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Omnichannel and hybrid models to drive future of retailing: Experts at IFF 2023

Experts on digital commerce have said that the pandemic has gravitated millions of customers to shop online and that new habit is fueling companies to increasingly opt for hybrid model and omnichannel retailing.

“The future of retail is omnichannel. The fact that Oxford dictionary added ‘Goblin Mode’ as the most trending word of 2022 defines the phenomenon that we want everything to come to our phone or to our fingertips,” said Bhaskar Ramesh, Director-Omnichannel Businesses, Google India.

He said the pandemic has particularly changed consumer behavior and a lot of these behaviors are still stick. “What happened during Covid was that commerce has taken off in a big way. A lot of companies in fashion and retail are moving their commerce business. As Covid receded, consumers actually went back to what they were familiar with and at the same time they are expecting the same digital experience. So, on one side, digital is enhancing customer experience and on the other better profitability of businesses,” he added.

The experts were discussing the importance of omnichannel as a defining factor in winning in the fashion retail industry on the second day of 22nd India Fashion Forum (IFF) at Hotel Conrad in Bengaluru.

A Google masterclass session was aimed at helping brands decode the rapidly changing trends and help them understand how to leverage the web and drive commerce for brands.

Ramesh said that digitisation enhances product customisation and removes friction in purchase. Today, India has 700 million internet users, and almost 500 million users consume videos for long duration across platforms. Out of this, almost 190 million are shoppers. It is expected that the base will become 400-420 million shoppers over the next 3- to 5 years.

“The opportunity here is that 93% of the consumers have told us that they expect hybrid journey and Omnichannel journey across sectors. However in the retail industry only 32% of retail companies are offering only hybrid experiences,” he said. “Omnichannel is no more a fashionable or a cherry on the cake, and it has become a serious competitive advantage, and will decide the winner and loser of tomorrow,” he said, adding that this phenomenon is not happening only in urban areas; new shoppers are coming from tier 2 and 3 towns or from more rural areas.

“Random online searches in India are 3 billion. 88% of Indians research online before they buy. So the question here is, are you helping or aiding the consumer in their research. If you have the latest design or fabric, are they able to discover it?” said Kaushik Dasgupta, Vertical Lead for Technology and Retail, Google India.

Omnichannel is a new experience and retail companies are moving towards this experience and their ability to use first party data in a first-privacy way is also the next competitive advantage.

It can be concluded that omnichannel in the new experience, retail companies are moving towards this experience, their ability to use first party data in a first-privacy way is also the next competitive advantage. D2C gives you a lot of data and it’s the closest to your customers but it doesn’t have scale unless you invest, stressed Ramesh.

Gaurav Juneja, Head-Digitisation, Google India and Shubai Pai, Head, Google Youtube Sales and Solutions also spoke in the session.

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