Indian retail industry has radically transformed since COVID-19. The pandemic reshaped public opinion regarding online shopping and digital payments resulting in an inclinaton towards both. Even as stores open up, shoppers continue to look for ease, efficiency and choices offered by e-commerce in terms of grocery, personal care, and more. These changes unlock quite a few opportunities for retailers to interact and engage with customers. The future of retail has already begun, and omnichannel retailers are at a great competitive advantage. To keep the momentum going, retailers should adopt newer technologies that guarantee ease and comfort without compromising on safety. They must continue to implement innovations that facilitate what customers want - convenience, product choices, value pricing, contactless payments, and quick delivery, to name a few.
In this article let's talk about a few trends that emerged in response to the pandemic and will continue to advance in the future.
The advent of one hour, same-day delivery
The most significant convenience of online shopping for consumers during the COVID crisis was the delivery of essentials within the hour or on the same day of placing orders. To meet urgent consumer needs, retailers scaled their order fulfilment systems efficiently by repurposing their closed stores as local fulfilment centres. Post-pandemic customers would expect the same experience and delivery timelines, and we are likely to see same-day delivery becoming a norm beyond the pandemic.
Mass acceptance of UPI
UPI payment method emerged as a lifesaver and continues to be adopted by shoppers and retailers as a safe, instant, contactless payment mode during the pandemic. Post-pandemic consumers will continue to avoid card or cash payments due to the high-touch nature of these payment modes. UPI offers convenience to both online and offline customers and an uncomplicated digital payment solution for retailers. Post-pandemic retailers should continue to deliver ease of shopping by exploring multiple payment modes.
The emergence of bigger discretionary spending (next decade will belong to YOLO generation)
The pandemic forced people to revaluate their personal and work life, encouraging them to look at non-traditional ways to fulfil their needs and goals. Post-pandemic, the older generation may continue to be more cautious with their spending. However, the younger generation is likely to be inclined towards exerting their spending power on what they need 'at the moment', instead of saving up for building a safety net like the previous generations.
To meet the needs of these demographics, retailers will need to deliver strategies that impact different generations, especially targeting millennials that practice the 'you only live once' mindset.
Presently, the try-before-you-buy approach is risky due to safety and hygiene concerns. Alternatively, retailers are looking at Augmented Reality(AR) to offer 'virtual-try on' for their products such as clothing, jewellery, cosmetics. AR shopping experiences can be delivered in-store or online on mobile applications and websites. Virtual shopping is possible anywhere, and potential customers have access to the endless aisle collection of products. AR combined with personalized recommendations will be a key for driving engagements and delightful shopping experiences in the future.
More and more content is now video, even for commerce, apart from news and entertainment
Mobile devices are simple yet powerful tools to reach customers who are increasingly spending time online and making purchase decisions based on the content they view on YouTube, Amazon, and more. Customers have preferences around how they discover and buy products. In-store videos, product demos provide them with a comprehensive product experience at home. Post-pandemic, the retailers will continue to view video content as a significant strategy to engage consumers, aiding in product selection and purchase decisions.
Increased e-commerce adoption in small towns
Small towns have shown the growth potential for e-commerce, but not all consumers here are naturally inclined to place orders online. Retailers should develop strategies that work for smaller markets, such as creating jobs, setting up warehouses, last-mile connectivity, and availability of vernacular content. In physical stores, brands can install large format screens to offer better product views and experiences. Also, the availability of in-store digital payment modes will ensure hassle-free ordering and payments for customers facing internet and connectivity issues.
Consumers are likely to continue with their new shopping behaviours, with advancing expectations. To navigate post-pandemic, retailers will need to deliver consistent, best-in-class experiences in all customer interactions and leverage technology to empower delightful shopping experiences.
- by Farooq Adam, co-founder of Fynd, India's leading and tech-first omnichannel platform.
First Published: IST