Just when everyone thought horizontal e-commerce platforms like Amazon would completely take over offline retail, omnichannel came up and created a new balance, she said, while speaking at TiEcon Delhi-NCR Unstoppable India virtual event that was held on March 24-25.
Speaking from her experience at ShopClues, which was founded in 2011 and became one of the earliest unicorns in India, Ghai said that back then, e-commerce penetration was virtually negligible to 1-2%. Organised retail in India was also less than 20% and it was a very fragmented market. For Ghai and her co-founders, the thought process was that there is no platform that has both supply and demand together. This is what they decided to do and so targeted tier-2, -3 towns.
Over the years, an entirely new consumer generation has come up, so have other e-commerce players. “Now, there is always a five-year generation gap. Back then everyone was saying Amazon was going to eat everybody’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. That time, pretty much all vertical platforms were written off even before they started. But companies like FirstCry and Nykaa survived because they identified specific needs of customers and played its omnichannel presence beautifully,” she said.
She explained that in Nykaa’s strategy, the consumer could go and get the touch-and-feel of a product and then go back and buy it online or from a store. “We kept talking about how e-commerce was the future until vertical stores FirstCry and Nykaa came in and said that no, omnichannel was the way to go. We are in the next generation now where brands like Mom & Co are coming out. We went from fragmented retail to the horizontal space to the vertical space and now to brands and highly curated platforms. This has been a phenomenal transition of retail in India,” she added.