With the COVID -19 crisis spreading and the economy plunging into a deep recession, many businesses, especially retail have had to find new ways to serve their customers. Brokerage Emkay Global says COVID-19 disruption seems to be wide and deep, and unlike the demonetization, the impact on consumer incomes appears significant with the hit on daily wagers and pay cuts across companies. Consumer demand, which was already slowing down before this disruption, is likely to weaken further.
Even smaller hyperlocal businesses such as Kirana stores are also struggling with the new normal and hence the need for the hour is the digital transformation of retail. Something experts estimate will take decades has been accelerated by the COVID crisis.
Large format offline retailers and wholesalers, including Future Group, Spencer’s Retail, Metro Cash and Carry, and Walmart’s Best Price, have stepped up efforts to serve customers online, building omnichannel models to deliver goods and groceries amid a nationwide lockdown.
The move, buoyed by increased demand from customers who are ordering staples and household supplies online in the wake of restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the world, Coronavirus has led to a 20 per cent growth in revenues for digital commerce during the first quarter of 2020 from a year earlier.
COVID-led e-retail, payments growth here to stay even as in-store buying may stay muted
Across the world, Coronavirus has led to a 20 per cent growth in revenues for digital commerce during the first quarter of 2020 from a year earlier. Among the world’s leading developing economies, India showed a sharper surge in preference for the online channel.
COVID-19 is fast-changing consumer sentiment when it comes to the way people shop and pays. The pandemic has triggered consumers to shift to digital commerce and payments by default and reduce the use of cash, according to a Mastercard’s global survey.
With the growth in e-commerce buying, while 68 per cent of Indian respondents said there would be less in-store shopping ahead as well, a majority 77 percent believed that the shift to contactless payments is here to stay. Moreover, 49 per cent said that they are planning to make more e-commerce purchases. The survey included responses from 6,750 people across 15 countries during April and May.
The shift in mindset, which is likely to be permanent, sends a clear signal to merchants of all shapes and sizes that online shopping and touch-free transactions are essential to building the business and ensuring customer loyalty now and in the future.
Even Small and Medium businesses have embraced online channels and launched e-commerce stores during the last six months.
To summarise, going digital is not just another option for retailers but the inevitable to remain relevant and reach to both existing and new customers and will rapidly.