How Experiential Loyalty Enhances Customer Advocacy

How Experiential Loyalty Enhances Customer Advocacy

It is an open secret that brands invest significant revenue to nurture loyal customers (research shows over 70% of brands invest more than 2% of total revenue)— after all, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.  Today more companies than ever have loyalty programs, estimated to be growing at 9% a year.

But there is another elusive type of customer that brands vie for even more – the advocate.

The term ‘customer advocacy’ should make brands lean in with rapt attention. They are the people who evangelize your brand to their family, friends, and colleagues. Customer advocates contribute to a higher CLV (Customer Lifetime Value), improve brand awareness, and they grow your revenue when they share the incredible experiences they had with your brand. Sound familiar? You might be wondering — aren’t all loyalty programs supposed to be driving higher sales and boosting brand affinity through positive reviews and word of mouth marketing?

In an ideal world, the answer is ‘yes’. A strong loyalty program must also drive customer advocacy. Even though there are more loyalty programs now, the number of customers who actively participate in them continues to remain at only about 50%, highlighting that there is scope for improvement in most programs.

Overwhelming evidence shows that Customer Expectations have changed in the last decade or so. Customers’ behavior and purchase journeys have become increasingly complex and non-linear, but unfortunately retailers are still stuck with a one-dimensional view of customer loyalty. According to research from a global tech consultancy, 97% of loyalty programs rely on transactional rewards, but 77% of transaction-based programs fail in the first two years. The harsh truth is the loyalty programs from the by-gone era simply don’t cut it anymore. To go beyond discounts, brands need to reward loyal members with memorable experiences. This creates an emotional loyalty to your brand far more often.

What Is Experiential Loyalty— and why does it work?

An ‘experientially loyal consumer’ is one who finds personal symbolic meanings in the act of consuming and investing in a brand, and engages around these meanings individually or as a community— in the pursuit of identity (as defined in a research paper by SAGE publication).

Experiential loyalty should go beyond transactions to focus on the larger customer experience and values. Its application can be found across various industries, from supermarkets to high-end fashion brands. For example, the popular American wholesale-retailer Costco charges an annual membership, but helps their die-hard loyalty customers make wise financial decisions beyond just groceries, by offering their own pharmacy, eyewear store, liquor store, fuel stations, and so much more. In more recent years, they’ve successfully been offering ecommerce options. Similarly, Indian companies like ‘Big Basket’ flourish by combining great price deals with the convenience of creating and delivering your grocery list.

Of course, not every grocery store can imitate Costco or Big Basket. But remember your favorite corner store as a college student, the one you could spend hours at with your friends? The memorable ones value their customers, and create experiences— whether it is by serving hot meals when we need it, or delivering groceries when we’re a desperate tied-up parent. Some brands, like US-Canada-based QSR ‘Panera Bread’, state their values clearly in their restaurants and online— making fresh healthy food, with emphasis on high-quality ingredients locally sourced from farmers. Recognizing the importance of omnichannel experiential loyalty, Panera offers a card-based loyalty program (an impressive 50 percent of company transactions occur on MyPanera cards) and a mobile app, and rewards its customers with free food items, tasty nutritious meal recipes, invitations to special events, and more.

The goal of experiential loyalty is to create a unique bond with your best customers by allowing them to enjoy exclusive experiences that are hard to replicate anywhere else. This could include anything from concerts, backstage passes, private events, celebrity meet and greets, personalized products, exclusive training workshops, and so much more. Experiential loyalty boils down to activities, not mere items.

In many cases, experiential rewards rely on FOMO — people’s “fear of missing out.” When people share their best experiences with their friends and family, either in person or through social media, it can powerfully motivate other consumers to learn more about your brand and experience it for themselves, driven by the fear of missing out or the yearning to be part of something exclusive. This grows your market reach by leaps, and your program instantly becomes more valuable. While transactional rewards and dollar savings attract consumers most frequently, it’s the experiential rewards that create long-term impact. The transactional rewards that most loyalty programs offer are rarely unique, but that’s not the case with experiential rewards. The experience your brand provides loyal customers must be different from what other brands can provide.

Combining transactional benefits and experiential benefits is the best way to engage the most consumers with your brand. And keep in mind that excessive transactional and discount-based rewards can have the opposite effect of experiential rewards— it will dilute the perceived value of the brand. Good transactional rewards make your customers feel smart, where experiential rewards let them feel special.

