Its high time the brand custodians in Kerala, be it the client or the branding agency, wake up to this reality. The customers out there have turned smarter in a blink of an eye and they are using their internet facilities in their smartphones or on their desktop/laptops not only to get info about products/services but also to make their purchase online.
Just order something from a popular online site and instead of getting your parcel delivered at your doorstep visit the courier office of Blue Dart or DHL directly and get your product. Your consignment will be picked up from a room full of parcels from online sites. Maybe this activity will clear your doubts whether your customer still prefer the traditional way of purchasing. If still in doubt just ask your friends, relatives, their sons & daughters whether they have ever purchased online. It would be an astounding number of online buyers that you had ever imagined.
Let us make this clear. Internet is not a competitor any more for the traditional stores. Or let us put it this way. Traditional stores in their traditional mode of operations are not at all a competition for online sellers today. Why? Its quite evident. An online customer has more options to choose from, get all the info & comparisons of a product, will get back his money if damaged, can send back the product within a limited time (in some sites it is more than 30 days), even exchange one thing for another if not satisfied and all this they can do on the go. The advantages for a customer are enormous when compared to traditional stores.
Most of the Kerala retailers are on a spree to open up new, that too huge ones boasting in terms of the sq.ft of shopping area they occupy, stores on every nook and corner of the state. Small towns are being focused for this strategy where the investment cost is too much when compared to the footfall of customers or even the total population of that small town. All this is going on while even small town customers are the biggest online purchasers and even if not purchasing online they love visiting their nearest big town for their exclusive purchases be it a brand or an occasion. Unless it is an exclusive store or a traditional store with an innovation in product or their service its better think twice before going into all out store expansion gear.
I just did an experiment on this subject. I browsed through different online sites for a mid value smartphone. Of course I need to get the best price and also wanted to buy it directly from the store. So the search narrowed down to sellers in my hometown and just as expected the best price was quoted by a small time vendor who has just one store in the entire district. Is it because they get it at the best price. No, it is just that they have grabbed the opportunity to use internet as a facilitator instead of seeing it as a competitor. While the bigger stores fight with the internet for their geographical reach by opening up unviable stores all over, small time vendors are using the internet as their extended store. Dear big time Kerala retail brands as the old saying goes ‘Better befriend your bigger enemy rather than go down fighting with them’. And by saying this using the internet doesn’t mean just updating the company facebook page, it is way much more than that. Overhaul and manage your website, use online partners to sell your products and instead of just using that old time web banner in your online advertising creatives use online platforms to interact with your existing & prospective customers, get them to visit your website and if possible make them ask for a quote from you.