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Fashion Retailers Experiment with Mobile Retail in India

July 2021

Since the pandemic, distribution channels have suffered due to the intermittent lockdowns, barring physical stores from operating. This has resulted in retailers facing a tough challenge to make their offerings available to consumers. To overcome this challenge and meet demand, retailers are experimenting with mobile retail formats such as pop-up stores and shop on wheels.

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Key findings

Home isolation results in limited mobility and impacts physical distribution

During 2020 and 2021, the government has imposed intermittent lockdowns, restricting mobility based on the spread of COVID-19. This has forced people to remain home isolated and postpone demands or shop online. The shift in shopping behaviour continued even when stores reopened as people feared stepping out due to the pandemic. The continued operational costs with limited consumer footfalls forced several retailers to shut their doors, further impacting physical stores.

Challenge in reaching out to consumers drives launch of mobile retail stores

With distribution channels shut or operational with limited capacity and people limiting stepping out, the challenge for retailers during the pandemic remained how to reach consumers and make offerings available. Though e-commerce acted as a sponge and absorbed demand, the experience and ease attached with physical shopping made consumers yearn for it. This was especially true for older consumers, who tend not to be tech-savvy, and consumers seeking instant gratification when they make a purchase. To address this, fashion retailers were forced to think innovatively, launching new store concepts, such as shop on wheels and weekend shopping events, where temporary pop-up stores were set-up in residential complexes, allowing retailers to engage consumers. This was achieved by leveraging the physical store network of the retailer in the area.

Focus on convenience makes parents and older generation lucrative target audiences

India has ~ 30% and ~10% of its population in the under 17-years-old and over 60-years-old age brackets, respectively. Children outgrow sizes frequently, which makes postponing demand difficult. With the lockdowns impacting availability, parents of these children value convenience and availability, which makes them a target audience. Meanwhile, over 60-year-old consumers are not very tech-savvy and have limited mobility, with little interest in the latest fashion trends, making them a lucrative consumer base as they also value convenience.

Introduction

Scope
Key findings

Drivers for Mobile Retail

The pandemic impaired mobility resulting in restricted lifestyles
Fashion retailers limit store presence to conserve cash
In-store shopping holds its own amongst consumers
Access to internet and ownership of credit cards still low

Target Audience

Parents are key consumers as children outgrow sizes creating demand
Older generation due to limited mobility would be key prospects

Examples

Players opened mobile stores to offer in-store experience
Steps taken by retailers to offer mobile retail experience
Case study: Bata’s hyperlocal model
Case study: Levi’s focuses on fulfilling demand for comfort wear
Case study: Pepe Jeans launches “PepeMeUp” initiative
Case study: Max Fashion organises weekend shopping events

Key takeaways

With COVID-19 existing in 2021, mobile retail has a lot to offer
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