Critics who predicted the eventual death of offline retail during the lockdown period are now eating their words considering that post lockdown, not only did India witness a lot many brands opening new stores but also saw quite a few international brands taking a leap of faith by either expanding their presence or entering the Indian retail space, for example – Desigual opening their first online store in India in October at the DLF Avenue Mall and Japanese eyewear brand Owndays opening their first store in Mumbai.
But what truly led to people to step out and shop – other than of course, the urge to just be out of the house after months? Brands which targeted and rewarded consumers via the social media during the lockdown and offered heavy discounts and other schemes and prizes saw major footfalls post the lockdown – this despite the Big Billion Day and Prime Day sales on various e-commerce platforms. In fact, especially around the festive season, the crowds at stores were a sight to behold. One look at the crowd gathered at Mumbai’s New Beauty Centre at Khar would have led anyone to dismiss the fear of the pandemic as a myth. Lucky Draws and surprise gifts created magic, compelling people to venture out and shop.
Pulling in the Footfalls
Amit Panchal, Chief Executive Officer, Ethnicity Retail gives us a glimpse of the various strategies the brand put in place post the lockdown, “At our stores, our customers are introduced to the Ethnicity experience and receive instant gratification in the form of Gift vouchers, which have substantially contributed to repeat footfalls and high redemption rates at our stores.” Adding further on the safety measures deployed, he shares, “At a time where safety is of utmost concern we improvised on our standard store operating procedures by introducing extensive safety protocols such as daily disinfecting of our stores and all instore customer touch-points, temperature checks, contactless payments, re-training of the staff to be more aware of the new hygiene standards, etc. We ensured these safety protocols were in place before proceeding to re-open our stores aligned with government-mandated instructions.”
At FabIndia, the team took to opening their stores across India in a phased manner instead of rushing to put up the shutters at one go. Ajay Kapoor, President- Retail, Fabindia shared, “We have taken every possible step to ensure customers can enjoy the Fabindia Experience in a safe environment. In addition to regular cleaning activities, the staff follow a detailed sanitation protocol to disinfect every single area and item in the store. The staff get checked three times a day for fever using contactless thermometers. All staff members are equipped with masks, gloves and face shields and are required to wear it at all times in the store. Our staff has undergone rigorous training on social distancing.” To take care of the tried garments, the brand ensures that those are kept aside for 24 hours, steamed and sanitized well prior to them being put up on the racks or hangers the next day. The hangers and trials rooms at the stores are constantly sanitized along with the billing counter after each and every transactions. All of these actions are well documented by the patrons which has eventually led to a steady flow of footfalls at the stores.
Making best use of the lockdown to strategise on strengthening the customer trust, the team at The Body Shop were well prepared to welcome their patrons post the period. Antara Kundu, Marketing Head – The Body Shop – Asia South reveals, “Right from the start, our singular focus has been on getting the basics right. Our approach was two-pronged - ensuring the health and safety of our staff and consumers; and making sure we are accessible to our consumers safely and easily no matter where they are. The lockdown allowed us much needed time to elevate our already stringent safety standards. As we started coming out of the lockdown, we launched our #SafeSpace campaign to educate and communicate our consumers and staff alike. Among other things, this encompassed safety standards, in-store shopping guidelines and our end-to-end sanitization processes. Our #SafeSpace campaign was much appreciated by customers – in fact, many of them shared their positive feedback with us in stores via video testimonials! This campaign was strongly pushed via social media and PR including regional and vernacular content creation and dissemination.”
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