Offline retail is here to stay

June 9, 2016, 2:36 p.m.

Snapdeal, Flipkart, Amazon, Ebay, Myntra, Jabong! All of these have made our lives a bed of roses, bringing every small thing required, to our doorstep, ranging from an alpine to a plane. These names are not new to anyone. In fact, there are many such names which you haven’t even heard of.

Welcome!!!
To the world of online sales. Welcome to the world, where these websites have made human lives lethargic. Welcome to the world where we get anything and everything at just a click.

Reality of Online Retail:

Well, this was one picture of the scenario. And to astonish you a little , let me bring you a clearer picture. The idea about online shopping which is so hyped about and which seems to be so widespread and accepted, actually accounts for hardly 1% of the entire GDP. This might seem to be an illusion to you right now but read on. The online business which you thought to be revolutionizing the world and your lives, is not as large as you imagined it to be. E-Commerce is huge and so called phenomenal growth rate of 34% year on year, still made it account it for only 1% of GDP.  A lot of questions in your mind. Right? Before answering them, I want you to see few statistics below.

Current stats

Online Commerce from 0.6 to 1% includes travel as well, which is a majority of this (more than 50%) and the rest is actual retail. 

The rest is till offline. 

This clearly shows the dominance and prevalence of offline retail over online retail. Also, it is a fact that still 75% of transactions in India are COD (Cash on Demand). 

It is justified that we don’t want to compromise with our comfort and end up spending in travelling online. Fine. Very well justified! What about RETAIL?? We spend a lot of time exploring apparels, accessories, footwear, gadgets and what not, online. Then why don’t we spend on online retail. What stops so many of us making the final transaction after hours of exploring the stuffs, interesting us and the discounts and offers it offers us with? WHY? And if we do, why is it just 1%. A question worth giving a second thought.

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WHY IS OFFLINE RETAIL STILL A BIG PLAY?

For a business to be growing and prospering, consumers have a very relevant and important role to play. They have this enormous right to make your business GO or GROW. Why take examples of others. Consider yourself in the shoes of a layman, actually a consumer. Put up a few questions to yourself:

Would you like to have a look at the products so as to compare various aspects of similar products.

Would you prefer to sit comfortably in your homes and see the products that are interesting to you.

    A YES! Right? Few more questions:

Would you spend a good amount say on a dress that you don’t even know if it looks good on YOU?

Would you buy a car online?

    A big NO! Right? I got you. You will get clearer as you read on.

WHY DO WE MAKE OFFLINE RETAIL A HIT/ WHY DID WE MAKE IT A HIT?

As we now know how important YOU are, in making these businesses grow, there are a lot of factors that kept and is still keeping the shoppers stuck to offline retail. Quite familiar. Quite convincing.  

 

Feeling of feeling the product

It comes as no surprise that the chief reason you don’t like virtual shopping is that you can’t feel the pixels. The color, the fit, the quality. You are ascertain about the product till you feel it in person. And this is the reason you, I and we all prefer going to the retail stores and investing there.

Take a very common example and a question. If you wish to buy an iPhone, would you prefer buying it online? You will have trust issues no matter what. And there will come a thought in your mind- If I have to spend a handsome amount, then why order it online? Why not get it from the stores nearby? This says it all.

 

 Shipping fee or shipping free?

It is simple. Shipping, to a fair amount, is a matter of concern for the customers. What if you want to buy a single little thing and you have to pay shipping charges equivalent to or greater than the purchasing amount you have to spend? You will not shop online and next time you will check the shipping charges if it is applicable to the product you wish to buy. So why allow shipping charge to govern your shopping.

 

Cheaper and easier Return policy

Consumers are getting smarter. And this fast paced lives have made their schedule so busy that they don’t have the time to call the customer care executives, waiting in queue and lodging a complaint with a relevant reason, to get their products returned or exchanged and that too paying for it. Most of the times, the consumers don’t even get an option of a refund and even if they get, they have to follow a long process. Customers, that’s why, prefer spending a few minutes in offline retail stores for a simple return.

 

Delay between purchase and consumption

Online purchase of items involves delivery lags that ranges from hours to days. And if you are lucky enough that you reside in cosmopolitan city, you have still a chance to get it the same day or the next day. What if we have an occasion and want a particular outfit the same day? You will definitely not shop online. Instead, you would prefer going to the store, trying the product and purchase it instantly. 

Impulsive Consumers

Many of us, in fact a majority, are quite impulsive. We hang out during weekends at various places like malls to have fun but end up shopping. We see products and we simply can’t resist trying them and ultimately getting them. We go to the theater and shop. We go to have some amazing food and get ourselves something which catches our attention. The merchandise on dummies, the offers written in BOLD simply attract us to explore more of the goods in the store.

 

 Delivery not reachable to every remote place

A major portion of the customers have a possibility that they may reside in areas where delivery of goods, isn’t possible and even if it is possible, it takes a great deal and time to reach the people out there.

Though Flipkart’s Big Billion Day and Snapdeal’s claim of 1 crore INR per minute may leave the offline retailers with a bitter sour taste but the fact that it accounts for only 1%, can’t be ignored. Offline retail has got an immense potential to rule the e-Commerce business.