Why do Physical Stores need a Reboot?
Why do Physical Stores need a Reboot?

The value proportion offered by the physical store is unique as compared to online channel. When it comes to delivering social experience there is no match to offline stores. However, the online channel has raised the bar in terms of experience and now shoppers expect same experience in offline store as well.

Right from expecting goods to be in stock to being able to choose from multiple delivery options, today’s digital savvy shopper is very demanding. Needless to say, technology has a big role to play when it comes to gratifying the new age shopper. When these expectations are not met, customer expectation becomes a worrying low for any retailer. Here comes the concept of the Experience Stores,which retailers have started exploring in big ways. These stores are being created not just for buying purpose but to introduce the products and services to customers. In nutshell, a mix of online and offline is the need of the hour.

Smart retailing was the buzzword at the Indian Retail and eretail Congress (IReC)2019, which recently concluded at JW Marriott, New Delhi. On day 1, the session hosted was Reimagined Retail: What gets consumer in physical space in digital age,which was attended by retail veterans.

Here are the session excerpts.

Creating Retail Drama

While speaking atIReC 2019, DhruvBogra, Country Manager, Forever New India (ME& SEA), shed light on how ‘drama’ is crucial within a retail store. Bogra’s earlier stint was with Royal Enfield where he used to manage the retail operations of the brand globally. Citing an example,Bogra shared how a motorcycle company created an F&B environment in order to win over customers. He says, “The company bought a property in Goa to build an experience center, which was an amalgamation of motorcycle store and a bar with a kitchen. The company was determined to make this concept work.”

Going further, he adds that it was big risk that the company took, which resulted in increased number of walk-ins per day. Also, by end of year, this concept store won the award of the best fine-dining restaurant. Imagine a motorcycle company winning an F&B award!

Echoing with Bogra, Johnson Verghese, Managing Director, Fossil India shared, “Today, customers want a seamless journey. However, the question at our disposal is how ready are our retail stores to deliver this experience? Retail stores of tomorrow need to have integrated approach in order to cater consumers’ paradigm of expectations.”

Verghese also informed that Fossil India has introduced the concept of a ‘watch bar’ where customers are allowed to choose box and strap of the watch. For Fossil India, personalisation is a very important part of customers’ journey; hence, the brand also offers the features such as engraving and caricaturing.

“Reimage store can do things which ecommerce might not do. E-commerce will grow but smart stores will also grow. The task on hand is to get on with those smart stores,” informs Johnson.

Technology should not Sound ‘Imposed’ 

Everything starts from the consumer; it is not about taking the solution and fitting that into your scheme of things. Speaking on same, Vishal Kapil, IT Director Emerging Markets – India, Adidas says,“The brands should focus on creating an experience around product. We do talk about technologies including Augmented Reality (AR) and VR (Virtual Reality); however, it is equally important to ponder on how many people are ready to wear an external device in order to experience the product? Always think about customers first and what does he/she would want, rather than seeing some technology somewhere and fitting that technology into your store.”

Taking the discussion forward, Samir Modi, Managing Director, Modi Enterprises asserts, “We put customer experience over ROI. Although, we are already doing more than norms, still I continuously scout newer ways of imparting better experience within store for all my three brands. In fact, we introduce new ranges under our flagship brands to impart feel good factor.”

Experience Matters

Also taking part in discussion Nihat Onuk, Int. Business Development Director, OKRA Holdings shared the importance of concept stores and how a good experience helps the brand scale up fast.

Speaking on same topic, Shaurya Seth, Managing Director, Tresor Systems Pvt. Ltd, shares, “Recently, we have been working on how we raise the standards. We portray Apple in the best possible light. We do study customer behavior and consider various recommendations. Hence, we have curate the experience stores based upon the services that Apple is offering in India. And, we have received very encouraging feedbacks so far.”

Going further he shared that this is not hard core retail store, in fact, it is café format where someone can also explore Apple services as well. 

“Customers not only they acknowledge the efficiency of the staff they also love the design of the store as it add the value to their time. Since we cater to top two-three percent of India, their time is very important to us,” says Shaurya. Tresor operates The Imagine Store, a premium reseller outlet for Apple.

Clearly, there is no comparison to experience done at store level to gain the share of happy customers. While concluding the panel, Rajat Wahi, Partner - Deloitte Consulting, informed that while store opening and closing is a continuous process, at the end of the day it is all depends upon experience. Wahi also stressed that the retail experience should be one that feels less like a path to purchase and more like a successful engagement with the brand.



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