If you ask a brick & mortar retailer who has worked in this industry since last 17 years, will never embrace or talk more about this e-com & m-com but rather stick to the same old style of retailing, which is a direct selling from the shop or outlet
Retail is changing now and if we don’t match with this current transformation, we all will become Radio Shack, Payless, Gymboree, etc. to name a few where few of their shops or outlets got closed already.
Reasons can be many but yes, of course, e-com and m-com are one of the reasons for sure.
My Brick Experience
My retail journey started in 2001 in India for few months and then within a couple of months, moved to Middle East where I joined Landmark Group and there I learned all the basics of retailing. Those were the golden days of retail in the Middle East in General and Dubai or UAE in particular as the industry was witnessing double digit growth year on year and every company was opening new shops, bringing new brands in the market, addition of new malls was happening and retail was one of the most happening sectors at that time.
Over the period of years, have worked in front end on the floor, back-end too in the capacity of buyer and then moved to sales and operations profile, where I was responsible for the complete region in terms of sales, daily operations, business development, new store addition and opening, P&L, NP, GP, top line and bottom line.
Retail is never a dull moment for any of us who enjoy this profession as I always believe that every second count on the floor and every customer who comes inside the store is a potential buyer and we all need to get the customer converted as a buyer and then he/she should leave the shop. Retail is more of a theatre where you get instant feedback on everything instantly on the floor rather a three hours movie which is a one-way show.
Now, the present retail is completely different where each and every customer is mobile and tech-savvy, don’t want to waste time, energy and lose more money in browsing or buying their respective stuff. In fact, customer compares the price inside the store only between retail shop and an online shop and if the deal is better online, they will order online from the store itself and then leave the store without buying anything. With the advent of smartphones and low-cost internet or data, all of us have become smarter and if retail is not changing as per the customer’s progress, the footfall inside the store will keep on declining and the store will show degrowth year on year.
We see very basics while designing a physical shop as it should be customer friendly in terms of walking, browsing, lighting, height of the shelf, etc. and same has to be applied while designing an app or a website where homepage has to be user friendly, placement of words or logo of the company on the page, ease of browsing the categories, etc., all have to be checked and scrutinized. Physical retail is always in detail and clicks retail is more of digital.
Retailtainment or fun while shopping is still valid but now it has to be backed with digital experience where the customers can shop online too from the same shop for the same brand and not from their mobile, rather keeping the tablet or a big screen TV which should be having a free access to all.
I strongly feel that if the shop is not upgrading themselves digitally and with full of entertainment and personalised attention, it will be a dead store soon and those retailers who follow this omnichannel strategy and seamless shopping experience, will survive in this digital evolution.
E-Com or M-Com?
Now, which is better? Online or Offline Shopping and what is the future of e-com and m-com in India?
As per data, India’s population is 1.3 billion, and by 2025, there will be 850 million online shoppers and by 2025, 30% - 35%, retail sales will be from online channels. By 2023, e-com & m-com market in India will be 56 million USD. So, there is a definitely big future of this medium and all retailers need to adapt to go ONLINE but at the same time, offline will never die but it has to be backed with digital experience to ensure good sales from within the store itself.
The article has been penned down by Amir Faizi, Retail Consultant, TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi. Amir is a retail professional with 16 years of international work experience and worked in UAE, Oman & Qatar with big retailers like Landmark Group, Apparel Group, Sana Fashions and Pure Gold group. Worked in both front end and back end of retail and having a complete understanding of the Middle Eastern retail market. Came back to India last year, and presently associated with TRIFED, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi as a retail consultant and looking after sales, operations, e-commerce, publicity and social media marketing. A great enthusiast of eCom and m-com now and learning this new era of digital retail.