« Back to News

I don’t know my customers the way online retailers know: Mohit Dhanjal, Raymond at ETRetail Forum

ET Bureau December 30 2015

NEW DELHI: Online businesses know a lot more about their customers because of the technology involved in the operations, Mohit Dhanjal, director-retail at Raymond said at the ETRetail Forum organised jointly by ETRetail and MISB Bocconi in Mumbai.

Online retailers know how much time the customers spend on their site, they know what products the customers browse, they know the pin codes as well as banks of their customers, said Dhanjal. “There is a whole lot more they know and actually I don’t. I barely know how much time the customer spends in my store. I might have done some surveys and might get the numbers, but they know 100 per cent of their customers,” he said, emphasising the challenge e-commerce companies pose to the bricks-and-mortar retailers.
“Raymond has small bricks-and-mortar stores averaging 2,500 sqft. Within those 2,500 sq ft, we still don’t know a lot, said Dhanjal.

In order to stay competitive in the changing retail landscape, Raymond has started adopting various technologies available at its stores to understand its customers better and in a more relevant manner, he said.

“We have now started using technology which gives us the same insight. It helped us challenge our basic assumption. We know that being only product-centric is not going to take us anywhere, so we started looking at the customers,” said Dhanjal.

Collecting customer data at the store is another challenge that the bricks-and-mortar retailers face while online retailers easily manage to extract that data from their customers, said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India.

Professor Sandro Castaldo, professor of marketing at MISB Bocconi, said, “The culture plays a key role. In collectivistic culture they give online everything and in individualistic culture they don’t. If we see that on the other side there is a company that we can trust because we are sure that the company will not sell our data or would use our data for other things, the customers would give more information.”

Dhanjal cited other reasons why customers give out their personal information easily on online shopping portals. “One is consumers don’t have a lot of choice. They are sharing data because they want that discount on offer. They are incentivised to do so. Secondly, it is a lot more transparent and offline one is not so transparent. Customers are a little apprehensive and have got experience in the past,” he said.

Mukesh Kumar, vice president, Infinity Mall said though that e-commerce players are communicating too much with their consumers and hence are losing their relevance with the shoppers on this front.

“When we talk about customer loyalty programmes there is a tendency to put a lot on customer’s plate. When the mails come too frequently the customers just delete it without even reading. A lot of companies, to push the offers or discounts, send the same message again and again. So, too much of information passed on to customers is not very good. And today online channels have been trying to do that. It loses relevance,” said Kumar.

Originally the article was published on December 30 2015: ET Bureau