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Marketer Spotlight: Demystifying Omnichannel Marketing in Retail with Sreekanth Chetlur

  • Updated: 11 November 2020
  • 6 min read

Editor’s note: Marketer Spotlight is a series of blog interviews focused on sharing insights and best practices from marketing leaders on the various aspects of marketing in a digital world. In our latest edition, Sreekanth Chetlur, the head of eCommerce & Omnichannel of Matahari Department Store, tells us how important is omnichannel marketing for the retail business and what they do get it right.

MoEngage: Tell us a little about yourself and your company.

Sreekanth: I would call myself an unorthodox digital nomad :-). I have been in the digital space for over a decade, involved in business transformations across start-ups and multi-billion dollar enterprises and have been lucky enough to be part of the start of Digital Revolution journey across mega markets like India, Middle-East and South-East Asia.

Currently, I am heading the digital division for the Matahari Department Store (MDS), one of the biggest department store chains in Indonesia. I am responsible for driving the e-commerce and omnichannel business for MDS by integrating digital technology with the retail experience and by providing a seamless and consistent experience to customers across all the channels.

Our vision is to be the biggest omnichannel retailer in Indonesia that drives towards utmost customer experience. We have a very young and super-enthusiastic team that is very optimistic about the future of retail, or as I would call - the New Age Retail of the Indonesian market which is one of the fastest-growing internet economies in the world.

We kick-started our digital journey in Q4, 2018. So far, it has been a fantastic ride for us. We have seen our MAU (Monthly Active Users), DAU (Daily Active Users), Sessions, App Engagement, NPS (Net Promoter Score), and sales go 2X from inception. We also saw a healthy trend of returning customers too. We have ensured all of this by keeping a sustainable growth plan in projection and by driving positive gross margins and maintaining our overall expenses down. We await a lot of learning, and some super exciting builds for the coming quarters which would truly revolutionize and create superior experiences for Matahari customers.

In my spare time, I consult a lot of Digital start-ups, do key-note presentations at various seminars across countries, love to read business books and travel; Indonesia is the perfect place, I believe :).

What does omnichannel marketing mean in its truest sense to retail businesses? 

I think omnichannel marketing is a highly overused term. It can mean multiple things. A business must, therefore, introspect and figure out what can really work for them both in terms of increasing brand equity or conversions instead of blindly adopting what worked in other businesses or regions.

Marketer Spotlight Demystifying Omnichannel Marketing in Retail | MoEngage

We at MDS, believe marketing has to be channel-agnostic. We have seen that our customers perform 8-12 interactions with us across multiple touchpoints before the final conversion. Be it our evergreen or tactical campaigns; we ensure that the marcoms are highly targeted and personalized to make better unit economics and drive higher ROI/ROAS.

Working on a data repository and getting a single view of customers also helps us to understand the customer lifetime value across brick and mortar and online channels, which further helps us to provide a much superior and targeted 1:1 experience.

Customers identify a brand and expect a seamless experience across channels, so we see an opportunity to help customers discover and experience the brand across various channels in a simple and intuitive manner without leaving any stone unturned.

Why is it important to get omnichannel marketing right? 

Marketer Spotlight Demystifying Omnichannel Marketing in Retail | MoEngage

With so many customer touchpoints available to us, marketing, in general, can be overwhelming. The business has to be smart enough to ensure that marketing campaigns are better leveraged by all channels not only to make it commercially viable but to also provide a consistent experience to customers, in general, keeping the brand experience at the forefront.

Take a look at these omnichannel strategies and win-over the digital consumer of today.

What are some of the challenges that marketers overlook when they implement an omnichannel strategy? 

Some of the major challenges that marketers ignore include - not fully leveraging on the core assets or strengths of the offline/existing business. This could turn out to be the biggest mistake while implementing an omnichannel strategy. This is especially true for brick and mortar retailers who are trying to go digital and drive omnichannel retail. It is important to make good use of the overall offline store network such as having a single view of inventory, driving Buy Online, Pick up in-store (BOPIS), Buy Online Return in Store (BORIS ), in-store branding, etc.

It is equally crucial to set up training programs for the store associates and fair incentive programs, run joint marketing campaigns with the offline network by fully embracing and implementing the loyalty program seamlessly.

What are the key marketing channels that you integrate into your omnichannel customer experience? Can you share a few examples of how to get this right?

