Offline retail is set to get a major boost from mobile commerce

By Kartik Sanghavi

Foot traffic has always mattered the most to local retailers, but the way it’s achieved is changing fast. On-the-go consumers now spend more than 15 hours per week researching on their smartphones. Digital doesn't just drive e-commerce; it actually gets consumers into local stores.

An estimated Rs 60,000 crore of in-store retail purchase is influenced by digital. This number is expected to grow significantly, with increasing penetration of smartphones (140 million+ estimated to grow to 500 million by 2020) and growing internet users (300 million internet users estimated to grow to 600 million by 2020)

Geo-location services: The storefront’s green traffic signal. 

  • Brands are increasingly using technology to drive more footfall in their brick-and-mortar stores. By listing their locations on online location-based services such as Google Maps, businesses are easing discovery and further narrowing the distance between their physical storefronts and the end customer.
  • For a majority of shoppers, the local store is still the last place to switch buying decisions, browse and talk to experts. For others, it's becoming more like a local distribution center where they can pop in quickly to pick up a product they’ve researched in advance. Either case, being geo-trackable is the buzz word for better business, but that’s not all.
  • Consumers constrained for time look for information. Information such as “product availability at a nearby store” and “pricing at that store” is essential to have listed and is soon to be considered as a significant value add for quick decision making. It’s of vital importance to promote and share inventory seamlessly across all channels.

Create a seamless experience

Shoppers respond best to a coherent shopping experience along their path to purchase. We see them use digital touch points (desktop, mobile, tablet) differently along their shopping journey. As integrated online/offline shopping becomes the new norm, brands should be available to the consumers where ever and whenever they think of you – be it digital led discovery and knowledge gathering or the brick and mortar store.

Don’t underestimate the impact of mobile

Viewing the path to purchase through separate channels — mobile versus desktop versus offline — doesn't reflect the way the world is changing. The rise in m-commerce presents brands with a chance to rewrite the rules of success by adapting to change and building a future-ready business.

  • 21 percent of in-store shopping in urban India is influenced by digital and 18 percent is influenced by mobile.
  • Digital currently influences 21 percent of the Rs 2,80,000 crore being spent across all categories of in-store organised retail sales
  • Amongst all digital devices, smartphones are the device of choice for shoppers

Top reasons that digital experience causes consumers from consideration to purchase and also higher spend than planned

  • 25 percent - Digital information on product and reviews give confidence to shoppers about product.
  • 23 percent - Discount/coupon found on digital properties induced the initial purchase, but shoppers ended up spending more overall.
  • 19 percent - Reviews/research influenced the shopper to purchase a complementary item.
  • 17 percent - Recommendations provided by the digital interactions influenced shoppers to buy a higher-priced product.
  • 15 percent - Loyalty coupon/reward discovered online induced the in-store purchase.

Build for visual discovery

  • In offline shopping, people ‘search and discover’ products by ‘looking around’ or shopcrawling. Retailers spend considerable time and effort with visual merchandising teams, to create visual experiences in the store and the entire visual experience of ‘looking around’ is missing in online shopping experience.
  • As we shift to a more visual language on mobile, one that is made up of photos, emojis, stickers and video, brands will have to rethink how they present product details in a visually impactful way that's clear yet small-screen friendly.

The future of shopping

The bridge between digital traffic and foot traffic has become a competitive necessity in retail. The retailers who embrace these new realities—who connect with their customers seamlessly, no matter where those shoppers happen to be or how they want to buy—will be the retailers that win.

It's those on-the-go connections that are the future of shopping. The new norms introduced by the government are an indication of this habit shift acceptance. E-commerce continues to bridge the yawning gap and the smart retailers ready to go to the next millennium are lapping up this opportunity. If utilised well and proactively Retailers of all shapes and sizes can leverage the same medium of technology which has so far been used to take customers away from them.

This article is authored by Kartik Sanghavi, Founder, Appie Mobiquity Pvt. Ltd.

Updated Date: May 20, 2016 17:22:12 IST