e4m-infobip webinar: Digital will be the flag bearer for retail in 2021

The session witnessed brand experts spelling out how the retail and e-commerce ecosystem will look like in 2021

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jan 22, 2021 9:38 AM

exchange4media joined hands with Infobip for a webinar yesterday on January 21, 2021, for a two-session webinar. The main conversation was on the rise of digital in the new normal. The second session with some of the sharpest minds in the marketing industry was a panel discussion on ‘Reimagining Retail and e-commerce in 2021’. Eminent speakers Kashyap Vadapalli, Chief Marketing Officer & Business Head - Pepperfry.com; Pavan Singh, Deputy General Manager (Marketing) - Amul; Ritesh Ghosal, CMO, Croma- Infiniti Retail Ltd.; Vikas Chauhan, Co-Founder - 1MG with Shankar Iyer, Head - Customer Success, Infobip as the session chair were on the panel.

Industry leaders discussed how brands in this sector can build a connected customer experience amidst the widespread challenges of the COVID pandemic.

A lot of changes have taken place due to the pandemic. However, the recent trends have reached a positive stance. Starting the conversation, Vadapalli sharing what 2021 is going to look like for e-commerce said, “In India and globally, e-commerce has been moving in one direction. In any developed market e-commerce has reached anywhere between 15-20% of the market. It slowed down after that. Between 2000-2010 it had reached 15% penetration and was going through online. During 2020 almost 10% growth has been added. E-commerce is 26%-28% in the US and other developed markets. E-commerce in India had started later on and picked up in 2010. Last year there was an acceleration because retail shut shop and there was a 4 month lockdown period. We have seen 40% per cent jump in our category online and different industries saw different amounts. Most industries saw a 20%-50% jump whether that translated into sales is a function of pricing and so on.”

Acceleration was the key factor that has driven e-commerce growth in the year 2020 and will continue to be amplified in this year.

Sharing his experience on healthcare, Chauhan said, “Covid changed the dynamics of the world. Essential services meant that everyone wanted a safe and controlled environment for themselves. It was about ensuring the necessities were accessible to the consumers. Consumers adopted technology during COVID and the delivery of medicines raised. A lot of doctors shifted to the digital medium to have a constant connection. Healthcare and education both have a different element attached to it apart from safety and price factor. There is a legacy and trust factor also in these sectors. Healthcare especially is a need-based category. The rate at which consumer adoption is happening in these sectors is phenomenal. The healthcare segment is here to stay and grow. When it comes to the growth or the quantum of people adopting a new channel, digital will be higher than physical.”

Singh remarked, “For a brand like us which has over 40 million touchpoints in this country. The retail presence is recorded at almost 1 million USD. We have a huge offline presence and have connectivity across the masses. During COVID the challenge was to make sure our customers had access to our range of products. We had our presence with e-commerce even before COVID. During lockdown, we had to create those multiple channels which were able to take us right to the consumer's doorstep. We partnered with food delivery platforms to reach out to our consumers. So, During the pandemic, we started on B2B e-commerce operations due to restriction of movements. People started having an experience and convenience of placing an order from mobile on apps, which they will not let go off. There was big quantum growth in demands for food products, especially in products we consume at home, during the lockdown.”

Talking about an omnichannel presence, Ghosal said, “During the lockdown, a lot more people have started counting the number of trips they take to the supermarket. A lot of purchases that used to drive people to stores have stopped. We have observed that small-ticket purchases below 5K have gone away. Only people who are in the market for the next big purchase are taking the effort to come to the store. Even though now footfalls are back and markets are open, the online business continues to be about 10% of the mix while the store business is also growing. If a customer can reduce their exposure they will do so.”

Ghosal shared they started The Virtual Channel during the lockdown which is providing conversion of 40%. “However, the store supports the online business and the online business supports the store”, shared Ghosal.

Talking about consumers' behaviour patterns and approach Vadapalli stated, “We are a digital-first brand. Many of our sales happen through the app. We are an 80% furniture brand. 20% we sell non-furniture. Our average ticket size on furniture is around 17K-18K Rupees. So they are not on the shoe racks or side tables. Our single largest isolated channel is the mobile app. Obviously, it defies common sense for an unstructured category. Standardization around specifications on materials used and design philosophies is not there. For a non-design ticket size high involvement category people who are willing to spend 70,000 rupees on the mobile app. However, there is another customer who won’t buy a stool until he actually sits on it. It boils down to where the balance happens. it is the same customer. Almost 36% of our business comes from our stores. It is about finding the right comprehensive solution for the customer.”

Forecasting the buying behaviour of consumers in 2021, Ghosal says, “We have seen in smaller towns stores are full. It is almost like people are celebrating the end of COVID by coming out. There seems to be a pattern of coming offline with a pent up vengeance. For the next two months that is going to be the case.”

Agreeing with Ghosal’s statement Vadapalli shared, “Customers are back in the stores. But what will lead growth will be digital.”

Chauhan added, “The growth or the quantum of people who adopt a newer methodology or channel will be much higher when it comes to physical or digital. There is no denying the fact that physical is going to be there and is the largest segment. But the growth and pace in which digital is growing will be unprecedented.”

Signing off, Singh concluded saying, “Physical will come back and digital will be the flag bearer, treading the growth even further.”

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