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In the ‘new normal’, innovations, inventions & contactless experiences will rule the retail space

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It is rightly said that some of the biggest changes need some situations like COVID-19 to bring about important transformation. The crisis has increased digital adoption significantly with companies and even customers going digital for getting their jobs done. Times have changed and there is no denying that this pandemic is going to change how we do many things, forever.

Sustainability & Responsible Fashion

The future of fashion will be around natural, durable, and bio-degradable, basis different studies and figures. The customer has had time to reflect during the lockdown and is now more inclined
towards sustainability and eco-friendly fashion.

Social Distancing To Become The Norm

Even though many governments are allowing retail stores to open, they’re doing so while imposing a strict set of guidelines and conditions to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. If the stores want to do business, they have no choice but to comply with these guidelines.

The problem for the stores in imposing social distancing norms is that it limits the number of customers that can be present inside the premises, leading to fewer sales.

The Fear Of Infection Would Be Key To Making Sales

Wearing masks, avoiding handshakes, and sanitizing hands have now become a habit. Naturally, shoppers would prefer to go to establishments that have strict hygiene measures in place. A survey conducted in the US showed that 87 percent of fashion buyers preferred shopping at places that offered contactless, cashless shopping, and self-checkout options. The idea of a “cashless transaction system” has existed in India for a while now, and this pandemic could accelerate its adoption.

The Moment Of Omnichannel

While large and small retailers launched Omnichannel initiatives to facilitate retail for consumers with even mom-and-pop stores offering contactless curbside pick-up, appointment-based shopping will become the new norm in the coming days, and shops will have to work around it.

Innovation Adoption

Along with hygienic measures, the retail industry has sped up its rate of technological adoption in the new normal. Currently, 95 percent of Indian retail sales happen at physical stores and online contributes to only 5 percent, and this is expected to change dramatically to breach the double-digit mark within the next one or one and half year.

The need to stay away from each other during the ongoing pandemic has made the industry think and use technology that was previously targeted at solving a different problem – convenience – to offering an altogether different advantage of lower interaction between people, products, and infrastructure.

Retailers are now increasingly looking at implementing contactless and mobile payments for transactions to avoid touch as much as possible.

Moving forward, rethought store designs will reconceptualise how brick-and-mortar stores serve multiple purposes of consumers. The stores will move from trying to attract more and more consumers at a given point in time to try to minimize the number of people inside the outlet at a time or even resorting to appointment-based shopping.

While there is uncertainty on when consumers will start coming back to offline retail stores, consumers have already started embracing the new normal.

Technological Need Of The Moment

As the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-viral fabric have become the buzzword in the textile industry. Industry players said that technology for anti-viral or anti-microbial textiles existed even before the pandemic and was being used largely by doctors and health workers in hospital settings. After the pandemic hit, demand for these fabrics have skyrocketed and players across globe are launching their own ranges.

Current Innovations & Inventions

Van Heusen Launches Anti-Viral Shirts: This range is treated with HeiQ Viroblock NPJ03 Anti-Viral technology that is tested to provide resistance against common viruses (enveloped) and bacteria as per AATCC100 and ISO18184 global testing methods, up to 20 gentle washes. Resistance against COVID-19 is yet to be assessed.

Amicor, Aditya Birla Group: Amicor, an Anti-Microbial Fiber From Thai Acrylic Fibre (Taf) of Aditya Birla Group, has been tested effective against the Sars-COVID-2 Virus. The fiber, which can reduce the virus by 99 percent in only 18 seconds, has all three properties: antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral. Hence, Amicor offers the highest level of protection against all the three kinds of micro-organisms, bacteria, fungus, and viruses.

Moreover, the fiber is durable and can be reused and maintains its efficiency up to 100 washes. One of the most important success stories of the development is in the use of denim where the fabric can maintain the effectiveness even after heavy washes.

IIT Delhi Start-Ups Launch Antiviral Shirts: Two start-ups – E-TEX and Clensta incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) – have jointly launched anti-viral T-shirts and a COVID-19 protection lotion at an affordable price.

