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‘Omni-Channel strategy would drive retail success’ : Manoj K. Agarwal

By Mohit Manghani | June 12, 2020

For retailers, Lockdown has been a time to rethink their marketing strategies and prepare plans to serve post-covid shoppers. The good news is, companies who have embraced change, put a real focus on innovation, and stayed in lock step with consumers are moving much faster, leaving once-competitors in the dust.
In an exclusive chat with Retail4Growth, Manoj K. Agarwal, Chief Executive Officer, Viviana Mall shares why brick and mortar stores would resume their status of being dominant players in new normal, and much more

Manoj K. AgarwalThe post lockdown shopper will expect more communication from brands/retailers. Do you agree? A. Yes B. No C. Can’t say

Yes. For any business, communication is the key to success. Regular updates and communication help in not only new footfalls but also in getting repeat visits. It is equally important to understand consumer sentiments to draw up an effective and result oriented communication strategy.

Ever since Covid-19’s outbreak and subsequent lockdown, Viviana Mall has shifted all the on-ground events and activities to online and social media platforms. Our online events have been well received by people and have encouraged us to keep the activities going. In the weeks to come, the engagement levels will continue to increase through our digital platforms.

On a scale of 1-5, the following will be the order of priorities which will influence shopper purchase decisions:  Price- 5,  Brand values including a focus on hygiene, health safety and environmental responsibility - 4, Brand visibility in-store and communication- 3, Brand name- 2 ,  Packaging – 1

Answer:

Brand values including focus on hygiene, health safety and environmental responsibility

Brand name

Price

Brand visibility in-store and communication

Packaging the normal we once lived in is redundant, for some months to come. A ‘New Normal’ is in force. Under this ‘New Normal,’ there is a greater emphasis on hygiene, this includes personal hygiene, as well as hygiene norms for the indoors and outdoors (public and private places).

As we have seen during the lockdown, packaging, and handling of goods is the new thrust area that e-commerce platforms are focusing on to draw consumers. Hence, brand names will increasingly become synonymous with sanitation benchmarks and providing a safe but wholesome shopping experience. In our view, the price will have a little lesser priority, as the shopper would first to be discerning on  the brand hygiene standards and the experience, and then, the product and the offers thereof.

Investments in technology solutions by brands and retailers will go up by more than 50% in the near future? A. Yes   B. It will go up, but may not be over 50% C. No, technology will make no difference

 B. It will go up, it may not be over 50%.

Undoubtedly, technology is playing an important role, but for businesses to be viable one would look for options that are reasonable and provides optimum results. Spending over 50% in technology solutions would make a product or a service expensive, not competitive. However, as mentioned above, in the “new normal”, we would be using various technological solutions for making the customer experience, in the mall and our various retail stores, safe, hygienic, efficient and convenient.

Across categories, brands that have presence online-offline channels will sell more? A. Yes   B. No it will depend on other factors C. Can’t say

 Yes

The disruption in shopping pattern leaning heavily towards e-commerce is temporary and once the threat of Covid-19 subsides, the shopping trend would be back to pre-lockdown days and the brick and mortar stores would resume their status of being dominant players.

Having said that, going forward, brands that benefitted with a digital-only presence may revisit and expedite their brick-and-mortar strategy so as to able to not only continue to serve their customer base but also to be able to shift towards the next level of growth. This would mean additional demand for stores inside malls, which is a big positive and augurs well for the retail industry. This would help our economy to revive in a shorter duration as well.

E-commerce will overtake physical retail and brands that don’t sell online will lose? A. Yes   B. No  C. Don’t know

B. No. In the long term, in India, e-commerce will not be able to totally replace physical retail stores but will provide an option to customers and that too in certain retail categories only. This is primarily due to shopping habits that have got inculcated since childhood, over generations. Although the consumers have partially moved on to e-commerce for certain shopping goods, retail brands and malls alike are confident that they would have their consumers back in the mall for shopping and buying from their favourite brands at their preferred shopping malls. We feel that going forward, retail would witness increasing adoption of omnichannel and would form a significant part of their business and sales strategy.

 

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