The best time for brick & mortar retailers to go omni-channel – Part 1

The best time for brick & mortar retailers to go omni-channel – Part 1

The best time for brick & mortar retailers to go omni-channel – Part 1


The past decade and so has witnessed India transform into a digital economy in every aspect. Especially, when it comes to retail and consumerism, the introduction of e-commerce and digital wallets have made quite a significant impact on Indian upper middle class. Brick and Mortar retail which till now was focussing predominantly on increasing footfalls in the store are seriously looking to tap the unexplored demography consisting of internet savvy, online buyers. The fact that todays shoppers are looking to absorb brands and not the channel, makes it imperative for offline retailers to think of innovative ways to reach out to customers across all channels. Even retailers such as Future Group who once focussed completely on expanding their offline reach across the country, has recently launched Retail 3.0 – a business model to enable customers to place order using WhatsApp.

Why being omni-channel is important?

Customers are already seeking true omni-channel experience as their shopping habits criss-cross multiple channels. Generally, a customer conducts online research before buying products from physical store or visit a physical store but prefer to buy online after comparing prices. Entering a digital space is indeed the natural progression for any retailer, especially in India, since the ecosystem is tilting towards online shopping led by the emergence and influence of Flipkart and Amazon. However, still when it comes over all market dominance, brick and mortar players are a clear winner. A recent report on the retail sector published by the Mumbai – based Retailer Association of India and Knight Frank India said that out of the total retail penetration in seven top cities e-retail is still just two percent of the retail market versus 17 percent in the case of brick and mortar retail. Hence, for brick and mortar players, it’s a great opportunity to increase engagement with their already expanding customer base through true omni-channel implementation.

The country’s most valuable retailer, D’Mart has understood the value of this, and have embarked on a true omni-channel journey. It has set up small D’Mart Ready stores across Mumbai, from where customers can pick up the products they have ordered online. Moreover, leading brands such as Adidas, Reebok and Max have used Endless Aisle Technology to equip their franchisee stores with iPads where shoppers can browse and order for items that are not in stock at the physical store.

Many apparel retailers today have already made some degree of investment into omnichannel. However, still the investments are not enough. While most of the retailers offers smartphone app that helps customers to check stock of an item online, very few allows consumers to check stock of an item online. In only a very few cases does shoppers in India encounter use of handheld technology by sales floor personnel, reflecting lack of tech implementation by offline retailer.

The good news is: it’s not too late. Consumers have yet not rushed in adopting omnichannel behaviour, and no retailer is miles ahead in delivering it. Hence, this is the right time for modern retailers to cash in and ride on the omni-channel wave.

(This article is one of a two-part series of articles on the best time for businesses to go omni-channel. Read the second part here.)

Planning to go omni-channel this year? We can help.

Ace Turtle
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