Not Just The New Normal, It’s Better

In the hyper-competitive and changing retail landscape hybrid retail is disrupting offline and online retail as stand-alone businesses

The new way retailers are reacting and adapting to the new normal is ‘hybrid retail’. In this hyper-competitive and changing retail landscape hybrid retail is disrupting offline and online retail as stand-alone businesses. Business is growing tremendously and retailers have learned that they need to look at how they leverage existing real estate in the store to deliver profitability and work efficiently. The objective lies in gaining the customer base and gaining credibility in terms of providing a seamless shopping experience through the best of both worlds. To establish a hybrid retail system, retailers have to offer an opportunity like mix and match, click and collect, syncing offline and online reviews, and launching of concept stores using Intelligent Retail Lab (IRL). The concept ‘one size fits all’ doesn’t work anymore, it’s going to be unique by being location-specific, brand specific, need specific. Time is to deliver your customer; the way they want. Thus, it's important to identify how a single location can handle inventory for offline and online stores. And do the blending of inventory or sharing of inventory is going to be OK? One of the research by KPMG shared that, “Stores that use the analytics collected via standardized inventory management processes can better serve these customers and take advantage of this phenomenon”.

How to offer better?

Brick and mortar is an essential concept for retail experience, time is to embrace the same with offers which ecommerce can’t offer. Digital innovations are playing a major role in delivering convenience and relevance to their customer. Apple has introduced a personalized shopping experience through appointment-based retail service, ‘shop with specialist’ at their local Apple store. Ivy Ross, UX & research at Google and Nathan Allen, store design & social project expert explained the opening of their first-ever physical store in June 2021 to provide an “immersive way customer could learn about all the features of our Pixel phones and Nest products, and see how the best of Google’s software and services come to life when using them”.

Bruce fair, CRO eCommerce mentioned that, “It’s critical that retailers are focused on future unplanned challenges. Retailers need to be investing in a multi-carrier strategy and working with a scalable technology partner that allows them to continue operating at whichever level is required”. To compete in this ‘Amazon dominated world’, retailers have to ensure offerings

like carrier shipping, multi drop-off locations, localized delivery, partnering with couriers like FedEx, DHL, nearby lockers, and more.

Implement O2O strategy

The worldwide trend shows that major retail purchase always happens in-store, and one of the studies by Shopifyplus has shown the results as, “82.5 percent of all retail sales still happened inside physical stores up to and including 2020”. Customers enjoy being connected, they cherish the in-store experience, thus digital touchpoints and Online - to - Offline strategies are enabling better profitability through sales. Beyond customer experience, O2O strategy can deliver delightful experience by bridging online and offline environment which allows the customer to purchase at one channel, exchange/return to another channel, browsing history at online platform make salesperson at store to push the purchase by offering a personalized experience.

O2O strategy has made retailers reach closer to their customers, according to one of the studies by Loyalty 360, “retailers with a strong Omnichannel customer engagement retain an average of 89% of their customers, compared to 33% of those with weak or no Omnichannel customer engagement”. With offers like a dedicated space for Curbside pickup/BOPIS retailers can easily save on logistics and deliver a delightful experience with the opportunity to retain them for the future. There are numerous opportunities available to keep customers satisfy and make profit, with Digital India, it’s time to embrace the new means of human interaction by resting the playing field.

The author is Veenu Sharma, Assistant Professor, Retail and Marketing, BIRLA Institue of Management Technology

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