Here are some of the key points of experiential loyalty:

  1. Emotional Rewards: Create remarkable non-discount rewards, such as personalized experiences, value-driven engagement and exclusive services, to help customers feel appreciated and valued.
  2. Reflect your brand’s value: Align your brands values while creating experiences to attract the interests and passions of your customers. Understand the interests of consumers by leveraging relevant transaction history and a single view of the customer across all channels of interaction
  3. Unique Experiences: Unique brand experiences spark heightened customer engagement and build advocacy that permeates throughout a customer’s network, allowing you to build deeper relationships with your customers. Today, many customers (including 72% of Millennials today) choose to spend money on experiences over products
  4. Keep it exclusive, Optimize costs: Depending on how elaborate your reward is, experiential rewards can rack up a heavier cost than traditional transactional rewards. It may make financial sense to offer the high-end perks only to your very best customers — which also lends exclusivity to the experience. Less expensive experiences can be offered to lower tier groups, and the rewards steadily grow for each loyalty tier. Consumers who participate in top loyalty programs are 80% more likely to choose that brand over its competitors, and two times more likely to recommend it to others.
  5. Perfect Timing: Although often overlooked, timing in marketing (just like in comedy) should be perfected— especially by those with small teams and smaller budgets. Brands must be aware of any social movement affecting their products or their customer segments, and modify their message and product accordingly. Additionally, by leveraging digital data and engagement trends, brands must understand when their customers pay the most attention, engage, and make purchases. Marketers can also utilize technologies like geofencing, and send coupons, push notifications or engage when customers enter a certain location area.

Examples of Experiential Loyalty

Sephora: Although the beauty retailer Sephora began as a simple points-based loyalty program, it has now expanded to a community that motivates members to share tutorials, and engage with other makeup enthusiasts and professionals. Sephora’s mobile app even uses augmented reality so members can virtually test products on themselves. Sephora offers free samples of beauty products to loyalty members of all tiers, which strengthens their own loyalty program while promoting other brands. But perhaps the best aspect of Sephora’s experiential loyalty program? For higher-tiered members, they offer one-on-one makeup consultations with professionals.

The North Face provides their loyalty members with tailored rewards for their lifestyles. As part of their VIPeak program, customers can earn points through traditional methods like making purchases, as well as through less traditional ways like attending events, checking-in at certain locations, downloading the company’s app, and more. However, the most captivating factor of The North Face’s experiential loyalty program is the vast array of choices they offer when members redeem their reward. Customers can use their points toward unique travel adventures like mountain climbing in Nepal or excursions in Alaska.

Sony uses their Ultimate Rewards and ShowStoppers rewards program to take their customer experience to the next level. These rewards are larger than life experiences that allow customers to use their points to bid on various exclusive experiences, from Hollywood premieres, to sporting events, to sold-out concerts. Sony allows their customers a shot at making their dreams come true— if they bid the highest!  This added level of gamification empowers the consumer to define their own value of an experience. All these factors have set Sony’s Loyalty Program a class apart.


Experiential loyalty really comes down to the fact that when you give customers a positive memorable experience, you create an emotional tie that keeps customers coming back for more. Experiential loyalty programs should offer tailored unique rewards to make customers feel important. This can evoke a much stronger and longer-lasting connection with your customer than transactional benefits— one that gets them to relive their happiness with friends and loved ones, and turn into an advocate for your brand.

The above study is jointly contributed by Maninder Singh (Business Head – Retail & CPG at Tech Mahindra), Suman K Shantaram (Store Consultant RCG Vertical Tech Mahindra), Gaurav Mehta – VP and Global Head, Alliances and Analysts Relations at Capillary Technologies and Rebecca George (Executive Copywriter at Capillary Technologies)

Ecommerce landscape in the Middle East: a Mirage or an Oasis?

Ecommerce landscape in the Middle East: a Mirage or an Oasis?

According to many retail industry experts, and talking heads, the Middle East and Africa region is going to be the next big growth market for ecommerce. The gulf region especially, is being touted as the market that’s set to grow exponentially within the next couple of years. Infact, according to PayFort, the Middle East ecommerce market would grow to $69 billion by 2020, almost doubling in size in just a few years. According to Statista, overall growth across the Middle East and Africa would be at a CAGR of 11% in the next four years (2018-2022).

Well this is all good, but what’s the current scenario of e-commerce in the Middle East? An oft quoted Gartner study stated that, in 2016, only 15% business in the Middle East had any online commerce presence and back then, 90% of online purchases made by residents were from foreign businesses. Forbes Middle East says that currently only 2% of retail in the Middle East took place online, despite the region having one of the best internet penetration rates in the world.

The potential for e-commerce definitely exists in the Middle East. Let’s take a closer look at the factors that are favourable for growth, challenges the region faces, key markets in the region, key players in these markets and buying behaviour of consumers in these markets.

Fueling e-commerce growth

The Middle East and especially the gulf region, benefits from high spending potential as the region boasts of a high per capita income. The fact that the internet penetration and social media penetration is also some of the best in the world means Middle East is ripe for online business.

A 2017 We Are Social and Hootsuite study says, UAE has the world’s highest social media penetration, while Saudi Arabia had the highest social media user growth in the world. Deloitte shared similar findings in 2017 which stated social media penetration of 99% in UAE and Qatar, and 73% YoY growth in Saudi Arabia.

The Middle East region has one of the highest social media penetration in the world with 99% in UAE and Qatar, and 73% YoY growth in Saudi Arabia

When it comes to internet penetration, the region is again, well above the global average of 51.7%, with more than 60% of the population using the internet according to Deloitte’s Going Digital Report. UAE especially leads here as well with more than 80% internet penetration in the state which is again, one of the highest in the entire world. If you look at the MENA region as a whole, the internet penetration there has been rising rapidly at 15% YoY. Smartphone penetration is also unusually high in the region. For example, in Saudi Arabia, 9 out of 10 people use a smartphone and most of them use it to go online. The great cellular connectivity in the region also helps.


