The retail industry is where change is the new constant. Globally, the retail sector has been undergoing a revolution of sorts – driven not only by fast-changing consumer preferences and behaviour but also advances in technology. Foreign and domestic retailers operating in India too have started taking steps to deliver the next unique ‘experience’ to their shoppers.
Resultantly, in-store experiences are gaining importance not only for engaging shoppers inside the store but also to catalyze buying decisions of casual or undecided shoppers. Discounts offered by online retailers and marketplaces may be tempting but human engagement offered by physical retail is compelling and still not out of fashion.
Therefore, a few innovative retailers in India are responding to this want of ‘touch and feel’, as also adapting store formats to provide that interactive element, which many more consumers now desire. A few examples are below:
· Raymond’s flagship store in Bengaluru has a double height ‘live facade’ with LED curtains. The store is designed to sell apparel only through an iPad and customers may click ‘trial’ on the iPad for the selection to appear in the desired size inside one of the trial rooms.
· Zivame has launched its first flagship fitting lounge in Bengaluru to help customers make the right purchase choices after walking in and entering their details on a tablet. The professional fitters then provide them with expert advice on the style and type of options available.
· Adidas, at its Omni-channel store in Delhi, launched Adidas Neo, which was earlier only available on the online platform. It aims at introducing niche products like ‘cycling equipment’ which take up large space in physical stores.
· Pepperfry launched its concept store ‘Studio Pepperfry’ where interior design consultants showcase designs to customers and also offer product customisation and design advisory services.
· Being Human’s store in a Mumbai mall has an image of Salman Khan, and technology enables customers to try a variety of apparel on their favourite film star. It aims to help these shoppers in their decision-making process.
· Big Bazaar Gen Next stores in Noida and Mumbai have interactive digital screens, sit-down checkouts, and experience zones for multi-sensorial experiences for food products.
· 612 League stores in Bengaluru and Noida have implemented a wonder store concept wherein kids can try different clothes virtually through simple hand gestures.
Although the Indian retail story unfolded slowly over the decades, the pace of change has now accelerated to such an extent that retail outlets need to constantly innovate to remain relevant to shoppers, especially the ones from younger generations. The next decade of retail in India would no doubt belong to retailers who successfully adapt newer technologies and upgrade their in-store experiences quickly.