SINGAPORE/MUMBAI: Physical retail stores can be a powerful part of a brand’s e-commerce strategy, according to the CMO of ‎IBM in ASEAN.

Grace Ho, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and Strategy Leader (ASEAN) at ‎IBM, singled out Puma as a success story for tapping the “tremendous opportunity” of the Indian market.

According to Boston Consulting Group’s 2017 “The New Indian: The Many Facets of a Changing Consumer” report, online shoppers in India are expected to number between 300m to 350m by 2025.

In tackling India’s e-commerce market, Puma wanted “to take advantage of the digital wave in India that was blooming,” said Ho at the recent New Retail Asia Summit in Singapore. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Puma used smart data to crack e-commerce in India.)

“Puma’s starting point was, they already had all these stores across the country. They had invested a ton of money in warehousing solutions and supply chain systems, and they could not quit and replace that,” Ho explained.

The sportswear giant was one of the first foreign companies to apply to run their own e-commerce portals in India, following changes in the government’s foreign direct investment policy.

Working with IBM and other local technology players in the market, Puma eventually launched an “end-to-end e-commerce solution” that took stock of the retail brand’s assets and integrated its warehousing systems and backend, as well as optimising its supply chain.

Within 24 months, Puma India projects “three times growth in revenue”, said Ho, as a result of automation and real-time visibility of product inventory.

Ho advised brands to consider how bricks and mortar assets can drive e-commerce growth. “Think about the new users of your existing assets as you go onto the online platform to drive growth,” she said.

“When you are looking to reinvent yourself and look at investments into the online channel, it is important to think about what are the key components to build your business case.”

Sourced from WARC