general assumption, both men and women are more or less equally active at the same time, across all age groups.”

Additionally, both the genders are completely category agnostic, shopping for everything ranging from apparels and groceries to sports goods during the night. We hope to bring out more such interesting studies in the coming times.

 

Pick the Right Technology to Boost your Sales

Pick the Right Technology to Boost your Sales

With both online and offline businesses scaling to new heights, there is no denying the supremacy of technology in retail sale. While appreciating the exciting opportunities ensued by major market changes and shifting landscapes is difficult, retailers today are absorbed in harnessing the power of technology to further scale their businesses. A lot of retailers are feeling the heat and getting bogged down by the pressure of keeping up with the constant evolution of the digital space and elusive customer preferences. Though there are some retailers yearning for the good old days with the simplicity of traditional print promotions, digital promotions are  are indispensable to personalized marketing mix and are here to stay – especially in the omnichannel retail environment.

But despite their yearning for the minimalism of the olden days, industry players do understand that digital promotions have the potential to provide far more opportunities in return for the effort than any other medium.

Driving In-store Sales Through Omnichannel Promotions

Omnichannel promotions were initially used only by online retailers to drive sales, while offline retailers slowly caught with the trend to drive and track in-store sales. The latter’s considerations lacked complete and resourceful exploitation of omnichannel, as there are very few retailers actually using these promotions to drive in-store sales as well.

The adoption of technologies that interact with the physical world and proliferation of wearables is slowly exposing industry players to a whole new world of technology, changing any existing perceptions. Technology has managed to counter discernments that relegate digital promotions to online sales only. These technologies allow retailers to dole out targeted promotions and offers to their shoppers based on their in-store location and proximity of certain products. Likewise, wearables allow consumers access to highly relevant content pertaining to their shopping needs while carrying a basket or pushing a trolley.

Actionable Insights: Impacting the ROI

If we have to conduct technology innovation analysis in the past few years, data and analytics is by far the best that has happened to digital promotion and sales. They aren’t prolonged or outdated spreadsheets that bog marketers down, but rather actionable insights that help keep a tab on sales, realigning or re-adjusting campaigns before they incur losses. Just a few years ago, consumers used to be swarmed with the same offer at least three to four times a week. However, now with the advancement of technology, the number of such messages has lessened, as retailers integrate CRM data into their promotions campaigns and move toward real-time offer testing. Although not present in India yet, many countries have adapted to data and analytics, improving their customers’ in-store experience as well. Heat mapping and technology that analyzes a customer’s shopping history, allows retailers to map out individual customers’ paths through their store. Such features have not only optimized shopper flows but have also helped in cutting down long queues at checkouts and have aided in improving in-aisle promotions.

Mobile and Connected Cars Transforming Retail

Approximately, people spend almost 15 hours a day on their mobile phones, which is responsible for driving nearly half of retail offer traffic. The year on year growth combined with the infusion of smartphones in the market, indicate that smartphones will continue in their relevence, if not flourish as well. While retailers are still struggling to invest in the operational technologies to support this trend, many have found respite in their store apps as an immediate solution. Mobile apps that allow customers to redeem offers and check-out on their mobile device, while being in their physical store may become increasingly popular.

Likewise, yet another mobile wonder that has future implications for retailers’ digital promotions is automobiles. As the newer generation of vehicles incorporates more technologies such as bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and voice recognition, there are a number of opportunities to use machine to machine technologies to proactively push promotions and sales to customers based on their vehicle location. To simplify this process, technology will soon allow stores to communicate with the in-car computers to welcome customers and offer perks based on their shopping history.

With such constant advancements in technology, we are reminded that the only thing constant in this world is change, and the introduction of new retail or consumer technology is slowly changing the retail landscape. Having said that, there is no need for marketers to feel the pressure of keeping up with every trend they hear or read about. What matters more is their outlook on technology and how they can use one  techware to its full potential.

Welcome to the future of {Intelligence + Omnichannel}!

Survey: End of Season Sales Increase Performance by 12% in 2016

Survey: End of Season Sales Increase Performance by 12% in 2016

 

Capillary Technologies recently conducted a study of approximately 100+ brands, and found that the overall sales in 2016 increased by 12% as compared to 2015, despite the fact that the overall discount promotions had decreased by 20% during their End of Season Sales (EOSS).

This meant that despite higher prices, the male demographic had increased in its spending per customer by 7%.

