Why SaaS Platforms are Better than Traditional Ones

Why SaaS Platforms are Better than Traditional Ones

When a retail business is trying to go digital, it goes through decision making process wherein the key decision makers have to choose from a variety of options varying based on the managed/mismanaged, hosted / self-hosted, open source and customized further/ fully bespoke, etc. Due to cloud technology advances in last decade, a new deployment – development model appeared on the horizon is a SaaS model which at its very nature is managed, cloud – hosted and continuously upgraded.

“SaaS applications are subscription based, which means no huge technology licensing, purchase or hardware purchase costs. No upfront licensing or purchase cost significantly lower the initial cost of starting the digital business. SaaS providers develop updates and manage upgrades, there are no complicated patches for customers to download or install. They also manage availability, reliability, and scalability so there’s no need for businesses to add hardware, software, or bandwidth as the user base”

So the decision makers have to now choose whether they would like to go with something which is customized by using an open or closed source, self-hosted platform or go for fully managed SaaS platform. While both models work, one needs to decide on some key aspects of their e-commerce business when making a choice –

  • Is your core strength technology or retailing?
  • What are you going to focus on to build and grow your business: acquiring more customers, marketing & promotions, getting the best products/deals to your consumers at the best prices? Do you think consumers would care about what technology you are using?
  • How much effort would it take for you to customize an open source platform or develop something from scratch? How much time would it take? Would it make a big dent in your startup fund? Would you rather not spend that time and money to acquire some customers & to keep them loyal?

The popularity of SaaS is rapidly increasing because it makes management of your online store very easy and also reduces customer acquisition costs. With a multitenant approach, you get a solution that is proven across thousands of businesses and incorporates requirements for all kinds of business scenarios. That means your system is flexible and ready for your requirements as you scale. Moreover, you can scale as fast and as much as needed without replacing costly infrastructure or adding IT staff.

Some of the highlighted capabilities that SaaS enables are –

  • Your online store and management interfaces are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection
  • There is no need for a local server installation
  • You pay subscription fee only
  • You can scale very fast
  • System maintenance (backup, updates, security, etc) is included in the service
  • Upgrades, new feature additions etc. are automatically available to you
  • Your systems work with high reliability as the entire infrastructure is managed

SaaS has several benefits over traditional software platforms including websites & online businesses: –

 

Business Value Driver Traditional Software Platform SaaS Platform
Installation Needs to be done at the client end
(Minor Time Overhead)
Not required
Ongoing maintenance of infrastructure & software Is required separately at the client end. Typically solution providers offer the maintenance services as an annual paid service
(Average Cost Overhead)
Done at software provider end. The hosted application & infrastructure is offered as a managed service to clients
Customization & architecture Specific design – Typically customized for a single customer or scenario – is difficult to extend to different or new scenarios. Features may become unusable or obsolete
(Huge Cost & Time Overhead)
Generic design to support a broad set of scenarios for various consumers. Ensures flexibility & usability on an ongoing basis
Updates & bug fixes Updates & bug fixes are infrequent and need to be delivered, installed & tested separately. This is often charged separately.
(Average Cost & Time Overhead)
Part of the SaaS offering. The infrastructure & application are regularly updated & issues are fixed.
Upgrades & new features Upgrades & new features are sold as separate products/modules and need to be bought separately
(Huge Cost & Time Overhead)
Part of the SaaS offering. The infrastructure & application are regularly upgraded & new features are added
Integration with other systems Integration is a one-time task and has to be decided up-front during the development phase
(Huge Cost & Time Overhead)
Integration modules are added on an ongoing basis and can be integrated with a wide variety of systems at any time
Hidden or overhead costs apart from licensing fee Usually 91% Hidden Or Overhead Cost

  • Customization & Implementation (one time)
  • Hardware
  • IT team
  • Maintenance
  • Training (one time)
  • Updates & Upgrades
Usually 25% Overhead Cost

  • Customization & implementation (one time)
  • Training (one time)
  • You pay subscription fee only
  • You can scale very fast
  • System maintenance (backup, updates, security, etc) is included in the service
  • Upgrades, new feature additions etc. are automatically available to you
  • Your systems work with high reliability as the entire infrastructure is managed
Multi-channel Vs. Omnichannel Commerce: What’s the difference?

Multi-channel Vs. Omnichannel Commerce: What’s the difference?

Difference between Multi-channel and Omnichannel Commerce

Lets start by defining the two big words.

Multi-channel retailing is the use of a variety of channels in a customer’s shopping experience, including research before a purchase. Such channels include retail stores, online stores, marketplaces, mobile stores, social media stores, mobile app stores, telephone sales and any other method of transacting with a customer. Transacting includes browsing, buying, returning as well as pre and post-sale service.

