India's overall retail market dropped by 18 percent last year, which was deemed as the worst-hit faced comparing the yesteryears. The reason behind this is the pandemic that changed the face of shopping along with buyer preferences. The past year saw many customers moving towards online portals to make a purchase.
The report by E-Marketer states that the booming e-commerce sector in India will see an upward growth trajectory of 27 percent for $66.76 billion in sales in 2021.
The change in customer preferences and the e-commerce boom has propelled the migration of brick-and-mortar stores to start their online journey more than ever since digitization is accelerating rapidly.
The digital revolution has offered its customers an unparalleled and tailored experience that connects them to products and services at the click of a button. However, one cannot ignore the importance of a brick-and-mortar store as customers see an offline store as the most direct way of engaging with a brand. Hence, more retailers have commenced their online journey to harness the opportunity to realize that e-retailing is India's future while retaining their offline stores. Offline retailers are looking to build a connection between both online and offline mediums to expand their reach to the audience.
Adoption of Omnichannel as the Path Forward
There is a seismic shift in customer preferences in recent times. Shopping behavior has shifted to an omnichannel retail experience where the brand meets the customers online and offline through multiple channels. Brands also ensure that the branding is consistent everywhere for a unified and consistent experience called the connected customer experience. Research states that though many customers still prefer the physical store but before buying they check its reputation online.
Why is the Transition Happening?
The world has moved on to online channels due to the many challenges posed by the pandemic. Undoubtedly, many vendors have understood that a brick-and-mortar structure is not enough to reach consumers, and digitization is also considered a drastic step to global expansion.
Last year, the e-commerce sector saw an upward graph of 94 percent volume growth compared to the previous year. The number of internet users in India increased by 47 million (+8.2 percent) between 2020 and 2021, while the number of social media users in India increased by 78 million (+21 percent) during the same period. This number constitutes 32.3 percent of the total population in January 2021.
In a hyper-connected world, customers shuffle between online and offline stores to make a purchase. Hence, they expect seamless online shopping experiences, making retailers adapt to new consumer needs and recalibrate their marketing approach to tailor customer behavior. Moreover, understanding customer needs will take the retail marketing many notches up, garnering more traffic to the offline store.
With many people shifting to digital shopping, it is high time for brick-and-mortar stores to leverage social media for sustaining their business during the pandemic and the way forward. Harnessing the e-commerce boom will undoubtedly accelerate the retail stores to greater heights than ever before.