Multi-channel approach to define the future of retail sector: Report

Retailers need to constantly transform their strategies and operating models to become more adaptable to technology

Internet-based shopping trends are likely to continue even as malls and shopping centres open up

Over the past one and a half years, there has been a massive change in consumers’ behaviour and preferences. As the ‘new normal’ has created the need for retailers to constantly evolve, retailers have to transform their strategies and operating models to become more adaptable to technology and enhance consumer and shopper experience, according to ‘Rewriting the Rules of New Retail’ report. The report was jointly unveiled by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India LLP (DTTILLP) and Mapic India.

While retail space has been seeing the transition to digitisation and technology over the last 10 years, the pandemic has accelerated the transition. With more people ordering from home due to restrictions in movement or lockdowns, the convergence of online and offline channels has been one of the emerging trends in the retail market in the past two years. The emergence of the direct to consumer (D2C) brands is another noticeable trend in the retail sector. While some brands prefer permanent pop-ups in brick-and-mortar stores, others prefer online platforms. Some D2C players are also taking the multi or omni channel approach.

The future of the retail sector will be defined by a multi-channel approach where online and offline channels will support each other, the report noted. The sector will see a blend of brick-and-mortar stores with online selling platforms, with both likely to continue to grow in markets like India.

“Today’s consumer is a convenience-craver, who is looking for value, instant gratification, range, and assortment across any channels he/she shops at. Covid-19-induced lockdowns over the past 18 months have dramatically changed shopper journeys and behaviours,” Rajat Wahi, partner, DTTILLP, said.

According to Wahi, from online research and buying to increased preference for comfort and digital payments/e-wallets, home delivery and ease of returns, internet-based shopping trends are likely to continue even as malls and shopping centres open up.

“Technology acceleration and adoption across the consumer and retail industries will continue to play a critical aspect for surviving and thriving in the new normal and coping with the rapid changes. In addition, retail businesses will need to continue to focus on the in-store and online customer experience-led engagement to cater to a new, tech-savvy, and conscious consumer. Successful brands will have to maintain the right balance between the online and offline channels as we move ahead in a data-driven economy,” Wahi added.

The report also highlights how large technology platforms are enabling the rapid transformation of retail, from Google Cloud and AWS to Sales Force Commerce. The transformation makes it easier for retailers to leverage these platforms to expand their online businesses through advanced analytics, better forecasting and demand planning, deeper connection with their shoppers and business partners.

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