From the Editor's Desk Lenskart has 200 offline stores. Firstcry.com has over 150, Pepperfry over 10. These are all e-commerce companies. Why are they embracing brick-and-mortar, the business model they are supposed to disrupt? There are multiple reasons. The barrier to entry to start on ecommerce company is rather low. Brick and mortar presence adds credibility in a crowded online market. Besides, the cost of running a small store (Rs 8 - 15 lakhs) is not much more than that of a billboard (Rs 5 - 10 lakhs). And stores can accept customers, adding to sales, in addition to improving brand presence. Brick and mortar also helps expand the market for ecommerce companies - walk-ins can be converted into more frequent online shoppers. The holy grail though is omni-channel, where the retailer lets the customer go through purchase, pick up, returns, home delivery across physical store and online in a seamless manner. In developed markets, brick and mortar retailers are becoming increasingly omni-channel. It will be interesting to see if things develop differently in India.
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