''The Nike Speed Shop in New York that opened in 2018 allows customers to reserve shoes online to try on in-store. Customers can arrive (through a dedicated entrance) to find a locker with their name on, which can then be unlocked via their smart phone. Mobile checkout is also available, meaning customers do not even need to speak to anyone (let alone stand in a queue) if they want to buy the shoes in question. It is the ultimate in convenience shopping.
You have a close view of the start-up space and you also know how the retail ecosystem works. How would you assess the start-up retail technology space in terms of the solutions and solution providers who are entering this space?
Technologies in the retail space are still largely untapped, unlike those in FinTech, EdTech, MarTech and even Ad Tech. The biggest challenge is that Indian retail is still dominated by the traditional MOM & POP/Kirana stores where technology for most still means acceptance of digital payments like Paytm or Google Pay. Very little has happened in terms of merchandising, stock management, customer insights, and consumer loyalty.
So how do you see the overall trend panning out? What would it take to emerge a long term player in this space?
This space is ripe for disruption, especially given the rapid expansion of the internet, the penetration of smartphones, and the fact that a messaging app - WhatsApp has nearly 400 million users.
So one should imagine even a consumer who makes basic purchases at a Kirana store is likely to have a smartphone and even if she does not have an e-commerce app downloaded, she can easily make her choice clear through a WhatsApp message to the retailer – and even pay digitally.
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