The flourishing e-commerce market of India is a combination of a dynamic and competitive domain. The Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026 from US$ 38.5 billion as of 2017 (source: The IBEF report 2018) much of this growth has been triggered by increasing internet and smartphone penetration. Existing and emerging players in this booming space are constantly innovating to keep up with this rapid growth. Shopping in this era is no longer an experience bound by four walls. The online furniture retail industry in particular, isperhaps the most fragmented industry and is gaining momentum alongside the key to retaining & keeping customers engaged which is to offer great shopping experiences coupled with modern motifs.
With 2019 right around the corner, below are a few trends that will dictate the retail landscape in the industry
Omnichannel is the way forward
Omnichannel has been shaping the global retail ecosystem for a while. Given the sheer size and scale of the formidable Indian economy it is bound to make an impact on Indian retailscape. Serving the ultimate goal of omnichannel retail is to funnel customers from all channels into interacting with or purchasing from a brand innovative omnichannel strategy will enable customer retention. Instead of a single touchpoint multiples channels like brick-and-mortar stores help to widen the conversion funnel. This could also shape up in the form of pick-up locations or exchange and return points for consumers. The Indian consumer has always relied on tactile experience which have led the retailers to realise the significance of having an omni-channel presence to offer an authentic experience to the consumers.
Incorporating Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial Intelligence is steadily taking over retail space right across the entire product and service cycle. From pre-production to post sale, retail players are leveraging AI in different forms in order to bring automation. With the advancement of machine learning, the realm of shopping has transformed from standing in far-fetched queues to no queues at all, from writing emails regarding a faulty product or product queries to 24*7 chatbots. The virtual reality intends on curating a one-stop-shop solution called Virtual Mall making the lives of consumers serene, where attainment can be achieved on one’s own time and place convenience. UK-based Tesco, China’s JD.com and Alibaba are some of the retailers implementing AI-based optimized routing.
Experiential retail and personalization
As we move into 2019, it’s critical that brands and stores focus on creating a spellbinding brand universe, powerful enough to transcend their products and foster a community around it. Consumers have slowly but surely been moving away from strictly shopping for products, instead seeking a more engaging experience. The trend has been driven largely by millennials and their preference for experiences over things. As consumers choose to invest in experiences rather than products, retailers need to respond to meet the needs of their customers. Good examples of this in practice are Lego in China where families are invited to go to the store to design innovative constructions or the Canon Collective store in Australia that organises a variety of weekly activities, including photography workshops.Personalization of services is going to be an integral aspect of customer servicing in 2019 as more and more consumers vie for personal shopping experiences. One can also opt for “live chat” models of direct communication with consumers alongside stronger redressal platforms.
Better Payment mechanisms
Multiple payment options like e-wallets, buy now-pay later will gain more traction over the next year. While these options already exist on several online portals, there will be a more rapid shift in the methods that customers utilize to make purchases. The increase in domestic consumptionwill directly affect purchase patterns hence giving rise to a large number of consumers that will opt for credit payment methods. It is essential that online platforms provide ease of purchase through wallets, No cost EMI’s, multi-bank integrations and financial benefits.
Push Notifications and Rise in content Marketing
India is set for an advertising boom with a predicted 46% surge in advertisement spending during 2018-2021, including digital advertising will see a big jump to â‚¹20,913.4 crore (source- Zenith report 2018). 80% of what we consume online will be video content by the end of 2019. By making their presence felt across these video platforms, marketers can really benefit from the fruitful results of having and engaging an audience. Consumer engagement has become an integral part of any marketing toolkit. There is an increased thrust on content; yes, it is still the king. More and more brands will use content to make themselves relevant and drive differentiation. One must realize that an essential goal of online selling is to drive user engagement and reengagement. Therefore, push notifications will continue to be utilised as effective reminder tools to achieve this goal by constantly keeping shoppers engaged regarding new product launches, special offers and abandoned cart reminders.
The article has been penned down by Hussaine Kesury, Vice President & Business Head - Furniture Category at Pepperfry