How much they make, and how much potential sales they could lose, hinges on whether they are digitally ready and savvy

As early as August every year, the entire nation of India goes into a festive mood until Diwali in October. This is the busiest shopping time when people are united in their annual spending sprees.

This year e-commerce retailers are expecting the festive season to demonstrate a robust demand recovery after two years marred by COVID-19 lockdowns.

However, if businesses are not properly equipped with the right tactics and technology to cope with the surge, they could be losing huge potential opportunities now and in the future. According to a veteran skilled in finding the pulse of Indian consumers, the quality of customer experiences, technology tools, IT platforms, and supply chains will be put to the test.

Here is what Dr Somdutta Singh, founder & CEO, Assiduus Global wants to share with readers about striking while the iron and silicon are hot.

DigiconAsia: How should businesses blend technology and online-offline marketing resources to cash in on the busiest shopping period in India?

Dr Somdutta Singh, founder & CEO, Assiduus Global

Dr Somdutta Singh (SS): Maintaining a seamless and unified customer experience is beneficial during the festive season when demand is at an all-time high and delivery timelines are shorter than ever.

Thanks to multiple brand touchpoints like e-commerce stores, regular outlets, social networking websites and D2C brand outlets, the modern consumer is free to interact and meet brands across all these platforms. Before any sale is concluded, a typical consumer would now have made about eight touchpoints.

Amid so many options to reach out to any brand, it is pivotal for a consumer to have a seamless experience across all platforms. This is only possible when the brand’s backend is integrated so that no matter how a consumer chooses to approach a brand, their experience stays unified and positive.

One popular business strategy is the omnichannel approach that strives to offer a seamless shopping experience across multiple channels like brick-and-mortar stores, social media shops, e-commerce websites and D2C outlets.

For instance, a consumer may first interact with a brand at an outlet, later concluding their purchase on its website later. To transition an offline experience to an online sale, omnichannel integration at the backend is necessary. According to research by Forbes, omnichannel campaigns saw an 18.96% engagement rate, up from a 5.4% engagement rate that came from a single channel approach.

A happy consumer is the consequence of the seamless unification of all touchpoints, which goes a long way towards improving buyer convenience. 

DigiconAsia: Other than going omnichannel, how should they use technology to improve cross-selling, brand loyalty and other marketing techniques to keep the sales ringing even after Diwali? 

SS: The festive season is a tough time for retailers when they need to specifically target consumers based on their buying preferences. This is where data analytics can be used to build profiles about customers, their demographics, and their preferences and aspirations.

This data is tracked through monitoring the browsing patterns of buyers and then utilized to narrow down the target audience and improve the overall sales numbers. Through this information, businesses keep track of users’ online behavior patterns, including how long they spend on a given page, their clicks, website impressions and purchase history. These are then used to guide markets in crafting our personalized offers, exclusive deals and loyalty schemes to keep every customer motivated.

Massive data collection and churning out insights is a labor-intensive task. However, processing and analyzing data can be done constantly with prediction and analytics tools. Retailers can streamline the procedure of gathering, processing, and evaluating the data with the appropriate application of AI and ML tools. With such automated solutions, predicting the most-ordered product along with the order size is also possible. This helps businesses maintain the right amount of inventory at any given point.

DigiconAsia: What other considerations should digitalized businesses take into account to handle the massive surges during a festive period?

SS: To meet the sales pressures during the festivities, payment solutions need to be slick and convenient to appeal to every kind of buyer. According to one study, digital wallets are second to e-commerce transactions in India, even though cash remains the king.

To a great extent, the development of e-commerce platforms has to be aided by technology-backed payment solutions.

With the economy now gradually undergoing massive digital transition, online outlets need to empower buyers with convenient payment systems. Consumers in tier 2 and tier 3 cities are more likely to make the final buying decision based on greater selections available in payment options and are particularly influenced by alluring offers from e-wallet companies.

By investing in sophisticated and easy payment technologies, e-commerce retailers will be able to upscale their businesses to handle any festive sales seasons or future pandemic scenarios.

DigiconAsia: What unique sales characteristics in India are worth noting in the digital age?

SS: As the peak of the festive season approaches, retailers need to understand their customers’ shopping preferences as the first step in getting ready to take their business to the next level.

According to a Financial Express report, 61% of shoppers during the 2021 festive sales were from tier-2 cities, followed by 22% from metro areas and 17% from tier-1 cities. Thus, the focus needs to be on tier-II towns, and retailers can achieve such insights through better data analytics and tracking tools. 

In addition to this, retailers can capitalize on this enormous opportunity with the help of more technology solutions that automate the omnichannel approach, and they should also provide a wide variety of digital payment methods.

Lastly, gearing up with tech enhancements continually is the key to energizing the future of online sales in India.

DigiconAsia thanks Dr Somdutta for sharing her insights on India’s evolving digital markets.