Higher digital adoption shifts focus to omnichannel retail

Retailers across grocery, furniture and apparel saw an increase in multi-channel shopping as lockdowns imposed to contain covid prompted shoppers to try everything from WhatsApp ordering to takeaways, and curbside pickups.

“India went through a period of a very strict lockdown where online was one of the saviours. It is interesting to see that India was perhaps one nation where digital adoption among consumers was one of the highest. We saw 25% new customers coming online—both digital natives and first-time online shoppers,” Kavitha Rao, country commercial manager, Ikea India, said on day one of a three-day virtual Retail Leadership Summit on Wednesday.

Consumer adoption of online channels of retailers such as Titan Company Ltd, Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd and Ikea remained strong, helping them scale up digital sales and services. Titan Co.’s Tanishq experimented with virtual shopping, while Domino’s, whose outlets in India are operated by Jubilant FoodWorks, marketed offerings around in-home consumption. Retailers also started WhatsApp, video calling facilities.

“Even before covid hit, 60% of our customers at Tanishq were engaged in online research before coming to the store,” said Aditya Singh, head, jewellery, international business, Titan Company Ltd. “That only got amplified during covid,” Singh said. For Tanishq, assisted selling is the new normal, he said.

Food services companies were also dealt a blow when restrictions were imposed on dining in. India continues to restrict the number of diners allowed in restaurants.

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Domino’s India, which had a very strong online ordering capability, was quick to launch initiatives such as contactless delivery. “We focused on initiatives to cater to new requirements. We took learnings from Domino’s in China and were the first ones to launch zero-contact delivery apart from strengthening digital channels,” said Anurag Jain, chief product officer and senior vice president, Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd.

Retailers said covid has accelerated the adoption of digital shopping. “My sense is that the market will gradually gravitate towards omnichannel players,” said Gaurav Juneja, director and co-founder, StarQuik, the online grocery shopping platform part of Trent Hypermarket.

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