High social media, internet penetration and connectivity is only one side of the story when it comes to the potential of ecommerce in the Middle East. Another side is favourable regulations for online commerce, especially in the GCC. Let’s take the case of UAE where the government actively participates in making it easier for tech businesses to operate out of the region. For example, in the UAE, new e-commerce regulations from the Dubai Free Zones Council were made to promote more foreign direct investment into the ecommerce sector in Dubai and help make Dubai, more attractive for ecommerce companies. The city also boasts of neighbourhoods such as CommerCity, which is a $735 million project that’s dedicated to ecommerce and located right next to the Dubai airport. This is apart from Internet City in Dubai, that according to reports is already full and is going to be expanded soon. Such initiatives are also under development in other countries in the GCC. What’s also interesting is the growing popularity of e-governance in these countries which shows how both the government and its citizens are very comfortable going online to get various tasks done.

Challenges to e-commerce

One of the primary challenges when it comes to e-commerce in the Middle East and the GCC is the lack of area codes, which can hamper last mile delivery. The big problem to solve for many ecommerce and logistics companies is to bring down the time and cost to deliver in the region, as most consumers have also suggested that the delivery time is the biggest deal-breaker for them when it comes to buying online.

Digital payments is another area where the region lags behind when compared to developed markets. Except for the UAE, other countries in the middle east are yet to completely adopt online and mobile payments. Cash on Delivery is still a primary mode of payment in the region, which brings up the cost of operations for ecommerce players. It can make up around 70% of all ecommerce transactions in Saudi Arabia according to consultancy Hall & Partners.

Markets that’re driving commerce in the Middle East

When we look at key markets in the GCC, two of them come into the forefront. One is UAE, the other is Saudi Arabia. In North Africa, Egypt is one of the biggest markets that has a huge potential to growth in the future. Although Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar also have strong ecommerce presence and growth, the relatively small population in these countries means that their contribution to the overall region numbers is also relatively small.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE is one of the largest and most mature markets in the Middle East today for ecommerce. According to PayFort it was valued at $27 Billion in 2016. BMI states that by 2020, the market would be worth 45.6% of the total Middle East market. Great infrastructure, ease of doing business, and a tech savvy, cosmopolitan population with high spending power makes the country very favourable for online commerce.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is also a huge market for ecommerce in the Middle East, with the same PayFort study valuing it at $22 Billion in 2016. Growth in the market though could be gradual when compared to UAE and other countries in the GCC. This is primarily because of lack of retail infrastructure and government initiatives that aim to promote ecommerce and other tech businesses. The ‘Saudization’ scheme by the government is also said to make it a little more difficult for international brands and businesses to make a mark in the country, although national businesses may get a boost due to this. By 2020, BMI says that the Saudi Arabian ecommerce market could be 29.1% of the region.


Egypt has had a storied ecommerce history, having established some of the region’s firsts, such as online food ordering way back in 1999 with Otlob. Yet, ecommerce penetration in the country is still at a nascent stage. A study by the country’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) said that, ecommerce only comprised 0.4% of the total retail trade in Egypt. But this is also set to go up very quickly, as the region has one of the largest population of internet users in the Arab world. The MCIT is also committed to the growth of ecommerce in the region, with policy and development being focused towards this cause, making the market very attractive for ecommerce players.

Who are the Middle East’s biggest ecommerce players

Apart from various brands and their ecommerce stores, there are a few prominent ecommerce marketplaces in the Middle East. The biggest is, which had 50 million customers and operated out of all the countries in the GCC, when Amazon acquired them in 2017. The same year, another regional upstart, was launched by Mohamed Alabbar, the chairman of Emaar. Namshi, Ali Express, and Ebay etc., are other prominent marketplaces in the region.

UAE: Souq, Nahel, Sukar, JadoPado

Saudi Arabia: Ali Express, Amazon, eBay, Souq

Qatar: Amazon, Lulu, Souq, IKEA

Oman: Lulu, Ali Express, Souq

Kuwait: Xcite, Ubuy, Souq

Bahrain: JadoPado, Alshop, Souq, Namshi

Egypt: Jumia, Souq

When it comes to food delivery, some of the popular players in the region are Talabat, Deliveroo, MakeMyMeal, Otlob etc.

Consumer behaviour in the Middle East

How many are buying online

According to survey portal Statista, ecommerce user penetration in the Middle East and Africa region stood at 54.6% in 2018 and would grow to 58.8% by 2022.


Who is buying online

PwC’s Total Retail Survey, 2017 took an in depth look at buying trends in the Middle East. They found out that younger people were more likely to shop online in the region, with 36% of those who were aged between 18-24 shopped online, at least once a month, when compared to only 13% of those who were aged 55 years or more. According to Hall & Partners, there is a significant number of women in the UAE who prefer to shop online, with around a third of those surveyed buying something online, every week. Similar stories are reflected across the mature markets of the Middle East.

