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A Big Boost For The Confluence Of Online And Offline Markets The big and small retail brands are increasingly opting for an omnichannel presence in order to serve hundreds of millions of consumers

By Harsh Shah

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The battle between online and offline retail has been ongoing over the past few years. While there has been no winner declared so far, retailers have decided to embrace a cohesive cross-channel experience. In fact, the three largest retailers-Amazon, Alibaba and Walmart- in the world have made interesting strategic decisions in the last couple of years. The latest and the biggest one being the Walmart-Flipkart deal, which has proved not only beneficial to the investors and founders but also to the end customers, as they will be able to enjoy competitive pricing on products along with faster delivery of products.

Aptly termed as convergence, the big and small retail brands are increasingly opting for an omnichannel presence in order to serve hundreds of millions of consumers. There has been a remarkable change witnessed in the shopping behaviour of Indian consumers post the advent of online shopping. The consumer today is spoilt for choice owing to attractive value propositions, availability of international brands and anytime, anywhere shopping facilities. With the evolving shopping patterns of consumers, brands cannot overlook the ever-changing needs of their customers. At every step, they need to enhance their customer approach and build loyalty sustainable for the brand and the customer. Brands need to realize the advantages that online and offline shopping bring and integrate them together to deliver a delightful shopping experience to all their consumers.

The Traditional Way of Shopping In Brick-And-Mortar Stores vs. the 24/7 Online Shopping

A lot of people still largely enjoy going out for shopping with family or friends. They enjoy trying out different attires, taking selfies, asking for opinions before buying a product and making an informed buying decision. For many, shopping offline is a rewarding experience with personalized assistance and recommendation from salespersons, zero waiting periods and a better understanding of products.

However, the advent of online shopping helped consumers to shop as per their convenience, be it at midnight or while travelling in the train to the office. This meant a customer could shop anytime, anywhere and finish his shopping in minutes. Apart from saving time and avoiding crowds, online shopping rewarded "no pollution' shopping and cut down on unwanted expenses occurred on things like eating out and travelling. One of the biggest advantages that online shopping provides is the ability to choose from diverse brands and products from different sellers at one place. Online shopping has enabled customers to stay attuned to global trends and stay on top of their fashion game with attractive price rebates and discounts.

The Confluence of Online And Offline

While the benefits of offline and online shopping are not unheard of, several brands have increasingly begun to adopt both offline and online strategies to offer customers seamless shopping experiences and grow their businesses at the same time The interplay between each mediums must deliver the brand's identity to the customer every time he visits any owned medium or engage with any assets of the particular brand.

Several brands such as cosmetics firm Nykaa and jewellery brand CaratLane, which grew loyal customer bases online, felt the increasing need to create offline shopper experiences. According to a study conducted by the Australian Centre for Retail Studies, it was found that a lot of customers research online before purchasing in store. Brands need to capture this audience who conduct research online first and then head to the stores. Embracing an omnichannel model will allow traditional retailers to offer consumers a 360-degree shopping experience. In short, retailers should be able to utilize the same technologies that consumers use and create deeper engagement and more meaningful experiences for their shoppers. For brands to embrace the best of both worlds, they need to significantly change their mindset, transform their organizational structure and give some time for the brand to reap the desired return on capital amongst other things. The technological advancements have enabled consumers to experience brands through multiple forms; therefore, every brand should be able to offer a consistent omnichannel experience and enforce a clear and a strong brand image to customers.

Harsh Shah

Co-founder, Fynd

Harsh Shah is one of the three co-founders of Fynd, the unique fashion e-commerce portal which brings the latest in-store fashion online. He has a keen interest in consumer-facing technology in the retail sector, and specialises in management consulting. At Fynd, he brings his valuable experience in technology and entrepreneurship to the table, and oversees the supply side of operations, including managing partnering brands and stores.

Harsh completed his graduation from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in 2010 and was already part of the entrepreneurship landscape by his second year of college. As the Head of the Entrepreneurship Cell at IIT Bombay, he directed a team of twenty students.

Currently based out of Mumbai, Fynd is successfully disrupting the fashion market by combining technology and retail.

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