The Challenges of a New Age Retail Store
While retail store shopping has proven itself to be the firm favourite amongst the Indian shopping diaspora across most ambiguous or unbranded sectors, post smartphone era however, the market indications seem to be suggesting a changing trend of a smartphone addicted, time and energy conscious shopper. Smartphones have no doubt made the world extremely small and made it simpler to accomplish a lot of tasks. But in the bargain, what they have also inculcated is a shorter attention span on everything other than their smartphone screens. While travelling, while waiting at a bus stop, in the middle of a conversation and more importantly for this topic- while shopping, there is a never ending urge of unlocking the phone to glance through the applications without any particular reason. A report by the New York Post suggests that urban population feels the urge to check their smartphones once every 10 minutes i.e over a hundred times a day.
Apparel retail stores in the Indian market rely heavily on luring in their customers in with what I call the Honey bee effect. Here is how it works; Retail stores dress themselves up in bright, eye catchy decor and presentation like a flower does vis.a.vis a honeybee. The aim is to attract the maximum number of bees passing by, thus achieving a greater chance of pollination and survival, or in this case- making a sale. But what if the bees were not looking or heck, bees were busy on their smartphones the whole time? Thats partly the challenge retail stores are facing in this day and age.
But these multitude of apps on a phone are not some kind of a virus that has taken control of innocent, naive minds. They are there for a reason. They add great value to some aspect of the user`s life. Whether it is their ability to hire a cab, or send messages, get daily news, get food delivered or ecommerce, the smartphone offers the one stop place to keep the user hooked. Hence the direct competition for retail stores today is mostly the hook of the smartphone. Of-course beyond the smartphone, the regular challenges like competition and lack of avenues of marketing and connection with the customer also exist, but they deserve a completely different post altogether.
To treat the smartphone as their arch nemesis or a new age tool to adopt and become friends with is upto every retailer. Our suggestion- the future belongs to the retailer that merges the convenience of the smartphone with the quality and service of the retail store.