Why online stores are moving to brick-and-mortar stores?

Offline stores not only allow a brand to have wider reach but also help bridge gap between online and offline channels, observes Kavita Parab.

: IJ News Service
15 February 2017 5:13 PM
Reference: 10746

India is the second largest country by the number (almost 462 million internet users) of internet users. In spite of this, still a major part of the population prefers buying products from offline stores. India’s largest opinion poll conducted by Inshorts and Ipsos, between July 25 and August 7 2016, 54 per cent of urban Indians said if the cost is same, they would prefer to visit a proper retail store to buy a product, while four per cent said they don’t want to indulge in online shopping at all. And this may be the reason behind famous online brands opting for offline stores, especially jewellery buyers.

In case of jewellery, offline stores/ brick-and-mortar stores still hold major part of entire market share. In fact, a lot of online jewellery retailers are launching offline retailers. Recently, CaratLane launched its first store in Mumbai at High Street Phoenix mall. According to reports, the brand is planning to launch around 14 more physical stores across various key locations in India. Online jeweller Voylla is planning to open at least 25 more offline stores. It already has three offline stores. While VelverCase, too, is planning to expand its offline presence by setting kiosks and collaborations with other brands in 8-10 cities. The brand has moved to a marketplace model in July 2015, and has on-boarded close to 300 sellers across 28 cities since then.

All these brands have been popular online jewellery retailers who have online and offline presence. Main reason behind the dual presence is that the Indian buyers is always want to touch, feel and experience the product before they buy products, especially jewellery. In regards to jewellery, the buyer wants an easy shift from online to offline store. For eg: If a buyer buys a pair of earrings online but doesn’t like the actual product on delivery. The buyer can get the exchange done immediately from the concerned brand’s physical store. This not only saves buyer’s time but it also may lead to more sales as the buyer may be tempted by wide variety displayed in physical store.

Another reason behind online to offline is to expand the buyer reach. Online buying in India is still at a nascent stage. According to reports, online ventures account for as little as 0.2 per cent of overall sales. Initially, all online retailers overestimated the ecommerce market size and were caught unawares by the slow growth in the sector. They were forced to either set stand-alone stores or opt for franchise model for the sales growth. This not only increased their sales but also widened their brand reach. It also helped to bridge the gap between the offline and online experience.

Besides, offline stores also help improving customer experience and engagement by providing hands-on experience about the product and one can educate the buyer about the product.

As the online jewellery buying is still at a nascent stage, omni-channel presence could be a saviour for this industry. A buyer may check product in a physical store and buy it online if he gets a better deal. After all, omni-channel seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks-and-mortar store.

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