The Covid-19 has impacted our lives so much that it has changed the pattern of our work, shopping and communication with people than before. People are working from home and are stepping out of their houses for the only essential requirement. They’ve reduced their lives to simplicity and basics. The more they go out even for getting essential services the more they are grappled with fear of getting infected by the virus because this is so dangerous that it can also lead to the death of a person.
This change and transfer have been witnessed in retail and consumer industry’s behaviour very closely in India, South East Asia, the Middle East and China. The anticipation of the Indian e-commerce market was to grow to 200 billion dollars by 2026 because of the penetration of smartphone economical 4G network spread and increase in consumer wealth. This was a pre-COVID-19 forecast on the basis of market and consumer data study. The consumer behaviour and market landscape has witnessed recognition beyond the altered level which has given a clear vision of e-commerce industry hitting a boom sooner than the estimated year.
There are several key factors related to changes in the behaviour of the consumer given –
- Digital shopping methods have taken place of traditional way by 9 in 10 consumers
- There has been an increase in online shopping of groceries what used to happen physically in stores.
- It’s an approximation of about 6 out of 10 people who shiver with fear of being caught with this infection if they step out of the house to buy essential items.
These are mostly temporary changes but some of them are permanent as well. In the adoption of a digital system the community has moved forward and beyond the traditional system and this has become permanent. This has made consumers avoid crowded and public places and has increased the density of adopting a digital platform.
Even after the outbreak is over consumers will only stick to digital platforms for shopping of groceries and personal products instead of going to supermarkets and malls and the trend will be in continuation only because of the bigger fear of getting the infection to them. Although the offline shopping will still be in the picture there will be no construction of the brick and mortar shopping aisles as more consumers have relied only on online shopping than getting out to go to a grocery store. Nothing will be the same anymore even if it becomes normal.
So the end of 2019 and the entire 2020 years have been pronounced as starting of e-commerce and mobile commerce stages.
The entry of retail industry on a much higher level has been written down as “A New World Order” because it has changed the methods of consumer shopping and retail industry operations. The adaptation to the new norm by the retailers needs to be acrobatic since the forecast of missing inflexion points is some brands are not very good.
This will create a major problem amongst the retailers as they will have to adjust with the system of online buying and selling even after the lockdown is over. The same thing will be permanent for categories like groceries and personal care as compared to the previous setup.
The new order will force the retailers to make their selling of products available on both online and offline platforms. If they don’t adapt to this new system and method they will suffer more losses than before during the pandemic event. The acrobatic retailers will play the role of leaders in being constant to adapt to the newest policy of online shopping and they will be followed by new-age digital platforms as their survivors to be able to sell more products from their respective e-stores. The retailers who will be living in this hope and expectation of getting the previous practice of selling products and services will be lagging behind if they stubbornly decide to not move on with the changing system.
With the new order, the retailers will have to think about creating an online store or website that can allow more traffic and consumer attraction. As there will be more online orders coming up it will be necessary for retailers to have their main focus on the enhancement of their online stores to get more customer attention and have an increased percentage of selling and buyers. This will make even retailers dependent more on their online stores but this is presently the only way to make their businesses and online stores available to the consumers. They are also allowed to start their own brand if they want to do so for meeting their consumer needs and raising their income.
The online shopping by consumers will not put an end to offline shopping but the current situation and circumstances have demanded to focus mainly on innovating online e-stores for consumers. Offline stores will always be in the picture but to increase business and for customer satisfaction, online stores will take a front seat more often than the offline stores.
Sooner or later retailers will become adaptive to the new order and policy. For those who only believe in offline stores and selling and waiting for things to get back to the normal track will continue to wait in this hope. They will have to accept and understand that the great pandemic has changed the normal way of living of the common man so how can the business get immediately normal on the offline path. Those who opt for online business will sooner be able to taste success than to regret later for not taking any action to make them available to consumers on a wider platform with online e-stores.
The digital platform was always present in shopping and working system but it was not a necessity to gel with the new changes. Today the condition is a very different and digital platform for everything has become an urgency to make everything new and normal.