It is that time of the year when customers eagerly wait to fulfill all their sartorial desires. From buying that expensive designer suit to a branded handbag, the end of season sale (EOSS) allows customers to shop for all their favourite or expensive products at discounted rates. Several shoppers avoid full-price merchandise or postpone their buying to grab some good deals during the EOSS period. They intentionally skip spending during the rest of the year. In the past few years, with e-commerce players offering massive discounts and attractive deals, customers are now left more spoilt for choice than ever before. The vast variety and exciting discounts, both online and offline are leaving customers in a quandary. Most of the e-commerce players are now tying up with offline retailers or are making their presence felt offline to enhance customers’ shopping experiences and grab a greater share of the lucrative EOSS pie.
In India, customers still want to touch and feel their products before they finalize their purchase. Often, e-commerce firms are unable to churn out the desired results during EOSS as compared to physical retail stores because of this very reason. To plug this gap, online retail businesses are setting up offline outlets or tying up with physical stores to cater to the demands of today’s market. They have realized that it is the physical realm of retail that still holds considerable power as compared to online stores. One of the major advantages of going offline is that it helps to improve customer engagement, augment brand presence and credibility along with bridging the gap between online and offline experiences. For example, offline stores can be an avenue for consumers to touch and try on apparels and other products before they make actual purchases online - a retail shop-online order model. No wonder then e-commerce players are rapidly charting out strategies to create an offline presence through physical stores and are reaching out to consumers in metros and tier II and III cities and towns alike.
Firms are strongly adopting omni-channel strategies to lure customers to their platform. Advantages of this approach are the ability to establish and reinforce a brand online and drive more visits or revenue to the same offline brand. This will help to enrich customer experiences as well as drive conversion rates due to the wide spectrum of services and platforms this kind of approach provides. This also helps to drive new customers, retain existing customers and influence sales both digitally and physically. For instance, Pune based-kids and baby store, FirstCry.com that started out as an online-only store soon realized the potential of the offline market and tapped into it with alacrity. Today, the online store opened multiple offline outlets across the country. Besides, Mahindra Retail merged operations of Babyoye, which had both online and offline presence, with that of FirstCry.com, which is now one of the largest online players in the maternity and baby care space. Chumbak Designs, that sells Indian-inspired wallets, bags and other accessories and apparels, has started its own stores in the country after it
With so many options and several platforms to choose from, customers are now spending wisely. They move through multiple platforms and devices to take a final call on their purchase. Therefore, businesses have to ensure that there is a smooth and seamless transition between online and offline channels. An omni-channel approach allows retailers to deliberately craft an experience that integrates all platforms, which a consumer may use- be it digital or physical. This gives consumers the freedom to usher in EOSS at their own pace and convenience and enjoy a personalized shopping experience, exactly the way they like it.
Now, it seems like online retailers cannot run their business without brick-and- mortar stores providing services and experiences that pure online businesses can’t easily match. In reality, the dependency on either a pure e-commerce or a physical store puts brands in a less-than-desirable situation in the competitive retail world. Moving forward, both digital and physical channels are here to stay. The two platforms will have to converge into a seamless, branded, value-added shopping voyage to meet up to the challenges provided by new-age shoppers.
The article has been pen down by Harsh Shah, Co founder, Fynd