Retail sector fears mega disruptions

Retail sector fears mega disruptions

A. Sushil Kumar

Is it essential to make regular visits to the kirana store for replenishment of grocery stocks? Perhaps, the proposed Jio-Facebook home delivery distribution network may be a better solution.

Is it really necessary to get decked up, and drive through traffic to your favourite restaurant for utility meals and snacks? Not really---thanks to Swiggy, Zomato...

Do we need to own one or more cars, even if it can be afforded? Say hello to Ola, Uber, with duly sanitised cars & drivers.

In these 'masked times' does it make sense to spend time & money disproportionately in cinemas, malls, clubs and social gatherings, if we are not able to show off our looks, make-up, beard style, facials, et al?

Will it be prudent to invest exorbitantly in retail showrooms for selling cars, consumer durables, watches, premium brands---when customers feel that the digital sales route is time-saving, cost-effective and safe?

Are we going to see a gradual disappearance of 'footfalls & walk-in retail' as online replaces offline; and 'Show & Tell' sales techniques are overshadowed by 'Touch & See' apps?

Will the emergence of digital FaceTime & virtual swipes undermine the importance of client-facing & personal selling?

Is this the beginning of the end for Brick & Mortar retail vis-a-vis Click & E-retail platforms; and the preference for Touchscreens over Touchpoints.

Remember, the army of dealer field sales execs on their flashy bikes, especially in the automotive business. Is it time to say, Hi Zoom, Bye Vroom!

We may be on the threshold of witnessing an upheaval--a transition from physical retailing to remote retailing, more so in urban areas. Experiential marketing, consumer intimacy, personal touch, brand experience, atmospherics and customer interface may start losing their priority in the marketing-mix. It is often said that 'Retail is Detail:' it implies that any link in the supply chain will be axed if it fails to enhance business value; or poses a real/perceived threat to customer well-being.

In high-value retail firms, 'Customer Care Execs' could be complemented by 'Health Care Execs'-- and the workplace ambience may start resembling a hospital, rather than a hospitality space. The acronym 'HR' may have a new expansion. Large retail firms may have to transform their HR Dept. to include 'Health Relations' functions with a responsibility to oversee preventive and protective health protocols of employees, customers, suppliers, vendors, etc.

Just like external statutory financial audits, we may witness the introduction of 'Health Audits,' and the emergence of 'Certified Health Auditors' to validate Health Operating Procedures and Best Health Practices in the workplace. Possibly, this could throw up a new business opportunity for existing Hospitals or upcoming Medical Entrepreneurs.

In short, we are now stepping into a mega-disruptive business environment, especially retail, where ingenious, never-thought-of organic solutions have to be experimented and successfully implemented. A beginning has already been made: Shop From Home, Study From Home, Test drive From Home, Bank from Wherever, Online Doctor Consultation, besides WFH.

To simplify: in the De~COVID-ised era, we may see the evolution of a Contact-less, Online-driven, Value-enhancing, Infection-free, Door-delivered ecosystem.


Currently, A. Sushil Kumar is Co-Founder, Grochange Global, and Chief Mentor, Mansions. Earlier roles include Dean, Amrita School of Business; Global Head (M&C), Amrita TV; CEO & Mentor, Popular Vehicles.