Jostling amongst the crowd of shoppers waiting to get to the end of the billing queue, Shaina was almost ready to drop her purchase and exit the shop. Had it not been her love for the pink kurti, she would have just about done it too. In-store shopping is on the cusp of a makeover from many ends. People have options to shop online as much as offline. To a retailer, a sale is a sale no matter which channel it comes from. Then why is there such a tug of war in keeping consumers from both channels happy?
With swelling crowds, malls have become more a part of the shopper entertainment business. In a sweltering India, it is a place to ‘chill’ all day with the family. Fully knowing that people will exhaust their shopping capacity beyond a couple of hours, shops and malls have to come up with innovations to keep the in-store shopper happy.
They are now going back to the wisdom that our age old tiny saree shops knew – how to keep the customers engaged and happy even in a fully crowded shop. Take the example of the Benarasi Kuthi in Kolkata. The shop as such can easily be missed when you walk by. But once you step in, it is very difficult to step out without a purchase. The store management mostly has employees who have been with them for a decade. They know the ‘pulse’ of the shopper inside out and know how to dole out the exact saree you are looking for in the price range you want it. It is this wisdom that comes to play when converting a walk-in person into a customer – and a loyal one at that! How many mall shops can boast something like this?
Converging the online and offline shopping experience
Research shows that an Omani-channel consumer can spend 2-4 times than a single channel consumer. This fact, coupled with the story of Indian unicorns raking in the moolah is pushing smaller stores to create their online presence. But will the digital disruption work for everyone? As of today, most digitally-savvy crowd will probably ‘google your shop’, may look up your website, check open hours, deals and events, even look up your collection before coming over. So having that much is becoming the norm.
Beyond that, malls like Select City Walk in Delhi also share event updates and actively connect with their consumers on social channels. The the example of the Oberoi mall in mumbai who just celebrated their 9th and took to twitter to run a contest. The contest was trending on the day and saw a good degree of engagement. Did the engagement translate to sales? We don’t know. But it did get the mall attention and would probably work to its advantage than a mall that doesn’t do anything at all.
Enhancing the offline shopping experience
What are you looking for when you visit a store? The man v/s woman shopping research says that personalized attention is the top priority for women while ease of shopping is top priority for men. Keeping this in mind shops and malls is reaching out to cater to multiple segments simultaneously. They offer a day of separate shopping options for men and women so that you no longer see a long line of bored men wading through their mobiles. They offer safe zones where you can ‘drop-off’ your children for a couple of hours (mind you, these aren’t cheap and you need to pay by the hour, but sometimes it is worth it to keep the kids out of your hair and have a sane shopping experience), food for everyone from expansive food courts and multiplexes to complete the entertainment quotient for the day.
Within the store, there are now small eateries which let tired shoppers take a break, refresh themselves and continue shopping. Many stores ‘invest’ in having a well-knowledgeable ground staff who aid the shopping experience without being ‘salesy’ or intrusive. The staff helps the lady in finding a dress of her choice as quickly as possible making it easy for the couple. Besides, they also offer a second opinion on trial (while treading a thin line) to take the burden off the spouse to respond to the ‘How does this look’ question.
What are you looking for in a store?
Quality, variety, price point, ease of use, good ambience, short queues – probably all of these. But in the end what says it best is the song from the TV series Cheers by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo
“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came”
Our ‘comfort’ shops are our best shops. They offer something beyond the product we purchase. They offer a comfort zone that we don’t get elsewhere – something you’ll definitely not find online.
And that, in essence, is the crux of Shop khoj – to find you shops that offer truly remarkable shopping experiences. They may be nice, tucked away from sight or be seemingly plain, but what they offer is beyond the shopping bag you’ll carry home.
Welcome to Shop Khoj!
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