Around a third of women in the UAE buy something online every week

Why are they buying online

The motivation to buy online differs for different markets and different demographics, however when we look at the broader trends, we can see that the lower price of goods online was the biggest driving factor towards an online purchase as 40% consumers stated that as their major motivational factor according to PwC’s Total Retail 2017. 31% also said that greater product selection was a factor towards their purchase. Suprisingly, only 17% said that convenience was a factor for shopping online. This could be mainly due to higher delivery times, and a prevalent ‘mall culture’ in the Middle East, although the trend is gradually changing as it becomes easier to shop online and as the quality of service increases.

What are they buying online

According to  PwC’s Total Retail 2017, these were the major categories when it comes to e-commerce in the Middle East. Books, music, movies and video games category lead with 54% of those surveyed shopping online here. This was followed by Health and Beauty at 48% and Consumer, electronics and computer – 44%. Jewellery and Watches, Clothing and Footwear stood at 42% and 41% respectively, whereas Furniture and Homeware, Household Appliances stood at 35% and 31% respectively. Surprisingly, online groceries were a category that wasn’t as popular yet in the region with only 27% of people admitting to buying them online.

How are they buying online

56% of Middle Eastern shoppers were on mobile devices while shopping online and 52% of them were influenced by social media reviews while making a purchase. Although PwC states that 80% of Middle Eastern Ecommerce sales were paid for through Cash On Delivery, UAE is again an outlier here, as according to, over 60% of their transactions were through credit cards.

56% of Middle East shops on mobile devices and 52% of shoppers are influenced by social media

Trust is an important factor for consumers buying in the Middle East as 62% of them were concerned about their personal information getting leaked online. 60% consumers were more likely to buy from brands they trusted, and 32% remain loyal to their favourite retailer because of their trust in the brand.

48% consumers had also stated that they were influenced to make repeat purchases because of the attractive offers that were communicated to them. Social media was another influential channel where 48% consumers were engaged through promotions.

Hence having a trustworthy, secure and mobile friendly online ordering platform is important in the region. Cross-channel engagement campaigns with strong social media strategies is also something ecommerce operations in EMEA must adopt.

Having a trustworthy, secure and mobile friendly ecommerce platform is imporant in the Middle East as 62% consumers were concerned about personal information being leaked online and 60% were more likely to buy from brands they trusted.

Future trends when it comes to Ecommerce in the Middle East


Language and localisation are very important aspects of commerce in the Middle East as even the Arabic dialect can vary widely across markets. Brands have slowly started to understand this and have started to model their online presence according to each market’s preferences.


High Technology

The Middle Eastern market is also going to reflect similar tech trends as other markets across the globe, with increasing use of big data analytics, artificial intelligence, chatbots, faster delivery means, mobile payments, and omnichannel retailing, all used to aide commerce. With the increase of tech companies in the region, the sharing economy and subsequently, the internet economy would also see a significant rise in the Middle East. Cloud services are another area where the region saw rapid growth, with the market growing by 22% according to Gulf News.

The Middle East’s omnichannel future

With the young, tech savvy population, high smartphone and internet penetration and well established retail network, we can see that retail in Middle East is going to grow across channels. Ecommerce and brick & mortar retail would work at helping each channel sell more as more mature markets across the world have shown. Retailers today must focus on getting online and making consumer experience seamless and connected across all channels to unlock their next phase of growth.

How to go omnichannel in the Middle East

Being present across marketplaces

As a brand, it’s important today to have presence in the major marketplaces in the Middle East. Marketplaces such as Souq, Noon, Namshi, eBay, Amazon etc. can be a great way to reach more consumers and increase sales. Marketplace enablement solutions that help you to list, sell and process orders across multiple marketplaces, from a single dashboard, can make it very easy to do so.

Having your brand’s own ecommerce site

Ecommerce consumers in the Middle East are not just restricted to purchase from online marketplaces, but increasingly are buying directly from the brands that they trust. Hence it’s important to establish your own brand website early and extend your offline business to online channels. Today, you could be missing out on sales without having cross channel presence. Setting up your ecommerce website could be the first step you take towards making your business consumer ready for today and future ready for tomorrow. Let’s see what are some important factors you should take into consideration while choosing the right ecommerce platform for your website.


Making consumer experience seamless

You must ensure you are providing your consumers with the easiest possible purchase experience online. This means fast intuitive, responsive consumer websites and mobile ready ‘app like experiences’ on Progressive Web Apps. Offering multiple checkout options such as click and collect, or home delivery, is also important and so are seamless payments through the consumer’s preferred payment method.

Being ready to extend and grow

Your ecommerce platform must allow you to be agile and extensible so your business is completely future ready. Fast go-to-market time, multi-country, language, and currency support is a must have for running commerce in regions as diverse as the Middle East. Allowing business users to easily set-up and run websites and promotions without help from IT is also a helpful addition. Having ready integrations with POS, logistics, payment gateways, ERPs, etc. could go a long way into making operations smoother and easier.

