The current muted economic sentiment will drive customers more towards the value purchases, and online as well delivery sales in retail sector would continue to grow even after the lockdown, a top Walmart India official has said.
The lockdown will fundamentally change consumer habits, and even after lifting of the complete restrictions, consumers will restrict movement to essential trips and prefer to stay indoors due to safety reasons and continue to order online and for delivery.
“With muted economic sentiment, we expect that customers will move towards more value purchases,” Walmart India Best Price CEO Sameer Aggarwal told PTI.
Due to the pandemic, there would be increased awareness around health and hygiene, and demand for related products will increase, he added. “We also believe trusted brands will stand to gain as customers give more importance to safety standards and sourcing practices,” said Aggarwal, who has been elevated as CEO of Best Price, Walmart India, from April 1.
Walmart India is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US-based retailing giant Walmart Inc and presently operates 28 Best Price shop under cash & carry format and has two fulfilment centres. The company expects a pent up demand for in the short-term, for non-essential categories such as small kitchen and home appliances.
Moreover, the retailer also expects an increase in demand from HoReCa (Hotels, Restaurants, and Catering) segment and institutional buyers, as the government has now allowed dine-in in restaurants under the Unlock 1.0.
“Also, during the lockdown, hotels, restaurants and offices were mostly closed. As these institutions re-open, they will require hygiene products such as masks, sanitisers, cleaning products etc to ensure a safe working environment for their employees,” said Aggarwal, adding “with hotels and restaurants, we see increasing demand in products like disposable cutlery, linen and hygiene kits”.
While talking about the lockdown, Aggarwal said it has been “particularly interesting” for the retail industry.
“The industry has a critical role to play to ensure a continuous supply of essential items to households. This requires them to open their stores to serve customers so everyone can be safe at home. The importance of this role of the industry and its employees has been highlighted in the lockdown,” he added.
Walmart India also encourages its members/customers to place orders on its e-commerce platform.
“We launched a revamped app and website for our members and saw order volumes surge through e-commerce,” he said. The company has added several new features to the app, including a dedicated space on the home page for essential goods such as staple foods, hygiene items and popular processed food.
The app provides personalised product recommendations and location-based offers and promotions. “We notice that our members adapted very quickly to ordering online and this trend will continue even after lockdown restrictions are lifted,” said Aggarwal.
Walmart India Best Price Store serves over one million members including kiranas, HoReCa, offices and institutions.