E-Commerce- A threat or an opportunity to street shops
As Indians, we don't find occasions to go shopping; occasions come to us by happily waling through our doors. We have festivals almost every month in which we celebrate ritualistically. We buy clothes on Diwali because "khareede jate hai". And, there are a few months in which we don't have any festivals, like in June and July, we will find reasons such as Birthdays, marriage anniversary, or let's shop because I am feeling depressed.
It could be one of the main justifications why India is known as the biggest market in the world. We have 1.42 billion market opportunities to sell products.
"Idhar sab bikta hai."
When e-commerce platforms like Amazon and eBay launched during the 1990s, they disrupted the retail music chain Tower Records, and Borders bookstore went bankrupt. Musicland was sold, and Blockbuster couldn't survive.
However, it couldn't touch the existence of old-fashioned brick–and–mortar retail shops.
They still have a premium quality service to try and test out the products physically with high flexibility in terms of return policies.
However, during the pandemic of 2020, e-commerce gained a rapid expansion as people did not have another option other than online. During the same time, e-commerce sales reached more than $50 billion. India became the eighth-largest market for e-commerce, trailing France and a position ahead of Canada.
According to IBEF, After China and the US, India had the third-largest online shopper base of 140 million in 2020.
But, does it represents the extinction of physical stores? Is e-commerce a threat to street vendors?
Well, I really don't think so.
Let's take the latest example of e-commerce biggies Amazon and Alibaba.
Despite living in a digital era where the e-commerce industry is giving returns of approximately 20% of CAGR, giants are entering into the brick-and-mortar business type for some reasons.
Amazon, which has already invested in offline retail in India, is looking to buy a stake in Mumbai-based Future Retail, which has brands including Big Bazaar and boasts more than 1,000 shops across some 300 cities in India, according to NBusiness.
If the old-fashioned bricks-and-mortar style of doing business comes to extinction, why are these giants fighting a lost battle?
Well, in that case, they are not fighting a lost battle. They are entering into the old-school model because they won't suffer in any situation.
There is a psychological reason behind that. Let's understand that;
The majority of people in India still don't trust online shopping as they can't touch and test the product.
We love to have one-to-one conversations and ask for discounts in a fun way, which is impossible in online shopping.
We don't believe in written sizes. We always have to try our clothes to confirm the size.
Shopping is like a celebration; we don't want to make it boring by doing it sitting in the usual places.
We don't trust online colors.
Offline shopping is more about building social bonds.
Coming to the point of whether e-commerce is a threat or an opportunity.
It's all about your perspective of doing business. Many physical stores started selling online through their networks, created shops on e-commerce platforms, started to create social media platforms to expand their reach out of their city and took the help of various delivery channels to make their product available to their customers.
On the other hand, many vendors are sitting idle, complaining about the uncontrollable scenarios.
For the former ones, using e-commerce platforms to sell their products is an opportunity, but for the latter ones, at the same time, it is a threat that they want to avoid.
There can be two ways to survive in the industry: to compete with your competitors and to collaborate with your competitor and grow together.
The second technique will work if your competitor has enough capital to destroy your business. In our case, you cannot compete with biggies like Amazon. So, you can just collaborate with them, create your own shop on the platform along with your physical stores and earn from both of them. By implementing such a technique, you survive the situations like pandemics without much harming your business.
So, what do you think e-commerce is a threat or an opportunity for your business?