Personalising experiences & socialising engagement

Consumers today expect relevant and personalised experiences while they shop. Your ability to deliver on these personalised experiences to your visitors, starting from the look and feel of your website, to the products that are on display to them could have a dramatic effect on conversions. Personalised engagements and promotions can also increase visits and sales. You also need to look into availability of services such as Conversion Rate Optimisation, Search Engine Optimisation, Digital and Social Media Marketing to reach your consumers and convert them.

Making your business easy to operate

An easy to use platform with intuitive UI that allows you to create, upload and manage product catalogs, website content, and promotions, with simple drag and drop functionality can help ease day to day operations by allowing any business user to make changes on the website quickly. A sophisticated order management system on the other hand can make order processing and fulfilment, quick and efficient. Ability to easily reconcile accounts, refunds and manage tax compliance across regions are also important while running ecommerce business across the Middle East.


Ensuring consumer trust

Finally, your ecommerce platform needs to be completely scalable, having the ability to auto adjust to handle any traffic or order volume. Having good stability and uptime is also important to ensure your site is always available to your consumers. Speaking of consumers, keeping private and identifiable consumer data and payment data secure is really important today, especially in the Middle East where trust is known to be a significant aspect of loyalty when shopping online. Hence you should give utmost importance to the security capabilities of your platform.

To understand more about your ecommerce opportunities, ecommerce technology or to get more tips and tricks on ecommerce, speak to an expert today.

Key takeaways from the Future of { Intelligence + Omnichannel } Delhi

Key takeaways from the Future of { Intelligence + Omnichannel } Delhi

On Friday, May 26th more than 50 CxOs from over 40 brands came together to Share, Learn & Decode at the Future of (Intelligence + Omnichannel} (FIO) in Gurugram. The Delhi leg of Capillary’s flagship event provided a great deal of “food for thought” to the attendees, thanks to the brilliant line-up of speakers who were present.

The panel discussion which was moderated by Fortune India’s Digital Editor, Mansi Kapur, included Anand Narang, VP-Marketing, Bata India, Ashish Agarwal, E-commerce Head & CIO, Pizza Hut, Karan Kumar, Head- Brand & Marketing, Fabindia as panelists.

Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India delivered an eloquent keynote at FIO Delhi while Gunender Kapur, CEO, Vishal Mega Mart & Harminder Sahni, Founder, Wazir Advisors had a friendly conversation in a Fireside Chat at the event.

Decoding the future was the main concern in these discussions. The following are some of the key takeaways from them.

1) While Omnichannel is about providing a great customer experience, Intelligence is about making it relevant and personal

2) Today’s customers want the perfect integration between the digital and the physical world

3) Personalization, Conversational Commerce, Unified Experience, and Convenience are the 4 key factors a modern customer expects while choosing a particular retail point

4) The future belongs to the brave. It belongs to brands who have a long-term view and are ready to innovate, fail and WIN

5) Futuristic technologies will only become relevant if it works according to the context of the customers, their needs and wants

From order placement over voice recognition to AI lead business insights for decision makers, every new and upcoming technology that’s shaping the near future of retail was dissected. At Capillary, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with 300+ large brands across 30+ countries in helping them decode the Future. We are more excited now than we were when we started our journey 8+ years ago to build new products that will help brands leapfrog.

The Future of Retail Software is Here!

The Future of Retail Software is Here!

This article was originally published on CIO Review May 2017 Issue.

Today, the success of retailers not only hinges on a seamless shopping experience but also how well consumer activity is tracked, recorded and used. Customers today have more power and choices than ever before, and expect the best user experience both online and offline. With these developments in the background, the retail industry today seems to be on the cusp of both industrial and customer revolution.

With its complex and diverse business processes and requirements, the retail segment has exhibited immense dynamism, despite which, the segment is faced with a myriad of challenges such as countering multiple disruptive technologies and increasingly demanding digital-customers.

Factoring in these developments with the swiftly changing environment, the CIOs and CXOs need to walk hand in hand with the technological and operational evolution. Needing to focus on changing the business rather than simply running the business, with a strong focus on innovation.

Revolutionizing the retail segment, there have been some retail players who have already looked out for their evolution. Aimed at getting future ready, these retailers are launching new store formats combined with multiple selling channels viz. Kiosks, Online, and Call Centers etc. They not only have multiple selling channels, but they are also offering seamless shopping experiences through every channel, transforming retail organizations into a truly omnichannel business.  Having made the allowance for such evolution, there are certain technological trends that will continue evolving and leading the segment.

The Omnichannel Customer Experience

Customer experience is becoming a key differentiator for retailers, over price and product. Retailers continue to invest in newer channels and assess the ROI on each of them. However, with each additional channel, managing seamless customer experience across different touch points becomes progressively difficult.

Seamless customer experience across channels cannot be achieved unless one has a unified platform. That is the nexus for all customer experience. Many merchants realize the need for this; though most have admitted to not having the technological capabilities required to make it happen.

