Former State Bank of India chief and Salesforce India’s CEO Arundhati Bhattacharya’s own shopping experiences have proved to her that combining digital and brick-and-mortar intelligently is the way for brands to create superlative customer experiences and amass a loyal user base.
Putting into context, she said the pandemic certainly accelerated online shopping as proved by the surging UPI transactions. But, the retired banker pointed out, offline buying is also growing as cash in circulation in the system currently thrice as much as what it used to be at the time demonetisation.
Speaking about how she likes to uplift herself by going to retail stores when she feels a little low, Bhattacharya recalled that seeing a counter stocked with colourful lipsticks shades instantly improved her spirits compared to a clothing store filled with humdrum shades of blue, black and greys.
“Digital can’t wipe out physical,” the chief of the cloud-based software company said at the WPP Commerce event in Mumbai on Wednesday.
As an example of how brands can integrate digital experiences, she also recounted another shopping trip to the US when she only had a few hours before catching a flight. The clothing brand she regularly buys from had stocked the trial room with options based on her past purchase history, making the process very smooth for Bhattacharya. “I told myself I would go back to this store where I need not do all the hard lifting," she said.
"Products or service can be replicated in 3-4 months. What cannot be replicated is customer experience,” she said, adding that brands which put together data, digital and physical intelligently to offer hyper personalisation will be able to stay ahead of competition and amass a loyal user base.
At Salesforce India, she said, they are trying to create phygital experiences for one of their clients Titan as well. “There is a huge unmet demand opportunity in India and consumers out there are waiting to have their demands met. All of it cannot be done through brick-and-mortar because it’s too costly.” But adopting a partly physical and partly digital approach or what is being called ‘phygital’ can ensure a loyal following, she said.
She also added the Indian government's new e-commerce initiative Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) platform has already given brands a solid footing to build open and create specific use cases and experiences. The government-backed Open Network for Digital Commerce, launched in April 2022, looks to leverage the country's e-commerce market, currently dominated by US-based e-tailer Amazon and Walmart-backed Flipkart.
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