Indian retail is at an ever evolving juncture; by the day, newer avenues of retailing are evolving, giving retailers the opportunity to rejoice in the possibility of cracking new frontiers. With the advancement, development, augmentation and modernisation of the infrastructure as well as technology taking place at most major Indian cities, the scope of retail has increased tenfold. Technology has emerged as the binding element for the cause of Omni-channel retail. Omni-channel retailing essentially includes a seamless consumer experience through all the available modes to reach the consumer. The channel extends to brick-and-mortar stores, smartphone, computer, tablet, direct mail, television, et al. While retailing finds its genesis in brick-and mortar stores, widely referred to as the offline shopping channel, it is the other modes, i.e. the online channel that is witnessing the revolution and altering the means to reach the consumer.
This has become possible on account of progress at multiple levels. At one level are the devices for the online shopping interface. At the next level is the improved internet connectivity that has not just enabled online shopping, but has also increased its experiential value. While online shopping made inroads in the country even a decade ago, it could not take-off then on account of internet connectivity issues of poor bandwidth compared to the developed markets. However, the cost of internet connectivity has been reducing and internet speed and availability are improving at an exceedingly pace.
The emergence of technology and increased use of plastic money and mobile wallets have been the key drivers behind the growth of omni-channel retailing. “With the boundaries between offline and online stores blurring, omni-channel retailing is an idea whose time has come,” said Aditya Sachdeva, director, retail at Knight Frank India in a statement.
Department store operators like Shoppers Stop Ltd, is launching mobile applications and has also re-launched its online shopping portal. Brands like GAP, Woodland, Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Only, etc. are following the same strategy. Whereas there are also others like Swedish fast-fashion brand Hennes and Mauritz (H&M) who have decided to focus on just offline stores right now.
The Indian retail industry has emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast-growing industries accounting over 10% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and around 8% of the employment. Globally, India is fifth-largest global destination in the retail space and is growing at a rate of 12% per annum.
India’s retail market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10 per cent to US$ 1.6 trillion by 2026 from US$ 641 billion in 2016. While the overall retail market is expected to grow at 12 per cent per annum, modern trade would expand twice as fast at 20 per cent per annum and traditional trade at 10 percent.
India has the most promising market for retail expansion, supported by expanding economy, coupled with booming consumption rates, urbanizing population, and growing middle class.