Snapdeal In Partnership With Ottonomy IO To Test Robotic Deliveries In Delhi-NCR: Indian e-commerce firm Snapdeal has teamed up with Ottonomy IO, a tech start-up known for building autonomous delivery robot fleets, to test robotic deliveries in the Delhi-NCR region. The initiative is for facilitating last-mile contactless delivery using robots that feature a first-of-its-kind in-built disinfector that sanitizes the packet using ultraviolet rays on its way.

Indian Tech Startup Develops Nanotech Coating For Textiles To Destroy Coronavirus: After IIT-Hyderabad, IIT-Madras has stepped up to combat the COVID-19 challenge! Muse Nanobots, a tech startup and a subsidiary of Muse Wearables which is also an IIT- Madras-incubated firm, has come up with a nanotech coating for textiles. This coating claims to inactivate the Coronavirus within 5 minutes of contact. This nano-coated textile aims to provide enhanced protection as India has started opening businesses after months of COVID-19 lockdown.

Malls Unveil New Features On Its ‘Lukout App’ To Enable A Safe & Convenient Shopping Experience: One of India’s biggest physical marketplace, DLF Malls has unveiled exciting new features on its ‘DLF Malls Lukout app’ to facilitate a safe and convenient shopping experience for its customers post the lockdown. The new ‘Shop Safe’ feature on the app uses advanced algorithms, data from multiple sensors to calculate real-time mall traffic and safety updates, and informs customers on the permissible number versus the actual number of people (at any given point of time) in the mall as per social distancing norm. This would help consumers make an informed decision on the time to visit the mall. The app also allows shoppers to express check-in through Safe Pass or their Aarogya Setu QR code.

This has helped the DLF Shopping Malls transform the overall experience during the pandemic. The features in the app enable the customers to plan their mall visits by pre-booking their time slot while sitting at home. Another one-of-its-kind new feature is the ‘Lukout Closet’, which is a digital wardrobe for fashion enthusiasts. This complete immersive visual experience helps curate the look as per the season’s latest trends.

Furthermore, the exclusive DLF Malls Shop Assist service connects consumers with the brand’s store manager directly. This feature also enables shoppers to enjoy live video calling and virtual video navigation.

Know All About Nila! India’s first digital model Inega, a service provider for photography, models, etc., has launched India’s very first digital model ‘Nila’. With this, the company became India’s first agency to represent a digital model. This development marks India’s foray into the world of the digital ramp, after other international digital influencers Sudhu and Imma Gram. Nila made her first appearance via her Instagram handle @nila.gram and via Inega’s official handle

The concept of the virtual digital model has already been accepted internationally. Brands like Valentino, Dior, and Prada have welcomed virtual models into their campaigns to complement real models. From brand endorsements in static and motion media to virtual fashion shows, Nila is all set to revolutionize the norms of the industry. The innovation has opened a road to create the concept of supermodels in India. The fashion world and brand endorsements are extremely dynamic ones and there is a need for newer experience and concept every time.

Ikea India Introduces Click & Collect: To Facilitate Contactless Shopping IKEA India has introduced Click & Collect shopping experience at its Hyderabad store to enable contactless shopping for customers amidst COVID-19. The service is available for IKEA’s different range of products including home furniture, work furniture, cooking essentials, and textiles. The introduction of this service is to reduce the contact between the customer and staff


“Virtual reality is going to be a new normal moving forward. A great online experience is what’s going to attract customers, so brands and companies will have to innovate and focus more on the digital and virtual experiences. Offline shopping will become a secondary medium, we can expect to see a rise in virtual shopping stores, models to try on clothes through the screen, etc. We’re going to witness a renewed revolution of the digital era with newer technologies and applications. The change in consumer behaviour is permanent and now the retail industry has to adapt to the new normal. The new mantra is touch as little as necessary and sanitizes when you do. Retail stores will not look the same as they used to before the pandemic hit the country and the world.

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