Thank Alibaba for Revamping Your Omnichannel Strategy
3. Amazon will strike back big time. Regardless of the "ifs and whens" of Alibaba's foray into North America, expect Amazon, the 800-pound gorilla of e-commerce, to up its game on flexible delivery and omnichannel retailing. Retailers should be proactive and get ahead by using their brick-and-mortar stores to offer customers better delivery and pick-up options, like the ingenious yet simple grocery pick-up points that Shop & Stop has been deploying in the Northeast.
4. Bicycles might be more effective than drones. While Amazon threatens to crowd our skies with unmanned drones, Chinese retailers like Jingdong and Alibaba's Taobao have been offering same-day and next-day delivery through the efficient use of multiple transportation modes (e.g., public transport and bicycles) for different stages in the same trip. Simplicity is the key. North American retailers will do well to focus on the so-called back of the house — i.e., the basic capabilities of merchandising, single view of inventory and flexible fulfillment.
Get ready for some exciting developments in retailing this summer. Alibaba's IPO is a signal to retailers to get serious about the online-to-offline strategy. Retailers that invest in back-office capabilities and offer simple yet innovative options to customers will be tomorrow's big winners.
Girish Pai is AVP, client services for retail, CPG and logistics at Infosys, a provider of business consulting, IT, software engineering and outsourcing services.