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Digitalization is reshaping every field and industry we know today, spanning from journalism, education, healthcare, finance, banking, and more. It improves business efficiency and enhances the customer experience. The scenario presents a great opportunity for the brick and mortar stores to remodel. Retailers can benefit from digitalization in ways that go beyond minor improvements. It can facilitate a connected engagement, focusing not just on data, agility, customer centricity, new value propositions, and innovation, but also on cost-cutting, improving efficiencies, and simplifying processes.

The scenario has motivated entrepreneurs to push ideas that can reshape the prevailing retail model. Shailendra Awasthi (Founder & CEO), a global marketing and business development executive, is on a mission to digitalize Indian retail with innovative offerings. LOCOFF, his unique firm, provides retailers with the digital tools they need to expand progressively and sustainably.

An interesting self-experience of the founder inspired the idea of LOCOFF. In 2015, he was scouring the online market for a laptop battery. To his dismay, the battery provided was not the same model, and he wasted three weeks waiting for it. He proceeded to a neighboring computer hardware store, where he not only had the battery replaced in an instant but also got a terrific deal. The experience made him realize the prevailing gap between retail stores and customers. With e-commerce platforms gradually leading the market, it’s making a lot of stores under-recognized.

Small retail stores neither had the bandwidth nor the resources to get on board with these e-commerce platforms. “As the world is moving towards digitalization, small businesses are failing to capitalize on it,” he said. He envisioned a holistic digital platform that connects retailers with local customers without disrupting offline sales.

He presented his idea to two of his colleagues at XLRI. He also recruited freelance developers and started brainstorming the idea. After much discussion and research, he started an archetype model with 300 stores trying to figure out its propensity. Fortunately, he had a positive response and was encouraged by retailers to create the final product. Finally, in 2020, LOCOFF was brought to light. The platform drew the attention of another friend, who helped fund and establish the platform. Within a short stint, LOCOFF has established itself as a benchmark for branded merchants and freestanding hyper-local stores. The platform includes a wealth of features that allow business owners to easily manage their stores, whether they are offline or online.

LOCOFF doesn’t push shops to abandon the offline model; instead, it encourages them to further grow their presence in the digital space. “We give them a space to create a brand for themselves and attract all their local customers to their store,” adds Mr. Awasthi. It is a ground-breaking innovation ready to usher in a paradigm revolution. Retailers often find it difficult to manage a SaaS platform, which has a negative impact on app engagement and familiarity. However, LOCOFF was built with the purpose of providing a platform that is simple to set up and use for clients. By following a sixstep process, any retailer can register and start their business optimization journey.

Till now, the platform has helped thousands of retailers expand their online reach while also boosting sales, profit, footfall, and brand equity using an O2O (Online-to-offline) model. The platform enables stores to share their offerings and discounts with customers to increase customer attraction. It has an instant share feature on all social media platforms for maximum visibility. All in all, LOCOFF is transparent about what it offers and the challenge it addresses, which reflects its credibility.

Where there is innovation and breakthrough, R&D plays an essential role. It helps a firm stay up to speed with the market and its changes and uncertainties. Mr. Awasthi says, “I may believe in a solution, but without R&D, how will I come to know what my customers exactly want?” Thanks to his extensive experience in B2B marketing communication, he understands changing client expectations and the hurdles they encounter. The team works on a variety of focused practices to reach their target clients, gather their feedback, and then build around it.

R&D also plays a critical role in upgrading technological standards and staying updated with the latest in the market. They have a dedicated R&D team that keeps the firm up to date on advances and allows for a well defined and futuristic outlook. Its innovation and principles are fueled by a group of like-minded individuals who are passionate about what they deliver.

Innovation and technology alone can’t help a firm win the marketplace. There should be a fusion of technology, talent, and morals enveloped in a holistic culture. LOCOFF brings innovation and ethics under one roof. This stems from Mr. Awasthi’s learning as an industry professional. He states, “My supervisor used to teach me I needed to have a couple of qualities, be fair, and not be scared to make mistakes.” The same goes for everyone at the firm.

While being fair to everyone, they constantly learn from their mistakes, keeping the firm on a learning curve. The team members are defined by their attitude, besides skills, and are led by experts in their respective fields. They believe in treating everyone equally, which brings out the best in them.

The world has become more digitalized over the last 2 years, and its influence is constantly increasing. Nonetheless, most of the retail technology in the market is focused on end customers. LOCOFF is disrupting the market with its innovative offering. It’s an invention that is redefining, strategizing, and transforming retail, creating win-win situations for both retailers and customers.

The past two years were challenging, but Mr. Awasthi and his team turned it into their cornerstone. The period set the stage for futuristic technologies and further solidified its mission and vision. “We realized we could make a difference in the lives of retailers by giving them self-sustaining technology solutions,” says Mr. Awasthi.

The thought process clearly positions the founder as a futurist. Mr. Awasthi’s leadership has always been driven by a mission, vision, and values. In his words, mission encourages a leader, vision keeps the goals visible, and core values keep the leader on track. With LOCOFF, he is empowering the brick-and-mortar market to be more profitable and innovative.

With an innovative product and mission, Mr. Awasthi and his team have a non-conventional view of progress. In simple words, the number of retailers they can change for the better pays homage to their efforts and endeavors. It also inspires them to further improve and augment their offerings. With time, they wish to grow as a full-service provider to retailers, focusing on customer outreach, becoming the best sourcing partner, and getting them the right lending solution.

While the future remains uncertain, the strong and synergistic link between technology, skills, and values will only strengthen. Their distinct and transparent business model ensures they will be around for a long time.

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