E-commerce grew by more than 60% last year in comparison to earlier year. Players like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Myntra have established themselves and International players like Amazon and eBay are creating awareness and providing more choice to consumer and luring customers away from Physical Retailers.
Consumer is now multi channel
Footwear brand Clarks are embracing multichannel by understanding requirement of their buyers. Upwardly, mobile buyer of Clarks requires to have seamless experience in Multiple devices and they also needs to have similar promotions, as well as they should be able to earn and redeem loyalty points from their choice of channel. Clarks have their website as well as Mobile site where content is optimized for each screen to provide best user experience through the multiple devices.
The reason offline retailers are suffering because they are not changing themselves with changing tastes and shopping habits of consumers. In many cases, online commerce is largely responsible for the lesser demand in big stores because they could not match a much larger offer, often world-class customer service, and less hassle. E-retailers drove prices down, but did not lose sight of customer satisfaction, and had a wider product offering. They won because they had a better value proposition for customers.
Bodyshop, Beauty products Brand and Retailer is using social media to engage with buyers and communicate brand story. They believe “social commerce” is the way forward for their product Category. Bodyshop was one of the early adopters and is already beginning to reap the “social commerce” dividend with strong sales figures and profit growth during a time when most retailers are suffering.
Bodyshop India has more than 275,000 fans on Facebook, They have Live Chat every week where skin and cosmetic experts consults with customers. By openly sharing exclusive events with its fans and followers, Bodyshop has been able to directly engage with its customers online.
Vision for the future
I have identified three trends for the future of retail.
First, it seems that the growth to e-commerce will happen in categories where it hasn’t happened yet to its potential; Apparel and Shoes are booming even though we’ve always been told that shoes cannot be sold and bought online because you need to try them out first.
Secondly, bricks and mortar will not disappear, and some niche products and locations will thrive on narrowly focused offers. For example, very high end products, whether in food or jewellery, can benefit from carefully crafted retail experiences.
Thirdly, we’ll see retailers becoming more innovative and usage of technology will increase to satisfy the demanding connected consumer by embracing Social, Mobile and Local approach. Usage of Data to understand customer and then providing personalized experience through various touch point will critical. Connected consumer will be demanding “The retail experience” which seamless and optimize for the Channel of His Choice.
So it seems reports of the death of the offline retail may be greatly exaggerated. It’s simply relocating, shrinking and evolving. In the multichannel retail world, the line between Physical and Digital will be Blurring fast than expected and Retailer shop needs to be more than just a physical space on the high street or in a giant mall.
It’s time for retailers to embrace Multichannel Commerce as a serious “opportunity” and make it an integral part of the business.