Covid-19 Aftermath: Online Retail Shopping Becoming the New Normal
Customers are hesitant to step out of their homes and go to markets where there isn't enough social distancing being followed, therefore their preference has shifted to online shopping now
This global pandemic has definitely changed the Indian E-commerce game. It has affected many industries and has left a question mark on the survival of retail outlets of many big brands dealing in different categories as of now. But, in the longer-term, when this pandemic effect will turn down, people will start coming out and retail will again flourish.
The overall structure of retail has changed for the time being with the new norm of social distancing. Customers are hesitant to step out of their homes and go to markets where there isn't enough social distancing being followed, therefore their preference has shifted to online shopping now. Consumers who had never shopped online before discovered online shopping options and realised that it is the safest option to shop whatever they want, without stepping out of their homes during this time. But these customers are expected to turn back to retail shopping once everything goes back to normal.
Due to the current scenario, the growth of online portals can be seen across all categories especially groceries. Before Covid-19, consumers were happy shopping groceries and products for their daily needs right from the neighbourhood stores and markets, but now even the groceries are been shopped online. Similar is the case with innerwear category as well. Women those who would visit the nearest retailer or multi brand outlet for their regular innerwear needs, have now started experimenting with lingerie shopping online.
But, there are both pros and cons of online shopping. Customers those who are conscious about the sizes and quality of products which can be examined by them being physically present at the store, are still hesitant to buy online, especially in the lingerie segment. It is just that at this point of time, online shopping is safe and convenient for them to fulfil their urgent requirements. Women are opting to order online given the convenience of digital payments, doorstep delivery and the most important, contactless delivery model. When we compared our month on month online traffic and conversions, we experienced 20% increase post lockdown got lifted in the month of June as compared to JFM results.
One of the categories really doing well these days in the apparel industry is Loungewear. People are working from their homes and need comfortable as well as stylish clothes all day long, which is why there is boom in the shopping of sleepwear category. As this category was not much in demand as compared to the time post lockdown, brands have started coming up with new styles and prints to fill in the gaps of this segment.
The E-commerce growth has accelerated a couple of years ahead to what was speculated. Brands are now investing on digital marketing more rather than on print and outdoor brandings. Since consumers will not be able to visit markets and reach the brands in large numbers for the coming 6 months, it has become very important for the brands to reach the consumers. Digital has become the only touchpoint for brand visibility & awareness but cannot be seen replacing traditional marketing & retail space very easily.
Talking about the present scenario of retail and distribution channels, the stores are cautiously operational with a very limited number of staff. Many are following frequent sanitization of premises, allowing only a certain number of customers per store and are trying to drive conversions through attractive offers and discounts. All these adjustments are being made by the retail stores to encourage consumers to feel safe and return to in-store shopping.
The discussion on the comparison between online and offline shopping is a never-ending affair. The dependence on online shopping has definitely increased but the importance and need for retail shopping cannot be underestimated.