All industries in India from healthcare to retail to finance to manufacturing have been forced (owing to the pandemic) to use technology and reimagine nearly every facet of their operations. The ones that missed this bus are the ones that are slowly fading.
The Indian retail industry in particular has radically transformed since COVID-19. The pandemic reshaped public opinion regarding online shopping and digital payments resulting in an inclination towards both. Moreover, with the world shifting its focus toward health and safety, it is no surprise that the events of 2020 impacted the way consumers shop today. This accelerated already growing trends and digital transformation in retail to keep up with changing consumer expectations.
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 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
Large discretionary spends
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
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
Content is now video, even for commerce
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.
India has a bright retail future. The Indian retail trading received Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) equity inflow to the tune of $3.44 billion during April 2000-December 2020, according to Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). To ensure that maximum brands are able to be a part of this growth, retailers need solutions that allow them to sell products online with the same level of efficiency, system integration, and customer satisfaction as in physical stores. Simply having an online option and an in-person option is not enough.
Businesses will eventually need to synchronize these two domains with e-commerce and POS integration. This will allow them to best integrate online and offline transactions, inventory, and promotions across all in-person locations and online stores during and after the pandemic.
Every retailer knows that they need to transform to keep up, and the COVID-19 pandemic only further emphasized that point. There are many technology options for today's retailers, but with a growing need for precision retail services like BOPIS, inventory tracking, shopper insights and even store format updates, choosing the right tools — and the right partners — is more important than ever.
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