8. April 2020 | Chapter India, Guest Contribution, News

With the world on the “social distancing” mode, it’s needless to say that global retail, specially brick-and-mortar retail received a phenomenal blow. While we wait to rise above the crisis and hope to see all businesses booming back to a new high, retail in the country is showing some serious curves. Experts in the retail business and service providers are utilizing the time to develop newer concepts in order to prepare themselves for the post-lockdown business. We, at in-store asia are closely monitoring the market.

Here are some of the lockdown learnings that Indian Retail can take further up at the time of rebound.

E-commerce slew

What sat at less the 5% of overall retail pie in India, has surely got a boost in past few days. As shoppers refrained from public places to shop from, online marketplaces, specially e-commerce grocers in the country saw an unprecedented growth in business. One of the majors, Grofers, recently reported a whopping 80% surge in business in last month across cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune and Ahmedabad and 60% in Delhi National Capital Region and Hyderabad. Another online grocery leader Big Basket has reported doubled revenue in less than two weeks. Average basket value for all online grocers have witnessed a 20% higher spike than regular business. Interestingly, the brick-and-mortar grocers like Future Group-owned Big Bazaar and Nature’s Basket have forayed into doorstep delivery making their online channel robust.

With the quarantined time largely spent on internet, we are curious if retailers are seriously spending time devising their plans on boosting e-commerce channels.

Will no-contact check-out be a norm?

Right before the Government policy on complete lockdown, many leading retailers in India introduced no-contact checkout system at their stores simply for the cause of physical distancing. More lately, world is also waking up to the renewed nature and environment. With technology advancing and more brains at work during the quarantine, are retail stores slated to focus more on services like self-checkouts, cashless payment methods and paperless billing systems?

India’s  leading retail fixture manufacturer Renam Retail has recently announced on their LinkedIn page that they are already utilizing the thinking time on measures like “self-checkout counters, distanced layout plans, sanitizing stations and many more proactive measures that retail and office needs”.

Higher Creativity, Better Relevance

Fashion retail is going through tough time for they virtually could not open their Spring sale. Store operations are literally on stand still right now and brands are now negotiating with mall owners on the rentals. Needless to say that store rollouts are on stand still. However, the country, which has been cited globally to have fought with the Corona with heightened wisdom and positivity, is sure preparing for better time as well as better business for retail. Store rollouts are more weighed in terms of numbers, timeline and budget, often sacrificing the need of creative space. We are certain that this time-off period is used by hundreds of retail designers and visual merchandisers to rethink their creative strategies and bounce back with multiplied energies.

One of the major manufacturers of tech-enabled display systems from India, Insync Shopfittings has recently called for suggestions from the industry on new shop fitting solutions and IoT integrations. Some of ace retail designers in India are working on the concepts of cost-effective designs which can be executed in tighter timelines.

Sluggish business will surely demand more cost-effective materials and solutions, once the business rebounds. The industry is certainly working on value-engineering, sustainability and design rethinking.  We expect to see more changes coming from fixture, display and retail designers.

Standing Together for Better Times

Overall, as applicable in life and health in general across the world right now, like any other industry, every stakeholder in retail industry is now coming together to fight off the crisis. Amongst many other malls, Kochi’s Lulu Mall, one of the most business-worthy mall holding 254 stores, has already announced to waive off 12 crores (1 crore = 10 million) rupees of rentals to help retailers cope with the unforeseen slump in business. Similar relief was awarded to 200 retailers who leased from Maharashtra-based Lodha Group and other major developers and mall owners are actively considering such waivers.

Retailers Association of India, the apex body of retailers in India, representing around 13.667 member establishments, including large and small retailers in the country, having 500, 000 stores providing direct and indirect employment to 43 million Indians, has recently requested Reserve Bank of India, the highest financial authority in the country, for directions to all banks and financial institutions to provide a 3-month moratorium on all term loans. As the cash inflow is severely stuck for thousands of retailers in the country, this effort of RAI is expected to offer some relief.

Sensitive time is also bringing the community closer. Fresh food supply chain company Ninjacart has recently announced the provision of essential food items to Orphanages, old age homes and slum areas at subsidized rates and is willing to partner with NGOs and institutions alike across many major cities in India. A notable name in e-commerce business, Paytm Mall, has recently waived off penalties on merchants for order cancellations and processing delays in this unprecedented circumstance.

Overall, the crisis has opened detailed dialogues between business operators, associations, service providers and end consumers and customers. It is helping stakeholders at all levels to understand businesses and be sensitive to each other’s interests which we are certain that will go a long way even through better times.

Author: Satarupa Charaborty, Senior Manager – Conferences & PR, Messe Düsseldorf India Pvt. Ltd.


Tags: customer service, in-store asia, online shop
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