“Online Shopping.” with Jayneel Patel

I believe that there won’t be a complete transformation towards online shopping but e-commerce will become omnichannel. Both online and offline channels have their own conveniences that should not be seen as exclusively exploitable opportunities. In fact, tomorrow’s market will be led by firms that run both channels in synergy. Amazon or Instacart can surely […]

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I believe that there won’t be a complete transformation towards online shopping but e-commerce will become omnichannel. Both online and offline channels have their own conveniences that should not be seen as exclusively exploitable opportunities. In fact, tomorrow’s market will be led by firms that run both channels in synergy. Amazon or Instacart can surely deliver quickly but certain items like clothing cannot be replaced with any amount of immersive tech. There are brick and mortar stores allowing people to try out winter wear with sub zero temperature chambers to cater a realistic experience. There’s a competitive advantage of every channel and leaving the benefits of any channel wouldn’t be a smart move.

As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jayneel Patel, a young entrepreneur with an Engineering degree in Computer Science. He has a diverse portfolio of IT services and products and is focused on developing affordable solutions for upscaling organizations and becoming a part of the business ecosystem by extending long-term value. Currently, he serves as the CEO at Orderhive, OpenXcell, and Sigma Data Systems.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Like many entrepreneurship tales, mine started late at night after dinner. I was planning to start up my business for a long time now but I was confused about whether to leave the stable income as it was 2008, the year we can’t forget. That night I went out for dinner where I heard a few friends talking about starting their company. They were discussing getting a website and this thought was doing rounds in mind: Businesses will flourish despite all difficulties and the IT sector will lead the resurgence of economies both directly and indirectly. The next morning I woke up with OpenXcell and we haven’t looked back till date. 2015 marked a special year as we came up with Orderhive after successfully venturing multiple online businesses.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Sure. It was after my initial years after starting my entrepreneurial journey that I was feeling the burn out quite often. That was when I decided to come up with a work-life balance for me as one of my staff members and a close friend recommended to do so. He asked to strictly take weekly offs and that helped me shape the organization culture a lot. Soon I shifted my focus from 100% technology towards curating an organizational culture where people could express themselves.

We made it mandatory to have one hour lunch breaks and installed inhouse games like table tennis. I have also removed the leave encashment policy so that our staff members spend enough quality time away from work. This isn’t very common here in Asia unlike the West but it is extremely beneficial to us. This is working out extremely well in terms of their morale and efficiency levels.

Today, my top priority is to ensure that people working here are excited to come to the office and work like kids enjoy painting class. That has helped me understand my work and how I should seek my purpose as an individual as well as with my company. And I must say that I received a wonderful reception from my employees even during the pandemic. I couldn’t be any more grateful for how they came out in support and worked hard during these testing times. I personally find that building the right company culture is certainly the most exciting part of running a business.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

All mistakes are funny after some point in life but some mistakes are funnier. In my initial days, I considered that I should act more like a corporate boss and wear formal clothes like the ones from Harvey Specter of Suits in order to see my company growing big but a few days later, I dropped the tie. I was literally feeling like a pyramid sales guy and today, I don’t even sit in a glass chamber. Being with my staff through flat hierarchy has certainly helped our relationships prosper and make it a great place to work. Ties and formal tones are no longer appreciated (except on a few exceptional occasions) and we focus on the work instead.

Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

Yes, we are working on Trackhive, for smart fleets. The project is in its initial phases but we believe that it will extend our ability to cater to the needs of supply chains better. It will help vendors in cutting down costs and operate in a more productive manner.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I will recommend them to work on a side project. A side project keeps me on my toes and it gives me a reason to stay excited for getting up and showing up for work. This excitement also helps in completing the main projects on time and maintains the energy levels throughout the process. In the ecommerce industry, everything boils down to functionalities, uptime, and status reports for vendors. Thus, working on a completely different line of action will keep your innovative brain cells charged.

I have personally found this method very useful as it helps pool my energy for different purposes and this will surely help.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful, who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Of course, that’s true. For me, it is my staff members and clients who have been my source of inspiration but if you would want me to pick one person, it’s Sadhguru. I have been listening to his words for quite a long time now. As people, we often get confused with everything happening around and there are times when just don’t feel right. All of us have our problems and then there are the midnight musings going on.

His videos on various topics have helped me grow personally but the biggest takeaway that I want to share with all our readers is: Be involved, industrious, and unreal. We’re texting while seeing a soccer match, watching our kid’s annual functions while thinking of the meeting the next day. Multi-tasking is draining our ability to get involved. Without involvement, there’s no evolution of our desire. Desire and passion leads us to become industrious and unreal. For most people out there, the reality is what the outside world tells them. And Yetzi, there would be too many people who would have told you that your dreams are unrealistic, like they told Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mohammed Ali or Elon Musk. They told me the same but like all of us, no matter what degree of success we achieved, we shaped our reality and stayed honest to our visions.

