Friday, 23 March, 2018

Compete better

Traditional retailers must get creative if they wish to compete with online stores

12th August 2017, 11:56 Hrs


There is no denying that the likes of Amazon, Snapdeal and Flipkart have made life very difficult for traditional retailers like neighbourhood grocery stores, supermarkets and even mobile phone shops. The way things stand, the only way traditional retailers can survive is by using this extreme competition from online retailers as an opportunity to transform for the better.
The threat from online retailers can be broken down into two parts. The first advantage online retailers have is that they can make almost any product available to a customer. Two is the huge discounts they offer, which gives them a massive price advantage vis-à-vis offline stores.
When it comes to availability, there is no doubt that traditional retail will have to pull up its socks. Today, a customer decides what he wants to buy. That automatically puts the burden on the retailer to keep stock in sync with consumer preferences.
Supposing a customer goes to the nearest confectionery store to buy a certain brand of chocolate, but, the store doesn't have it. In such case, if the store-owner can assure the customer that he will get him his favourite chocolate within 24 hours, the customer would definitely make the purchase from him rather than going to an online store.
We tend to underestimate the power of human connection that neighbourhood stores have with their customers. In many cases, the owners of these stores know their customer's families for several generations. Many such stores exist in Goa. Such a touch is completely lost in the case of online stores. Moreover, even when a customer makes a purchase online, the delivery will take minimum 2- 3 days in Goa. That much time should be sufficient for a traditional retailer to make a product available to the customer through his network of suppliers.
When it comes to discounts on Amazon and Flipkart, there are certain product categories like mobile phones and computers, where online retailers regularly offer huge price cuts. This is where traditional retail will always find it tough to compete because it cannot match the price offered by online retailers. But, even for mobile phones and computers, there is a segment of consumers, who like a retailer to explain to them a product's features and provide them good service. This is the segment that traditional retailers can bank upon.
The fact is that the online retail is here to stay. Since traditional retailers can't change this fact, it will be better for them to change themselves.

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