E-commerce will continue to drive growth during this festive season: Experts

The rise of e-commerce has set off a rapid evolution and transformation in offline retail to combat the challenge. Many brick and mortar retail formats transformed to enhance interaction, engagement and the emotional payback of the experience, showing that there is still a role for it. While the traditional way of shopping will always exist, the pandemic has brought some radical shifts in the way consumers want to do their shopping today. The last two years saw the rise of online purchases going up phenomenally as the pandemic did not allow people to go out on a shopping spree. Now, with the fear of Covid abating and the country opening up, the freedom to shop has given a positive outlook for the consumers to shop freely at their own leisure.

Brands are also very excited about the online buying and are gearing up to meet the demand for this festive season. With the behavioural changes in today’s consumers, would we see high traffic returning to the malls and retail outlets? We saw during the Independence Day this year, how special offers from brands drove huge traffic to most malls during the long weekend, which saw brisk sales.

Some top brands, especially in the auto sector, consumer electronics, FMCG and retail are upping their budgets this festive season. Some of the retail outlets like Croma and Vijay Sales have already beefed up their sales teams as they look forward to boom period after two years of lull. Leading e-commerce players like Amazon, Flipkart and Tata Cliq have already starting wooing the customers with aggressive offers as well as campaigns.

New digital channels and touchpoints are rapidly expanding. Leading brands are transitioning from multichannel to omnichannel and finally to convergent commerce. Convergent commerce is driving the creation of retailer and brand ecosystems to better serve channel-agnostic customers with their own commerce ecosystems. India is not far away from that as heavy investment is being pumped in to expand the marketplace for consumers to enjoy a great shopping experience, both on the technology front and the availability of a large range of products and services.

This festive season, we could witness a war between online shopping and traditional shopping. Given the rapid digitisation and good consumer experience for the buyers over the last two years, brands will further enhance the online experience and beef up their operations and their logistics and supplies to keep every customer happy. Brands have to make up for the last two years so that all efforts will be made to tap both online and offline to give customers plenty of choices with attractive prices and schemes.

Sharing his perspective, Amit Adarkar, CEO, Ipsos India, observed, “India’s size and diversity will ensure that all formats (traditional trade, modern trade, eCommerce) will continue to grow in future. After two years of restricted mobility, 2022 is much more open for offline business. It is but natural that offline sales will see a significant uptick during the upcoming festival season, especially when compared to 2020 and 2021 offline festival sales. To that extent, online growth may taper off a bit.”

One of the fundamental outcomes of the pandemic is that people are starved for experiences after being cooped up/ restricted for large part of two years. So, any brand (being offered online or offline) that promises enhanced experience will do well. When it comes to offline retail, this could mean innovative sampling, promotions, displays & contests. For online, technology (metaverse, AR, immersive experience) could play the part.

“During this festival season, consumers will be spoilt for choices,” Adarkar said.

Manjari Singhal, Senior Director - Customer, Growth and Events, Flipkart, said, “Flipkart’s Big Billion Days is comparable with other shopping phenomena across the world and it has become synonymous with India’s festive shopping season. It has brought more customers on board every year, expanding choice drastically, and changing the way Indians approach festive shopping. Driven by our constant endeavour to make the experience bigger and better every year, we are aiming to make the festive shopping experience even more special for consumers this year.”

She further said that Flipkart has invested heavily in the past decade on expanding its marketplace by enabling and empowering sellers, driving online adoption among consumers, and bringing in tools that helped sellers scale their businesses online. “This year as well, we will bring in more sellers and MSMEs while fulfilling festive needs and aspirations of millions of consumers across the country,” she added.

While stating that e-commerce has indeed propelled the growth of the luxury industry, Mohua Das Gupta, Head – Marketing, Tata CLiQ Luxury, remarked, “The pandemic encouraged luxury brands to take the online route given the reach, accessibility, and convenience that it offers. Tata CLiQ Luxury has always been the go-to luxury lifestyle destination for luxury shoppers in India. As the leader in the omni-channel luxury sector in the country, we have enabled and encouraged the shift towards online luxury shopping by making the entire experience convenient and easily accessible. In doing so, we have ensured that the customer gets an unparalleled luxury shopping experience across all touch points, which truly sets us apart.”