My story is no different from anyone working hard no matter at a shopping mall or running an MNC. I share the same spirit with all people wanting to make life worth by contributing actively.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Yes, we do that every single day. As a team, we are committed to build a great work atmosphere and help our customers in realizing their business goals. I give in the best every single time, encourage my employees to do and when everyone gives in their best, the world gets the best possible solutions.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share five examples of different ideas that large retail outlets are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

Sure,

Target And Walmart sit first on my list. They have very well understood that people will continue buying in-store and they are already vamping up their omnichannel experience. They are diverting the buyers to their website and turning their shopping facilities into urban warehouses. They are also converting the parkings into open-air theatres. Catering experience is something that will help them nurture brand loyalty which is a great example of adapting to new realities even for independent stores.

The next example comes from Reliance Jio Mart from Mukesh Ambani. The oil baron turned tech giant has teamed with 13 investors effectively selling 32.94% of its stake, roping in $20.2 billion. This is yet to realize a project that will connect all the small retail stores giving the customers an option to BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In Store) or to get it delivered to their homes.

TJX Cos. is another retail player that I would like to draw your attention to. They are making changes in their stores to accommodate store design that makes their customers feel safe. Social distancing, redoing the racks, and staff policies are helping establish trust. These changes will go a long way in the near future as the fear for pandemic decreases.

Fourth is none other than Tesla. They had already decided to shut down their showrooms in 2019 and this move has helped them steer through the pandemic considerably. Tesla is doing well despite even renowned marques like Aston Martin struggling. They’re also inviting buyers to participate in online customization which is a great offering from a sales point of view. After the pandemic gets over, Tesla will come out stronger, thanks to Musk’s timely decision to reduce automation and turn the physical retail distribution into a Shopify-powered online web store.

Revolve Group is also one of my top picks since they are capitalizing on product bundling, an unexpected move for the brand’s philosophy. Their strategy of pushing products sourced from third-party suppliers can be easily used by other retailers to supplement their bottom line with minimal pressure on their supply chain.

All of them come from different backgrounds but their proactiveness can be attributed as the reason for survival amidst the chaos.

In your opinion, will retail stores or malls continue to exist? How would you articulate the role of physical retail spaces at a time when online commerce platforms like Amazon Prime or Instacart can deliver the same day or the next day?

I believe that there won’t be a complete transformation towards online shopping but e-commerce will become omnichannel. Both online and offline channels have their own conveniences that should not be seen as exclusively exploitable opportunities. In fact, tomorrow’s market will be led by firms that run both channels in synergy. Amazon or Instacart can surely deliver quickly but certain items like clothing cannot be replaced with any amount of immersive tech. There are brick and mortar stores allowing people to try out winter wear with sub zero temperature chambers to cater a realistic experience. There’s a competitive advantage of every channel and leaving the benefits of any channel wouldn’t be a smart move.

There’s a sweet spot for every channel including social marketing and there’s a limitation for every channel. The delivery costs are increasing every year due to more number of parcels handled which can soon start eating the margins of sellers and ultimately of the platforms. Thus, a fine mix of in-store and online selling is the future of retail.

The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?

To put things straight, the watches didn’t disappear despite all tech innovations. Instead, FitBit and smartwatches like Apple Watch started coexisting with the traditional analog watches from Piaget and Rolex. So that’s how we will see retail and online stores collaborating in the future.

Toyota and Suzuki recently conducted a rebadging deal which will allow them to enter newer markets while the multi-brand showrooms are also becoming a reality. The way to success for retail stores lies in either becoming completely independent or to collaborate extensively with anyone who can become a part of the integrated ecosystem -even their arch-rivals.

The retailers will have to improve the in-store experience like Walmart. A restaurant playing live music will have an upper edge over the one using radio because value additions will amplify their chances of attracting more customers in the days to come. Focusing on exclusive in-store experience is my number one tip for all retailers out there.

Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise to retail companies and e-commerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

For retail and e-commerce companies, there’s one thing that they can always do -connect with your customers beyond pricing. With pricing, American and European brands cannot compete because they need to pay fair wages and provide working conditions as per their local legislations and cultures. Connecting with your audience and being one of them will play the decisive factor. Hyperlocal marketing and participation in community events will surely create patronage over the lucrative pricing.

I have always believed that both American and European firms are very proactive in echoing the communities and this is also reflected in their ads. Be it the Adidas shoes made from recycled plastic bottles or Red Bull’s event sponsorships, this strategy works extremely well and that’s something one cannot compete using cheap thrills. In the days to come, I feel that western brands will shift the frame from pricing to responsible sourcing and harnessing hyper-localized marketing trends like nano influencers.

Perhaps, I find this equally essential for all economies to cherish brands that source from ethically right sources, employ, and promote local communities. We don’t want to return to the stage where we started before globalization but celebrating each other, standing together, and being a part of mutual progress is indeed the true spirit of globalization. That’s how American, European and all other brands can win over any price battle without hurting their sustainability.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The movement that I will like to bring is to make self-introspection as a part of our lifestyles. That’s one of the common qualities found among geniuses and great personalities. They all spend time with themselves and those moments ultimately define the great impact they make on humanity. Most importantly, these moments are necessary to improve our experience of life. This habit helped in 2008 and it is helping me during this Covid-19 pandemic and I would like to see everyone believing in their vision and all of us celebrating each other for our efforts to the society and humanity at large.

How can our readers further follow your work?

I would love to have a word with your readers. They can connect on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook to share their journeys with mine.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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