When Myntra beat out a slew of rival bids and bought Jabong in a US$70 million deal, the Indian e-commerce company not only created the country’s largest online fashion business. It also ushered in a new era of omnichannel marketing.
“We are exploring an omnichannel approach at this point because we consider the time ripe, given the growth of our business over the last several months and very strong future projections,” said Myntra spokeswoman Priyanka Bhargav. “We will begin by partnering with a few brands ... and will provide customers with a rich technology-oriented experience, unlike the standard offline store.”
Myntra is taking the omnichannel approach to a rapidly growing but still relatively nascent market. While digital commerce currently accounts for less than 1% of total retail sales in India, it is one of the fastest-growing digital markets in the Asia-Pacific region, growing at 40% a year, according to Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner.
Customer experience is crucial to win sales and secure customer loyalty. “This is the most important differentiator of a digital commerce service as price becomes transparent across sites,” according to Gartner. “Providers that design a compelling user interface; personalise landing pages, search results, and product feeds based on the shopper’s behaviour; and effectively engage shoppers to make them loyalty customers will win over those that cannot.”
India may be one of the fastest-growing markets in APAC, but all of the region’s markets need to leverage technology in intelligently designed campaigns to develop a close relationship with customers, according to Andy Powell, principal of Australian-based Agile Commerce Consulting. It is not just about creating an engaging front end for consumers, he said. It’s about managing the entire supply chain so that products marketed online are always available to be sent out or picked up.
Online promotions work well, “but you’ve got to tell someone in the supply chain or risk fracturing the customer-brand relationship,” Powell warned. If your supply chain is not aware that you are running a special promotion in a specific country or region, then it might not be able to fulfill orders, which could damage the trust between vendor and buyer, he said.
Omnichannel success, Powell said, is not just about rolling out marketing campaigns but linking them to enterprise information systems that can support fulfilment.
Besides ensuring an integrated information approach, retailers also need to rethink “their true north”–that is, the brand they represent in order to ensure consistency across all channels, said Powell, who has worked with retailers including Target, Myer, and Woolworths on their strategies.
The catalyst for omnichannel marketing has been the rise of the digitally connected Millennial consumer, said Clarence Chew, CMO of online sports retailer Decathlon.
“Today, you need to touch the customer wherever they are–on the mobile, on the train, or at work when they come to your website,” he said. “And whatever route they take, they expect a consistent, rich customer experience that is seamless regardless of the route to purchase.”
He acknowledged that market leaders have often found themselves spurred to action by nimbler, new competitors. “If you are in a saturated market, you will lose out if you don’t have a good omnichannel platform,” he said.
Success, Chew added, requires CMOs to “work from the outside in” and study the consumer before designing the platform to understand “where they are and what interests them.” Rich data analytics could help a company understand that customer, and that insight could then be used to design the omnichannel platform and campaigns.
“We don’t need the consumer to know we know how many kids they have, or which schools they go to, even though we may know. That’s not the right way to use the data,” Chew said. “You need to focus on the customer experience–not the company benefit.”