Retail - A Digital Affair

Practice Head, SMAC - IN
Valtech India
Saurabh Chakraborty

April 20, 2016

The key challenge for a Brand in the 21st century is to be able to send the right Brand message to the Consumer amidst the marketing noise, get them involved and initiated with the brand.

In the classic B2C model, the brand reaches out to the consumers and talks about its offerings. Getting the right message to the right audience would do the work.

Interestingly, in recent times, the B2C model seems to be going through some re-characterization. It is the consumer who is in the driving seat and is trying to communicate what they understand about the brand. Today, the consumer is willing and desirous of letting the brand know their expectations. The consumer is at a level of maturity where they have a ‘desired value proposition’ they expect from the product/services. Thus, it would not be too bold to say that the new model in the making could be called C2B instead!

Retail 3.0 is all about reconfiguring the classic B2C model to C2B model. It is about responding back to customer's desires and ‘perceived positioning’ of the brand . It is about listening, analyzing and remodeling the business such that the brand resonates with the ‘perceived positioning’ in the minds of the consumer. It is about opening up multiple channels for the consumers to interact with the brand; not just to facilitate transaction but also to enable the consumer in ‘having a conversation’ with the brand – about how they want the brand to service them and with what!

While this is major shift across industries, the retail businesses might have to remodel their value chain to be more flexible and mutable. The remodeling should let the brand evolve and also respond back to the market with every shift in the consumer mindset. It would mean that the vision of a brand needs to come from the consumers and not the other way round. The Brand has to ‘become’ the Consumer!

Retail 3.0 demands a brand to be more open, flexible and listening. The first step in that journey is to be able to change the way the consumer interacts with the brand whether in-store or online. Today, the line between online and offline is blurring really fast. It is becoming increasingly challenging to identify whether an online experience converted into an in-store purchase or vice-a-versa. In times like these, it is extremely important for a brand to leverage advanced Digital technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, IoT etc. to be able to provide the consumer with equally capable opportunity across all touch points (online or in-store) to interact with the brand. It is no more enough to have a digitally advanced online presence, it is equally important to have a ‘Digitally Alive’ store so that the consumer has a single image of the brand in their minds!