Tanya Bhardwaj loves shopping. She regularly goes to the nearby mall, sifts through the latest collection of various brands, tries them on and finalises a few items. But instead of rushing to the billing counter, the 23-year-old graphic designer walks out of the store empty-handed.
Her retail therapy, however, continues.
After reaching home, Tanya logs on to her computer, browses through some e-retail sites to find the items from her shopping mall list and puts them in her e-shopping cart. And when the online sale begins, she orders them all. “Retail happiness entails shopping in an urbane setup and yet getting value for money. So, I walk into swish malls to enjoy the great ambience and exceptional customer service, and place orders online to grab the best deals,” says Tanya, who recently bought a pair of Nike sneakers worth Rs3,500 (showroom price) for Rs2,800 online.
With high disposable income and world-class shopping experience, the well-heeled, travelled and informed Indian shopper has changed. He is no more driven by needs but desires. For him, sale is the new festival, and retail therapy a source of entertainment and happiness. “Every time you purchase something, it gives you a sense of achievement and that is what makes you happy,” says Mukta Rani, a Delhi-based communications expert.
Unlike earlier when shopping was all about walking into a store to pick up necessary items, now shopping is a way to find happiness, an experience that lasts hours inside air-conditioned shopping complexes, with well-lit and tastefully done-up ambience and a polite staff to tend to you. “Who wants to break sweat in the noisy and congested street bazaars when a more comfortable option is available to you,” says Harkirat Singh, managing director, Woodland India.
And, shopping arcades are flirting with innovative ideas to increase footfalls. “Nothing less than a unique shopping experience is what makes shoppers happy these days,” says Sonali Manilal, marketing head of DLF Promenade, a high-end shopping mall based in south Delhi. “If you don’t live up to their expectations, they wouldn’t come back to you again.” For instance, on Valentine’s Day, the mall organised a contest for couples. The winner walked away with two air tickets to Paris.
New shopping concepts are emerging, too. On the one hand an increasing number of retailers are launching their mobile apps; on the other, companies like Timbor.in, an online furniture retailer, are using people’s homes as dummies. Under its project HoMessiah, the company offers to furnish your home free of cost. In return, you have to invite the company's potential clients to your furnished home and enable them to experience an actual everyday living space, thus replacing the traditional showroom approach.
“We are increasingly becoming a consumption-based society,” says Narendra Kumar, creative director at Amazon India. Another indicator of this is the growing number of collections rolled out by brands every year—summer spring, autumn, winter and festive. “In the past, however, companies offered just two collections—summer and winter. Didn’t most of us do major shopping only twice a year? All this shows how shopping is increasingly becoming happiness oriented,” says Narendra.
Besides, with economic growth and infrastructural development, global brands are easily available in the country. “Along with them, they have brought their world-class customer service,” says Sonali. “Once exposed to it, the new-age shopper now wants the same everywhere, every time.”