The disparate systems that operate in their own silos will no longer be preferred and with advancements in handheld devices and network infrastructure, unified systems on the cloud will evolve that will eliminate the need of multiple system integrations. Some of the forward-looking requirements are –

  • Single identity across channels
  • Unified order management
  • Single inventory visibility across stores, warehouses
  • Unified promotions, communication strategies, and channels
  • Unified analytics and insights

O2O (online-to-offline and vice-versa) is an integral part of the omnichannel strategy. Amazon Go in the US and Myntra’s brand store in India are classic examples of engaging with the customers across channels seamlessly.

Big Data for Consumers

In the omnichannel retail world, fragmented analytics will not suffice. A natural expectation with technology would be to gather, organize and analyze all kinds of data, namely, transactional, behavioral, price changes, store staff performance, footfalls, stock management, campaigns, and loyalty etc. across channels. With fragmented analytics, data to action analytics may take several days, causing business loss to the retailers.

In order to reduce time taken to arrive at actions, industry is moving towards predictive and prescriptive analytics with actionable insights from traditional diagnostic analytics For e.g., if the performance of a store is going down and it is less likely to hit the monthly target, the analytics tool should be able to make the store staff aware and suggest several corrective actions to achieve the target.

Software in Customer Delivery

Catering to the ever growing demands of consumers, in terms of product and service delivery, is another aspect that the retailers are focusing on today. Using technology, these retailers are making efforts to reduce waiting time by providing real-time delivery options, choices of a time slot, notifications by emails and SMS’s etc. However, led by evolution, retailers are using software like field service management for before-time workforce scheduling. They are also using route optimization software for swift deliveries. Consistently adding value to their services, retailers are introducing new delivery options for various channels such as click and collect, premium same day service, hyperlocal, etc. Taking these services a notch higher, retailers have now started focusing on one-hour delivery services as well.

CRM and Consumer Engagement Solutions

The success of a CRM strategy will depend on the ability of analytics data warehouse to provide automated actionable insights and will have the above expectation of unified data. CRM intelligence such as segmentation/micro-segmentation will be further refined on the unified data to better understand customer behavior and customer triggers that drive them to make a purchase. As the customer migrates to a different channel, CRM will understand and adjust accordingly. The customer engagement solutions will understand customer likes/dislikes at a deeper level and suggest marketing manager’s necessary adjustments.

Different retailers will have different success rates on different channels. The channel communication cost and ROI will be a useful feedback to assess the tradeoff between incremental sales and channel communication cost in addition to the cost of the transaction. CRM solutions will also largely head towards personalizing channels and effectively managing customer experience across channels. The channel engagement strategy will be personalized heavily based on customer’s past purchases and behavior.

Serving Every Order Through Inventory Management

Technology innovations, such as endless aisle, and in-store Kiosks that allow customers to order products, which are no longer in store, keeps retailers from loss of sale, besides improving the breadth of their inventory. With such technology, out-of-stock situations will become history.

Enabling Multifaceted Customer Payments

Offering quality products, accurate products, timely delivery, and range of products to choose from, although play an important role in the success of any retail business, a seamless, secure and convenient payment option nails it. Corresponding to such demands, some retailers have now started accepting multi tender, multi-currency, coupons and customer loyalty cards online. They also link verified customers to transactions for efficiency and security. These endeavors by retailers are making payment process more agile and seamless.

The Emergence of Artificial Intelligence

AI has a dual role to play in the retail segment, while at one end it gives a deeper understanding of individual customers, on the other end it is also facilitating deeper reasoning of the overall business performance.

To give a better perspective on things, AI at the customer level, aids in offering a personalized experience, taking customer engagement to newer heights. This consequently adds to the number of sales and loyalty for retailers. Likewise, at a business performance level, AI technology is enabling retailers to identify the exact reason, hindering better performance, which further aids in better decision-making. With such continuous evolution, the retail industry is certain to take over leading industries in India, particularly in terms of GDP.

Online vs Brick & Mortar

One of the most common question these days: “who will win the retail battle – e-commerce or the B&M stores?” has divided the entire world with solid arguments on both sides, but we may not have a clear answer or prediction at this point. The future may not have a single winner, but the gap between the online and offline is reducing to provide the best of both worlds.

Bringing the Two Worlds Closer

VR and AR on the brands’ web-front and mobile apps give customers an alternative to the offline store’s ‘touch and feel’ experience’. Ability to see store availability of the products on websites makes the inventory management more efficient- this concept of ‘reverse showrooming’ has seen a rapid growth in recent times, especially in large appliances, jewelry, electronics and furniture industry.

Similar innovations are seen in the B&M stores where they leverage the online counterpart to enrich the offline store experience. Virtual mirrors, endless aisle merchandising, seamless checkout etc. will take customer experience at stores to the next level. For retailers, the ability to capture offline store purchases and user behavior data would be a huge leap in gaining deep customer insights.

Enhancement in In-store Shopping Experience

The new technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision and Deep Learning will drive a radical shift in the way we interpret and capture data from the offline world, which until today was a big void for the offline retail managers to fill. There are many ways in which the offline or the in-store experience can be seen evolving in the near future.

