Retail in Asia

In Trends

Taking Stock: The online revolution won’t overthrow the physical store reality

In a world where everyone is talking about all things going digital, we can often overlook the fact that there is still a fundamental need for most people to have something tangible to get their hands on. That’s why there are still printed magazines and newspapers that have original content as well as print advertisements from manufacturers and retailers. As with advertising across many media and social channels – whether digital or physical, it is important to understand that in the retail environment the ‘omni-channel revolution’ doesn’t mean the end of the physical store. Stores remain the place where customers can enjoy a real shopping experience where there is a tangible and tactile emotive connection, human contact, and where they can touch and try products, smell perfume, experience audio and visual stimuli etc.

That said, nowadays the way of shopping is changing and customers are expecting more from retailers to attract them, engage them with product offerings and shopping stimulus and keep them coming back for more. Thus implementing an omni-channel strategy is becoming essential.

RIA met with Samuel Guillaume, business development manager, APAC at Cegid, an international software solutions provider specializing in retail point of sales and omnichannel management solutions – during the Retail Innovation & Management Forum organized by Retail In Asia and Retail Tech Innovation. After receiving their Retail Innovation Award from us as winner for Integrated POS Software we asked him a few questions.

RIA: What are the key challenges for implementing a successful omni-channel strategy?

SG: To implement a successful omni-channel strategy, retailers face three key challenges:
The customer: They expect to get a memorable and seamless shopping experience anytime, anywhere, across all sales points (in-store, mobile, online).

  • Retailers have to access their customers’ profile, purchase history, pending orders, loyalty points, favorite items, etc. to offer the most personalized services. That information should be available across all sales channels.
  • Customers want to be recognized: in addition to provide personalized services, retailers have to be able to reward their customers each time they purchase from any channel.
  • Moreover, customers expect from the brand consistent offers, price and customer service.

Internal organization: Retailers have to stop looking at revenues per channel and start looking at revenues per customer. Everyone in the retail chain should be engaged in the sales process, including franchises and company-owned stores, to provide the shopping experience expected by the customer. They have to clearly define the objectives of implementing an omni-channel strategy:

  • Increase sales?
  • Provide a consistent offer and price?
  • Improve customer services?
  • To generate more traffic to the store (eg: “click and collect strategy”)?

Of course, this organization requires efficient supply chain and inventory planning and execution :

  • The logistic chain needs to be rethought to remain efficient in an omni-channel environment.
  • Organization of stock (if customers will go to the store to pick-up their items, and also, retailers will need to manage goods return).

IT system: the IT system needs to be harmonized across all channels and applications. It is also important to get accurate data in real time. Updated information (customers DBB, items information, orders, sales data…) from the store, web, mobile channels which should be centralized within a single system : “a single version of the truth!”

RIA: How can retailers enhance their omni-channel offerings?

SG: Retailers have to focus on creating new services. Implementing an omni-channel strategy means improving customer services and also providing new ranges of service: for example, give the choice to customers to buy online and pick-up their orders in-store; to return an item bought online in the store; display stock availability by store. Retailers should constantly innovate to stay one step ahead to create a better customer experience.
Retailers should also maintain consistent information, offer, services and price. Customers expect to get the same level of information and service whatever the sales channel.

RIA: What have been the main problems facing online customers and what do you see are the solutions?

SG: Stock remains the main challenge. Among shoppers who encountered problems, more than half of those were related to wrong stock inventory. Due to inaccurate stock inventory, retailers lose orders. This problem occurs more often than what we think.

‘In-stock’ items are shown as ‘out of stock’ and vice-versa. Moreover, sometimes it is difficult for retailers to determine the accurate quantity in stock online and in-store, simply because they don’t know which orders are in reservation, waiting to be delivered, etc.

This problem can be solved by utlizing an IT system that centralizes all information in real time across all channels. For example, with Yourcegid Retail, a best in class retail management solution, retailers are able to track and check in real time all transactions made or in process, orders paid, orders waiting to be delivered or in transit.

RIA: What interesting trends do you see coming up from both consumers and retailers?

SG: Mobile: 5.1 billion people own a mobile phone. Consumers are more and more willing to check everywhere for information through their smart phone. They consult, check, compare information ‘showrooming”, buy and pay online. To increase their visibility and boost sales, retailers should provide sales and services platforms on mobile devices. Consumers can be rewarded through their mobile when they visit a store. The mobile phone has become a powerful tool already exploited by some retailers.

Social media: Everybody knows that consumers love to exchange, engage and give their feedback to their friends. Social media platforms are important for retailers to understand their consumers more, and also to monitor information and their image. Brands can analyze their consumers’ behavior and also interact with them whatever the social media platform. This interaction enhances the customers’ experience extending the life of the shopping experience long after the purchase.

RIA: Are there any innovative solutions that Cegid can offer today’s retailer?

SG: Currently, Yourcegid Retail is used by more than 1000 retailers, 25 000 stores in over 75 countries. The solution is deployed in more than 1200 stores in Asia including HK, China, Japan, etc. (Ted Baker, Longchamp, L’Occitane en Provence, Lacoste, etc.)

With our retail expertise, Cegid stays one step ahead: more and more of our clients are implementing an omni-channel strategy to respond to their clients’ expectations. Thus, Yourcegid Retail has embraced Omni-channel at every point of the value chain, from merchandise planning to forecasting, sourcing to merchandising, store management and POS to CRM and loyalty.

With the Cegid real time Web Access technology, retailers can update and synchronize in real time data from all its distribution network and touchpoints – company-owned stores, franchise stores, concessions and online. It also gives speciality retailers a single customer database, SKU list and stock pool that can be consulted from any sales channel.

Cegid has launched Yourcegid Retail Mobile, a mobile Point of Sales solution, designed to help retailers offer consumers a seamless and connected in store shopping experience and empower in-store staff to help drive sales, boost customer retention and loyalty. The solution allows retailers to perform POS operations as well as customer-facing and merchandising activities including payment with e-receipts, queue busting, personalised promotions and stock management – from a mobile device

Downlod YourCegid – OmniChannel pdf from link below

Samuel Guillaume, Cegid APAC business development manager, has more than 12 years’ experience in the retail industry at Cegid. He moved to Asia in 2008 as the Cegid Asia Project Manager in charge of deploying Yourcegid Retail for a leading international luxury retailer . Samuel has worked with numerous international brands across Europe and Asia including L’Occitane en Provence (+1,000 stores worldwide).
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Taking Stock is Retail in Asia’s fortnightly column dedicated to showcasing opinions from experts in the retail industry.