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Reviving the charm of shopping

Garima Arora, June 17, 2016, DHNS 0:19 IST

Online to offline

E-commerce industry comes with its share of pros and cons. Some enjoy the luxury of sitting at home and shopping for mobile phones, clothes, accessories and even groceries. But there are also those who question the quality of products shopped online and prefer brick and mortar stores for shopping. However, lack of time and energy eventually made it impossible for customers to visit each and every store in a market to check out what they are offering.

Coming to the rescue of such customers are various online to offline (O2O) platforms that aim to bridge the gap between customers and brick and mortar stores, created by e-commerce boom.

“I could never trust e-commerce websites for my clothes. So after a friend suggested, I started using Fashalot app, which allows me to track the retail store from where I can buy clothes,”says 17-year-old Richa Sharma, who is a regular user of Fashalot app, an O2O platform functional in Delhi, NCR and Bengaluru.

“Now every time before I leave for shopping, I check the app to see what all is available in the market. This saves my time and effort,” she adds.

Founded by Amit Koshal, Amit Sharma and Rishi Batra, Fashalot is an app which collaborates with national, international and local brands and charges them commission. Customers can view the latest collection in the stores through the app and decide what to buy. Once they have shortlisted the products, they can visit the store, buy it and upload the bill on the app. In return, the app rewards them with cashback which can be further redeemed at the stores or can be used for phone recharges, movie vouchers, etc.

In addition to cashbacks for customers, these apps help retail stores generate more business. Lack of awareness among customers, about some retails stores is one of the many reasons for their slow growth. Apps like Fashalot, Appie and Crownit avails retailers with the benefit of catching the customer’s eye by being featured on the app.

“We have got repeated customers from the app. It helps us building better relationship with the customer, which was otherwise only through text messages about our discounts and latest offers. Also, giving cashbacks further adds to our business. People are now willing to pay Rs 1,500 for a t-shirt to get 200 cashback points,” Dipesh Premdoss, director, Arjay Group (Planet Fashion, Louis Philippe, Van Heusen and People), Bengaluru, tells Metrolife.

Crownit — functional in Delhi, Mumbai and Begnaluru — is another such O20 platform, founded by Sameer Grover in 2014. It allows customers to discover local merchants and rewards them with crowns (cashback) in return. These crowns can be exchanged on the app with phone bill payments, online shopping and movie tickets.

Explaining the functioning of the app, Grover says, “Customers get crowns at restaurants, salons, spas, bars, apparel stores and entertainment places. Apart from crowns, transacting customers also can participate in our Weekly Rush events where we give prizes to thousands of customers.”

He adds that local merchants can also run dynamic time-based deals on the platform depending on specific types of customers.

Thus, these platforms provide a 2-way benefit to both local merchants and customers through their cashback strategy.

Following this O2O bandwagon is Appie, the brainchild of Kartik Sanghavi. He feels that shopping is not just about buying, but also about experiences like being served hospitably by known retailers.

The app, based out of Mumbai, showcases everything available to consumers in their locality. They can use the take-away or pick up option to purchase the product or pay cash-on-delivery when ordering from the brick and mortar stores.

“The app tries to give consumers the best of both worlds — discovery of product choice with complete information and reviews, and the fulfilment to ensure the quality, assurance and timeliness of a retail shop,” explains Sanghavi.

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