Five decades ago, when it came to buying anything, it would mean people flocking around bazaars, negotiate rigorously, look for options, and found their way out. The retail industry has come a long way since then, with the lines between these shopping streets and e-commerce blurring every second as we breath.
In a world where consumers are spoilt for options, the typical glass box approach is only a recipe for failure for any retailer. Now, people now love to window shop, compare prices and buy online, get it delivered and try out at home, and perhaps return to stores. In other words, they would like to have an Omni-Channel interaction with the brand, without too much intrusion into their lives. They would like to have the speed of digital commerce and the taste of retail shopping at stores, all blended into one.
Evolution for brands became a critical need. The shift towards Omni-channel formats is both global and inevitable. While online retail is growing with massive potential, the consumer still doesn’t want to part ways touch and feel a thing, so the value of offline retail remains and there is a convergence of platforms, which will help brands cater to different types of customers, for a better in-store experience. Foreign brands continue to set up shops in India while online stores have also felt the necessity to go offline- it is a two-way street. One size fits all approach wouldn’t work for all brands, and each one making its own strategy to make inroads in the market.
The Indian retail industry is expected to grow to US$ 1,200 billion by 2021 from US$ 672 billion in 2017 and India tends to be one of the hottest spots for retail across the globe, according to IBEF. Technology is at the heart of this growth. Internet penetration, rise in e-commerce, increase in purchasing power, and changing consumer habits are pushing the boundaries of retail. The entry of foreign players through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI route) has also opened up many new avenues for consumers and merchants. The sector buoyed by these trends will be one of the biggest in the economy. As investments propel coupled with advantages of GST, the share of organized retail is expected to increase to 20 per cent by 2020 from less than 10 per cent which what it is now, as per a report by Deloitte.
What Does This Mean for Brands and Retailers?
The biggest inference is that retail is not just about mom and pop stores. It has to solve some of its most critical issues by using technology. It is the moment that stores and new technologies joined forces and provided consumers with elevated and more personalised forms of retail experiences. Today retail exists in different forms and ways, whether we talk about e-commerce through website and apps, physical stores or even virtual stores to choose from. As the consumer went digital, so did their favourite brands.
As touchpoints for consumers converge, technologies keep evolving, the retail industry will continue to experience transformation. The omnichannel trend is here to say and will be omnipresent. Technology will be the driving force in the segment because today’s consumer doesn’t wait and has a wide variety to choose from. It is imperative for the retailers to then understand the significance of channel-agnostic strategies and offer a seamless integration of services across platforms- which will be the future of retail, as we speak.