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India Omnichannel Forum 2015 – The New Wave is Already Visible in India

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2003, at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Center, Mumbai, I stood wide-eyed, looking at the magnanimity of probably the biggest convention I had witnessed until then. For me, my first step to the world of dynamism, the retail industry. And on its 12th year, I landed again, as wide-eyed as I was 12 years back but this time as a speaker and speaking on probably the most dynamic subject within retail, “Omnichannel”.

The 12th Edition of India Retail Forum has rightly touched upon the subject that is making waves in the world of retail for sometime now. Omnichannel is definitely the talk of the retailers and a subject often seen as a complex one. The retail industry globally is going through a fundamental transformation and this transformation is perhaps the most dynamic of all the retail innovations that have happened in the past. I still remember the first time I participated in the India Retail Forum (#IRF), there was a debate between Mr. Kishore Biyani (CEO & MD of Future Group) and Mr. B.S. Nagesh (then the head of Shoppers Stop) on how India would respond to e-commerce. Mr. Biyani strongly said that the Indian consumer would not accept buying clothes without the touch and feel factor negating the impact of e-commerce over the brick-and-mortar format. The eCommerce industry is fast rising. With Flipkart, Jabong, Amazon India, Myntra, Snapdeal, the sector in India has grown by 34% (CAGR) since 2009 to touch 16.4 billion USD in 2014. The sector is expected to be in the range of 22 billion USD in 2015. (*source PWC) The overall Indian Retail Industry is expecting an outstanding growth to $1 trillion in 2020 while in 2015 was $600. This is enormous and this enormous growth is possible with the innovative introduction of the Omnichannel strategy in the traditional retail industry.

I was speaking at the Omnichannel Forum on “OMNICHANNEL IS THE FUTURE MANTRA – BUILDING RETAIL BUSINESSES THAT WILL STAND THE TEST OF TIME BY CONNECTING THE DOTS BETWEEN PHYSICAL AND VIRTUAL RETAIL”. I felt along with my eminent panelist, that Omnichannel is that influencer which will make it happen by connecting the dots between the physical and virtual world. In this context possibly the most important statement was made by Mr. Krish Iyer, CEO of Wallmart India. While delivering his keynote address at IRF, he not only expressed his happiness over Images starting the Omnichannel Forum but significantly mentioned that next year what may happen is that we will only have the India Omnichannel Forum instead of having two separate tracks of sessions.

At OpenbrIRF_CONFERENCE_2015_0224avo, we believe Omnichannel is not the future but it is a phenomenon, which is already present and is very much here. Our aim is to help retailers to adopt this phenomenon by helping them to develop the right strategy. And a successful Omnichannel strategy must first consider customers at the center of the retailer strategy  and to deliver them the promise of a seamless shopping experience across channels. One of the most relevant consequences of this phenomenon today is the change of the role of the physical stores and how e-commerce is helping them to grow. As a result of typical cross-channel scenarios like buy online-pick up in the store or buy online-return in the store, online sales are helping stores to increase traffic and sales. Who  said a threat then? E- Commerce is becoming a strong ally. The stores must then develop the capacity to  provide the expected in-store  shopping experience and we are seeing how brick-and-mortar retailers are  investing heavily in new technologies  and organizational changes to ensure this. The stores are also investing to become truly multichannel hubs,  gaining the capacity to fulfill orders from the online channel. The so-called “Store Fulfillment” which is taking ground rapidly.

Overall it was a learning experience. The discussion session with the retail Czar Kishore Biyani, Retail  Pioneer Mr.  BS Nagesh and the Rupert Murdoch of India Mr. Raghav Bahl was a treat to hear. I would like  to express special  thanks to my session moderator, Mr. Badal Malick, VP and Head of Omnichannel,  Snapdeal who moderated the session wonderfully. Thanks to all the fellow panelists Abnesh Raina, CEO,  PlumSlice Lab, Amit Bahl, Head of Online Technology – Omnichannel, Future Group, Anil Shankar, CIO, Shoppers Stop, Maheshwaran Calavai, Director – Strategy and Innovation, Target India, Sandeep Ladda, Partner and National Leader, Technology and eCommerce, PwC India, Sharat Potharaju, Co-Founder and CEO, Mobstac, Venkat Nott, CEO, Vinculum Group, Yasho Saboo, CEO, Ethos Summit, Rahul Jashnani, CSA & MD, Jashn, and Anita Punja from PWC for your respective visions on the topic.

The most important conclusion for me however was the clear fact that all comments and opinions I heard do nothing more than confirm our direction within Openbravo with the Openbravo Commerce Suite. A strong retail management solution to support the required transformation of the physical stores and a future-proof technology foundation that can enable the Omnichannel strategy of Indian retailers. A promising future for Openbravo in India.


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