Future of Indian Retail Industry-shops of the future
Retail is India’s largest industry which has travelled through different phases. History of Retailing cultivates from the era when Barter System came into existence. From immemorial times, we can recall retailing of entertainment in the fairs of Indus Valley Civilization which gives us the earliest example of Retailing of services. Further, the introduction of currency gave rise to plentiful commerce activities and small entrepreneurs set up shops to sell groceries, medicine, hardware etc. The small “kiranas” or popularly known as general merchants became an integral part of the daily lives of people and in this way retailing gained recognition as a professional activity. The year 1863 marked the entry of Durant and Spencer’s in India which set the ball rolling for professionally organized retailing landscape in India. Post-British era, the Government on India set up a public distribution system in the form of fair price shops to distribute essential commodities which marked as the second phase of the retailing in India. The third phase of organized Retailing began with the arrival of Bata where retailing gained specialized credence. In the fourth phase of Retailing revolution led by stores like Shoppers Stop, Food World, Nilgiri’s, Kemp chains, Lifestyle etc flagged off the beginning of Supermarket Retailer, Specialty Retailer, Franchisee Retailer, Discount Retailer and Service Retailer.
Mingling altogether, this evolution has led to the surge of two categories of Retailing- one being the store retailer and other being the non-store retailer such as direct retailing, catalogues and mailers, TV home shopping, and finally the virtual store or retailing on the internet. Consumers have become the king and the brands are tussling to create their space in the consumers’ heart.
Let’s have a close look at the ingredients Retail Industry
Inflating online stores
The advent of reliable, affordable remote business collaboration tools such as teleconference phone systems and video conferencing systems (e.g. Skype) diminished the need for physical business building and offices for copious web and mobile product business. In the 2010s, the presence of online stores is adversely affecting some bricks and mortar-only businesses, as some customers are engaging in “showrooming”. Customers go to a local brick and mortar store’s showroom to test and try out products, and then note the brand and model number, and leave the store, then buy the product from an online store, often for a lower price. Some bricks and mortar stores state that this trend is decreasing their sales.
Changing Consumer behavior and future of Retailing
Consumer behavior is changing and the retailing industry needs to graduate with them. Apparently, loading the buckets with items is declining and quick online trips are increasing. Technology and in-store retail are joining forces to drive out the traditional central store purchases and disrupt the whole industry. Time starvation has given rise to prepare food and grade and go options. This change challenges traditional grocery stores bringing more than just discounted prices. There is so much change happening that the current retailing foremasts need to create innovative customer-centric shopping experience to meet the need and demands of modern shoppers. Current stores layouts are no longer meeting the demands of today’s shoppers. Stores of future need to have a host of customer-centric features.
Technique and technology which are flourishing
1) Online Shopping Apps
The divergence between brick-and-mortar business and online business has expanded in the 2000s as more and more entrepreneurs and established organizations create profitable products known as web ‘apps’ (software applications) and mobile apps. Many web and mobile apps are digitally distributed to customers online and offer value without delivering a physical product or direct service, thereby eliminating the need for manufacturing products, warehousing them, and distributing them using shipping and delivery services and/or physical retail outlets.
2) Digital Media
Due to the shift to digital media in audio and video, stores are able to sell digital audio files of songs or digital movies or TV shows over the Internet, either by selling the file to the customer or allowing for a subscription fee, the consumer to ‘stream’ the songs, movies or TV shows to their digital device.
3) Walmart’s success
Some stores have both a strong bricks-and-mortar presence and an extensive online shopping service. Examples include Best buy and Walmart etc. While these stores are primarily known as brick-and-mortar business, they also have major online shopping websites. This feature of Walmart led to its growth as a retail leader and it enabled the brand to compete with changing needs and demands of the consumers.
Future developments in Retailing
1) Click and Collect product
The most needed feature is clicked and collect in which shopper clicks on a screen and saves his/her shopping list which is then proceeded and delivered at the counter resulting in the reduction of the crowd in store or a traditional grocery area. This will, in turn, result in an updated, fresh and modern market field to traditional departments. This can be a masterstroke for a country like India which is getting overcrowded in every field and area. As technology is on inclination, each product’s detail may be accommodated in QR codes ranging from prices to nutritional information and benefits of product for health.
2) Omni Channel
At the same time retaining the offline experience through immediate gratification and in-store assistance, Omni Channel made it immensely simple for retailers to implement the range of in-store fulfilment and assistance options that meet the demand of today’s customers including
- Buy online and ship from store
- Reserve online and pick up from store
- Infinite aisle for stores to fit catalogues digitally if not physically
3) Role of a physical store
This will play out differently among different categories. Going out shopping with family is still an event for Indian consumers especially for jewelry and clothes. Shopping a store has that human touch which the e-commerce lacks. People do a fair amount of research prior to going shopping. Online data is looked upon for the product review. Online data can make shopping at stores a better experience. This touches and feels aspect of the physical stores will be aided well through Omni Channeling.
4) Smart mirrors
Coming to clothing departments, smart mirrors can be installed to work using artificial intelligence, virtual reality and gesture recognition. In this way, Smart mirrors in a way can become your virtual changing room, thus replacing the frantic process of trial rooms. A smart mirror may incorporate different styles of clothes depending on the customer’s physical appearance and provide options that will be best suited to them for coming times. Different color options can also be added. Further, these Smart mirrors can be connected with customer’s social media allowing them to click and share with friends and family to get help from them in selecting their items/ clothes.
5) Touchscreen orders at food courts
Food courts also need to be updated by providing touch screens on each table of the court allowing customers to scroll through all the options available without having to visit the over-crowded counters. Some surprise products may also be offered once in a while to amaze and attract customers of traditional taste. Checkouts points may also be made self- checkouts which will allow the customers’ link with products more and allow them to know the offers available with products.