The store traffic data will help brands plan the store staffs at the stores by predicting when and which stores will expect how many visitors, thereby providing better customer experience. It can also enable retail managers to tweak their sales pitch and optimize the merchandise and aisle placement by understanding the conversion rates across demographic segments and traffic hotspots within the store. At an individual level, the technology is not too far from correctly identifying a customer in the store’s vicinity, thus providing the store staff with a very customized and targeted guidance/instruction for every customer.

In totality, the way forward for the retailer is very clear- Technology. In the generation of an omnipresent consumer, being omnichannel is no more an option, but an imperative need. By focusing on a single channel, retailers stand to lose customers, and without being able to track their own customers they may be unable to provide a personalized shopping experience that today’s consumers demand. This lack of insight may also lead to delayed business decisions. By implementing these technological breakthroughs in their business, retailers stand to fulfill customer expectations and provide a rich and seamless buying experience, irrespective of channels. Retailers also gain from valuable insights that allow them to make informed decisions, which result in profitability and incremental returns.

“Thank you Retailers!” Says Capillary’s New Retail Associates Scholarship Program

“Thank you Retailers!” Says Capillary’s New Retail Associates Scholarship Program


Author: Varun Jain


In a turn to acknowledge the true makers of the retail industry, omnichannel and commerce-platform solution provider Capillary Technologies recently tied up with retail industry bodies Retailers Association of India (RAI) and Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN) to launch Capillary Scholar: a program aimed at providing a springboard for the retail store staff to graduate and climb the ladder in their career, empowering them to realize their true potential.

The scholarship program aims to fund bachelor programs in business administration (BBA) for 50 retail associates.

“The program aims to support retail associates so that their lives change for the better. Education is synonymous with empowerment and this is a small step towards the betterment of retail associates,” said Aneesh Reddy, co-founder and CEO at Capillary Technologies.

“We are proud to launch the initiative on Retail Employees Day (RED), a day dedicated for all the ever smiling store associates who make every shopping experience, a happy one”

According to BS Nagesh, founder of TRRAIN, the retail industry employs over 43 million people making it the second largest employer in India.

“Capillary Scholar program is in line with TRRAIN’s vision of empowering people in retail and working to achieve immediate and lasting change in the lives of retail associates in India. I wish Capillary Scholar Program grows leaps and bounds and touches thousands of retail associates,” Nagesh said.

“I believe Capillary Scholar program is a small step in creating knowledge-led manpower in the retail world,” feels Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO at RAI.

Survey: The Demographics of Nocturnal Shopping

Survey: The Demographics of Nocturnal Shopping

Curious about our customers, we recently conducted a study that revealed what online shoppers buy after 9pm in the evening.The study had taken into consideration top ten cities based on visitor count, including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Lucknow, Noida and Ahmedabad.

In the process, we realised that contrary to popular beliefs, the night shopper actually preferred desktops over mobile phones while shopping online. Even though 50% of total online shopping happens over mobile phones, desktops still rule with users spending 10% more time on it than the time spent on mobile phones. Buyers would also visit around 17% more pages on their desktops during the night.


In terms of apparel shopping, women were found to be far more active than men during the night, accounting for 63% with conversion time peaking between 10pm – 11pm. Moreover, while 18 – 34 year olds comprise the major chunk of online shoppers (more than 50%) at the same duration, a sizeable 35% of the shoppers are in the age group of 35 years and above.

CDIT (Consumer Durables and Information Technologies)

Here, we found men to be far more active shoppers than women at 72%, with visitors peaking at 9 pm. 50% of the shoppers are between the age group 18 – 34 years, while 22% are of the age group 35 and above.


Interestingly, the average purchase value of cosmetics is 1% higher during the 9pm – 9am slot when compared to 9am – 9pm one, with 76% women and 34% men active, peaking between 9pm – 11pm. The survey revealed a surprising insight: people above the 65 year age bracket actively shopped for cosmetics, while 18 – 34 year olds formed the major portion of online shopper. About 15% of shoppers were over the age of 35 years.


We saw that the bulk of grocery shopping happens in the morning between 9am – 9pm, after which, the purchase value drops by 8% with women and men being equally active, thereby accounting for a 50 – 50% ratio. In terms of a demographic split, 18 – 34 year olds constituted more than half of the total shoppers while 34% of the shoppers were seen to be between the age group of 35 – 65 years.


Given the sheer number of visitors that sports goods entail, they see their maximum conversions between 11pm – 2am with 73% men and 27% women active during the night. Fitness has become a rising concern and is one testified by the 65 year olds who are also active buyers of sports and fitness goods. Of course, 18 – 34 year olds still form the majority proportion of nocturnal shoppers.

Speaking on the survey findings, Abhijeet Vijayvergiya, VP and Business Head, India and South-East Asia, Capillary technologies, commented “While several studies have been conducted in the eCommerce domain, most of these looked at consumer buying behavior during the day and many have derived the conclusion that the mobile phone rules over the desktop as shoppers are increasingly switching over to the former. Brands then adopt a mobile first strategy to retail their products over the internet. Our survey revealed a different reality altogether, with good old desktops toppling mobile commerce during the night and, contrary to the general assumption, both men and women are more or less equally active at the same time, across all age groups.”

