E-commerce and retail strategies are influencing conventional shopping, but physical stores continue to play a vital role. Digital-first brands recognize the importance of brick-and-mortar locations for providing direct product experiences. The changing retail environment is molding interactions between consumers and brands, affecting market positions. Contemporary consumers anticipate smooth experiences and wish for their preferred brands to have a ubiquitous presence.

In the content of the Indian retail scenario, the overall market is anticipated to reach 2 trillion by 2032, with e-commerce anticipated to exceed $350 billion by 2030, growing at a 23% CAGR and a 12% market penetration. 

It is crucial to integrate e-commerce with traditional approaches, as underlined by findings from a Harvard Business Review survey, revealing that 73% of participants incorporate multiple channels in their shopping journeys. This trend signifies a blend of physical and online shopping habits, emphasizing the need for a holistic retail experience. To remain competitive in the evolving e-commerce market, brands need to swiftly embrace omnichannel retail strategies.

Omnichannel retailing integrates various shopping channels for a unified customer experience. It ensures consistency across marketplaces, D2C websites, and physical stores. According to the Unicommerce Trends Report 2023, omnichannel technology adoption in India witnessed an impressive 58.4% growth during FY2023, reflecting the changing dynamics of the retail landscape in the country.

  • 50% higher growth was seen in omnichannel retail.
  • 73% of customers used multiple channels to arrive at their purchase decision.
  • 50% of customers consult three channels for high-value purchases.
  • There was a 3.5x higher engagement with omnichannel retail.

Digital Transformation through Omni-channel Retail & its advantages

In the omnichannel evolution of a footwear brand, the “Endless Aisle” strategy is key. This involves using in-store stock to fulfill online orders, reducing excess inventory in specific locations while meeting demand elsewhere. Integration of inventory management systems provides real-time visibility, optimizing inventory and enhancing operational efficiency. This also comes into play in cases of unavailability of size, say a size 8 is out of stock on the website but available in the nearest store, it can be delivered seamlessly. The endless aisle concept streamlines inventory management, ensuring a smooth supply chain for both in-store and online customer demands. 

The “Ship-from-store” strategy offers significant advantages. By fulfilling online orders from nearby stores instead of a centralized warehouse, the brand can achieve reduced shipping costs. This minimizes the product’s travel distance, resulting in significant savings in shipping and freight costs. Brand can leverage its stores’ proximity to customers to enhance operational efficiency, providing faster and more economical shipping options. Aligned with the brand’s omnichannel initiative, this strategy contributes to a seamless customer experience while optimizing logistical and financial aspects of the supply chain.

It’s clear that numerous brands that originated online are increasingly embracing physical retail spaces. A notable example is Mamaearth. However, having a physical presence is one thing, but getting into EBOs and modern trade means competing with the likes large established players. A distinct pricing strategy and product assortment are also essential, considering that consumer preferences change when they have the opportunity for hands-on interaction with a product. Moreover, this must be executed on a large scale by establishing numerous outlets across various geographical locations. Otherwise, the incremental value generated may be too minimal to warrant the investment. Here’s an article from The Ken on how roll ups brands are testing out and acing the game of physical stores while maintaining a strong online presence.

In the omnichannel journey in the fashion segment, faster delivery timelines are a crucial advantage. Leveraging the proximity of local stores enables the brand to significantly reduce delivery times for online orders, offering same-day or next-day delivery. This swift and responsive model aligns with brand’s omnichannel strategy, meeting customer expectations for convenience and immediacy. As the footwear brand enters omnichannel retail, the emphasis on faster delivery enhances the overall customer experience and positions the brand competitively in the market.

Implementing services like buy-online-pick-up-in-store (BOPIS) or buy-online-return-in-store (BORIS) attracts more customers to brand’s physical stores. As customers visit for pickups or returns, additional in-store purchases become an opportunity, boosting sales and engagement. This strategy not only increases foot traffic but also creates seamless integration between online and offline channels, enriching the overall customer experience. Encouraging customers to visit stores for various services allows brand to enhance brand presence, foster customer loyalty, and capitalize on cross-selling opportunities in the physical retail space.

In essence, the omnichannel journey is more than a technological upgrade; it is a strategic imperative for brands aiming to thrive in the evolving e-commerce landscape. The emphasis on providing a seamless, unified, and efficient customer experience across all touchpoints is key to meeting the expectations of today’s consumers and securing a competitive edge in the retail market.

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