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India- COVID-19 has affected shopping habits: Report

(MENAFN- KNN India) COVID-19 has affected shopping habits: Report

New Delhi, Sept 15 (KNN) The COVID-19 has largely affected shopping habits with safety now taking over as a new criterion over price range, variety and convenience, forcing retailers to adapt to the new reality, a report by KPMG and Retailers' Association of India (RAI) said.

However, the report on Monday, also revealed that entertainment, physical shopping, dining out could see a surge in demand with gradual opening up of physical marketplaces—especially during the festival season.

'People would be drawn more towards physical stores as they would have been missing the touch of reality for so long. So, experience would become an integral part of shopping,' the report said.

Shopping habits have been largely affected during the pandemic, with safety now taking over as a new criterion over price range, variety and convenience. In India, hypermarkets are witnessing lower footfalls, and most sectors including apparel, accessories and durables have faced a lack of demand, it added.

Essential category players are also facing challenges, albeit of a different kind managing huge spikes in demand, ensuring liquidity, modifying and managing store operations to maintain safety standards, managing employee health and grappling with a shortage of staff, the report said.

In terms of buying behaviour, KPMG and RAI said, We also expect consumers to continue buying via e-commerce than physical stores. Retailers then should be in the position to adapt and make strategic collaborations in order to leverage mutually beneficial situations.

Retailers should, however, shift focus to in-store safety, converting existing businesses to delivery-oriented ones, apart from tying up with delivery and logistics service providers in order to provide direct-to-home services, claimed the report.

The report further said that While several are optimistic about the future returning to a state of normalcy, it is quite evident that consumer mindsets have changed drastically. It is safe to say that pre-COVID-19 behaviour might not be the best way to survive post COVID-19.

A chunk of organisations has been proactively responding to the current changes even though the future picture seems hazy. Presently, the optimal solution is avid preparation and responsiveness for the near future and the post-COVID-19 world.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Harsha Razdan, Partner and Head, Consumer Markets and Internet Business, KPMG in India said, The unchartered waters of COVID-19 has meant a gradual change in consumer behaviour. With new models of working and shopping evolving, physical and online channels too are undergoing makeovers.

There is an increasing thrust on localisation as the new standard. With rising consumer expectations, order fulfilment is becoming increasingly important for retailers to adhere to. To provide a seamless customer journey, it is important to be available across physical and digital touchpoints offering the right choices to consumers, Razdan added.

'Our view is that retailers across the world, especially the brick and mortar ones will have to borrow best practices from each other and get back up on their feet. Since there is uncertainty that continues with this crisis, innovation and adaptation is key. With the advent of a strong digital wave, it will be important for companies to adapt to the situation quickly & continue to innovate keeping consumers at the centre of their plans,' Razdan avowed.

Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI said in the wake of the pandemic retailers are relooking at their product mix and the way in which they do their businesses.

'Even neighbourhood retailers are stepping up their game by augmenting their digital capabilities to optimise every prospective opportunity to their benefit. They always had the trust factor going for them and are now also adding convenience to their arsenal, he said.

The neighbourhood retailers are now creating their own web stores and taking orders by marketing their products through various digital channels such as Facebook and WhatsApp, Rajagopalan said.

'The pandemic has pushed retailers to think out of the box and accelerate tech adoption. We see this trend continuing, making retail more interesting and consumer-focused, he added.

The report said though no one knows for certain what concrete impact this crisis will have on business the world over, one thing is for certain innovation and adaptation is key.

'No matter what unseen catastrophe retailers are going through, the businesses and business owners need to be flexible and agile enough to incorporate changes in their behaviour, operations and management, in order to evolve for the better, it said.


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