Additionally, both the genders are completely category agnostic, shopping for everything ranging from apparels and groceries to sports goods during the night. We hope to bring out more such interesting studies in the coming times.


Pick the Right Technology to Boost your Sales

Pick the Right Technology to Boost your Sales

With both online and offline businesses scaling to new heights, there is no denying the supremacy of technology in retail sale. While appreciating the exciting opportunities ensued by major market changes and shifting landscapes is difficult, retailers today are absorbed in harnessing the power of technology to further scale their businesses. A lot of retailers are feeling the heat and getting bogged down by the pressure of keeping up with the constant evolution of the digital space and elusive customer preferences. Though there are some retailers yearning for the good old days with the simplicity of traditional print promotions, digital promotions are  are indispensable to personalized marketing mix and are here to stay – especially in the omnichannel retail environment.

But despite their yearning for the minimalism of the olden days, industry players do understand that digital promotions have the potential to provide far more opportunities in return for the effort than any other medium.

Driving In-store Sales Through Omnichannel Promotions

Omnichannel promotions were initially used only by online retailers to drive sales, while offline retailers slowly caught with the trend to drive and track in-store sales. The latter’s considerations lacked complete and resourceful exploitation of omnichannel, as there are very few retailers actually using these promotions to drive in-store sales as well.

The adoption of technologies that interact with the physical world and proliferation of wearables is slowly exposing industry players to a whole new world of technology, changing any existing perceptions. Technology has managed to counter discernments that relegate digital promotions to online sales only. These technologies allow retailers to dole out targeted promotions and offers to their shoppers based on their in-store location and proximity of certain products. Likewise, wearables allow consumers access to highly relevant content pertaining to their shopping needs while carrying a basket or pushing a trolley.

Actionable Insights: Impacting the ROI

If we have to conduct technology innovation analysis in the past few years, data and analytics is by far the best that has happened to digital promotion and sales. They aren’t prolonged or outdated spreadsheets that bog marketers down, but rather actionable insights that help keep a tab on sales, realigning or re-adjusting campaigns before they incur losses. Just a few years ago, consumers used to be swarmed with the same offer at least three to four times a week. However, now with the advancement of technology, the number of such messages has lessened, as retailers integrate CRM data into their promotions campaigns and move toward real-time offer testing. Although not present in India yet, many countries have adapted to data and analytics, improving their customers’ in-store experience as well. Heat mapping and technology that analyzes a customer’s shopping history, allows retailers to map out individual customers’ paths through their store. Such features have not only optimized shopper flows but have also helped in cutting down long queues at checkouts and have aided in improving in-aisle promotions.

Mobile and Connected Cars Transforming Retail

Approximately, people spend almost 15 hours a day on their mobile phones, which is responsible for driving nearly half of retail offer traffic. The year on year growth combined with the infusion of smartphones in the market, indicate that smartphones will continue in their relevence, if not flourish as well. While retailers are still struggling to invest in the operational technologies to support this trend, many have found respite in their store apps as an immediate solution. Mobile apps that allow customers to redeem offers and check-out on their mobile device, while being in their physical store may become increasingly popular.

Likewise, yet another mobile wonder that has future implications for retailers’ digital promotions is automobiles. As the newer generation of vehicles incorporates more technologies such as bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS and voice recognition, there are a number of opportunities to use machine to machine technologies to proactively push promotions and sales to customers based on their vehicle location. To simplify this process, technology will soon allow stores to communicate with the in-car computers to welcome customers and offer perks based on their shopping history.

With such constant advancements in technology, we are reminded that the only thing constant in this world is change, and the introduction of new retail or consumer technology is slowly changing the retail landscape. Having said that, there is no need for marketers to feel the pressure of keeping up with every trend they hear or read about. What matters more is their outlook on technology and how they can use one  techware to its full potential.

Welcome to the future of {Intelligence + Omnichannel}!

Survey: End of Season Sales Increase Performance by 12% in 2016

Survey: End of Season Sales Increase Performance by 12% in 2016


Capillary Technologies recently conducted a study of approximately 100+ brands, and found that the overall sales in 2016 increased by 12% as compared to 2015, despite the fact that the overall discount promotions had decreased by 20% during their End of Season Sales (EOSS).

This meant that despite higher prices, the male demographic had increased in its spending per customer by 7%.

However, for men, the average bill value dropped by 21% , for women, it was a much lower drop percentage at 8%.

As per the study, the EOSS in 2016 was largely driven by repeat customers where 48% of repeat customers shopped in 2015 and 2016. Also, an increase in 7% of repeat businesses has been observed between 2015 and 2016.

For brands aimed at men, the level of discounting was reduced from 2015 to 2016 while for brands aimed at women, it was increased. However, the growth seen among men shoppers was still higher than women shoppers, as the study concluded.