Online shopping

Brands and customers love shopping online, but offline stores haven’t lost their edge

The pandemic-induced lockdown led to an increase in online shopping as there was no other recourse available to consumers. But as normality returns, consumers aren’t shy about hitting stores and websites for the best deals.

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While online channels have their own merits of convenience, no time barrier and more, offline channels are the ones that guarantee a holistic experience and the reliability factor. According to brands and experts, these reasons make offline stores a must for all players and their relevance will only grow in the coming days.

Nisha Sampath

According to Nisha Sampath, Brand Consultant and Managing Partner at Bright Angles Consulting, “Today there is a new merged reality in the phygital world we live in and the reality is that both online and offline businesses have had to accept that consumers will buy through both online and offline mediums simultaneously.Consumers only make the purchase call after comparing the two mediums and finalizing their point of purchase based on which is most beneficial to them. »

She also pointed out that consumers research the product online and then move on to

physical stores to buy the product and vice versa in the case of white goods, depending on the purchase medium that is most convenient and economical for them.

Speaking about the importance of online and offline mediums in a consumer’s buying journey, Sampath also pointed out that while online channels attract consumers through a variety of offers, discounts and cash and coupons which in turn reduce the cost of purchase, these are the retail outlets. and brick-and-mortar stores that provide a tactile experience and provide an opportunity for early adopters to test out products before deciding to make the final purchase.

Vidyut Kaul

According to Vidyut Kaul, Head, Personal Health, Philips Indian Subcontinent, “Consumers have now changed in terms of where and how they engage, and it is critical to recognize this change and reshape and personalize offerings accordingly.”

Kaul also added that today’s consumers live in a phygital world, where convenience and experience are crucial. “There is a shift happening that will only accelerate in the future as offline media evolve into a more personalized experience for consumers,” he said.

Furthermore, he also added that young consumers often start their consumer journey by researching products and solutions online and then visiting online websites that offer convenience, variety and experience.

Mini Sood Banerjee

“Although online and offline touchpoints are doing equally well, there is a high conversion rate of 70-80% when it comes to regular offline purchases,” according to Mini Sood Banerjee, Deputy Director and Head of Marketing at AmorePacific India. – the parent company of innisfree.

She also added that when it comes to offline stores, they provide a much more experiential opportunity for consumers.

Adding to this, Philips’ Kaul said, “With the festive season upon us, consumers want to be pampered, experimented and look good. They are looking for products that offer a better long term value proposition and as a result we have seen a significant increase in store traffic and footfall which has caused sales levels to rebound and even break through pre levels. -pandemics. in different segments.

In addition, he also pointed out that over the past two years, offline channels have been subdued due to the pandemic, but this year Philips has seen a significant increase in sales from offline channels. “We’ve seen growth in the range of 45-55% for different categories year-over-year this year,” he said.

Erik Jan Middelhoven

According to Erik Jan Middelhoven, Acting Country Commercial Director, Ikea India, the brand follows an omnichannel approach to reach customers through different touchpoints. “We are present in our key markets through department stores, small stores and online platforms. Our customers have the opportunity to visit us online and offline and we have received a positive response in terms of visits,” he said.

Middelhoven also added that the brand’s stores in Hyderabad and Nagasandra in Bengaluru have seen exponential growth in terms of store visits. He also pointed out that 70% of Ikea India’s total sales came from stores and 30% from online medium.

According to Sampath, “The biggest advantage of offline stores in India is that customers in the country have a knack for personalized interactions and enjoy a face-to-face conversation rather than just being transactional.”

In fact, she also pointed out that consumers are also skeptical when it comes to online shopping because they don’t know who to hold responsible if something goes wrong that might warrant them asking for a replacement or refund if something goes wrong. problem. the product, which is not the case with offline stores.

Additionally, for brands that deal in luxury, cosmetics, fragrances and other similar categories, online mediums still cannot deliver the personalized consumer experience that offline delivers through its touch-based user experience and it’s invaluable for a first-time purchase, she said.

Speaking about how consumer behavior is different across online and offline channels, Philips’ Kaul said consumers are constantly looking for deals and waiting for the peak of event sales to make their purchase.

Hitting a similar note, AmorePacific’s Banerjee said, “The recent Independence Day sale and holiday season has definitely pushed people to the stores to get a better grip on the great deals. Moreover, when customers visit and buy from offline stores, they continue to search for

gift with purchases (GWP) that they can view and test before actually purchasing the product offering. »

“We have greenus (beauty advisors) in our physical stores and they make our customers understand the brand story, the concept, the ingredients and the story behind each product line. Customers can also ask several questions to our greenus in addition to individual consultation available in our stores and can get samples of the products to test on their skin before making a big purchase,” she pointed out.

Middelhoven also pointed out that the pandemic has led to an increase in online shopping due to which Ikea had to undergo a digital transformation to strengthen its capacities and introduce consulting and personalization services in furnishing and ‘Click& Collect’, which are available at both stores. and online materials to increase accessibility for customers.

Talking about how consumer journeys span the online and offline world, Sampath also emphasized that brands need to consider both mediums when planning their marketing interventions. She said: “Businesses need to understand hybrid consumer journeys and where most online businesses go wrong is that they only see the consumer journey across online mediums and miss that. happening in the offline market. Likewise, buying offline also has online components that marketers need to pay attention to. »

Commenting on what Philips is doing to increase footfall in its stores, Kaul said: “Philips India has permanent installations in various modern specialty stores as well as separate display areas in general trade stores which account for approximately 90% of our sales. We also placed in-store merchandisers in high-traffic stores to help build awareness and drive conversion at the point of sale. »

Ikea’s Middelhoven also claimed, “We recently concluded a special Independence Day midnight sale campaign where our large format store in Navi Mumbai and the city store

in Worli were open until midnight for our customers to do their shopping.

Innisfree’s parent company, Amore Pacific has also been very active as a brand, post-lockdown, according to Banerjee. “We held several offline events with media and influencers and organized masterclasses with dermatologists so that they could educate consumers about the effectiveness of the products. We also held multi-city events so we could cover a wider audience for our brand, in addition to our engagement with influencers.

Banerjee also said that AmorePacific tries to align its marketing campaigns monthly so that they equally cover online and offline channels. “In addition, we try to cover different cities in our offline events to further strengthen the brand in cities where we haven’t held any events so far and brand awareness is also low,” said- she concluded.

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