Online Retailing: How to make it work?

Retailers have thus far lured us with large mall based shopping formats, discount stores, almost year-round seasonal discounts, globally sourced products, ambient merchandise and now they promise to offer almost all of these right at our doorstep,  through Online Retailing. 

 

Though an evolved concept in some markets, Online Retailing is a fairly recent shopping concept in India, and yet to gain momentum.  Some popular examples include Fabindia, Myntra, Pringoo and DilSeBol. Interestingly, the latter three are mainly focused on offering personalised products for customers, allowing them to choose the colour, styling and design of the merchandise that they are interested in buying. 

 

Presently, the online retailing business model is focused on driving product sales through discounts for target audiences in the 15-30 age groups. Some also pursue niche customer groups, who are looking to shop for exclusive brands and merchandise. As the trend gains popularity, we can only imagine the range of benefits and shopping opportunities that await the average shopper.  For one, customers will be spared the commute to a mall/ store and the long queues at the customer service desk, fitting rooms and check-out counters. Besides, they will also enjoy the convenience of shopping within the comfort of their home as they quickly glance through product and colour options, stock availability across a range of brands, and also customise their purchase. And for the discerning customer seeking to buy exclusive home and fashion merchandise, access is now available at the click of a mouse-button.

 

While it is too soon to predict whether shopping online would evolve into a successful concept in the larger context, it would do well for retailers to focus on specific factors to ensure that customers come back online again.

  1. A high performance website that is intelligent in design and easy to navigate through
  2. Create an engaging online retail space, that simulates the visual and auditory cues in a physical shopping experience
  3. Professional customer service and excellent technical support
  4. Focus on timely delivery of products
  5. Invest in quality product packaging and delivery services to ensure products reach customers in good condition.
  6. A well functioning process for managing exchanges and returns
  7. Uniformity in product and size codes, and real-time stock information

 

Online retailing is in its nascent stages in the country, and if managed well, through appropriate marketing strategies and customer engagement initiatives, has the potential to grow into a significant business model within the industry. 

About the author: Lakshmipriya Somasundaram is a Contributing Editor for TradeBriefs. She can be reached at lpsom@hotmail.com