The e-commerce players’ fancy for physical retail seems to be on the ascendency. As part of differentiating themselves from the clutter of online brands, some e-tailers have started setting up offline shops.
Pepperfry has joined the list of e-tailers by going ‘hybrid’. It recently leased an 1,800 sq ft space at Linking Road, Santacruz, said Anuj Puri, chairman and country head at JLL India. It already has offline stores — Studio Pepperfry — which acts as concept stores for buyers to see and feel the product.
Lenskart, a well-known Indian eyewear brand that started online, has set up stores in retail malls to directly connect with customers. It also offers free eye check-ups at select stores. While online travel firm MakeMyTrip has opened more than a dozen company-owned stores, baby and kids product portal Firstcry has taken its tally to more than 100 stores across the country, he said.
According to the Boston Consulting Group and Retailers’ Association of India, the retail market in India is expected to double to $1 trillion by 2020 from $600 billion in 2015.
Freecultr, an online fashion apparel brand, has been swiftly moving into the physical space to give customers a chance to touch and feel their merchandise. It is using its space to better understand the needs of their customers by collecting feedback, providing alternate payment options and using the store as a pick-up point, among other things.
Freecultr has posted a question on its website asking visitors to vote for a preferable city for their next installation, indicating the company is planning to set up more such stores.
According to sources, in 2014, over 70% of e-commerce website-based transactions came from the top-10 cities of India. The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) growth in rural India, through ticketing kiosks is a proof that rural India, too, is online shopping-savvy. But for online brands to exploit the rising spending power in the rural markets, it is important to make their presence felt in these places.
Paytm, an online payment solutions company, has already installed over 50,000 kiosks for customers to be able to load their e-wallets. By being offline, the company is building trust with customers who would otherwise have felt lost in the already-crowded online space.
“So strong is the urge to move offline globally that for the first time ever, Amazon US has opened a physical store in the US in early 2015, and it plans to open more such stores by mid-2015,” Puri said.
The biggest nightmare for every online seller is to deal with a shopping cart abandonment rate of 70-80%. The sweet spot is to be in a middle zone where online sellers connect with the actual customers and also promote their products in multiple avenues.