Brands and customers love online shopping, but offline stores haven’t lost their edge

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The pandemic-related lockdown led to a surge in online purchases as consumers had no other way out. But as normality returns, consumers are not afraid to visit both stores and websites to secure the best deals.

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While online channels have their own merits of convenience, no time barriers and more, the offline channels are the ones that ensure a holistic experience and the reliability factor. According to brands and experts, these reasons make offline stores a must for all gamers and their relevance will only increase in the coming days.

Nisha Sampath

According to Nisha Sampath, Brand Consultant and Managing Partner at Bright Angles Consulting, “Today there is a new merged reality in the phygital world we live in and the reality is that both online and offline businesses have had to accept that consumers who do so will buy simultaneously through online and offline media. Consumers only make the purchase call after comparing the two mediums and finalizing their purchase point based on what is most beneficial to them.”

She also went on to point out that consumers seek the product online and then leave

brick-and-mortar stores buy the product and vice versa for white goods, depending on which shopping medium is more convenient and cheaper for them.

Regarding the importance of online and offline media in a consumer’s buying process, Sampath also pointed out that although online channels attract consumers through a variety of offers, cashbacks and coupons, which in turn reduce the cost of purchase, it does the retail stores are and physical stores that offer a touch-and-feel experience and give the early adopters the opportunity to test the products before making the final purchase decision.

Vidyut Kaul

According to Vidyut Kaul, Head, Personal Health, Philips Indian Subcontinent, “Consumers have now changed in terms of where and how they engage, and it is important to recognize this change and redesign and adapt offerings accordingly.”

Kaul added that consumers today live in a phygital world where convenience and experience are key. “There’s a shift happening that will accelerate in the future as offline media shift towards offering consumers a more personalized experience,” he explained.

In addition, he added that younger consumers often begin their consumer journey online, learning about products and solutions, and then visiting online sites that offer convenience, variety and experience.

Mini Sood Banerjee

“While online and offline touchpoints perform equally well, there is a high conversion rate of 70-80% when it comes to regular offline purchases,” said Mini Sood Banerjee, Assistant Director and Head of Marketing at AmorePacific India – the parent company by innisfree.

She added that offline stores give consumers a lot more experience options.

Kaul from Philips added: “As the festive season begins, consumers want to indulge, experiment and look good. They are looking for products that offer better value for money over the long term and as a result we have seen a significant increase in traffic and in-store attendance, causing clearance sales to bounce back to even pre-pandemic levels exceeded in various segments.”

In addition, he also stressed that offline channels have been subdued in recent years due to the pandemic, but Philips has seen a significant increase in sales from offline channels this year. “We’ve seen year-over-year growth in the range of 45% to 55% for various categories this year,” he claimed.

Eric Jan Middelhoven

According to Erik Jan Middelhoven, Acting Country Commercial Manager, Ikea India, the brand is taking an omnichannel approach to reach their customers across multiple touchpoints. “We are present in our key markets through large stores, small stores and online platforms. Our customers have the opportunity to visit us both online and offline and we have had a positive response in terms of visits,” he said.

Middelhoven also added that the brand’s Hyderabad and Bengalurus Nagasandra stores are showing exponential growth in terms of store visits. He also stressed that 70% of Ikea India’s total sales come from the stores and 30% from the online medium.

According to Sampath, “The greatest benefit of doing business offline in India is that in-country customers have a knack for personalized interactions and enjoy a face-to-face conversation rather than just doing business.”

In fact, she also pointed out that consumers are also skeptical about online purchases because they don’t know who to hold accountable in the event of a problem that could justify them demanding a replacement or refund if something goes wrong the product goes, which is not the case with offline shops.

Furthermore, for brands dealing in luxury, cosmetics, fragrances and more such categories, online media still cannot offer consumers the personalized experience that offline offers through its touch-and-feel user experience, and it is invaluable Worth for a first time purchase, she said.

Speaking about how consumer behavior differs across both online and offline channels, Philips’ Kaul said consumers are constantly looking for deals and waiting for top sales at events to make their purchase.

Similarly, AmorePacific’s Banerjee noted, “Recent Independence Day sales and the festive season have definitely pushed people into the stores for more good deals. Even when customers visit offline stores and shop there, they keep searching for some

Gift with purchases (GWPs) they can see and test before actually purchasing the product offering.”

“We have greenus (beauty consultants) in our stores and they bring our customers closer to the brand story, the concept, the ingredients and the story behind each range. Customers can also ask our Greenus multiple questions and receive samples of the products to test on their skin before making a large purchase, in addition to a one-on-one consultation available in our stores,” she pointed out.

Middelhoven also pointed out that the pandemic has led to increased online purchases, which is why Ikea has had to undergo a digital transformation to increase its capabilities and introduce “click & collect”, advisory and personalization services for home textiles, which are available in both stores are available and online media to increase accessibility for customers.

Referring to how consumer journeys stretch in the online-offline world, Sampath also pointed out that brands need to consider both mediums when planning their marketing interventions. She said: “Businesses should understand the hybrid consumer journey and what most online businesses get wrong is they only see the consumer journey on online media and miss what is happening in the offline market. Likewise, buying offline also has online components that marketers need to pay attention to.”

Commenting on what Philips is doing to increase traffic to its stores, Kaul said: “Philips India has permanent facilities in various modern specialty stores as well as separate display areas in general trade stores which represent around 90% of our turnover. We also placed in-store merchandisers in the high-traffic stores to increase awareness and drive conversion at the point of sale.”

Ikea’s Middelhoven also confirmed: “We recently completed a special midnight sale campaign during Independence Day, which featured our large format Navi Mumbai store and city store

in Worli were open until midnight for our customers to shop to their heart’s content.»

Innisfree’s parent company, Amore Pacific, has been very active as a brand even after lockdown, according to Banerjee. “We have held several offline events with media and influencers, and organized master classes with dermatologists so they can make consumers aware of the products’ effectiveness. We’ve also held events in multiple cities so we can cover a larger audience for our brand on top of our engagement with influencers.”

Banerjee also explained that AmorePacific tries to align its monthly marketing campaigns to cover both online and offline channels equally. “Also, we try to cover different cities during our offline events to build the brand more in the cities where we haven’t done an event before, and the brand awareness is also low,” she concluded.

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