While popular opinion might tell you different, overcoming the challenges posed by online retail is actually possible, and surprisingly, the solution lies in a digital direction, in the form of the now common smartphone.
- Price wars – Online discounts and competitive pricing throughout the year.
- Unlimited choice – The e-commerce giant Amazon (India) alone lists about 15 million products across its various categories.
- Convenience - Ease of shopping, speedy product delivery and return policies.
We do get it – it’s alarming! But shutting shop is no solution. It can be hard to adapt, but one must.
Did it ever occur to you that you could meet this challenge by using your very own smartphone? Here’s how you even the odds as a small retailer:
- Inventory – Store more, sell more!
The online retail giants are able to offer millions of products in a matter of a few clicks.
As a brick and mortar store owner, you face limitations of space and have operational expenses to meet and middlemen to deal with for your inventory requirements.
Solution: There are mobile apps that can help you resolve your inventory issues.
The Just Buy Live app allows you to register, search, compare and buy stock in bulk online and get it delivered at your shop directly from the manufacturers.
Firstly, the need for a middleman is done away with, making room for greater margins. Secondly, you now have more choice of inventory, which will boost sales.
- Funds – Get them!
While the online retail players are usually well-funded by VCs, small offline retailers often face cash and credit issues. Traditional lenders are wary of lending to them.
Solution: Yet again, Just Buy Live comes to your aid. Their credit extension service “Udhaar” extends instant credit to registered retailers when they need it, right through the medium of a smartphone.
Try peer-to-peer lending platforms as well; the norms are different there.
Use online marketplaces to your advantage - if you have products that you can sell online, do it! Some marketplaces fund registered sellers for inventory purchases.
- Logistics - Speed of delivery
While the big players either have their own logistic arms or have partnered with big logistic companies, the offline retailers have no such advantage apart from offering home delivery within a limited area.
Solution: Tie up with the likes of Mr. Needs, Grofers and other hyperlocal players to offer delivery at the customer’s doorstep. This will not only boost sales, but help you reach new customers as well.
The user-friendly mobile apps can be downloaded for free on a smartphone.
- Transactions – Get used to cards
Offer more payment options to your customers. Limiting yourself to a cash-only model is a bad idea, as the recent demonetisation has shown.
Solution: Go for tools such as Ezetap, which facilitates financial transactions using a small and affordable payment device that pairs with your smartphone.
Likewise, Paytm is of great help. By using a simple “QR Code” at your shop, payments can be received.
These actions can lead to a better customer experience.
- Store Visibility
You can register your retail store on online platforms such as AaramShop or NowFloats to expand your store’s visibility and reach.
More visibility means more customers.
Additionally, be innovative and consider the following opportunities:
a) Registering your store as a “Pick-up Point” on Amazon helps open up alternative lines of revenue.
b) Small business retailers can also get orders for their products through platforms like WhatsApp. Get active there.
All these facilities point to it being possible to beat the heat from online retailers. The small offline retailer isn’t going anywhere just yet.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)