Omnichannel Retailing is the evolution of multi-channel retailing. It’s about providing a ONE BRAND, ONE EXPERIENCE to consumers across all consumer touch points – mobile internet devices, computers, brick-and-mortar, television, radio, direct mail, catalogue and so on.

There is a fundamental difference between Multi-channel and omnichannel commerce. Unlike multi-channel, omnichannel interactions are not siloed but integrated and absolutely connected to each other to provide a rich customer experience. The experience is seamless, consistent and relevant across all channels and devices of interaction so that a customer can transition from one channel to another freely, without any change in the interaction.

Difference between Multi-channel and Omnichannel commerce

What is the Need for Omnichannel?

From microwaves to smartphones, technology has evolved over the years to provide immediacy. In the 21st century, psychologists worry that our intricately connected lifestyle is making us more impatient. Hence, for our increasingly impatient and fickle customers, the fluidity between channels is a must. Eg: When a shirt is bought from the mall, the customer will have to drive back to the store to return it; it cannot be returned online. However, with omnichannel commerce, the idea is to give the customer the ability to finish a transaction from any chosen channel.

A customer will move to another communication channel if unsatisfied with the prior 75% of the time according to a Forrester report. Today, customers don’t just want to shift channels, they want to shift channels and continue the same conversation with a brand. Today’s customers want what they want, where they want and how they want! This is why omnichannel should be a priority for brands.

What Makes an Omnichannel Retailer?

Generally, an omnichannel retailer will extend his/her traditional storefront with virtual retail channels to gain an ROI on the current investment in real estate, personnel, supply chains, merchandise, etc. Online channels do not only exist as points of sales but also important knowledge portals for consumers. Being a product knowledge hub serves as an advantage to the company where a community is created around the brand, which will eventually translate into sales. Virtual channels, present to convert pre-shoppers to walk-ins and online sales, also are influential in engaging customers and being cost effective to the company.

 

Benefits of Omnichannel Retailing – Get on the Boat!

Benefits of Omnichannel Retailing – Get on the Boat!

Why your brand should go omnichannel like major retailers around the globe.

Omnichannel retail has been contagiously spreading through the retail world. There are two main drivers that are prompting brick & mortar retailers to adopt the approach:

–   The Connected Customer: The proliferation of social media and smartphones is making consumers spend an increasing amount of time online. In our digital dependant lives, it is not surprising that Indians spend more time on their smartphones as compared to any other gadget or media. Customers in this age expect individualized and seamless interactions with retailers now. Passing the customer from one service department to another leads to a PR nightmare on twitter today!

–   Threat from Online Retail: Online retailers are eating up the brick & mortar sales pie, especially in categories such as electronics. Brick & mortar retailers need to keep up with times and go digital to stay relevant to their customers. With digital channels, brick &  mortar retailers will increase their customer retention and loyalty, as well as have new avenues to attract new customers. And omnichannel is the way to do it!

It is time for your brand to adopt omnichannel retailing! Here are five key benefits of omnichannel retail:

  1. Enhanced consumer perceptions: ‘The Digital Natives’ (born in the age of the PC and raised in the era of the internet) have integrated technology into their shopping habits – they search, compare and often purchase using technology. Even the younger generation, “the Digital Dependants’, born since the web was invented are getting increasingly frustrated with this non-integrated world. Their primary platform for engagement is the mobile phone and they expect that retailers will increasingly allow them to connect through this platform – not just to interact but also to transact. Retailers who are seen as laggards by this generation will end up finding themselves out of the race. Retailers are increasingly using digital channels to get customer feedback and conduct beta tests for new concepts and products that would help them understand the consumer point of view. Social media lets you gauge the mood and needs of your marketplace better. With Twitter and Facebook, your brand now has a platform as well as an audience to test your products before launch. Moreover, YouTube is quickly emerging as a marketing channel for testing TVCs before they are pushed to mass media.    It is time to consolidate your arms and ammunition and showcase a united brand front to your customer today.
  2. Increased Sales: All eyes are on eCommerce, and with good reason. eCommerce maximizes your reach to any potential customer, with minimum capital spend.  We are currently experiencing the boom of eCommerce in the country, with an expected market value increase of $800 billion in the next 6 years. Currently, eCommerce sales constitute 2% of the overall retail sales. However, digital influenced sales are significantly higher than this number. Retailers should not only consider direct eCommerce sales but also digital influenced sales (online product discovery, Facebook engagement, locating the nearest availability of a product etc). Omnichannel capabilities allow retailers access to the whole pie (brick & mortar, eCommerce, emerging mCommerce, social commerce and much more) while leveraging the strengths of each channel.
  3. Marketing ROI can be tracked and maximized

Omnichannel Retailing is a boon for retailers from a Marketing and ROI perspective: –

Micro-segmentation and targeting: From spray and pray advertising to tracking your advertising spend, everything is possible on omnichannel.  Digital powered omnichannel retailing aids retailers in reaching out to the right audience at the right time at the right place. If you are a luxury retailer, you can reach out to females who are in the age group of 35-45, staying in Worli area and are looking for a luxury handbag. This is possible because the digital platforms amass customer demographic and shopping behaviour data.

