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Study: Indian customers prefer shopping across retail channels

By Sujata Sachdeva

9 Sep 2015

Despite the ecommerce boom and rising interest of customers in online shopping, a recent study reveals, nearly 74 percent of Indian consumers shop across all channels which include local retailers, modern trade outlets and online. The study by marketing firm Hansa Cequity and Retailers Association of India (RAI), shows modern trade is growing fast, with about 40 percent of urban shoppers using it regularly, almost twice what it was in 2012.

Omni-channel concept, rule retail

The omni-channel shopper study shows that a large chunk of Indian consumers still prefer to touch and feel a product before buying despite the fact that ecommerce has made shopping convenient. This is the reason why ecommerce companies are looking at establishing physical stores while brick-and-mortar retailers look to leverage the fast growing ecommerce channel.

The study, based on responses from 1,368 consumers across 86 cities confirms, three out of every four shoppers today are comfortable shopping across formats, and have done so in recent weeks. One-third of the consumers surveyed said they have shopped at both physical and online stores of the same retailers. Says Kumar Rajagopalan, Chief Executive Officer, RAI, today customers have multiple options to shop and retailers need to adopt an omni-channel approach to interact with consumers.

It may be recalled, a recent report by AT Kearney had shown that some of the biggest ecommerce companies in the US are brick-and-mortar retailers, and about 90 percent of the sales happen in stores. In Australia, omni-channel retailers such as Myer, David Jones, Woolworths and Coles account for 50 percent of the ecommerce market and are growing at almost double the rate of pure play ecommerce companies. In the UK, physical retailers such as John Lewis, Tesco and Sainsbury’s are among the biggest online sellers.

Some Indian ecommerce companies have also started adopting an omni-channel strategy. While Flipkart has launched 20 stores in 10 cities, Snapdeal has also announced plans to follow an omni-channel strategy. On the other hand, brick-and-mortar retailers are now gearing up or have already launched their online channels. For instance, in September 2014, Future Group said it would invest Rs 100 crores in its omni-channel retail strategy.

Ecommerce impact on the consumer

The Hansa Cequity-RAI report says ecommerce has impacted consumer behaviour. About 60 percent consumers surveyed were asked for personal information while they shop, and about 88 percent of them are okay sharing personal details with retailers, noted the study. Almost 96 percent customers look for product information before shopping, and 76 percent of them search for it online, the study found.

“Changing consumer behaviour is a key driver of change. With concepts like showrooming and web-rooming becoming adopted practices by shoppers, retailers have had to transform themselves and the way the business is run. By leveraging technology, retailers are working to provide outstanding customer service and increased personalization to grab a share of the shopper’s wallet,” added the study.

“As consumers embrace new technologies, the shopping experience has become increasingly sophisticated, enabling new ways for leading retailers to reach their audience. By integrating and aligning channels—stores, e-stores, mobile apps and social media—omni-channel retailing provides a flexible and seamless shopping experience to customers,” sums up Ajay Kelkar, Co-founder and COO, Hansa Cequity.