Popular online retailers now give shoppers the 'real' experience with offline stores
Pepperfry, Nyka, Urban Ladder, Lenskart on road to build omni-channel presence
The growth and popularity of e-commerce platforms and online stores had led to speculations that retail stores and outlets would become extinct in the near future. However, these have been proved wrong with more online retailers of various verticals moving to offline or physical stores, underlining that omni-channel presence is the future of retail.
Popular companies like pepperfry, Urban Ladder, LimeRoad, Zivame, Nyka and Lenskart have floated their offline stores and are planning to add more in the coming years.
As per reports, LimeRoad is planning to open around 3,000 offline stores in the smaller towns in the next three years. pepperfry has 38 studios or stores in 22 cities and is planning to establish 70 studios by April 2019. They are also planning to expand their studio coverage into Tier II and III towns. Nyka has around 20 stores in the country.
“With the advent of digital and technology, the consumer purchase journey has witnessed dramatic shifts. Gone are the days of linear purchases, today’s consumers are complicated resulting into complex purchase pathways. In such a scenario, retailers who truly behave omni-channel across online-offline will benefit more compared to just online or offline players,” said Kishan Kumar, Managing Partner, Wavemaker.
“Being omni-channel also adds credibility and physicality to brands. And, especially in a market like ours retail brands need to develop hybrid models for future proofing business,” Kishan added.
Today’s consumers choose to invest in experience along with products. They have umpteen number of choices and the best way the brands can resonate with consumers is by offering a desirable experiential shopping experience to drive sales. The physical experience one gets in a store can never be overpowered by the expediency or discounting of online retail. The offline stores also act as marketing and testing platforms where new products and offers can be promoted.
Reasons and Factors – Expert Speak
In a short span, pepperfry has established its leadership in the home and furniture category through its omni-channel strategy and highly differentiated product catalogue. Online platforms have the benefit of showcasing a wide array of furniture products providing customers with more choices and flexible options,” said Hussaine Kesury, Chief Category Officer, pepperfry.
“In December 2014, we took the first step towards building the largest omni-channel home and furniture business by launching a first-of-its kind experience centre in the form of Studio pepperfry. The Studios serve as an experience centre for discerning customers seeking design inspirations. At the Studio, customers can experience the cutting edge design and get an idea of the overall look and quality of the furniture from pepperfry. Here interior design consultants assist in browsing through the entire pepperfry furniture range and offer free in-store design consultancy on furniture products ensemble to furnish homes that are aspirational while reflecting the latest and best in contemporary home design,” said Kesury.
In markets beyond the Metros, Kesury said, pepperfry’s Studios have become the main channel of introducing the brand to the market and they witnessed a steep rise in the business on opening a store in such cities. “We have Studios at key high streets across major cities in the country and they attract large number of walk-ins. The conversion rates are as high as 20-25%,” Kesury added.
Speaking about the reasons and factors led to starting offline stores, Ajit Joshi, COO, Urban Ladder said, “Urban Ladder’s mission has and always will be to put the customer first. Our solid online presence, optimized supply chain, and complete understanding of the Indian consumer gives us the resolute confidence to create a retail experience that has never been witnessed in India before. Unlike apparel and even electronics, customers prefer to see and feel the product before making a purchase. We understand the gravity and sentiment behind buying a large ticket item such as furniture and we wanted to add touch and feel to our online catalogue.”
Joshi also said their stores across Bengaluru and Delhi NCR help them keep ears to the ground, allowing for deeper interactions with customers. “We design for an India in transition so it really helps to have an immediate mechanism for feedback. What’s most beneficial for us is that customers can come and see the products of their choice at the store and take their time to make the right buying decision. They can conveniently place the order online at their leisure,” Joshi said.
According to Joshi, the facade of the stores is a great branding asset for the residents of a location or passers-by. “After opening our physical stores we found there were more purchases and customers had a better understanding of why our products are priced the way they are. They can fully experience the quality and design of the products so that they understand the value of the products as part of their home, rather than just another piece of furniture,” he added.
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