Wednesday, March 21, 2012: 10:19:27 PM

Retail Trend

Retailers, brands innovate to woo customers

Innovative products and services being introduced by brands and retailers to boost sales and brand image

Competition is high in the retail sector, thanks to the changing consumer spending patterns and preferences. The average consumer today is more informed than ever about products and rarely opts for a product by habit or the advertising lure. Therefore, for each brand survival in the retail sector is a matter of innovation, perseverance and research.

 
No longer is the traditional form of customer relations acceptable to the average customer. The middle class had long been on the wrong end of the retail and hospitality sector and saw the upper middle and higher class walk away with the best the world had to offer. Competition in the market promised to change the scenario and now the middle class had the opportunity to live the high life, but within a budget.
 
Deal sites today serve as the perfect example of the changed consumer behaviour. Majority of the goods offered by these sites are luxury items but the prices are cheaper than the market to ensure that consumers with a lighter pocket can make the most of them. One can expect a buffet in a 4-star hotel at a price one eats in a dhaba and it is none other than the middle class consumer that laps it up.
 
Retailers in the online space have also made life easier for the consumer by introducing innovative solutions like cash on delivery options. Some have also started providing card on delivery facilities, where the consumer can swipe his credit/debit card at the convenience of his home.
 
According Ambuj Jhunjhunwala, CEO and founder of MyGrahak, a leading online retailer offering food grocery and household items, “Cash on delivery revolutionised e-commerce in India. With inherent disadvantages for the seller, the service is seen as a necessary evil. It was needed to earn trust from customers. Now it is time for the sector to handhold customers to better payment options.”
 
MyGrahak is among the first online retailers of the e-commerce boom generation to introduce the facility for customers.
 
According to food blogger and advertising professional Shiny Das, “Cash on delivery has really made life easy of consumers. Considering the variety of stuff that is available online, one may not have to leave the house at all in the future.”
 
The innovative garment revolution
 
Denim that changes colour when in contact with heat and shirts that regulate the temperature while you are in it- this may sound like ideas straight out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, but some brands have actually turned these into reality. Wills Lifestyle, the premium apparel arm of the ITC group recently launched a new range of shirts that it claims was initially developed by NASA. The shirt offers UV coating and temperature control and also uses resin technology. Considering the level of innovation and technology, the shirts are sure to get the initial sales from the curiosity of the tech-savvy male population alone.
 
Apparel and footwear brand Woodland too announced the launch of an innovative garment that promises to draw sweat off one’s body and releases it from the exterior of the garment.
 
These innovative products are likely to boost sales for some of these brands that have faced a rather harsh year in terms of consumer spending. As the fiscal comes to an end, it is clear that the coming financial year will hold more exciting new services and products for the consumer.
 
Tias Chakraborty
 

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