COVID-19 took the entire retail industry by surprise and brought it to standstill worldwide. As a result, most brands /retailers are fighting it real hard to get into some sort of a delivery mode while simultaneously exploring future business models through every possible permutation and combination of the evolving scenario. The complete collapse of many successful business models only proves that companies now need to reinvent their business models and come up with doomsday strategies that can withstand crises like the one at hand.
A session at the Phygital Retail Convention titled ‘Transform Your Business Model or Perish’ brought together some of the most dynamic technology, digital and innovative leaders to discuss how to put AI & analytics, flexible supply chain with variable cost base and modular design programmes at the core of the business to reinvent models for future businesses.
The session was moderated by Anil Shankar, CTO, Shoppers Stop. The other panelists included:
– Abhishek Sudhakar, Senior Director & Head- Men’s Apparel, Sports and Footwear, Myntra
– Kumar Sambhav Verma, Sr. Vice President & Head Omnichannel- Asia, Bata
– Venkat Nott, CEO, Vinculum Group
– Vishal Kapil, CTO, Fashion Retailer
– Praveen Shrikhande, Chief Digital and Informative officer, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail
Omnichannel: The Trend in Demand
One trend which the pandemic forced the retailers all over India was shifting the business as much as possible to the digital and online platform.
“Earlier online was always a good medium to have but not a must have for a lot of brands/retailers as well as consumers. During COVID, the scenario has transformed suddenly and it has now become a must have for every brands and retailers. Myntra also does a lot of offline retail, so it won’t be right to say that offline is being replaced. The customer today is expecting both of them to start looking at the same way for every brand and product,” said Abhishek Sudhakar, Senior Director & Head- Men’s Apparel, Sports and Footwear, Myntra.
Venkat Nott, CEO, Vinculum Group stated, “We witnessed a huge rise in the demand of brands being Omnichannel. One shift was that few brands put up their inventories online in order to provide goods directly to the consumer. Most brands are going for the concept ‘Store on Wheels’ in reorder to reach the consumer directly.
Commenting on the new role emerging for the stores due to the pandemic, Vishal Kapil, CTO, Fashion Retailer said, “It is very important to serve the consumer across all medium. The offline retail norms and operations have changed totally and it has become more responsible and challenging for the retail staff as well. With orders happening digitally and lots of platform associated for shipment, delivery, packaging happening digitally at one place, retail staff needs to be trained and get used to these operational norms as quickly as possible.
Turning Physical Stores into Dark Stores
The lockdown and unlock phase saw a huge rise in the customer demand. To counter the situation, it was observed that many retailers are turning their physical stores into ‘dark stores’ to service order fulfillment. Commenting on this change, Kumar Sambhav Verma, Sr. Vice President & Head Omnichannel- Asia, Bata said, “The whole urgency behind being truly Omnichannel has never been so high. Consumers are slowly coming to the market and we need to serve them in a similar manner that they used to like post COVID. We too equipped our stores to handle the website orders, and also connected them to the market places in a more organised way.”
Praveen Shrikhande, Chief Digital and Informative officer, Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail emphasized on reaching out to more consumers, “The push was there to go online and to connect with more and more consumers. We tried various innovations across different platforms and formats. For some brands we did conversational commerce, for some brands innovations was done on local level. The focus was on to reach the customer, because the customers were not able to reach to the brands.”