ISB Centre for Business Innovation with ISB Institue for Data Science organized the first Learning Table on Retail, Omni-channel Marketing, and e-Commerce. The Learning Table was an exclusive invite-only, closed door event that aimed to bring together industry experts, practitioners and academics across different domains such as Fintech, Health-Tech, Pharmaceutical, Retail, FMCG, Auto, Education etc.  to focus on solutions in the Retail, Omni-channel and e-Commerce space and shape the evolution of the industry. The Learning Table Session was also designed to help align Centre’s research activities to industrial needs and goals.

Briefly, the agenda for the session was to understand the research-based insights in areas such as digital transformation, business innovation, and business analytics provided by the faculty, complemented by experiences and frameworks derived by industry experts that identify challenges. It was an open format for discussion and exchange and was used to identify “problems worth solving”.

From Left to Right: Dyuti Kumat (ISB) Debashree Dutta (ISB) Prashanth Ramagiri (ISB) Sreenath Kanugovi (ISB) Rohit Kumar Cherukuri (CtrlS Datacentres) Abhijeet Patil (upGrad) Rajendra Srivastava (ISB)  Abhinav Jain (Gaja Capital) George John (UoM) Madhu Viswanathan (ISB) Saurabh Agrawal (Lenskart) Amrita Asrani (Reckitt)

Summary of the above learning table:


To sustain in the ever-changing and mobile market firms are increasingly becoming more customer oriented. To be compatible with today's ‘connected customer’, firms need to be more flexible and focus on the customer's convenience. To meet these needs, firms are adopting faster delivery models, ease of switching within the channels and creating a more personalised shopping experience, while focusing on a seamless experience for the customer (Akter et al., 2021). 


A company has various channels/touch points which are present online as well as offline; such as social media, mobile, website, call centre, print, email, warehouse, stores etc. The scope of customer interaction is limitless with all the available touchpoints. The adoption of an omnichannel marketing strategy in effect integrates these channels to deliver a uniform experience to the customer which stitches the company together as a brand and improves the ease of shopping for the customer (Hole et al., 2019).


Studies have indicated that the adoption of omnichannel marketing has improved businesses addressing access issues, product information capabilities, cross-selling opportunities and logistical economies. Moreover, it helps any company sustain and focus on the entire purchase journey of a customer, starting from the ‘initial product discovery, information research, purchase, payment, order fulfilment to product return’ (Berman & Thelen, 2018). As the market adopts a more customer-centric approach, marketing researchers have also shown interest in capturing and enhancing customer experience, and satisfaction, and improving service qualities for the firm (Lemon and Verhoef, 2016).


On the 23rd of July 2022, ISB (Indian School of Business) Centre for Business Innovation (ICBI) and ISB Institute for Data Science (IIDS) came together to organize the first in the line of many series of Learning Tables - ‘Learning Table on Retail, Omnichannel Marketing, and E-Commerce'. It was an exclusive invite-only event that aimed to bring together industry experts, practitioners, and academics across different domains such as Fintech, Health-Tech, Pharmaceutical, Retail, FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods), Auto, Education etc.  to focus on solutions in the Retail, Omni-channel and e-Commerce space and shape the evolution of the industry.  


Present at the session were leaders from organizations like Reckitt, Lenskart, Gaja Capital, and CtrlS Datacentres. The table was preceded by highly experienced faculties – Prof Rajendra Srivastava (exec director ICBI), Manish Gangwar (Exec director IIDS), and Madhu Vishwanathan (research director IIDS), also joined by Professor Praveen Kopalle, Professor George John and Professor Sudhir Voleti. It was the research-based insights provided by the faculties, complemented by experiences derived by industry experts that added to the appositeness of the discussion. 


The discussion started with some key questions posed by the industry. We gathered that they are trying to understand the workings of omnichannel marketing strategies and looking for innovative ideas to support new business models. Some roadblocks which the industry faces right now are smooth technology adoption, well-ordered implementation and ROI measurement of omnichannel strategies, and sustainable models for customer acquisition, among others. As the conversation progressed, participants discussed these issues further in-depth, scrutinizing every aspect of pathways to proposed solutions only contributing to the rigour and credibility at the table.


A substantial part of the time was spent on discussing the capitalistic view of innovation. The importance of risk capital, technical and marketing expertise and the idea of building complementary ecosystems within the markets were also enunciated under this broad umbrella. 


To draw things to a close, the Table concluded the session with propitious efforts to bring the two facades of industry and academia together. The learnings construed from the discussions, debates and the various anecdotes shared have helped shape and align the research goals of the respective centres to industrial needs.