The last year was marked by a significant shift in consumer behaviour and shopping choices, with the digital space emerging as the winner over the brick-and-mortar counterparts.
The good thing is that after the initial debacle, we continued to show our resilience and were able to carve slow yet concrete recovery. With cases under control and new hope in the form of the vaccine, businesses are coming back to normal.
However, things would not be the same as it has been in the past. In the new normal, the overall retailing experience is set to be altered.
Making Online as the New Normal
The future of retail will be pinned on the growing expansion of the web world. The recent crisis has seen millions of new users joining the web world for the 1st time. As consumer behaviour is shifting, the power of the web is going to rise. The uptrend of going digital will further get a buying boost from the fact that more than two-thirds of Indians are aged below 35. Young demographics will be a crucial growth enabler for digital commerce to evolve and flourish in the country.
Amidst this industry-wide transformation, retailers need to understand that just having a web presence would not suffice. They have to build a strong digital footprint that can handle and manage the complete lifecycle of a customer smoothly. The time has come where both creativity and analytics will go hand in hand to give the best to the customers and business alike.
Bricks-and-Mortar Retail Need to be More Personalized
No matter how humongous growth online commerce experiences, the brick & mortar stores are here to stay. E-commerce can never completely replace regular shops. There is a personal touch and feel in shops, which e-commerce can’t replicate. For Indians, a high street or a shopping mall is not just about shopping, rather it is a social experience. People prefer to visit such places with friends or/ and families and alongside shop prefer to enjoy, entertain, dine-out, etc. Malls and high streets are also designed in such a way that it gives visitors a complete experience to relax and unwind.
Retailers need to understand the unique proposition a physical store offers and should always try to revamp their set-up to keep giving unique and personalized experiences to visitors. Shoppers should not just get an enriching shopping experience but also feel relaxed and comfortable. In a nutshell, a shopping experience should not just be another to-do list that needs to be accomplished. Rather it should entertain and engage the shopper in such a way that he/she should feel like doing it again and again.
The Rise of Experiential Retail
Retailers need to nurture engagement at every touchpoint, be it digital or in-store experiences. Experiential retailing is nothing new as it has existed for some time. However, the novel Coronavirus has certainly expedited the entire process. As more digital apps, technologies, and analytics have emerged, so has the pressing need for experiential marketing.
As retailers, we need to break the cloud and move up the curve in this new world. Our store needs to be the true representation of our brand. Our social media can no longer just rely on monologue communication as it needs to increasingly feature user-generated real content.
Likewise, the products need to loop in customer feedback diligently and accordingly modify/ improve the offerings. As technology has further democratized the process of shopping, retailers need to adapt to the new reality or rather the new normal. From C-suites to mechanizers, everyone has to put the idea of customer experience and engagement at the center. There probably is no other alternative.
The times ahead are both challenging as well as interesting. There will be a lot of interplay of technology, analytics, and aesthetics. It will be a brand & bold new world, where art and science both will exist in a synchronized fashion.