We are living in exciting times. Commerce is changing rapidly causing a paradigm shift in the way that consumers discover and buy products. The proliferation of technologies like smartphones, tablets, wearable technology, and the like has resulted in the formation of the “connected consumer”, i.e. a consumer that has constant and unbroken access to the Internet. What impact has this phenomenon had on commerce?
Brands and retailers are not just brands and retailers anymore, but they are technology companies enabling commerce in various ways. Commerce is no longer destination-based. It is pervasive. The days of single-channel commerce where a consumer had to go to a brick-and-mortar store in order to make a purchase are over. With the advent of the Internet, the single-channel model gave way to the multi-channel model, where brands and retailers found it necessary to have a physical store as well as a robust online presence.
That multi-channel model has now evolved into an omni-channel one. An omni-channel approach to commerce is consumer-centric and requires that companies coordinate their offerings and promotions across all channels, whether it is a physical store, website, online marketplace, mobile app, television, or direct mail. Businesses also need to be cognizant of the consumer’s shopping history, browsing behavior, etc. so they can tailor product offers accordingly.
We believe that omni-channel is but a stop on the way to an infinite-channel model, where there will be infinite ways in which to inform, educate, and sell products to consumers. Say a person is running and tracking their progress using a wearable device. If that person decides to buy a new pair of running shoes, the perfect product offer will be formed by a combination of analyzing the information provided by the wearable device, the person’s preferred brands, and such other factors. The product offer can be presented right there on the wearable device or a mobile phone and the person can buy it immediately. A consumer’s presence across multiples screens will be highly beneficial when optimized in the right way.
So, what do brands and retailers need in order to become infinite-channel technology companies? They need to have a deep level of information about a broad range of products. They need to be able to monitor their own and their competitors’ products with respect to assortment, mix, availability, pricing, promotions, channels, and other dynamic factors. When they have this deep level of accurate information, they can ensure that they maintain consistency across channels. Their knowledge of the entire ecosystem that they exist in will allow them to price and position their products in the best way.
For some time now, companies have been worried about combating showrooming. It is a phenomenon where a consumer comes to a brick-and-mortar store to look at a product, but doesn’t buy it in the store because s/he finds a better price online. This is definitely not a desirable scenario if you have a brick-and-mortar presence. But think about this on the other hand. What if a store associate has access to inventory and pricing information in real-time across various channels for the product and is able to ensure that the customer avails of the best possible offer?
Another way to combat showrooming is by using geo-fencing techniques to send targeted and personalized offers to shoppers. Whenever a location-aware device enters the perimeter of a physical store’s designated geo-fence, stores can send compelling offers that combine rich product production with consumer shopping history.
At Indix, we are building the world’s broadest and deepest product database. We tag products with over 10,000 attributes and currently house over 300 million products. Not only this, our secret sauce of product data science organizes, analyzes, and visualizes this information for easy comprehension and consumption. And all this is presented through our comprehensive product intelligence platform in real-time. So you can be fully-equipped to tackle the omni-channel imperative and make a smooth transition into the infinite-channel world. The possibilities are truly endless.