While the retail sector has undoubtedly suffered badly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it has brought growth with it for a certain section of retail. The lockdown following the pandemic made corporates discover the fact that it is not necessary for their employees to travel to their offices every day. Working remotely is possible and in most cases even more productive and economically effective for both the organization and the employees. The work-from-home model which was adapted as a forced short-term measure to keep the virus at bay is gradually becoming a part of the modern-day work model for many organizations.
The work-from-home model has so many advantages for both employees and the organizations that many firms are thinking of completely shifting to this mode even after the pandemic has been conquered. These include improved efficiency, mental wellbeing, cost savings, and a healthier bottom-line.
One unlikely impact of the work-from-home is on the growth in local retail. At the first sight, there seems to be no connection between the two, however, when one looks deeper and analyses local markets, the dots begin to get connected. When people travel to offices for work, they spend a lot of time away from home working and traveling. During workdays, they hardly find any time for shopping. Most people do their shopping on weekends which entails either going online or visiting malls to shop for their needs. Things, however, have changed recently.
When people work from home, they are now exploring their local markets. The local markets offer several advantages over Internet shopping or malls. Customers need not take out a special day like a weekend to visit a local retail shop. The shops next door are convenient to visit any day of the week. Also, local retailers have shown remarkable resilience and initiative during this time. Most of them have refined their delivery models further by launching simple apps of their own and using third-party delivery services for efficiency. A simple phone call or a WhatsApp message to the neighborhood retailer is enough to get delivery immediately. Even the best e-commerce portals do not provide such personalized service.
Local retailers are also coming up with new promotion ideas, discounts, and schemes to hold on to their loyal customers. They are increasing the range and variety of their products and providing free home deliveries. The work-from-home has pumped a new enthusiasm in the local retail which was facing stiff competition from fancy malls and online shopping websites.
Another trend that may accentuate in coming times is the tier-2 and tier3 cities emulating the practices of metro cities. Metro cities and big corporate hubs attract migrants from small towns. With work from the home facility on offer, a lot of people are moving back to their hometowns. This not only saves their cost of living in a city but also allows them to work as per their comfort in their native place while being close to their loved ones. This will propel the growth of tier-II and III markets as local spending increased with disposable income available right there in these places. This is bound to boost these local markets.
These tailwinds may not last forever, but this is all the support smart Indian entrepreneurs require to get a much-needed start for their local retail initiatives.