How E-Commerce Has Brought a Revolution in India's Retail Section Retail players are drifting back to the physical spaces, unlocking the growth opportunities

By Yatin Jain

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The present age is remarkable for the revolution that new age technologies have brought in diverse fields, from manufacturing to pharmaceuticals. And, the retail industry is no exception as the rapid growth of e-commerce is a perfect example. In 2017, Indian e-commerce generated the revenue of US$ 39 Billion, which is now expected to reach US$ 120 Billion in 2020, as per India Brand Equity Fund (IBEF). Growing annually at a rate of 51 per cent, the Indian e-commerce market has changed the face of retail. Those who once saw e-commerce bandwagon a threat to offline retailing now admit the fact that e-commerce has done much good for offline retailers, and most importantly, to the customers.

Retail Renaissance

Business innovation, competition, product variety and quality are some of the perks that e-commerce or m-commerce has bestowed on the entire retail industry. Marking a change in this direction, the brands are seen turning back to physical retailing because of the increasing competition online, affordable real estate, and the onset of retail 4.0. The idea of shopping in a walk-in store might appear dull at first, but physical retailing has not lost its charm. In fact, investments in brick and mortar stores are on a continual rise because of international retail brands are opening their standalone physical stores in India and the brands which began their journey as e-commerce retailers are essentially turning into omnichannel ones. With an objective to attract more and more footfalls at the store, the brands have been reflecting on innovative ways to deliver customers personalised shopping experience, quality and a wide range of products without burning a hole in their pockets.

The new industry trend which has set the physical retailing alive is that the customers purchase products in physical places, but complete the transaction online or virtually try it on using smartphones or sales assistant pays a home visit to the customers with all the chosen clothes for trial and purchase.

Latest Trends in the Indian Retail Industry

  • From Stores to Experiential Showrooms

Consumer buying behaviour keeps on changing under the influence of many factors such as new technological advances, internet, and spending power. To win a modern consumer in a competitive marketplace, the engaging shopping experience at a physical store is worth more than bringing bumper discounts and sales online. This has made retailers rethink their business models and strategies. Undoubtedly, e-commerce promises cost-efficiency to the customers, but physical stores with unique and innovative concepts give them a best-in-class shopping experience, making them return many more times. One such concept is of experiential stores—the one with which the early adopters like Ikea and Apple have been making huge profits. Unlike the traditional stacked stores, the experiential storefronts are the showrooms with fewer inventories, but a beautiful ambience where the customers are allowed to touch, feel, and experience the beauty of the products. What's new is that they not necessarily have to wait to carry the purchase product home, or come back, and pick it up. Because product delivery is a hassle for busy customers in both online and offline purchases, retailers get them delivered at the customer's home, coupling experience with convenience.

  • Combining Forces for Maximum Visibility

In the present scenario, the king of digital retail space is jumping on offline mediums and the ruler of physical retailing on online channels to connect with respective target audiences in intuitive ways and increase their bottom line. Where offline mediums bring authenticity to the product and brand, the online channels are best at browsing the products, comparing their quality and prices. As only 17per cent of Indian consumers are digital only, the real value is now seen in physical space where consumers do search for a product, makes up his mind to buy, but prefers to buy it at a store. The rest of the job is of offline mediums, that is, in-store enhancers such as Beacon technology, A.I., and V.R. tools. Retailers and shopping mall owners are now using these technologies to create compelling and indelible "phygital" experiences. There are many brands introducing new products to customers, getting maximum brand visibility, and delivering unforgettable user experience, but selling product neither in online nor offline mode. Today, a brand is distinguished with a kind of experience it offers. And, brands cannot achieve this uniqueness with siloed approaches.

  • Job Upgrading Your With Retail 4.0

Breakthrough technologies like Big Data, IoT, Cloud, Robotics, A.I. and Additive Manufacturing, are being widely used in the retail sector. With access to the real-time customer data and insights, retailers are able to predict consumer behaviour and accordingly planning their supply chain, marketing and branding strategy, and other crucial business operations. But, collecting the data, drawing inferences from them, and preparing a report for the company's growth requires a skilled workforce. Hence, niche jobs such as digital marketers, retail data analysts and researchers, customer experience leaders, and IT experts are emerging more than that of cashiers and sales assistants. In 2018, the Indian retail industry accounted for 13.05 per cent in job creation, and this is projected to grow manifold as the implementation of the latest technological advances in retail companies increases in the coming years.

Wavy Line
Yatin Jain

Director, ODHNI

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