Offline retail tug of war with the eCommerce horizon
Offline retail tug of war with the eCommerce horizon

E-Commerce has left a deep impact on the way people once shopped. With the increasing penetration of smartphones and emergence of online marketplaces, online portals are drawing large pools of loyal customers away from their favorite physical retailers, the latter finding it tough to keep up with the variety and prices that these portals offer.

Predatory pricing is on the rise in the young and nascent e-commerce sector, where new rounds of investments year after year are ensuring fresh and aggressive selling.

The traditional brick and mortar stores have been feeling the pinch and many have reported plummeting sales. The tipping point has led to some retailers shutting shop or downscaling to smaller stores, letting go of loyal and well-trained staff. The worst hit are the small-time local businesses that run out of neighbourhood plazas.

Does e-commerce boom mean it’s the death-knell for offline stores?... Certainly not
There is a silver lining behind every cloud. Change is inevitable, and most of the traditional stores have been in the business for a long time, resisting economic tides and upheavals. Their resilience and determination is propelling them to innovate and find newer ways to tackle the e-commerce threat.

Here are some measures that offline retailers are taking to counter the e-commerce pressure:

- Cashing in on the ‘feel good’ experience
The 21st century has replaced the ‘need-for’ based shopping by a ‘want-for’ based experience. People all over the world, including India, are now no longer reluctant to spend money to ‘feel’ good. Retail therapy is the best stress-buster for many.
Offline stores that understand that shoppers love to be pampered are going all out to enhance the user experience, where their online counterparts are at a loss. It is all about designing the right shopping experience. From virtually enabled digital in-store experience, to having trained staff personally handle each customer, offering a free coffee or refreshments and hosting interesting events, stores are doing it all, even if it does not lead toenhanced sales volumes immediately. Rather, their focus has moved to having happy customers.
Stores offer free karaoke sessions and free childcare corners whilst the parents shop around the store. There are innovations like free makeup and hair styling in apparel shops. The satisfaction of physically touching the object of desire, trying on the clothes or accessories that one wants to buy, feeling the texture and even holding and evaluating the features of an electronic item like a smartphone before purchasing, are the main crowd-pullers that stores can confidently bank on by playing their cards right to improve the overall user experience.

- Leveraging omni-channel support
Offline stores should not view the online world as an enemy. Rather, they can augment their own services over the two mediums, seamlessly integrating the omni-channel strategy to drive their sales and revenue. They can launch their own apps, for instance, and encourage people to download these apps when in the physical stores, even offering them attractive rewards for the same.
Similarly, many stores even allow customers to view or buy a product online and then pick it up from a physical outlet. This gives the users a chance to conveniently shop online and validate the product physically, so they are fully convinced about it. For example,you might like a watch or a new gadget online, but would like to validate the product before actually buying it, and hence would like to physically examine it in a physical store and then buy it, with an option to exchange it or even return it if not satisfied.
Many others are adopting “apps” from retail-centric start-ups, which allows a physical store to reach out to an on-line buyer and showcase their merchandise with minimal overheads. Almost all retailers have a smartphone and are tech savvy. The technical challenges are gone and retailers are open to using all channels to reach out to the customer.
PriceMap is one such app that allows customers to view their favourite product online, yet pick it up from an offline store after being fully assured of its quality, features etc., so they have no regrets later. In the process, using an online model, it is also empowering offline stores by driving traffic their way.
In a win-win situation, it also draws the online tech-savvy customers to the store, and increases the opportunities of impulse purchases, cross-selling and up-selling. A discovery thus made online or in-store should continue at home or on-the-go. This is what the user is likely to value the most.

- Hospitality of your brand
Some brands are offering pure boutique-only experiences to users, where the focus is not sales at all. Rather it’s about encouraging them to move out and socialize. The Apple i-Store is one such initiative. Such boutiques are platforms to entertain the guests and engage them in conversations over free refreshments, and in the process,build brand value. The services and products on offer here are exclusively availablein select stores or channels only, akin to a limited-edition item or designer-label. As word-of-mouth spreads, this in turn drives repeat and more customers back to offline stores, who sell the brand.
Brands can, in fact, add valuable add-ons like free Wi-Fi. Similarly, pop-up stores are the latest entrantsto help brands connect with customers. These stores are on-the-move shops and to travel to places to connect with consumers; something like a shop-on-wheels.

Conclusion
Many online e-commerce stores now understand the value of physical contact. They are, therefore, launching their own pop-up stores and devising innovative ways to build a connect with their customers.
Sure, e-commerce is not going anywhere. But, smart strategizing can definitely help the traditional, yet more experienced physical stores to adapt and grow their businesses. They are after all the masters of the game!

