As we adapt to the Covid-19 challenges, e-commerce will play a crucial role in the retail sector and will drive long-term changes in consumer behavior.
Even before the current situation, Indian retailers were anticipating strong e-commerce growth in 2020. As a result of the Coronavirus, the sector can expect two waves of accelerated e-commerce development. The effectiveness of local and global efforts to navigate through the dual health and economic crises will determine the length, size, and time between these waves of development. Throughout these waves, various categories will be affected in different ways.
The pandemic has struck fashion retailers particularly hard, with many already on the verge of going out of business or slashing their store network and workforce.
Although e-commerce trading may increase in the grocery, liquor, healthcare, home maintenance, and recreational sectors during this first wave, apparel and footwear will suffer. The clothing and footwear categories, on the other hand, are expected to resurge stronger than ever when the second wave hits.
Although apparel demand has improved in recent quarters, it is still well below pre-Covid levels. Apart from that, the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in major metros and tier-I cities is likely to keep demand low in the near term.
According to a survey, the full recovery for Indian apparel companies will be delayed until 2022-23 due to the revival of Covid-19 pandemic cases. Even enabling stores to remain open hasn't stopped a second round of Covid-19 lockdowns from wreaking havoc on the fashion industry.
The crowds that usually fill shopping malls and shopping centers have not vanished. They may be more cost-conscious and purchase a variety of items, but they are still shopping. The lines are undetectable, but they are crashing servers and online fulfillment processes all over the world. Many e-commerce outlets are unable to satisfy current demand, resulting in revenue being lost.
Categories that have been reluctant to adopt the Internet must now rapidly increase their capacity and capability. To broaden access to the channel, the industry as a whole must move quickly and provide innovative solutions. Converting stores to dark stores, developing click and collect pop-ups, ramping up phone ordering if e-commerce sites are unstable, converting store teams to local distribution teams, and working with other retailers are some of the ways retailers are dealing with this new demand. Although these solutions are inelegant, they allow revenue to continue to flow and people to retain their jobs during the lockdown.
During physical distancing limits, customers may have become accustomed to purchasing clothes online. When they are ready to spend again, they will begin by doing so online – and more purchases will most likely remain online. Shopping malls will reopen, but digital will almost certainly play a greater role. During the early recovery phase, retailers with truly omnichannel experiences would be better placed to prosper.
We anticipate a change in the types of goods purchased. Previously, Indian customers shopped online for more discretionary products like clothing and electronics. They are now shopping online for necessities such as groceries, pharmacy products, and alcohol. We expect most categories to see an acceleration in online channel development in the post-Coronavirus period.
A shift in consumerism is another trend we should expect to see. People's attitudes toward money and material objects, as well as how they work and shop, will be influenced by our collective current experiences. The current state of physical separation is emphasizing the importance of community and relation to our environment for many people. Consumers will place a renewed emphasis on their health and well-being, family time, and improving their living environment, and retailers will be expected to deliver all of these items at a reasonable cost, in a sustainable and responsible manner.
Retailers, on the other hand, must accelerate their digital transformation. Many Indian retailers are still a long way from doing this, and they must be careful not to jump into permanent solutions to avoid spending money they may regret. Once temporary measures are in place, retailers must devote time and resources to developing a more flexible operating model that can respond to emergencies such as the pandemic, which experts predict will become more prevalent in the future. Consumers, suppliers, and workers all depend on digital and e-commerce, and it is critical to retail's survival and rebirth.