Online Retailers Weigh-In Offline Store Influence In The Light Of Competition

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    Flipkart-owned online fashion retailer Myntra has joined e-commerce peers such as Zivame, LensKart, Pepperfry and Urban Ladder to open its first offline store, as it looks to increase the visibility of its high margin in-house brands.

    #DigitalErra Thought Corner

    Myntra on Thursday opened its first Roadster brand store in Bengaluru. The store will allow customers who’ve never shopped for Roadster products online and also existing customers get an experience of the brand offline.

    “The purpose of this store is to create a Roadster brand experience,” said Ananth Narayanan, CEO of Myntra. “Of course it will do sales, but more importantly it represents the brand and it gives us the chance to experiment with omnichannel technology which we will apply in many other areas.”

    The company says it has used data and intelligence collected from its app to build the store, and is currently looking at is as a sole offline experiment for the next 8-12 months. In the long run it says it is envisioning ambitious projects such as delivering products which people order from a warehouse to a store within minutes using drones.

    Creating differentiation for today’s retailers

    Competition pressures are at an all-time high in the online retail industry where consumers now have more shopping options than ever before. E-commerce, now widely trusted and accepted, allows customers to easily search for the lowest price for a specific item, and to shop at all hours of the day and night. These online marketplaces are also offering offline touch-points— from mass merchandisers who offer one-stop discount style shopping to large and respected retail chains to specialty and boutique stores.

    To survive in today’s highly competitive environment, these brick and mortar stores must:

    • Achieve a new level of service excellence, eliminating long lines at the checkout counter and long waits for price and inventory checks.
    • Provide a unique retail experience to promote customer loyalty
    • Streamline everyday processes to maximize the productivity of retail associates, providing better control over labor costs while freeing up time to provide more personalized customer service.

    More online retailers exploring offline options

    Online lingerie retailer Zivame has explored the offline route by launching Zivame Studios across the country.At the Zivame Studio, women can discover, try, experiment and create their unique lingerie wardrobe with exclusive products in an uninhibited, premium space.

    Richa Kar,CEO of Zivame says, “Our ability to offer a personalized, delightful experience along with our focus on educating the buyer and helping her select the right products is what differentiates us from the rest.”

    Online furniture marketplace Pepperfry was carrying the same vision when they first launched their offline concept store “Studio Pepperfry” way back in 2014. The stores have iPad wielding interior design consultants to understand consumers’ requirements and provide them consulting services on various aspects of design, specifically related to furniture. The idea was conceived as an experience zone for customers who were looking to enhance their living spaces.

    Conclusion

    Today’s retailer can no longer compete on price alone. In order to sustain and improve profitability in this highly competitive environment, retailers need to differentiate themselves from other players, strengthen customer loyalty, and increase overall sales. So, retailers are working on an online-to-offline business model to give the best of both the worlds to the consumer.

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