Post-COVID, Indian businessmen are switching from offline to online

Shreyas Nair
by Shreyas Nair  |  26th Jun, 2020 in Digital Marketing

The Covid-19 pandemic has catalysed a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour. In the smartphone era with cheaper 4G networks and growing consumer prosperity, the Indian ecommerce marketplace was projected to rise at US$ 200 billion by 2026. This was an estimate based on market research done in the pre-Covid 19 scenario. However, in the past few months, the buyer as well as seller behaviour has changed beyond recognition.

A clear indication that massive offline to online migration of business activities will cause a US$ 200 billion market shift. Aneesh Reddy in Business Line’s Covid-19 impact: Consumers move more towards digital, quotes a National Retail Foundation (NRF) survey to drive home the following points:

  • Nine out of ten Indian consumers have altered their old shopping patterns in the past few months
  • More than 50% of customers have ordered products online, which they ordinarily bought at a store
  • Almost six in ten customers are apprehensive about visiting a store owing to the fear of infection

As the world moves past the survival mode, digital-adoption mode is expected to become permanent. This modulation point will be shaped by two main shifts in customer behaviour – the reluctance to socialize in crowded public places and second, higher inclination for digital adoption. Retailers are now looking at innovative ways of facilitating this offline to online business switch, based on zero-contact shopping in order to push up sales.

As Kumar Rajagopalan – CEO, Retailers Association of India explains – “The overall architecture of retail will change with social distancing as a key component. Customers will be reluctant to go to places where there isn’t enough social distancing or the hygiene standards are not perceivably available,” reports The Hindu Business.

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Just six months ago, the Future Group served online orders for groceries only through its Easy Day stores in Delhi NCR. Now it has extended that capability to 250 of its Big Bazaar stores across the country. Launching in less than ten days and fulfilling ten thousand orders in a day was quite a feat, admitted by Bharati Balakrishnan, Senior Vice President for Digital Commerce of Future Group.

Kolkata-headquartered Spencer’s Retail has meanwhile also joined hands with food delivery app Swiggy, cab-hire app Uber and the bike taxi start-up Rapido, so as to deliver orders placed by customers on its website. They had launched a shopping app two years ago and has now partnered with Flipkart to make its inventory visible for shoppers and service a higher number, out-of-store orders (OOS).

“Our OOS business has risen from a lower single digit to a good double since they have moved from offline to online business plus phone orders have increased multiple fold,” said Devendra Chawla, Spencer’s Retail CEO. The outlet operates around 200 supermarkets in numerous cities. German wholesaler brand Metro Cash and Carry India has launched its mobile app this month. At first, it had planned to test the app for members in Bengaluru, but the Covid-19 pandemic led it to roll out the service, nationwide.

It’s MD Arvind Mediratta told Rasul Bailay and Alnoor Peermohamed from Economic Times that they are receiving more than 100 orders at each store from traders across India. Observing the current situation, SMBs must pull up their socks and establish a proficient digital presence with the help of an experienced digital marketing company in India, instead of deciding in haste to pull down shutters because overhauling offline supply chains is such a capital-incentive proposition.

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And speaking of big brands- Sumit Sehgal, CMO- Sheela Foam Ltd. the manufacturing unit of Sleepwell Mattress admits that in the beginning there would definitely be less consumers in the market and many would find overcoming the digital divide challenging at first, but this shift is eventually inevitable making it imperative for brands to migrate from offline to online business. He thinks consumers may not reach out to brands in big numbers the next six to nine months hence it is crucial for brands to approach consumers. Sleepwell is introducing an, at home service shortly, covering 30 markets. Ensuring their sustainability accompanied with visibility and also that of the digital channel.

Whirlpool India is also ramping up its online existence into preparing for the new normal, Vishal Bhola, MD is positively gearing for the transformation. He articulates while talking to Yuthika Bhargava in Coronavirus | Retailers gear up for the ‘new normal’. Saying – “As of now an estimated 60% of urban India go online for product discovery but only 7-10% of sales happen online. We expect this to change significantly with a much higher proportion of sales getting completed online,” Adding that the company is mounting its presence not only with e-commerce markets but also with traditional offline sellers looking to have a solid online hold.

Remarkably, automobile companies are now taking the online passage to kick start and enhance sales. Honda Cars India  launched its ‘Honda from Home’ online booking dais in April last month. This one will let customers browse the product choices, select their ideal dealership and then book cars for online purchase. Mercedes-Benz India has also launched an online platform for ordering new cars.

Beginning of the year in January it had done so for used cars, summing up the piece while taking an insightful review, the big players are already entering the digital zone SMBs do not have much scope and time to think. Taking part in the country’s digital revolution, playing safe, not incurring huge losses, they need to hire a professional digital marketing company in India only then it will make sense and give results. There is no room for mistakes. And Litmus Branding would be happy to help!

Shreyas Nair

Director, Litmus Branding Pvt. Ltd.
I connect loose ends, I build bridges.
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