Changing dynamics in retail through digital transformation

Saurabh Mittal, Director, Maple Press Pvt. Ltd. shares his views on the impact of digital transformation on book retail.

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Book “selling” or retail is being disrupted continuously since the last 5-6 years, especially in the trade market due to the advent of e-commerce. The behemoths, namely Amazon and Flipkart, have consolidated the retail of trade books in the country, which up until now was fragmented and broken without any key distributor, wholesaler, or retailer. According to the latest Nielsen Report, ecommerce now accounts for almost 55% of the total trade book sales, with only two major players. This has been both a boon and a bane for book publishers.
Digitally- savvy and organised publishers who understand ecommerce models are experiencing exponential growth as challenges of fragmented distribution,small order volumes, late payments and returns have almost vanished from the industry while other publishers who are not able to use ecommerce to their advantage are only losing market share.

Saurabh Mittal

Additionally,e-commerce has allowed book publishers a direct access to the end customers’ (readers) tastes through reviews and rankings. This has allowed for better curated books apt for the audience reducing the chances of a book being a dud. At the same time, this publicly available customer and sales data (rankings) increases competition among publishers and reduces their margins.

Furthermore,social media channels such as Instagram and Facebook have also had a big effect on book retail. Customers are now able to directly interact with publishers, who can nudge them to buy directly from their direct-to-consumer websites which reduces acquisition costs and increases customer lifetime values. However, this has also increased a publisher’s accountability as he can be directly called upon by customers for any issues which could impact sales.

Publishers who have jumped onto the bandwagon of digital transformation will grow in future as the world moves towards a digitally connected retail environment.

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