How COVID-19 changed India's Retail Landscape

Retail industry has changed radically to survive and thrive in the new normal.
How COVID-19 changed India’s Retail Landscape

The world has witnessed colossal changes ever since COVID-19 came calling, there is a paradigm shift in the way we live our lives – be it the way we work, live, shop, celebrate, or even communicate. The pandemic has taught us many lessons that will last our lifetime at least.

When the country-wide lockdown was announced due to the ongoing pandemic, we were unsure of what was to follow. However, as weeks flew by, there were new trends emerging, for us as individuals, and for businesses that lay the foundation of a robust economy. The country was undergoing a shift in habits, in perceptions, and looking at an entirely new way of doing business.

As we slowly but steadily adapt to the ‘new normal’ as a nation, below are a few trends being witnessed for businesses operating in the country’s retail landscape.

Demand Revival

Up first, an optimistic trend to take note of is that of demand revival. While business was looking bleak during the first two months (April and May) of lockdown, the retail industry in India seems to have now turned the corner and looking at a surge in demand. We expect retail to see double-digit growth this year, despite the difficulties we have faced. We have been nimble in evaluating, evolving, and adopting new strategies and approaches that will enable us to grow even better.

Products that Make Life Easy at Home

People are increasingly investing in products that make their daily lives at home easier, as they remain locked in. At a time when people are having to do household chores and office work all at the same time, consumer durable appliances have become an intrinsic part of their lives. This is also why consumers are no longer willing to compromise on the quality of products they buy, as they cannot afford malfunctions and the need of constant repairs while at home. Hence, the trend being witnessed increasingly is the preference and inclination of consumers towards multi-purpose, timesaving, high quality, value additive products.

The Challenge with Traditional Sales

The pandemic has also posed a huge challenge to the scope of traditional offline sales. However, as restrictions on the movement of people have eased considerably across various parts of the country, we are now optimistic that store sellout will pick up. Therefore, we are going out of our way to ensure enough inventory, so that the consumers do not face any difficulty when they reach the retail outlets.

Pivot to Digital

Consumers are now adopting a digital-first approach when it comes to shopping. The global pandemic has led to an acceleration of digital influence on the consumer purchase journey, from browsing for products to learning about their features via digital catalogues, to making payments online and even contacting customer service executives virtually. Therefore, what is now the need of the hour is finding a strategic balance between offline and online channels of sales. Furthermore, all the customer service centers are open for those who need guidance regarding any of our products. Contactless deliveries are the new order of the day, and we are ensuring that our deliveries are contact-free and in sanitized boxes in the permissible zones. 

The Do-it-Yourself Trend

As people try to break the monotony of continuously having to stay at home, it has been heartening to see them pick up lost hobbies, or pursue passions they had been putting off for years. People are unleashing their creativity through various skills and activities like cooking, sewing, and more. This ‘Do-it-Yourself’ trend, or DIY as the millennials call it has led to a rise in demand for certain categories of products. Products like the OTGs and sewing machines are products that are helping them further explore their creative streak and upping their game, have been flying off shelves recently. Moreover, thanks to the user-friendly online tutorials for cooking, baking, and sewing, people are finding it convenient to learn and create as they hone their skills.

Creating New Experiences for Consumers

A critical game-changer for businesses going forward will be in how they create a unique virtual experience for consumers wanting to make contactless purchases. This is where a brand’s business sense and agility are put to test. As more and more consumers spend their time online, the other aspect that becomes all-important is being seen and heard in the places where our customers are, making digital marketing and SEO optimization imperative. So whether it is tablets, or screens, or augmented reality, we all need to very quickly get our game faces on to power ahead into a better tomorrow.

 

This article is written by Kapil Kohli, President Retail, Usha International.

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