The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all the facets of our lives in an unprecedented manner. People all across the globe including India are forced to change the habits of their day to day existence in ways that they never thought they have to.
In the midst of all this, the retail sector of India has been very badly affected. With the countrywide lockdown,most of the retail businesses apart from the essential goods had to remain closed. Once the lockdown started getting lifted phase by phase, retail stores started to open but they could never go back to their old ways of functioning.
The retail sector in India needs to change the way they normally do their business as otherwise, they would not be able to deal with the present challenges that have come up due to the pandemic.
Crowds in stores, not good anymore
Traditionally in India, retail stores have always believed that crowded stores are always good for business as it has been typically associated with good branding and promotion practices. Therefore, retail stores always focused on making use of subtle and not-so-subtle methods to encourage more people into the store so that onlookers have the impression that it is a retail store that they should check out.
Even restaurants that had a lot of people gathering to get service were deemed as successful businesses as this showed that many customers valued the quality of the food that they had to offer. However, such things must change now if companies have to survive the competition in a world that has been changed by the coronavirus situation.
Get ready for more delivery-based business and handling customers via phone calls/apps
One of the biggest shortcomings of a standard Indian retail store has been their reluctance to serve customers remotely. Usually, there is no scope for pre-orders and customers must visit the store physically if they are to receive any kind of service or attention. Even if customers call up the store to enquire about any specific product, in most cases the shopkeepers do not show any real interest to attend to the queries of the prospective customers. This eventually leaves no choice to the customers who must find time from their busy schedules and come down to the store physically at some point. However, treating customers in this way is not going to help retail stores to accomplish much when they are looking to boost their sales now under a very different market situation.
Retailers have to change the mindset
As practicing social distancing is important now to avoid being affected by the coronavirus, it is not advisable for people to gather in a small area, like for instance inside a retail shop. However, this has become challenging now as most of India now has the monsoon season. It is recommended that all the customers do not gather inside a retail store. However, to do that would mean some people have to stand outside the store and wait. This has become very difficult now as there is rain outside in many cases.
Retailers need to re-think their assumptions of customer behavior
Therefore, retail stores have to change their way of operation so that they can encourage more customers to buy their products without being present in the store. Pre-bookings and home deliveries will increase when it comes to doing business while ensuring safety for all. Those retailers who cope with this will see business improve and others may see lost business.