Numerous startups which had begun their functions online first, have now started thinking about gauging the physical promiscuity with the customers.
#DigitalErra Thought Corner
Online retailers have expanded their online presence and even offering new services, like buy-online-pick-up-in-store, to keep pace with shopper preference. But some retailers are moving in the opposite direction: They begin online and expand into the offline world, interacting with customers through stores or showrooms.
Companies rolling out offline stores
Online furniture market place Pepperfry decided to go offline with a ‘concept store’ in Hyderabad earlier this year in June, five years after it began selling online. It stands at 10 with such stores and hopes to double the number in the next six months. Physical retail stores help them gain trust and showcase their finished goods before the delivery is done.
Its closest competitor UrbanLadder is also planning to set up offline stores. Similarly, Amazon went the brick and mortar way with bookstores in the US and later in India.
On the online fashion end, Myntra, is all set to launch offline ‘experience stores’.
Rise of O2O (Online-To-Offline)
In December, Paytm acquired Near.in, a marketplace app that connects users with local businesses for home services which will help Paytm to have a good foot-hold in the O2O space. Also, in August, five-month-old budget hotel aggregator WudStay bought offline rival Awesome Stays to expand its reach.
How the Stores in general going to be?
Last year, after the successful festive eCommerce sales, most of the marketers have kept in mind to build stores that are tech-enabled, high-tech and interactive. Many brands have developed in-store technology ranging from shelf-stocking robots, to augmented reality displays, to Wi-Fi-based beacons that collect data on shopper behavior.
What are the reasons behind offline expansion?
- With 900million Indians still without access to internet, internet-based startups are adopting the dual strategy of expanding both online and offline to reach out to every customer’s pocket.
- Again, as soon as a product requires strong explanatory such as what makes one product better than the others (justifying an investment), or why one product is cheaper than the other, a customer would like to visit a showroom to find clarity. A retail shop is a risk reducer for the customers buying process.
- Brick-and-mortar stores can offer customers firsthand information about products, which is particularly important for products where fit, feel, or other information that’s hard to convey online play a role in purchase decisions.
Retail expansion can give a great understanding for all online businesses to know what work best in an online environment which can be an added advantage for them.