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Report on Guest lecture conducted by Mr. Vivek Dubey, Omnichannel Retailng, 14th Aug. 2020

Guest Lecture on Omni Channel Retailing by RMM department

On 14th August 2020, a virtual guest lecture was organized by Retail Management & Marketing Department (RMM) in collaboration with the Alumni department of ITM Business School through online mode. The theme of the expert session was Omnichannel Retailing. It was an impactful session, full of valuable insights & learnings that any professional in retail sector would require. The expert speaker was Mr. Vivek Dubey, an alumnus of RMM department (2007-09 batch). Around 90 students across various specializations of PGDM course attended the session. Mr. Vivek Dubey, currently based in UAE, is working as the Brand, Product and Business Manager at Jumbo Electronics Co. Ltd. He is a passionate marketer and a sports enthusiast and has also co-authored a research paper and book to add to his ever-expanding list of learning and credentials.

 

A Fresh Start:

Session commenced with a lively conversation between the guest & alumnus - Mr. Vivek Dubey, and all the faculty members. Everyone reminisced his days as a student, and from what it seemed, Mr. Vivek was successful in creating a mark in their minds and hearts. He too was equally delighted to connect back to the faculties who taught and mentored him and were instrumental in his growth and life-long learning. He fondly remembered his campus days and was feeling happy to speak with the students who had recently joined the course.

Learning is an experience:

The speaker started with an overview of the current scenario in the face of COVID-19 pandemic. He then proceeded to discuss “omni channel retailing”, when broken down, the topic literally means a multichannel approach to sales, which focuses on providing smooth consumer experience, no matter where the consumer is located. “Omni” means being present everywhere.

Important things such as choosing the right location, how the retail industry evolved over decades, challenges faced, impact of pandemic, fundamental trends, strategies, partnership & value-chain and the novel ways of approaching customers were discussed by the speaker. Amid pandemic, such topics showed everyone the way to sail through this difficult time and make it big.

Mr. Vivek enlightened us with the stages that the retail industry has gone through, in its process of evolution, and how it has creatively utilized various distribution channels & outlets to its advantage, to reach more consumers. He also elaborated on various concepts like:

- Single Channel Retailing: Producer or retailer’s effort to reach customers through only one distribution option, regardless of whether it is online, catalogue, mail-order, face-to-face selling, or traditional retail. Eg: Small spas/saloons/cafes which are limited to a particular area.

- Multi-channel Retailing: Producer or retailer’s effort to combine and blend different distribution channels to accommodate where and how consumers make purchases, ensuring that producers and retailers will be present when the purchase decision is made. Eg: Starbucks uses a multichannel distribution system by selling in their own-stores, grocery stores, through their own online site.

- Cross Retailing channel: Clients can use several channels for the same order. For eg: Booking show/seat online before enjoying it in physical presence! Or utilizing online coupons/vouchers/other options, while shopping in real-time.

- Omni channel retailing: When one channel connects with another in a seamless manner. Eg: Ikea launched a virtual reality application, so customers just need to use Ikea catalogue, virtually place it where they would like to install their furniture in their premises , and the mobile app will display the chosen product virtually placed in the desired location. Two channels that are used simultaneously - the brand’s mobile app and its brochure beautifully explained the concept.

Mr. Vivek also explained us different types of commerce modes which businesses have been using to serve their markets as follows:

- L-commerce – Location Commerce: when businesses utilize their geographic positioning to offer services & updates. For eg: consumer getting notifications about nearest restaurants based on their location.

- E & M-commerce – Electronic & Mobile Commerce: is when all business transactions such as B2B, B2C, C2C, C2B, B2A, and C2A, are conducted online. For eg: people making purchases on virtual platforms such as Amazon.

- I-commerce – Internet Commerce: A subset of E-commerce, which is limited to software elements that make it easier for businesses to buy & sell products over internet.

- VR-commerce – Virtual Reality Commerce: User can “enter” virtual rooms with the corresponding hardware.

Some of these concepts & terminologies were not known to the students, so they were quite inquisitive to know more. Mr. Vivek too very diligently explained these concepts to the audience with equal passion.

 

Brainstorming discussion:

Towards the end of the session, the students were encouraged to ask questions. By this time, quite interesting, as the audience was equally involved and were putting up various questions before the expert. The speaker satisfied everyone’s inquisitiveness with an insightful answer. Not only the answers resolved our doubts and queries, but also it made us more curious about what different kinds of technologies we can incorporate, and how can big Indian players enter foreign markets, or how will the automation impact workforce in the future.

As productive and engaging as this session was, it finally came to an end, with everyone craving for more time, to ask more questions, delve deeper into the discussion, and explore more topics. After all, isn’t it wonderful to learn about some outlets using robots to greet & serve their customers? Or the plans of corporates to use artificial intelligence in retailing? Or how retailers pick their niche?

No matter how much time has passed, and what progress each sector has made, one thing that is central to marketing, is that we believe in treating our consumers like our god – we cater products to them that are relevant, at most affordable prices and in least problematic manner, and THIS is where retailing comes into picture – looking after prices & demands, and ensuring timely supplies & deliveries by removing as many blocks from the supply chain as is possible, which was all stressed upon brilliantly by Mr. Vivek.

The students of RMM felt grateful to the management, faculties, and the Alumni department to get an opportunity to learn as well as explore new concepts and could listen to first-hand experience of new developments taking place at an international level. The session was concluded with a vote of thanks from students and graceful words spoken by faculty members, and we hope to see ITM conduct more such sessions in future as well!