Omni-channel is the only way forward, as far as the Indian retail industry is concerned. Online retailers have no qualms in accepting that offline stores increase sales conversion rates. As a result, many ecommerce companies, be it seasoned ones or newbies, are opening their own physical outlets.
Fashion etailer Myntra, online beauty store Nykaa and premium tea start-up Teabox are few of the many that are investing in physical stores to expand their business and customer base.
The primary objectives of these offline stores are:
Offer ‘touch and feel’ shopping experience
Offer pick-up and drop centres to buyers
Interact and connect with shoppers at a more personal level
Expand omni-channel strategy
Increase penetration of private labels
Ananth Narayanan, Myntra’s CEO asserted,
“As brands reach a certain scale, it’s important for them to have an offline presence so that you can start to touch and feel the product and you can give the consumer a 360 (degree) experience. In the first month we’ve had almost 3,500+ footfalls (in the Roadster store). Of the 3,500 people who showed up, a lot more people spent more time in the store.”
Why ‘Offline/Online Only’ is passé?
Be it online marketplaces, lingerie e-stores, e-grocery firms or fashion etailers, many are actively working towards expanding their offline presence. Feasibility and high conversion rates are two major factors that have contributed to this shift.
“We are getting into our own experiential stores. The way we are looking at these is not from a sales perspective, but from a pure-play experience perspective. But the good thing we have seen is if 10 people come and try a product, four are pretty much instant converts,” said Teabox’s CEO Kaushal Dugar.
Different strokes for different folks
The offline strategy differs from category to category and company to company. For instance, Teabox is fine with leasing a small space within a store. But furniture start-ups need a bigger space. And fashion and beauty etailers have to invest heavily on the aesthetic appeal of their stores.
PrettySecrets switched on the offline mode in April 2017. Ecommerce leader Flipkart launched its artificial intelligence (AI) ‘Project Mira’ to blend online and offline shopping experience earlier this month as well. Godrej’s Nature’s Basket too is keen on opening up more physical stores in growing regions. Online furniture start-ups Urban Ladder and Pepperfry are also of an opinion that brand experience is better in an offline store.
Etailers are experimenting to find the magic formula of offline-online that would work for their venture because ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t exist in the ecommerce industry.