IReCwire.com hosted the first edition of IReC web series titled as ‘The new normal of retail’ as a part of its on-going ‘Coping with Covid-19’ series on 20th May. The first panel of the day comprised of retail stalwarts including Jamshed K Daboo, Independent Advisor- Consumer, Retail, Hospitality & Director on the Board, Trent Hypermarket Pvt. Ltd.; Amit Sharma, CEO & Co-founder, ShopX; Rakesh Kumar, Director-Retail, South East Asia adidas; Vineet Gautam, CEO & Country Head, BESTSLLER India, Sahil Malik, CEO, Da Milano & Rosso Brunello and moderated by Ritu Mary, Editor-in chief, Entrepreneur Asia Pacific and Franchise India.
Marya from Franchise India opened the panel highlighting fact how Covid 19 has caused retail businesses to rethink existing models, for example, alike to onffline retail few years back, online commerce is now branching into different channels including digital commerce, social commerce including watsapp and instagram shopping amongst others.
The biggest impact on this transition has become visible in food and grocery segment where hyperlocal is a new norm and mom and pop retail has found their lost mojo. Other categories of retail are also catching up fast.
Agreeing with Marya, Daboo from Trent Hypermarkets said, “People are rediscovering mom and shop stores mainly because kirana has been able to bring local flavours to the services that are offered with ease of delivery. Going forward, I see tremendous potential in this model.”
“The future belongs to stores which will follow a model which can bridge between modern super market and digital kirana with ease of delivery. These mundane aspects of grocery shopping which includes standard products and brands will shift online, dramatically. This means F&G retailers have to build some sort of digital capabilities to receive orders from any digital channels be it ecomm or social along with maintaining limited offline inventory, “he added further.
Daboo also stressed the importance of new age technologies like AI and predictive analytics in improving the grocery shopping experience.
Impact on fashion and travel retail
Fashion is one of hardest hit category due to uncertainty caused by Covid 19. Pointing directly to Gautam, Marya asked about his strategy to communicate and engage with customers these days when face to face is zero due to store closures. To this, Vineet Gautam from Bestseller India asserted, “We are heavily relying on social media deployment to establish seamless conversation with our patrons. This crisis has taught us the importance of social tools like watsapp in business terms. Social commerce is bound to take over ecommerce. In fact, catalogue shopping is back in trend. However, fashion being touch and feel category the resurrection of offline retail is bound to happen. All our reopened stores are getting huge response.”
Vineet also stressed the importance of efficient CRM and healthy relationship with employees and consumers to sail through this time of crisis.
Echoing with Vineet, Rakesh from adidas said, “We already had ecomm capabilities in place even in pre covid timing, now we are calling it as the largest store in the world. To cope up with demand resources from different departments has been shifted to ecomm vertical to ensure order procurement in the timely manner.
Speaking on offline resurrection Rakesh said, “As far as offline is concerned, any established brand like adidas, Nike will continue to see the influx of customers to stores post lockdown. However, we need to put extra efforts in sanitation to ensure the safety and build the trust among our patrons. Going forward, the larger stores will be in trend which will allows us to give full omni experience to our patrons.”
Also, Rakesh stressed on emergence of concepts like Fila(right now operational in Dubai and few selective countries) which works as retail service provider allowing online brands to open their shop is the largest store environment.
To add this Mallik from Da Milano said, “In Pre Covid timing offline used to contribute 90% of our business, among this sale volume of travel retail was 30-35%. Since cash rotation is dampened, therefore, we are also initiating EMI facility in our stores. Certainly right now the trend is towards online and brick and mortar will continue to suffer at least till next quarter. But, upcoming festive season will certainly change the game.”
A Dawn of new Digital
Taking the discussion forward, Marya stressed that unforeseen important of online channel asked the panellists to present their view point on how retailers should strategies as we go forward.
To answer this, Amit Sharma from Shopx said, “India is ushering a new form of digital which is beyond ecomm. The new digital incorporate, the digitisation of distribution network which means how to get products from factory to distributor to retailer. The B2B angle has to be digitized which is something new. In fact, 7-25% value will be created using new digital.”
To this Jamshed added, “The Company should not engage in chasing any targets. The focus should be on building a platform which offers 360 engagements to customers and let the customers choose how much platform they want to use including physical and digital.
While concluding he said, “Experiential food shopping is certainly a big opportunity in F&G segment. I do agree the size of the store has to be reasonable so contactless shopping experience can be created.”