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'Consumers adapted to post-COVID reality quickly in retail through digital, omni channels' 

Devdiscourse , Oct 30, 2020

Consumers have quickly responded to the changed circumstances post the COVID-19 outbreak by opting for e-commerce and omni channel services, industry leaders said on Friday. There has been a shift in consumer behaviour in favour of digital, affecting the preferences and purchase decisions, they said at a virtual event organised by industry chamber Ficci. The retailers are also bracing to face the changes and are innovating by using QR codes, providing more digital information at the stores and investing in digital tools, they added.

"The amount of change that happened in the last six months is tectonic and the lockdown has impacted the human and consumer behaviour," L'Oreal India Managing Director Amit Jain said. There has been massive rebound in the trade of goods directly related to basic human needs, he said, adding consumers have moved away from several discretionary products like make-up because of re-prioritisation in purchases. People are "embracing digital across entertainment services, health, education, medicine and for deliveries", he added. Bestseller India CEO and Country Head Vineet Gautam said after the lockdown, a lot of businesses have moved online. COVID-19 has put pressure on the retail industry and consumers have also adapted to the omni channel very fast, he noted. "The biggest change in consumer behaviour we have seen, (is) that the consumer is still not confident to move to brick and mortar. People come but the time spent in the store has been reduced," he said. Besides, window shopping by consumers has reduced and only the 'clear intent' consumers are coming in, he said. "If our stores were seeing 100 footfalls pre-COVID, today we have only 40 footfalls. 60 per cent window-shoppers have moved out but the value has increased," he said. However, he added that consumers are expected to return to the stores as in India the nature of shopping is still experiential. "The biggest shift that will happen is that online would become a large piece of our business and digital-first is going to be the main thing," Gautam said. "We also have to re-train our people and invest in digital." E-pharmacy 1MG's co-founder and CEO Prashant Tandon said COVID-19 was a "huge structural boost" for the online pharmacy industry. What has happened on the policy front in three-four weeks of the lockdown for the industry would normally have taken couple of years, he emphasised.

"A sector which was on the periphery has moved to the mainstream very fast, as the healthcare moves at a glacial speed," he said, adding the pandemic has forced people to adopt a more innovative approach after they ran out of options. This requires behavioural and mindset changes at many levels, including consumers, doctors, health professionals, insurance and pharma companies as well as the regulators, Tandon said.

"COVID made them all move at the pace we like," he added. Swiggy CEO Sriharsha Majety said recovery in the market was faster than expected and full recovery is likely by December. "Preferences of consumers in terms of restaurants to which they have ordered was very experimentative in the past but right now a big shift is favour of known brands and reputed brands and ordering more for groups," he said. He also said now ordering food online is part of entertainment and with IPL, there is a surge in orders..

 

 

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