If online is about wider choices, offline is all about curated choice. Online is about offering a sense of abundance and offline is about offering a sense of exclusivity.

|| What’s clicking for Online Shopping

Online shopping is the new-age method of shopping, and it is a preferred choice particularly among the youth. And there are many reasons which attribute to this. With this method of shopping, shopaholics can satiate their needs at any given time. Furthermore, the deals are hard to resist. If you are looking for a specific type of product there is no limit to the number of options that are available to choose from. Another benefit in storethat comes with online shopping is that gifting is made easy. If choosing a gift for someone seems tricky you can simply send them a gift card to pick something of their choice. With shopping this way you can avoid the hassle of visiting a crowded place. You can shop in the confines of your house without having to deal with the prying eyes of fellow shoppers and sales representatives. Even if you are gripped with a sudden urge to shop at the wee hours of morning you can do it. And most importantly, before making your purchase you can compare the price on other websites. Sometimes while shopping in a store it is hard to find what you are looking for but with online shopping you have filters to make the process easy for you.

“Until I get the dress I have ordered online and tried it, the anxiety of whether I have picked the right one keeps clouding the mind,” says Meghana, a school teacher from Mangalore. But with all of its advantages, one has several doubts when it comes to online shopping. You can never be sure of the quality of the product before making your purchase. Another pressing concern that one has to deal with is waiting for its delivery and returning it if necessary. One has to beware of the growing number of cybercrimes while engaging in online shopping. And unfortunately more often than not, there can be a size issue while purchasing clothes online. While shopping online that personal touch is missing in the process. And it is not uncommon for online shoppers to spend most of their time on the web.

|| Offline Shopping! How to make it worth all the effort?

Offline shopping also has pros and cons of its own. The benefits of shopping this way, is that it is a personal experience and the sales representative becomes a friend more or less. Whatever productrelated doubts you may have can be clarified with the sales-representative. You are free from the hassle of having to wait for the product to arrive .You can purchase it and begin using it instantly. Even the return and replace procedure is easier while shopping offline. People these days are vary of the crowd that they encounter in an offline store. In a pandemic recovering epoch this could be an issue. However, flip the situation for a moment and ask how we can handle over-crowding. Can we build experiences in the store to distribute the crowd, or can we encourage people to prebook a visit using an app? These are questions we do not ask usually because retail showroom never encountered crowding as an issue. We welcomed it. Now, we have to accommodate and in the process we may end up providing an entirely different experience to our customers, says eZone JP Nagar store manager in Bangalore.

WE CAN BUILD EXPERIENCES IN THE STORE TO DISTRIBUTE THE CROWD OR ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO PRE-BOOK A VISIT USING AN APP.

The next objection one often hears is that you might end up buying more than what you decide to while shopping offline – coming mostly from impulsive buyers. But isn’t that what makes our butter? You may ask. Indeed. However, what if we offer checkpoints to people to check if they really want to buy. Isn’t that anti-store? Yes, it is quite unintuitive, but it comes across as very user friendly and honest. You may be surprised by how much the public will appreciate you for this. This is like online platforms like Netflix and Disney+ warning you that you have been binge watching for a period which could be harmful for you. That is done in public interest. User respect goes up with such measures.

We have seen this refrain quite often: “Unfortunately one takes the trouble to venture out and make their purchases, but the selection is limited.” Well, there is limited space to hold physical objects unlike in a digital catalogue which can hold comparatively infinite number of catalogs. Retailers have found a way for this. They display what they have in well-lit, well-designed spaces highlighting the important features of the product and they place a digital kiosk near the section to show more varieties. If a consumer is keen, then they can organize for a physical check the same day by fetching it from their warehouse or make an appropriate appointment. And the final reason by online hawks are that discounts are more appealing online. Well, nothing stops retailers to offer exciting offers and more. In the mattress product category, more than the discounts and freebie accessories, information to health and nutrition plays a bigger role. Can we use them innovatively?

|| Unique ways to enhance experience

“I just wanted to say thank you for your great service! I ordered my parts on Monday and they were delivered Wednesday. I was able to install them myself and saved thousands of rupees on labor costs!” – Rajit Dave, a Company Secretary. He bought a dining furniture set from a retail store but apparently zeroedin on his choice online – in the store’s website. These fall into delivery as an experience realm. Look at the next example below which is pre-sales strategy

“Thank you so much for your prompt response, it is very much appreciated,”

WHETHER ONLINE OR OFFLINE THE CUSTOMER SHOULD BE THE FOCAL POINT OF THE RETAILERS.

Janardhan Naik, a purchase head at a Fortune 1000 company who recently enquired about a product from an online store and was told that he would be intimated upon arrival of new stock. And as promised the online store reached out to him and intimated him of the availability. Again, a practice offline retail stores can eminently emulate. Here’s another instance where an online buyer who purchased a mattress from Amazon said, ‘Amazing product, I have purchased a couple of other ortho mattresses in the last 1-2 years since I moved to my new house, this one is by far the best value for money product in the market! There is no alternative to real comfort and a good night’s sleep. The brand ensures that you get the best. Highly recommended.’ Another customer was not very happy with the experience. According to the person in question,’ First thing is there is no company tag on item. Ordered two for double bed but received one and waited 20 days for second piece was very unsatisfactory.’

There is one more practice which is picking up among offline stores which is offering a 100% money back guarantee on all their products. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, you can return it within 60 days for a full refund. So, the story goes that, if you are looking for a high quality product that will last, then this is the one to get!

|| Mind the Message

Customers can choose to buy a mattress online or in a store. For many buyers, it may seem more natural to purchase a bed in-store and try the mattress before buying it. Shopping in a mattress store offers buyers compare multiple models side by side and can have direct interaction with the sales person. Since store purchase offers two way communication, buyer will be in a better position to decide the right product suited for him or her. Retailers need to look at providing personalized advice to buyers and make them comfortable in the store. This personalised customer service will be missing in online stores. More than anything, retailer should not forget the saying, ‘Customer is King.’