E-commerce is not going to ring the death knell for brick-and-mortar stores anytime soon. While e-commerce may be convenient for shoppers, nothing can beat the physical value a store can provide a consumer. With the right combination of technology and informed employees, brick-and-mortar stores can provide customers with an experience absolutely unparalleled through e-commerce.
According to MD & CEO of Sonata Software, P Srikar Reddy, this is going to be the future of retail – consumers will continue visiting physical stores – if only to actually touch and feel products. Sales will eventually, mostly, shift online.
Reddy spoke exclusively to Indiaretailing Bureau, providing valuable insights on the retail industry in India.
What is your view on the journey of retail – from brick-and-mortar to e-commerce to Omnichannel?
It has been a natural progression, which is happening because of technology. Firstly there were brick-and-mortar stores or physical retail. Then online retailing started and after that everybody today is now adopting Omnichannel. I would like to call it a unified retail experience – that means anywhere, anytime, any device. That should be the ultimate goal of any retailer.
Do you think that because of this technological progression, eventually brick-and-mortar stores would lose their importance?
No, I don’t think that is going to happen. However, the purpose of the store is surely going to change in the long run. Stores will exist for touch and feel, so that people can experience the product. Physical stores will remain in existence to engage consumers but the buying process is going to shift online in the future.
At Sonata Software, you provide solutions to retailers for their betterment. Are Indian retailers open to solutions or do they still consider online a possible threat/competitor?
If they are well aware of the situation, they should not consider online as a possible threat. It’s written everywhere. If you don’t go online, if you don’t hold technology’s hand and evolve, you will not be able to do business. Nobody should ask, ‘should I do it?’. Instead they need to ask: ‘when and how should I do it?’. It’s no longer a choice for retailers. They have to be open to it.
What according to you is Omnichannel retail?
It’s anytime, anywhere, any device. I should be able to do commerce from wherever I am in the world. The consumer can have any kind of wish fulfillment through it. That is true Omnichannel retail for me.