67 years have passed of India’s independence, and in this span, Technology, singularly, has been one of the biggest disruptive forces for the retail industry.
It has given the shopper more than one channel to shop with, convenience of shopping at home, driven down costs and, most of all, customer experience shifted from the provider to the buyer.
To say that the shopper today is well informed is understating the facts. While the retailer possess customer analytics, do the customers also need an analytics tool?
In the debate of retailing versus etailing, the truth today is somewhere in the middle.
While etailers worldwide are a growing breed, They are in need of getting into physical formats where customers can walk in, feel and see products and then order online.
Amazon, eBay, snap deal and flipkart being examples of that. Thus emerging new business model for the industry.
People who shop in-store do so because they like to feel the product, get instant delivery and like personalised services.
A large part of India shops in-store also because they do not trust the delivery system, are worried about data security, don’t own a credit card or don’t have a data connection.
While showrooming is a growing phenomenon, it is also true that online is driving sales in-store in a number of categories.
There are categories that are researched online and bought in-store. For example, the PwC survey showed that in the computer and electronics segment, 59% people researched the products online but only 43% bought them online.
As many as 45% people researched furniture and homeware online but only 32% bought them online.
Similarly, 51% of the buyers researched household appliances online and only 36% bought them online.
Finally, retail is all about people, their behaviour and what drives loyalty. One of the biggest reasons people shop in physical stores is social interaction.
Shopping malls are emerging as places where people not only shop but get an opportunity to get together and ‘hang out’.
To conclude I would like to say that, it’s hard to think that stores will cease to exist, but what is definitely true is that they will need to reinvent themselves continuously to stay relevant and cater to the changing trends.