Retail stores shift online amidst pandemic

Published on November 5, 2020 by

Consumers change their traditional shopping habits as local and thrift stores move online.

Mumbai: After the reinforcement of lockdowns all around the world, retail stores incurred losses. With every other industry relied on an online presence, local and thrift stores now find themselves among other such big players too. Such as Shein, Flipkart, Jabong etc.

Local retail store owner Aditi Gupta, says, “The main challenge is that we’re not getting any other income. Right now, we’re at least not missing the bus of going online.” La Reve made its mark as a physical store two years ago but shifted online only this year. Their website has received more footfalls in the span of six months than the physical store did as the range of audience is wider.

Thrift stores have also noticed a boom despite the pandemic. Founder of Bombay Closet Cleanse, Sana Khan, says, “What has helped the thrift store business model has been the fact pandemic has got people to slow down a little bit and think about their consumption. Definitely there’s a lot of demand right now for thrift shopping. We’ve really taken off online.” Thrifting mainly relied on pop-up stores which took place once every other month, the sales back then kept the business afloat. However, with more awareness around sustainability, thrift stores have seen a rise in sales like never before. Now, pop-up stores are considered to be their additional income.

The new players on online platforms is beneficial for both, businesses and consumers. The other side of retail, i.e. fast fashion, has witnessed quite a dip. Stores such as H&M and Zara have reported shutting down of stores due to a rise in online shopping. Rising fear of the virus and temporary lockdowns around the world have hindered the growth of these businesses.

According to Chintan Vora, digital media consultant, only time can tell whether the equal virtual retail presence may turn out to be beneficial. Epidemics in the past have brought about business models such as Alibaba to the front, this pandemic could do the same. The delivery systems have been challenged due to the virus and its evolution can be seen through the newer systems of BOPIS (Buy online, pick-up in store). The ‘S’ in this term will now be considered ‘someplace’ instead of ‘store’. This will only provide opportunities for service providers to link up with retailers in a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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