MUMBAI: India's FMCG retailers are looking toward omnichannel to compete as online retailers gain market share on the subcontinent, but that will require better use of data, industry figures have said.

These issues were discussed at the ET Retail Forum 2016 held in Mumbai, where K Radakrishnan, co-founder of Mumbai-based online grocery shopping site Grocermax, stated: "The operations people in retail have not invested enough in the intellectual acquirement for reading data.

"So, it's not actionable data. There is wholesale data – that's mass data – but it doesn't tell you anything specific."

He was also sceptical of how online retail has developed in India. "What happens is that a group of techies get together, with the belief that they can sell anything. But selling anything requires a basic level of understanding of that category, and of that consumer."

While marketers may have that understanding, they need more education on how to use data insights effectively in order to in integrate these into strategic plans. (For more, read Warc's exclusive report: How India's FMCG giants are approaching omnichannel and big data.)

According to Mohid Khattar, Managing Director of Godrej Nature's Basket – a high end grocery chain – most companies in India have not even begun to scratch the surface of big data. He believes that until benefits are proven to exceed the investment cost, it would likely remain that way in India.

However, despite cautiousness, many brands are looking closely to see how they can derive value from data-driven marketing. Visibility of the digital customer's path to purchase is seen as a potential benefit and a first priority for Nature's Basket.

"One way for us as retailers is to look at it in terms of frequency of buying. So the data can tell us that based on a specific customer's buying patterns, that customer buys products three times in a month, said Khattar.

"Technology can help us bring back that customer into the store. We can use data to upsell and cross-sell other products. There is a lot that we can do with this data, but its early days for us yet."

Data sourced from Warc