Given the size and price-points of furniture, Indian consumer has been used to buying bigger items like furniture only from actual brick and mortar furniture stores. But with online stores barging into this industry, retail outlets have taken a back seat.
Online shopping has not only provided us a seamless platform for shopping but has also come across as a blessing to the retailers. Sellers have the power to enjoy an Omni-channel model of retail, giving them massive popularity over the traditional retail stores.
Consumers are attracted towards online buying because of the wide range online, variety, discounts and more for every product or service which is why it is both attractive and convenient. This is further doubled with retailers operating through multiple channels.
Analysing the buying trend in furniture segment over the decades, one can find that the consumers now prefer the Omni-channel over the physical furniture stores, as it provides them with a seamless shopping experience. It also drives the growth in retailing as the retailers can enjoy their presence across all channels.
As per Google India, the number of online shoppers in India is likely to cross the 100 million mark by the end of 2016, rising from 35 million in 2014 Q1. Another report of Juniper Research suggests that more than two billion smart phone or tablet users globally will be making more e -commerce transactions through mobile before 2017 comes to an end.
India is already ranking as the second largest market by user numbers with 3 internet users being added every second. Moreover, internet penetration in India is expected to touch 59 per cent by end of the year 2020.
There is a noticeable shift from retail stores to online shopping by the fact that eCommerce is growing at 35 per cent CAGR. Also, population of online shoppers in India in 2015 was approximately 50 million which is expected to go up to 320 million in the year 2020.
Why Omni-channel retail?
With the population of urban buyers increasing and with their incomes coming in at a steady rate, everyone wants to create a home which has stylish furniture, furnishings, and décor items but only if they are available conveniently. Due to the paucity of time in today’s busy lifestyle, no one wants to store-hop but rather use their computer savviness to select stuff online and get it delivered at their doorstep.
Omni-channel offers that flexibility to the consumer where they can go to a retail store, check out the products physically, and then order them online from wherever comfortable while also availing great discounts.
It is also therefore imperative for the retailers too to change their business modus operandi and sail according to the on-going trends and current requirements. They must make sure to be available to the consumer at any place, any time, and at any medium. HouseFull.com is doing exactly that. Great products offerings and service only are not enough nowadays, but one has to make sure that consumers can reach the brands from anywhere, at any location, through their desktop, tablets, and mobiles on the go.
Another added advantage of Omni-channel over retail stores is the ease of making data driven decisions. It is far easier in case of online selling to analyse and measure performance against benchmarks by using specialised web analytics tools for more actionable insights. According to a report by McKinsey, companies that make extensive use of customer analytics see a 126 per cent profit improvement over competitors.
Retail stores majorly depend on their old customers who are loyal and visit the store every time. While this may not be a bad approach, the challenge in this format is the lack of real estate. For instance, no retailer can display 2000 products in a store but it’s a piece of cake to display them on an eCommerce platform.
Also, the price is a major advantage that online furniture shopping offers. Omni-channel offers the freedom to surf through anything and everything without having to face any embarrassment or hesitation in stepping into a showroom which has products more than the buyer’s budget. With so many benefits of omni-channel retail, unquestionably it has an edge over retailers who are still stuck with only the brick and mortar stores.
This article has been written by Akshay Chaturvedi, CEO, Housefull.com.