Offline To Online Shift Of Businesses During The Crisis

Puneet & Yatin Jain, Directors, ODHNIFocusing majorly on the Indian Traditional Wear segment, Odhni offers an exquisite range of designer sarees and lehengas made from the finest fabrics, along with free delivery across India and efficient customer support services.

To keep the business alive and customers engaged, a retailer cannot just watch and wait; he has to take some strategic decisions. The outbreak of Corona-virus crisis finally resulted in the complete lock-down, a decision which is tough, but apt to counteract the lethal virus. According to the US-based data research firm, Mercatus, in last one month, the world has witnessed 1200 percent more online shopping account registrations and three times more mobile app downloads due to social distancing. In the long-run, these figures look pretty auspicious for e-retailers, but for the brick & mortar retail, this is not less than a bad omen.

Following the trend is the need of the hour, and if buyers are shifting from offline to online shopping, retailers who only deal through physical market must also create windows in the virtual market to retain their customers. Even in the lockdown, customers will continue purchasing various necessity goods, especially the FMCG items and food products. As social gatherings, parties, and events are totally prohibited in the lockdown period, people will prefer to postpone apparel, jewellery, and other lifestyle products, but necessity goods are the necessities that cannot be delayed. That's why many offline retail businesses decided to pursue customers through online platforms, and most of them succeed in this timely shift.

Need for a Strategic Shift
Although offline to online shift is the only resort to survive for many retail brands, it should be well-planned, strategic, and swift. First of all, accurate demand forecasting is the doorway to enter into the online market, which will be an entirely new landscape for many. Optimum inventory is possible only when the retailer is good at forecasting and procuring the stuff.

Over as well as under inventory can
both cause unexpected loss to the business. So before purchasing the goods from vendors, the retailer must have calculated sales figure to perfectly maintain a balance between demand and supply of goods in the coming week, month, and quarter. Over-dependence on intuition or gut feeling can be a bit risky. So the retailer must always study the demand pat-tern of similar goods in the recent past and during previous emergencies. Checking the capacity of the existing ware-house is another crucial aspect before raising the purchase order. If the warehouse is small for the required stuff, then the existing store can also be used to meet the storage purpose during the emergency.

When maintaining the supply chain is a grave concern for meeting the current demand, it is the right time for retailers to promote their private labels

Promoting the Private Label
When maintaining the supply chain is a grave concern for meeting the current demand, it is the right time for retailers to promote their private labels. For retailers who have a good range of private labels, the COVID-19 crisis is a blessing in disguise ­ the right time to convert them into genuine brands. Following this strategy, retailers continue to meet the demands of their customers, stay in touch with them, and offer the opportunity to try something new at a competitively low price. With little options in hand, there are enough chances that customers will accept these alter-native brands, and based on their feedbacks, retailers can accordingly improve their private labels.

Going Apt with Apps
It is true that during the Coronavirus crisis, people will spend the least on fashion and luxury, but it does not mean that they will not buy clothes for themselves and kids in the family. Now, shopping of clothes is a bit tough task without knowing the exact size and fit. But using artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality, many digital retail stores have developed revolutionary size and fit measurement apps which allow customers to try garments as simple as they do while purchasing from the physical stores or boutiques. Such apps use 3D body scanning technology to provide customers with data and metrics about their physique which they can anytime refer to decide the size of the clothes before buying. Some apps use the size chart of the brand whose clothes fit best to the customers and the ones which they are going to buy. The apps then compare the sizes and let the customers know if the chosen clothes will fit them or not. By this way, labour, time, and resources are saved for the retailers as well as for the customers.

Phy-gital in the Post-Crisis Scenario
Experts believe that after the crisis, the market is not going to change into 100 percent online; physical retail will never die and will continue to flourish due to a variety of valid reasons. It is the phy-gital ­ the convergence of physical and digital landscape shapes the industry. Shopping malls and the online-offline retailers have started using digital technology to improve their structure for an extravagant `in-mall' shopping mall experience. Using real-time intelligence and location-based marketing, retailers target the potential customers for shopping ads, offers, and discounts. Beacon technology facilitates this geo-location targeting by making the relevant customer behavioral data available to them.