Less than 1% of total retail sales in India were made online in 2014, but the impact of the Web on offline sales is much greater. The emergence of smartphones and the mobile Internet is playing a much bigger role in influencing the purchase decisions of online users. Customers are using them to research products, even when they are shopping in physical stores; to compare prices with online retailers; to check specifications; and to read user reviews. This user behavior is making the Web a more powerful medium — one that retailers can no longer ignore. It is most influential in categories like computer hardware and software, media, footwear, apparel, and consumer electronics, as these contain a greater number of online-savvy retailers. We recently published the Forrester Research Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2014 To 2019 (India), which reveals that:
- $70 billion in offline sales in India will be influenced by the Web in 2019. This is more than twice the volume of total online retail sales in India, emphasizing the importance of the Web as a way for retailers to connect with customers.
- Degree of web influence depends on what consumers are buying. Retailers selling books, music, and mobile phones are struggling to survive due to the emergence of online retail. This wave of change is also starting to affect consumer electronics, computer hardware, apparel, and footwear retailers. We expect the apparel and accessories category to see the largest web impact by 2019, followed by consumer electronics and grocery.
- Organized retailers should go omnichannel and provide a consistent experience across channels. Organized retailers need to measure and invest in growing online sales and online influence. Smartphones mean that customers are researching anywhere and at any time, and they expect a consistent experience across all channels. By developing an omnichannel presence, retailers can give customers a single view of the SKUs they offer through different channels — such as online, brick-and-mortar stores, and mobile — and provide a seamless and convenient shopping experience.
This forecast details online sales and web-influenced sales across 10 product categories in India and provides historical data going back to 2012.
Web-influenced sales: Sales to consumers who research their purchases online but buy the product in the store.
Web impact: Web-influenced sales plus online sales.