Guest Post – The era of truly click and brick: making the elephant dance

Brands will have to quickly and efficiently integrate virtual and physical infrastructure in consumer retail to remain relevant in the marketplace

Perhaps no other industry in history has seen such a radical transformation in such a short period of time as consumer retail has, and continues to, especially in India. Even the telecom transformation was spread over a decade or more to become transformational for the industry and the consumer.

Technology, e-commerce and multiple mediums of interaction and social-commerce etc. are drivers of change in consumer retail. The nature of the buying behaviour of the consumer has changed fundamentally in the past few years, and continues to evolve as multiple channels of interaction become part of the consumer’s product discovery, decision-making, purchase, post-sales support, and overall consumer experience.

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Now, also imagine the Tesco example above being integrated with NFC and analytics. E.g. given that it is a virtual wall, unlike the physical stores, the inventory displayed can be changed dynamically depending on who’s in front of the wall. Imagine a new parent getting packets of diapers in front of him, while the teenager behind her seeing acne cream displayed in front of her. The technologies for all these exist.

While the environment has changed, and e-commerce and m-commerce and offline and online marketplaces coexist, the industry continues to operate in silos – the e-commerce players and offline retailers operate as two different and philosophically competing worlds.

As a result, it is the consumer who is currently making the efforts to navigate the online and offline worlds, as neither traditional retailers, nor new offline retail format brands or e-commerce players have made any substantial effort to integrate the consumer experience across different touch points.

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