MUMBAI: The digital revolution is reaching into all areas of retail in India as a new study shows consumers using social media for discovery and recommendations while retailers themselves are open to the use of digital wallets and visual search.

The report – Retail in the Era of the Connected Consumer – from the Retailers' Association of India (RAI) and consulting firm AT Kearny, was based on responses from leading retail customer experience officers, AT Kearney's proprietary consumer surveys and a survey of RAI members.

This found that around nine in ten Indian retailers are set to adopt new technologies like cashless payments via digital wallets.

And seven in ten are interested in the potential of visual search to enable consumers to find products in store.

More than half (55%) of consumers now go online to discover products, and, among younger groups especially, social media is emerging as a key touchpoint.

Some 68% of 26-35 year olds and 61% of 16-25 year olds claim to base their purchase decisions on what they encounter in their digital social networks.

Retailers are taking note: 86% indicated that they would be able to improve customer experience through feedback delivered via social media, while seven in ten would consider using mobile store apps to look at customer reviews.

A separate RAI report produced in association with Boston Consulting Group predicted there would be 400m digitally influenced consumers in the country by 2020 and said that retailers had no choice but to reinvent themselves.

Ecommerce platforms such as Paytm are exploring new ways of marrying up the online and offline worlds, as it partners with brick-and-mortar electronics retailers. This enables the retailers to list their products and prices online and allows consumers to choose which offline store they want to collect a product from or, in the case of larger appliances, have it delivered from.

Amit Bagaria, associate vice president, mobile and electronics head at Paytm, explained that data from these "virtual brand stores" would be fed back to marketers to enable them to create relevant content and develop new products.

Data sourced from Economic Times; additional content by Warc staff