Das Gupta informed, “We have been clocking 100% growth year on year and are confident that this trend will continue. As far as the festive season this year is concerned, our key focus is to broaden our portfolio further by introducing new brands and products across categories such as fashion, accessories, Indian luxury, and designer wear. We are looking to highlight our strategic categories like fashion, fine jewellery, and watches. In addition, apart from the metro and Tier I cities, we are looking forward to expanding our customer base in Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets as well, given the surge in demand. As a brand, our approach has always been digital first. Therefore, digital and social will be our main avenues to reach out to existing and new customers.”

Sooraj Balakrishnan, Head of Marketing, Acer India, commented, “This year, we will witness a change in consumer behaviour as well as the tables turning and everything returning to normal. Therefore, the forthcoming holiday season will see significant sales growth in both the retail and offline sectors. The sales of the offline and online stores will be fuelled by one another.”

The consumer is given a variety of options thanks to the availability of goods on e-commerce and in physical stores, but convenience and value are the two factors that will ultimately determine their decision. Customers have the option of purchasing products online after experiencing them offline, or vice versa. These days, e-commerce is more than just a market; it serves as a platform for brands to reach new customers and present their goods and services to a wide audience.

Continuing further, Balakrishnan said, “We have a consumer-first approach than a channel-first approach. As a consumer, they would like to see the product at multiple touch points which includes Amazon, Flipkart, Acer Online store and of course, the retail channels of Acer Exclusive store, Croma, Reliance, Vijay Sales, other large regional multi-brand outlets and partner stores. It is about giving the customer the choice to purchase from the channel he or she prefers. Of course, online channels have captured a large share of market and as a brand we do invest significantly in our presence and marketing, but we equally ensure our retail stores are covered in terms of our marketing efforts, product ranging and buying enablers like bank offers, bundles and discounts.”

“With the onset of the festive season, we are excited to put together an assortment of unmatched offers for our shoppers across an array of domestic and international brands,” said Sharon Pais, Chief Business Officer, Myntra. She further said, “We are working towards making this edition of our marquee event, the Big Fashion Festival, bigger and better for our customers with exciting surprises and offers at play. Myntra will continue to be a destination of choice for the entire family this festive season, not only offering the latest trends and collections, but also seamlessly guiding you on how to ace that festive look with the help of leading celebrities, stylists and influencers. To offer our consumers the comfort of shopping from home, we will be scaling our social commerce initiatives like M-Live, Myntra Studio and our Gen Z focussed Style Cast for shoppers to engage with unparalleled fashion and beauty content. Our category focus will not just be limited to Indian wear and more, we will also be significantly bolstering our selection of footwear, accessories, beauty and personal care, and gifting specials, among others, to cater to the specific needs of the diverse shopping cohorts of the nation, ahead of this much-awaited time of the year.”

Anand Dubey, CEO Indkal Technologies and Acer Televisions Business in India, pointed out, “E-commerce is a very convenient, efficient, and attractive way of shopping, and we have phenomenal growth in this space not just in India but across the world. “Of course, in the short term, the pandemic did aid the growth of the industry, but the real levers for the continuous growth of e-commerce are owing to a fast improving operational and logistics infrastructure and the unprecedented reach. Plus, the ecosystem and infrastructure to help e-commerce grow have also seen a rapid improvement – for example, Internet connectivity, smartphone usage, digital payments, etc. All these factors are very attractive for brands like us, they ensure that customers have all the tools and information to make purchase decisions based on all the key brands and products in the same place,” he added.

“For us, selection visibility on the platforms and ensuring considerations by potential customers are the real focus areas when we look at online sales strategy. Of course, the customers will buy the products that fit their criteria, which could be specs, price, aesthetics, or any other factor, and hence ensuring that product information and cataloguing are comprehensive and detailed becomes crucial,” Dubey concluded.


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