Do you still remember the era of buying from physical stores? People used to take out some time from busy schedules, especially for shopping. Wandering shop to shop to find that one best piece of product at reasonable price and good quality. The whole process was extremely time consuming and hectic. Buyers used to see spend a lot of time for purchase of simple daily household stuff. Though the advantage of shopping from physical stores is that buyers can assure the quality of the product and can try the product (clothes, shoes, etc.) before buying, there are still some cons.
As per a survey conducted by CNBC, 30 percent of products bought from retail shops were returned due to one or another reason in the year 2016.
Then came the e-commerce era. E-commerce was the revolutionary change in the retail market. It was assumed that e-commerce is going to shut all physical stores. The growing popularity of e-commerce will drastically affect the bricks and mortar retail industry. There are various reasons behind such assumptions and predictions-
- Users need not travel physically
- Users get multiple options on a single screen
- Facility to compare features of different products and brands
- Facility to compare prices of different products and brands
- Customer review options
- Excellent return and replacement policies
- HD images of products available
It is clear that e-commerce has lots of pros. In 2016, the e-commerce industry in the USA achieved sales revenue of 322.17 billion US dollars. Source: Statista. Percentage of online buyers has increased with a great hike. But everything has some cons. E-commerce too has some cons. There are still lots of buyers who are afraid of online shopping. 80% of these buyers gave a reason for quality. Most of the buyers do not like paying before they get the right product. Also, online payment rust issue is another reason.
Now comes omnichannel!
Omnichannel is a buzzword that indicates the integration of distribution, promotion and communication channels on the backend. In layman’s language, omnichannel means having features of both physical and e-commerce stores.
For instance, a retail shop salesman can fetch customer history just like an e-commerce executive. This is called omnichannel usage. The omnichannel involves end user or consumer in every stage. Working on multichannel and omnichannel are different terms.
The key to effective omnichannel strategy is big data. Merging e-commerce and retail is an amazing way to optimize sales. Brands who have tried doing this have experienced a great hike in sales. To merge e-commerce and retail and to achieve an excellent omnichannel solution, it is important to first understand big data.
What is big data?
Big data is a term which deals with a large amount of raw and unstructured data. The, as well as retail industries, generate a huge amount of raw data. There are various sources available to generate this data. Big data analyses this data and generate meaningful insights from it. The technology of big data is used for different purposes like strategy generation, marketing, brand promotion sales, etc.
How big data can benefit omnichannel:
The big data gathered predicts the product requirements. It helps brands to make all products available. Just the way e-commerce sites deliver excellent operations, the retail shops can also deliver the same. Stores can provide more personalized services to consumers by referring to past data. Stores can easily analyze customer buying journey and take more timely decisions.
Big data is mostly used for marketing purpose. To target the right consumers, it is important to understand what exactly they want. Big data analyses consumers behavior and creates meaningful insights about what that buyer prefers. Big data is used for generating an effective buyer’s persona. The stores can target the right audience in the right manner. The big data helps stores understand what medium of marketing can be best suitable for the target audience. Simply displaying ads is not enough. Brands and stores should understand what offers to make to attract more consumers. These insights are generated using big data.
The biggest risk of any brand and retail/e-commerce store is to produce products on large scale. It is highly important to understand what amount of products should be manufactured and what amount of products should be kept in stock. Most of the retailers or online stores store stocks as per the demand. But unfortunately, there is no proper equation to calculate the exact demand.
The retail industry is one of the most unpredictable industries. There can be a sudden demand for some products and a sudden drop in demand for some products. Stores need to understand this demand cycle. Big data offers meaningful insights about product demands. Therefore stores can order products carefully and of precise quantity. If stores experience a drop in demand of stock, the cost of warehousing increases. This leads to ultimate loss.
Better customer experience-
As discussed, stores are trying to create good relations with their consumers like never before. Everyone nowadays is looking for best-personalized services. Just like e-commerce sites, physical stores can offer excellent customer experience with the help of personalization. Physical stores can send personalized notifications through mobile app or messages regarding their favorite brand and products. Also, once the user enters the store, the salesperson can fetch users data in real time and provide good service according to purchase history.
Big data is the best solution for overall omnichannel activities. It helps to enhance the performance of stores. Stores can use big data to improve marketing, sales, promotion and even customer experience. As big data also predict future demands, stores can fearlessly take some business risks.
Big data is becoming the interlink that merges physical retail stores and e-commerce stores. It can help stores in different ways and in the optimization of omnichannel.