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Furniture e-tailer Pepperfry sets up offline store

Quite a few e-commerce sites have been setting up physical stores lately just in case the customers feel like having a tactile experience

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Pepperfry has joined the growing list of e-tailers by going 'hybrid' by recently leasing a 1,800 sq ft space at Linking Road, Santacruz, Mumbai, said real estate consultant JLL in a media statement. This is not a first though. FirstCry, a retailer of baby products, has several stores in the country to showcase its products as well as service online orders.

Lenskart, a well-known Indian eyewear brand that started online, has lately opened up stores in retail malls to directly connect with customers. While online travel firm MakeMyTrip has opened more than a dozen company-owned stores in the recent past, baby and kids product portal Firstcry has reportedly taken its tally to more than 100 stores across the country.

Freecultr, an online fashion apparel brand, has been swiftly moving into the physical space in order to give their customers a chance to touch and feel their merchandise. It is using its space to better understand the needs of its customers by collecting feedback, providing alternate payment options, using the store as a pick-up point, etc.,

Interestingly, Freecultr has posted a question on its website asking visitors to vote for a preferable city for their next installation, indicating that the company is planning to roll out more stores. Amazon US has also opened a physical store in the US in early 2015, and it plans to open more such stores by mid-2015. According to an estimate market, in 2014, over 70% of e-commerce website-based transactions came from the top-ten cities of India.

This means that a vast majority of transactions, particularly in tier-II cities and beyond, happens in physical stores. IRCTC's growth in rural India, through ticketing kiosks, is proof that rural India is online shopping-savvy. But for online brands to exploit the rising spending power in India's rural markets, it is important to make their presence felt in these places.

Paytm, an online payment solutions company, has already installed over 50,000 kiosks for customers to be able to load their e-wallets. By being offline, the company is building trust with customers who would otherwise have felt lost in the already-crowded online space.

The biggest nightmare for every online seller is to deal with a shopping cart abandonment rate of 70-80%. The sweet spot is to be in a middle zone where online sellers connect with the actual customers and also promote their products in multiple avenues. This trend is expected to continue in the times ahead.

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First Published: Wed, August 26 2015. 14:06 IST