India employs sixty lakh people at over fifteen lakh retail stores that generates a business of five lakh crores, According to a report by Retailers Association of India, The business had already dropped by around twenty five percent by end of February.
A significant impact has been seen on jewellery, apparel, durables, IT, Shoes and telecommunication devices space. A shut down of around thirty percent may happen with as much as eighteen lakh people losing their jobs. Though most of the retail stores have promised up to forty days of paid leaves for their employees, and promised to pay them on time, who knows what could be the dark future.
Though E-Grocers and various small store retailers have already begun operations, retail e-commerce is facing a tough time specially in the delivery timelines amidst the lockdown. Government of India’s 1.7 Lakh Crores relief package as well as measures taken by RBI like reversing the repo rate by 90bps and a three month moratorium on EMIs would definitely help in many ways, but they might be short term only measures. Retailers would need to step up and help themselves in the longer run.
While every local shop keeper and retailer in tier 2 and tier 3 cities is thinking of getting into digital delivery mechanism by either setting up their own digital shops or being associated and partnering with bigger brands, some of the key trends that would be the big future and shape the Indian retail industry are as follow:
Hyper Local Social Commerce: Suggestions as well as Recommendations from friends are the main ecommerce driving factors beyond traditional digital advertising. Celebrity engagement posts over platforms like Instagram, going live over videos on youtube and being informative over social media is the future, Adding more to it are the DIY video series being localized regionally by regional influencers and celebrities. While Social commerce is still evolving it is rather more fun and interesting to observe. Social commerce has already started affecting the distribution, supply chain, effective marketing and is entirely revolutionizing the product innovation cycle.
AI Powered Smart Mirrors: So we all have heard about trying spectacles online virtually, taking a step further, People will be able to try out new clothes and outfits virtually with the help of smart mirrors and then upload it on social media/platforms or share via Social Apps like Whatsapp with their loved ones before actually making a purchase decision.
Another example is Tesco Home plus stores that are already operational in countries like South Korea. They have introduced virtual stores at most of the subway stations based on the country’s lifestyle and needs. Once 5G comes to play in India, we would soon see that happening here too, a mix of in-store and outdoor experiences to ease all the ends of the business process lifecycle.
Substantiation: Substantiation is a trick of the future, relating it closely to Personalization, be it with personalized offers on products, suggestions and recommendations based on previous purchase history or re-order promotions, etc. Brands are already getting into designing products based on consumer feedback and this would apply to local and small scale retailers too. With Substantiation being personalized people would prefer to buy and get the products delivered at their respective places.
Utra-Accessibility: People are shifting from discount focused purchase decisions to ease of delivery convenience based purchased decisions, regardless of the prices being a bit higher. Flexibility in payment options, Shipment locations, personalized assistance and real-time responsive support with live-assistance are some of the factors shaping purchase behavior in the digital retail space. New entrepreneurs are entering with innovative Access models to their products and services and this space would keep on evolving for a long time moving forward.
To conclude AI, Augmented Realty would penetrate aggressively once we have 5G network support. Indian retail ecommerce space is definitely going to see a surge with deeper penetration but in a longer run.
This article has been authored by Siddhant Satija, Chief Curator at BloggingVine, Siddhant is a Blogger & a digital media strategist helping brands growth hack their customer acquisitions online.