How retail stores in India can counter the e-commerce challenge

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How retail stores in India can counter the e-commerce challenge?

Online shopping has taken off in a big way in India, thanks to the penetration of internet connectivity and smartphones even to the remotest corners of the country. In fact, as per Invest India, a non-profit under Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India will have 650 million internet users by 2021 which will further fuel the e-commerce growth in India. E-commerce in India is also expected to grow at a CAGR of 30% for gross merchandise value to be worth $200 billion by 2026.

What does all this mean for our friendly neighbourhood brick-and-mortar stores? Will our generations-old kirana stores cease to exist? Will malls shut down? Far from it. As a nation of 1.3 billion people, India is the most varied market in the world, due to regional differences, cultural shifts and preferences. Despite the e-commerce boom, Indians continue to value personal connect, which is probably what explains the dominance of the neighbourhood kirana store in India's overall retail sector.

At the same time, it is important to recognize that consumer expectations are changing rapidly. Today's shopper is looking for a convenient, personalized and satisfying shopping experience. In addition, Indians love discounts, freebies and cashbacks, which online stores offer in plenty. Physical stores have an edge here as they can not only offer discounting, but also have the added advantage of being able to offer the touch-and-feel experience, build a personal connect with the shoppers and turn them into repeat buyers.

Here are few interesting ways in which retailers can counter the e-commerce challenge and stay relevant in a world that is fast moving online.

Creating rewarding in-store experiences

What is your customer looking for in terms of shopping experience? Majority of them want easy access to products, the ability to compare different brands, ease of making payments through their preferred payment mode and great offers that lead to savings.

The efficient use of technology in enabling such seamless shopping experiences has been the hallmark of the e-commerce growth in India. Armed with a Pine Labs POS machine, retail merchants can offer the option of digital payments to their customers, extend EMI facility to them and even apply for a business loan to meet their working capital needs. All of this in addition to the other advantages of the physical store shopping experience such as visually impactful range of products stacked across well-labelled aisles and the ability to forge a personal connect with the shoppers.

Leveraging the power of analytics

myPlutus app by Pine Labs is one good example of how merchants can get a simplified view of their business, anytime, anywhere. Getting real-time insights on your sales transactions data can not only help you decide on inventory, but also help with the store layout design.

More importantly, access to these insights can help you decide on sales promotions, just like online stores. Data analytics can help you decide on the items that can be discounted, or the ones for which you can run cashback offers. You can even offer the option of EMIs to your customers just how major e-commerce companies are doing to woo customers.

The time is ripe for small retail stores in India to think and act like big online retailers. Real-time analytics and insights can help them offer attractive incentives to their customers such as cashbacks and loyalty points.

Are you ready to take on the e-commerce challenge and grow your business with us? Contact us

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