However, for men, the average bill value dropped by 21% , for women, it was a much lower drop percentage at 8%.

As per the study, the EOSS in 2016 was largely driven by repeat customers where 48% of repeat customers shopped in 2015 and 2016. Also, an increase in 7% of repeat businesses has been observed between 2015 and 2016.

For brands aimed at men, the level of discounting was reduced from 2015 to 2016 while for brands aimed at women, it was increased. However, the growth seen among men shoppers was still higher than women shoppers, as the study concluded.

 

What Indian SaaS-based Firms Need to Know Before Going Global

What Indian SaaS-based Firms Need to Know Before Going Global

The global SaaS market has never been this exciting! A recent report by Google-Accel on the SaaS industry pegs the global opportunity to be at $132 Billion by 2020! The primary driving factors are SMB driven demand, vertical-led solutions leading to more adoption, faster time to market in an agile world and a shift of IT spend from Capex to Opex models. Here is the primary split of Enterprise v/s SMB Segment split of the global opportunity. The current opportunity split is tilted towards enterprise segment (65%) and the same will contribute to 44% of the opportunity by 2020. The key driver is SMBs are adopting SaaS products in a massive way!

While US looks to be an obvious first choice for any SaaS product, emerging markets (Asia, Middle East, Latin America) seem to offer far more lucrative options for the following reasons:-

  • Companies (including enterprises) haven’t adopted legacy softwares (compared to other markets), SaaS’s effective models can easily find patrons in a less competitive environment.
  • The SaaS pricing models are a perfect fit for upcoming markets.
  • Costs of sale (even if it is high touch) are economical

According to the iSpirit Survey (the Indian Software Product Industry Round table), About 84% of the Indian SaaS companies look at global expansion as a key business focus. Whereas 13% said they might look at it in the near future. However, only 3% said global expansion is not all a priority.

Here are 5 things SaaS companies should look at before going global. I will touch open 5 different key aspects going global – having a right product, a scalable lead generation engine, right team, focused sales strategy and execution plan and the last one about a simple game plan to get started:-

  • Have multiple, scalable lead sources

Before you go after the global market, it is important to set up a lead generation engine, which can be scaled globally based on ambitions. There are some key things you can do

  • Setting up inside sales/sales dev. teams: Set up an inside sales/sales development team who nurture and develop accounts with targeted, personalized emails. They can help set up meetings for the sales team. A lead nurture engine with a inside sales team in sync with each other can work absolute magic!
  • Blow your horn in the right places: Apply for awards in your target markets and take them seriously – Enterprise sales is about trust building and these awards can help you get meetings with prospects in the region.
  • Physical events still works!: When you have a few referenceable logos, organize breakfast events with prospectives to accelerate your pipeline. These meet and greets can break the ice and help you get an ally inside the target organization.
  • Focused sales strategy: Relentless sales operations.True potential is unleashed when a great sales strategy meets relentless execution.
  • Focus and quality trump quantity: It is important to focus sales reps on balancing new meetings/pipeline building with continued follow-ups on existing prospects. Limiting the number of new meetings per week/month helps drive focus on follow-up meetings so that no deal slips through the cracks.
  • A repeatable, inherently scalable pricing model: A broad understanding of pricing should be established across the sales team to create a repeatable process. This ensures that customers pay for the value they derive. Deal-by-deal pricing is not a feasible path to scale.
  • Qualify, qualify and… qualify: Deal qualification using the proven lead qualification models – this can help qualify which deals are on the path to closure vs. which deals will not close and should be abandoned. It helps focus sales rep energy on the right accounts.
  • Have an A-team for Launch: Building a fine mix of local talent and home grown talent is a great combo for the an A-team who can do the launch. Right from day 1, it’s essential to have sales champions in the launch team.
  • Globally scalable, locally relevant product: The best way to get use cases for your new region is to work closely with selected, prospects to co-innovate and build specific use cases for the region. However, if you have to customize your product extensively for each customer, this is going to be a scalability killer. Each customer should have similar use case and similar implementation for true product-market fit.
  • The global sojourn starts from your customer list: A critical beginning for the global sojourn is tapping on global customers whom you have acquired locally. The land-and-expand approach works well for SaaS and successful companies gain up to 40-50% of revenue addition from existing customers. This critical piece is often missed. It is critical to have a dedicated account management team which is focused on customer onboarding, go-live and customer wins. They should also be incentivized to drive account renewals, upsells and cross-sells through a formal program with targets.