A few years ago, no one could even imagine that one day they would be purchasing groceries online. But, caught in the city’s fast pace, groceries today have become one of the biggest markets in terms of e-commerce opportunities. Consumers wish to avoid the crowded markets and get their daily grocery products and food delivered at their doorstep, with just the click of a button.
With an increasing customer base and penetration of Internet connectivity (mostly through smartphones), the question arises, how to make it bigger and offer a wider variety of food items? Just as tech savvy consumers have made online shopping a successful project in the US, where do the Indian e-tailers stand? How do they get non-food products into that basket? What would they do in terms of digital capabilities to make shopping easier? How would they use navigation technology and where is this heading in terms of revenue potential for an online shopper? And finally, how will they drive consumption using the hyperlocal market and app enabled world?
Group President, Food, FMCG, Brands, Future Group, Devendra Chawla says, “The whole Indian consumer space is going through so many changes, that the last word is yet far away from being out; it will take years and years of discovery.”
In an Omnichannel space, people are buying two times more, they research online and buy offline, also vice versa. How to know whether the Indian consumer is evolving, whether hyperlocal market or online? Is the consumer behaviour changing, if yes, how do we see it panning out in the future ?
Founder, N Stores, C Gopalakrishnan says, “People have changed, there are old traditional people who buy things and also new consumers who want things at a faster level, only quality will speak for business. People will come to a shop or go online, if there is quality. Next comes the service, the players will have to concentrate on the quality and the service they provide.”
CEO, Spencer’s Retail, Mohit Kampani adds to this saying, “Multi-channel today at least for the grocery industry is significantly superior then being in a single channel. Customers are getting more and more empowered, it is not just the simple vanilla models that you throw out and say, please participate in Spencer’s B which is another channel, we also have to think of what is in for them, even far more. The traditional hypermarket was run by offering value and getting customers into the store, so that is going to change in the future and we have to look for convenience for instance far more.”
When asked whether the Indian consumer is ready for click and pick, which became big in TESCO in UK, MD, Trent Hypermarkets, Jamshed Daboo says, “The Indian consumer is as ready as any other consumer, in most cases the constraint is from the supplier. It is about, how quickly or cost effectively can we provide it for the market to absorb and keep generating more and more consumption.”
Co-Founder, Foodpanda.in, Rohit Chadda talks about the learnings of food retailers and how to guard themselves from the pitfalls: “What online gives you verses offline is discovery (option to discover), convenience, online payment (for the credit card generation who do not carry too much cash).”
“Offline can emulate online, but it will take some time, with GPRS and CVC machines, these things can be taken care of. There are definitely some factors that online provides which typically offline cannot, and it needs to add. They are both complimentary, not one winner over another,” he adds.
In India, no matter how much the technology advances, there will always be a set of audience, who want to touch and feel the products in the store. There is also a generation which does not really bother, as long as they are getting the same branded product at their doorstep.
Where consumption is concerned, online is only a channel and they work with their partners to improve their business. There are obviously some benefits that one gets in online in terms of brand creation and category creation, but the crux is, they direct the customer and tell them where to go. End of the day it is the customer who will decide what he would like to take or do.