Author's Bio: This article has been authored by Suresh Kabra, Founder, PriceMap Ventures LLP

 
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Same Day Delivery: The Best Way To Grow Your Online Store in 2023
Same Day Delivery: The Best Way To Grow Your Online Store in 2023
 

In today's fast-paced world, where convenience and speed are paramount, same-day delivery has emerged as a crucial factor in the success of online businesses. As an online store owner, implementing a reliable same-day delivery service can significantly enhance your customer experience and drive growth for your business. This article will explore the importance of same-day delivery and provide valuable insights on how to leverage this service to grow your online store in 2023.

The Rise of Same-Day Delivery

In recent years, same-day delivery has become a game-changer in the e-commerce industry. Customers now expect their purchases to arrive quickly, and businesses that can meet these expectations gain a competitive edge. Same-day delivery offers the convenience of instant gratification, eliminating the waiting time between purchase and delivery. By providing this service, online stores can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

The Benefits 

Implementing same-day delivery for your online store comes with a myriad of benefits. Firstly, it gives you a significant advantage over competitors who offer only standard shipping options. By providing fast delivery, you increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, leading to repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth. Additionally, same-day delivery enables you to tap into the impulse buying behavior of customers who prefer instant gratification.

Implementing Same-Day Delivery for Your Online Store

To integrate same-day delivery into your online store, you have several options.

  • Partnering with Local Delivery Services: One approach is to collaborate with local delivery services. By partnering with established courier companies in your area, you can leverage their existing infrastructure and expertise in handling last-mile deliveries. This partnership allows you to offer reliable and efficient same-day delivery to your customers without investing in delivery operations.
  •  Utilizing Third-Party Logistics Providers: Another option is to utilize third-party logistics providers (3PLs) specializing in same-day delivery. These companies have extensive networks, advanced tracking systems, and expertise in time-sensitive deliveries. By outsourcing your delivery operations to a trusted 3PL, you can focus on your core business while ensuring reliable and speedy order fulfillment.
  • Establishing In-House Delivery Operations: For larger online stores with high order volumes, establishing in-house delivery operations may be a viable solution. This involves hiring and training your own delivery personnel, acquiring delivery vehicles, and optimizing your logistics processes. While it requires a significant investment, having full control over the delivery process can offer greater flexibility and customization.

Overcoming Challenges in Same-Day Delivery

While same-day delivery offers numerous advantages, it also presents challenges that need to be addressed to ensure smooth operations.

 

  • Managing Inventory and Warehousing: Efficient inventory management and warehousing are critical for successful same-day delivery. It is crucial to have real-time visibility of stock levels and optimize your warehousing locations. Consider taking advantage of the 3rd Warehousing concept by establishing warehouses in different cities to minimize transit time and improve delivery speed.
  • Optimizing Delivery Routes and Logistics: Planning efficient delivery routes and optimizing logistics play a vital role in same-day delivery. Utilize route optimization software and leverage data analytics to identify the most efficient routes and streamline your delivery operations. This ensures timely deliveries while minimizing costs and resources.
  • Handling Customer Expectations and Support: Customers have high expectations when it comes to same-day delivery. It is essential to set realistic delivery timeframes and communicate them clearly to customers. Additionally, provide proactive updates on order status and offer exceptional customer support to address any concerns promptly. Transparency and responsiveness are key to maintaining customer satisfaction.

Tips for Successful Same-Day Delivery
To maximize the benefits of same-day delivery, consider implementing the following tips:

  • Investing in Technology and Automation: Leverage technology to automate various aspects of your delivery operations. Utilize inventory management systems, order tracking tools, and delivery management software to streamline processes and improve efficiency. Automation reduces errors, enhances visibility, and enables faster order processing.
  • Ensuring Efficient Order Processing: Efficient order processing is crucial for same-day delivery. Optimize your order fulfillment workflow to minimize processing time. Implement systems that enable seamless order capturing, inventory updates, and order prioritization based on delivery deadlines. This ensures quick and accurate order processing, setting the foundation for speedy delivery.
  • Adopting a Customer-Centric Approach: Place your customers at the center of your same-day delivery strategy. Understand their preferences, anticipate their needs, and personalize their delivery experience. Offer delivery options such as time slots or on-demand delivery to cater to their convenience. By providing a delightful and hassle-free delivery experience, you foster long-term customer loyalty.

Conclusion

In the competitive landscape of online retail, offering same-day delivery is no longer a luxury but a necessity. By implementing a reliable and efficient same-day delivery service, you can differentiate your online store, enhance customer satisfaction, and drive growth. However, it is essential to address challenges such as inventory management, logistics optimization, and customer support to ensure successful same-day delivery operations.

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Naveen Pandey, MD, AIPEX WORLDWIDE (OPC) PVT LTD

Naveen Pandey is an accomplished Managing Director with a proven track record of success in the logistics and supply chain industry. He currently serves as the Managing Director at AIPEX WORLDWIDE (OPC) PVT LTD, a leading company in the field.

 

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