Offline stores to online base

by Vanisha Pandia

June 10, 2021

Change is the only certainty of our times, and 2020 proved it more than any year since the last decade. The point then becomes, who has the authority over this change and who benefits from this change. It may sound a bit speculative, but as we know, everything happens for a reason. The ideology of MasterG voices this shift to online base as speculative. Humanity is a dense network of patterns. A pattern is a repeat of objects or reinforcement of ideas in a sequence that make sense to the makers and those experiencing it. There is no such thing as a broken pattern. Each pattern exists to serve someone.

The pattern of change we see around us is also, if not somebody’s doing, does prove favorable to them.

Some five years ago, with the conglomeration of boost in smartphone sales, cheap internet and rapid globalization led to the world shift from their foot to an armchair. Everything that had a physical center, location and a landmark shifted to an IP address. From entertainment to work, online and offline used to be two separate universes, the boom of e-commerce blurred the line.  

This shift took a dramatic shot at the end of 2019 and 2020. The year that Covid-19 pandemic hit the world. With a pausal silence and halted time, humanity began to take baby-step towards renewal. These steps were taken by our thumbs,  and were taken online.

eMarketer took a survey that revealed that most rapid shifts were seen in countries like China (duh) and other south-east asian countries. It reported a sudden spike of 60%-85% rise in the users of the internet for all their needs. It was of course to prevent themselves from contracting the virus, as the epicentre lay on our side of the earth.

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Why this data remains alarming is because the aforementioned countries have the highest rate of the unorganised sector and the labour force employed in them. These are the countries who are the by-product of colonial civilization. These are the countries that are still considered the ‘third-world’. One of my cherished professors kept one view infront of us, one day. She said she doesn’t think the concept of first world and third world makes sense anymore. Her reasoning was that the so-called third world countries have some of the richest in the world and some of the most advanced technological bearings. These are the countries that can take a company through the roofs just by their human resource!

She is somebody whom I follow in a breath, but this was something I disagreed with. The concept of a first-third world exists and makes sense, because these are the countries most divided into the multi-billionaires, 40 categories of the middle class, and those below the poverty line. These are countries who manufacture and receive the placebos of the end products. These are the countries where an action by those on the highest rung renders those on the lowest rung dead.

The ecommerce market in India is expected to grow to US$ 200 billion by 2026.

The power of this change is being harnessed by fast-fashion the most. The top global brands like H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Uniqlo, TopShop etc. having established themselves in India are even hogging the online space. Apart from having their multi-functioning website for sales options, they are the first one’s in the portfolios of the e-commerce website and gauge the most eye-balls due to their omnipresence.

The local retailers have to settle themselves on their individual website or through social media pages like Instagram. They promote, sell and interact one-to-one with their scanty consumer base through ‘direct message.’

The global brands are the one’s flourishing with no downward repercussions and none at all of the responsibility realised. The design, manufacturing and the logistics, all departments cover the largest of the profits and grasp the supply chain to the fullest. They are able to afford to keep a reasonable price, styles that are updated quickly and continuously, a rotation of the upcoming consumer base.

Many individual retailers are bearing the brunt of wealth collection by some of the global brand set-up in asian countries. They are on their way to digitalise even their physical store. Burberry UK for example has been notable in integrating rudiments of online interface in their stores, digitalising virtual trying on clothes, and live links for comparisons from other stores.

The change, having obvious psychological efficacies in the people, has primarily shaped consumer behaviour in two ways. It has created reluctance among the people to move in the crowds and increased their propensity for digital acceptance.

According to a survey done by NRF, we are observing a change in some of the key behaviours of the consumers of today. 6 out of 10 live in paranoia of being infected, hence do not choose to observe old worldly habits of physical shopping. About 50% of the purchases are evident of the reservations in the citizens, as those purchases hadn’t found an online consumer base until now. 9 out of 10 speak of entirely transforming their shopping habits.

With these internet-fuelled changes gaining traction among retailers, developers of shopping centres are weighing the new choices that these technologies are bringing consumers, comparing them against brick & mortar limitations, and beginning to respond with changes of their own. (WIRED) Online shift creates the competency for retailers for interacting with the customers and building a brand. It is a better proliferator of gaining wider reach, especially for their specialities. The internet also allows them to make savings on floor space and excessive stock accumulation.

Though the local retailer has taken a lead in the changing demeanour by addressing the challenges and even the opportunities brought by the internet-savvy world. Though, through integrating or experimenting, or through adaptive online platforms made in India like Dukaan, they themselves have been adapting to this ever-changing world. The corona virus outbreak and the 2020 marked a tipping point for the adoption of ecommerce and mobile commerce platforms.

In the countries where the offline to online shift had already taken place in terms of retailers, we see a more loyal and varied collection of clientele, and a stronger capability to cater to tailored demands. But this is yet to happen in the case of India. This might be our glorious reality some twenty years later, but the transition looks utterly painful.

The momentum of change on a time-sensitive terms may spell out another reality altogether.

The issue is where some of the changes can be seen as transient; many have made a permanent shift. Several communities have been brought to turn on their fight or flight mode in such circumstances. The digitalising phenomena is here to stay, and not in any way neglecting the million benefits of the same, this is a perspective, less of us turn to.

About the Author

Vanisha Pandia

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