E-commerce is not all about deep discounting and therefore price is not the only factor to consider in the war waging between brick and mortar stores and their online rivals, a Boston Consulting Group and RAI (Retailer’s Association of India) report unveiled on Wednesday said.
According to the report, assortment, convenience and availability are also now significant drivers along with discounts. In a survey that the company conducted, 41% respondents said that they shopped online because of high discounts. Among the remaining 59%, a higher available selection and no interaction needed with salesmen together comprised 40%, signaling that the experience that consumers get, whether it is during online shopping or offline ranks almost in tandem with the prices that are on offer. “Retailers need to use their digital presence more effectively to offer the long tail to customers. They must provide a seamless customer experience across channels – the customer does not care about how the back-end works as long as his experience is consistent,” said Bijou Kurien, board member at L Capital Asia.
Retailers who attended the first day of the Retail Leadership Summit in full strength seemed to agree with the findings of the report and outlined that future investments are being done mainly to build innovations that will enhance the experience of consumers.
Interestingly, Flipkart co-founder, Sachin Bansal who pioneered the concept of e-retail in India back in 2007 also said that the company is lining up a major ramp up in its mobile applications since over 70% traffic on Flipkart’s site and as well as its sales comes through mobile. He added that no longer can a mobile app be a shrunk format of the desktop interface and that much of the business development at Flipkart is dedicated to ensuring that consumers have a more seamless experience through their mobile devices. Similarly, companies such as Shoppers Stop, Future Group, Marks and Spencer and Lifestyle also reiterated their focus on developing omni-channel networks.
But the full fledged operations of omni channel for those companies that primarily operate physical stores might take time. Rakesh Biyani, joint MD at the Future Group said, these companies do not have the backing of investors and therefore investments are made at a slower pace.