In due course of time, eCommerce as a mode of shopping will become as mundane globally as walking to the local grocery store. Of course, the mode has become mundane already in developed countries, but there are still a billion or more left who haven’t clicked ‘Add to Cart’ yet!

People evolve, lifestyle evolves and so do their retail practices. In Asia, especially Southeast Asia, mini-retail store formats are as numerous as houses and people. When you consider socio-economic strata, levels of earning and cultural differences, there was little need in the past for families to head out to a cricket-field sized retail superstore for the month’s groceries. Instead, the preferred format was niche neighbourhood stores where customers can buy discounted groceries. It is only now when choice and earning capacity has multiplied that customers want selection and convenience. To tap into this burgeoning reserve, retailers have to innovate and differentiate. And omnichannel is leading the way.

Asian customers pride themselves on their ability to get the best deal, and the most value. They are also very particular, once they are attached to a brand. This situation is something that retailers can use to garner an army of loyal shoppers. Speaking of loyal, most major Asian retailers have recognisable loyalty platforms, but by no means is that a generalisation for retail SMEs. Every retailer needs to know his loyal customers, and by how much.

Loyalty has to be an integral part of the omnichannel-ready retail solution for stores. With this, and a clear visibility of all operations across the retail chain, a retailer can analyse what is his customer base looking for, and modify his offerings accordingly.

Now that brick-and-mortar retailers know for a fact that e-tailing will not push them to extinction; the former are looking at creating their own online presence with a vengeance. There was a worrying phenomenon called ‘showrooming’, where enterprising customers would check out a product physically, check it price online and buy it with a click. Now, Asian e-tailers are fussing over web-rooming, where the Generation Now checks out a best-selling product online and buys it at a store to have it right now. Guess who’s laughing now?

Asian retailers, who pride themselves as one-stop shops for all customer needs, have to offer eCommerce capabilities to their clientele. Regardless of size, eCommerce as a built-in module of an omnichannel-ready suite of applications is not that difficult a proposition. And once enabled, it opens up further channels of engagement and fulfilment between the retailer and customer.

The final link completing the chain is Digital Passes. Modern omnichannel retail solutions integrate easily with Digital Passes and NFC technology to deliver higher levels of engagement with shoppers. This includes getting push notifications when a retailer’s coupon is about to expire, or receiving a special offer when they enter a store. Also, a Pass can be configured in several languages, be geo-tagged, saves cost of paper/printing and provide that personal touch to keep a customer coming back for more.

An omnichannel-ready retail solution like iVend Retail offers Mobile POSeCommercecustomer Loyalty portalRetail AnalyticsDigital Passes, and much more in an integrated suite of retail applications. This is the future, or rather the next level of customer engagement that retailers are looking to implement right now.

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