Omni-presence in retailing translates to being present in more than one retail channel. It became one of the most successful strategies among retailers across the world in 2015, in orderto stay relevant. This strategy was also followed by both domestic and international retailers in India. The importance of being present across more than one retail channel became imperative as increasing disposable incomes put brand loyalty in the back seat. As a result, newly empowered consumers have the bargaining power in their hands.
Indian retailers boarded the omni-channel wagon early on
One of the biggest challenges for Indian retailers in the year 2015-2016 was attracting repeat consumers. Consumers are spoilt with options, as a result of which the likelihood of a consumer returning to the same retailer, or even being a regular consumer for a retail channel, is extremely low.
The majority of leading retailers in India recognised this challenge early on and started to be present in more than one channel from 2012. A few of the leading companies in India, who were traditionally brick and mortar retailers such as Tata Group, Aditya Birla Retail Ltd, Titan Company Ltd, Reliance Retail Ltd, Shoppers Stop Ltd and Future Group, are now present in more than one channel.
This phenomenon is most successful for apparel and footwear specialist, department stores and grocery retailers in India. Companies such as Lifestyle International Pvt Ltd, Marks and Spencer Reliance India Pvt Ltd, and Avenue Super Marts Ltd who are among the market leaders in these channels can be expected to become omni-present as well, in order to grab share of the growing market in 2015-2016.
Myntra goes back to two channels
Smartphones in India enjoy one of the strongest penetration rates among electronics and appliances. As a result of this, the use of phones for browsing, pre-purchase research and shopping was extremely common in India in 2015. In order to benefit from the growing number of mobile phone users, Myntra.com one of the leading online apparel stores in May 2015 went completely mobile.
Despite the fact that the company is well established, with a strong consumer base, both new and repeat, Myntra, relaunched a new mobile website in February 2016. This new portal does not allow actual sales, but provides consumers another way to research before making a purchase.
This move by Myntra re-iterated the importance of omni-presence among retailers, as even a successful retailer such as Myntra had to provide more than one option to consumers to browse and shop.
Amazon’s third attempt in India to become omni-present
Amazon in India in 2014-2015 launched Kirana Now and Amazon Pick Up services. Although neither of the services was successful in India, these attempts were made by the retailer to break into the strong store-based retail market in the country. In October 2015, the company launched assisted shopping points namely “Amazon.in Kendra”. These shopping points were only present in Maharashtra in 2015. This new channel allows consumers with no internet-enabled device, to go and shop at the Amazon store. The product gets delivered at the same store, for the consumer to pick up.
Online furniture retailer Pepperfry enters click and mortar channel
Trendsutra Platform Services Pvt Ltd-owned retailer, Pepperfry.com, in December 2014 launched its first click and mortar store in Mumbai. This was followed by another store opening in Bangalore in 2015. The phenomenon of online retailers going offline or click and mortar was new to the Indian retail scape. It's however seen as alogical strategy as Indians continued to prefer store-based retailing for expensive purchases such as furniture.
Omni-presence emerged as more of a necessity for a successful retail business in 2015, than just an added presence. With eight of the 10 leading retailers in India already present in more than one channel, omni-presence is one of the most successful retail strategies to remain relevant among new and empowered Indian consumers.
Author's Bio: Shabori Das is a senior research analyst with Euromonitor International. She is responsible for services and payment industries which includes retailing, travel, finance and foodservice, research for India and Pakistan.