We see our customers interact with us on various channels, so we need to target them to not only improve our brand equity but also to run tactical campaigns effectively.

We follow the A.A.A.R model - Awareness, Acquisition, Activation, and Retention as per our marketing mix, wherein CRM, be it emails/push is used more for activation and retention, and  Google ads and Facebook ads are used for prospecting and remarketing. We also target mobile app users with enticing real-time push to drive interaction as soon as they enter a geo-fence area, making it a massive opportunity for driving business.

However, more importantly, it is targeting the in-store footfall and our loyalty program, which is very effective for us and has reduced our cost of acquisitions.

It is also important that businesses acknowledge and give special treatment to their loyal customers and keep them engaged. The investment/affordability from engaging the existing customers can be useful in acquiring new customers and maintaining the overall equilibrium intact for sustainable growth.

What are the key metrics that you measure as the Omnichannel Head at Matahari?

I would measure a lot of metrics in the past that were more or less related to each other. However, it became difficult to track and control. So now, I have limited myself to the three most important metrics - NPS, Customer Lifetime Value, and Commercials.

Marketer Spotlight Demystifying Omnichannel Marketing in Retail | MoEngage

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) is used at multiple stages of the customer journey, and if rolled out well, it can be a testament to the brand's influence on customers. Not just the rating, you get some amazing feedback from customers too, which can be actioned.

  • Customer Lifetime Value is a very critical element to measure in omnichannel retail. With customers using multiple touchpoints to experience the brand, it is important to know how the engagement is done across channels, how commercially sound it is, and how the end-to-end journey is mapped.

  • When I talk about commercials, there are various elements in it, such as the growth in topline, Gross Profit, OPEX, EBITDA, etc. These are all derivatives of sessions, conversions, AOV (Average Order Value), UPT (Units per transaction), etc.

Here's how brands have implemented cross-channel data to improve customer retention and loyalty.

What is your advice to mobile and omnichannel marketers trying to drive a seamless experience?

Firstly, marketers must understand that it's a journey where they will learn from mistakes. They must learn to execute quickly based on multiple factors such as - the right strategy, people, technology, board and investor’s confidence, and support.

There is also an issue with the availability of data. It is fragmented. Hence, one may not be able to use it effectively. Sometimes, the marketers may have available data in the repository but may not possess an automation tool to monetize it.

We have some channel that can be easily measured and some which cannot, so understanding the right mix is extremely crucial. Depending upon the budget, marketers can split the expenses spent on various channels. 

Identifying the biggest pain or opportunity is the most critical element. Set up a strategy to solve that pain point and involve people, technology, and infrastructure in your roadmap to solve it within strict timelines.

Driving seamless experience for customers and implementing omnichannel retail cannot be done in silos, so gain the confidence of your management and investor confidence and work cross-functional with the various teams within the organization to implement a successful campaign. Make omnichannel marketing a measurable KPI for the relevant teams to drive the change and make it successful and time-bound.

Marketer Spotlight Demystifying Omnichannel Marketing in Retail | MoEngage

Always gets the basics right. Build the right foundation and solve some initial problems to get the momentum going and to get the board’s encouragement. Provide incremental value to your customers, management, and investors to drive sustainable growth.

Thank You, Sreekanth, for sharing your insights on how to use omnichannel marketing in retail to deliver a seamless customer experience. Marketers – Is there someone you’d like us to feature in our Marketer Spotlight series? What topics would you recommend for our next feature? We invite your recommendations and feedback via the Comments section below.

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About The Author
Akshatha Kamath leads content marketing at MoEngage. She's one of "LinkedIn Content 50", has been recently featured on the list of "The Most Influential Content Marketing Professional" by World Marketing Congress and is among the “100 Fastest Growing Marketers” identified by Adobe. She is a content marketing specialist with close to 12 years of experience in writing, strategizing, and managing content for various organizations. Before MoEngage, she’s steered content marketing teams for companies like Simplilearn, Vizury, and Conzerv helping them with content, brand, and communication strategies that are aligned with their business goals. Akshatha volunteers with AMA SF as a writer. She is also a published author with publications such as Clickz, Digital Market Asia, Get Elastic, and e27. She is an avid reader and a traveler who enjoys experiencing the flavors of life in different places.
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