Control on marketing spends: Digital Channels provide opportunities to test market your messaging and campaigns on budget. Learn from the experiments and scale it out. Retailers and brand owners are in complete control of their massive investments and are confident about reaching their yearly targets.

  1. Effective Data Collection Tracking consumer behaviour across channels can help retailers better understand consumer motivations and preferences.  Armed with this information they can increase sales through cross-sell and upsell, make right offers at the right time and delight customers. They can also engage and encourage customers to come to the stores with specifically targeted communication where the probabilities of impulse purchase are higher.
  2. Enhanced Employee Productivity The key is in making certain that employees are as informed if not more informed than the customer. Technology can become the front lines best defense against customers who come in armed with more information than the front line associates have access to. Customer data in terms of Purchase history, preferences made available to the front line associates can drive loyalty building in-store.eg: tablet-based assistance systems for the sales staff unlock their productivity potential, with on-hand information and customer profiling capabilities. Customers like to have sure answers to product queries and stock availability. Tablet-based assistance systems facilitate the sales personnel to do just that!

 

The End of the PC and what it Means for Retail

The End of the PC and what it Means for Retail

Smartphones are increasingly becoming an essential part of the overall purchase process. Consumers are constantly searching and curating products and services they are interested in through their tablets and smartphones. Empowering retailers with information through mobile apps/sites has the potential to enhance and revolutionize the whole buying process.

Statistics do not lie. A clear trend can be seen as the world progressively relying more on mobile technology due to its availability and easy to use. 84% of smartphone users were found to use their mobile in-store according to Google Adwords( 2013)

Mobile Commerce 2014 Survey

Source: google adwords (2013)

Although the sale conversion rates are lower on smartphones as compared to traditional e-commerce, smartphones play a big a big role in influencing purchase decisions. Shopping isn’t confined to physical outlets these days. Retailers cannot limit the shopping experience to retail stores and must design experiences for smartphones and tablets as well.

With the advent of affordable smartphones, India has seen a spectacular rise in smartphones, leaving a huge potential for businesses to grow and develop in this arena.  Additionally, due to the lack of access to fixed broadband lines in the country, smartphones are increasingly serving as the window to the internet, overtaking the PC in terms of internet traffic (graph 2).

Desktop vs Mobile Traffic India 2014

With customers having access to price comparisons, product reviews and product details at their fingertips, this migration to smartphones has implications the whole business. For instance, this would also affect the way you train employees, as 1 in 3 smartphone users prefer to use their phones for asking store employees for product information(Adwitiya, 2014a). Moreover, Competitive price matches for white goods are becoming imperative due to price comparisons online.

Whether it is an ice-cream parlor around the corner or a multinational corporation, innovation is the key to success in today’s ever-changing business environment. Here are 5 ways in which your business can have a better reach to the mobile-savvy consumer.

  • Vouchers: Giving consumers access to mobile vouchers that can be redeemed for in-store purchases is extremely effective to increase in-store purchases. According to Juniper Research (2012), Mobile vouchers are redeemed 10 times more often than printout and traditional vouchers combined.
  • Loyalty Programs: Mobile technology makes loyalty programs more engaging, innovative and easy to use for the customers. It also serves the purpose of creating a community around the product, which, in turn, increases the value of the product. Returning customers, according to Inc., spend 67% more on average compared to first-time customers (as cited in Shaw, 2013). Mobile-based loyalty programs can allow for mobile tracking of points or reward redemption. Loyalty programs with visibility and accessibility perform the best.
  • Responsive design: A website that looks cumbersome on a 5-inch mobile device will not make a consumer favourable towards the brand. The goal is to create a website that translates equally well on PC, tablet and mobile devices as well as provides a personalised shopping experience by using GPS location, purchase history and push notifications. Responsive design can make customers feel more comfortable leading them to spend more on their phone.
  • Mobile Payment Processing: Investment in secure mobile technology can be done to take payments from customers. Smartphones can be used to pay for products in physical retail stores, in order to skip long register lines. This would make the trip to a retail store shorter and more efficient for the customer as well as the retailer.
  • Big Data: With the huge amount of data digital businesses have access to, it is essential to invest in data-minded people who can interpret your company’s big data to guide business decisions and improve the shopping experience. Fair privacy policies also should be in place so that customers are able to trust the company with their data.