To combat the slowdown due to lockdowns and the pandemic, brands across different segments are coming up with innovative ways to connect with their customer base and boost sales
As the world learns to cope with the challenges posed by the Coronavirus, unlockdowns are being announced in India. These relaxations in the movement of people and other business activities come at a crucial time when commerce needs to recuperate and trading activities need to find new ways to survive the new situations. And as more and more restrictions are lifted, the lurch brought on by the lockdown is expected to wear off.
Online shopping is taking off. “When the lockdown was first announced, our sales decreased significantly. The months of April and May led to lower product movement pace through the compromised supply chain. However, in the more recent months, we have been able to recoup those lost orders as consumers have shifted back to their buying patterns, with more and more testing the waters of online shopping,” says Rohit Chawla, CEO & Founder, Bare Anatomy, an e-commerce platform dealing in personalised hair care products.
Lifting up of sales, though, is not going to be an easy process, considering there are still around 5.9 lakh active cases of Coronavirus in the country. In such a scenario, new methods of marketing to promote sales are cropping up. This is especially the case for brands that depend on walk-ins at the stores and are new to the online model.
Rajesh Sharma, Director- sales, Spykar Lifestyles, says, “Currently we are witnessing walk-ins of only about 20% of our normal, pre-Covid levels. We experienced a surge at the initial unlock period of 7-10 days in all territories but soon consumers were moving out of their houses only for essential and need-based requirements. Garments at present do not top this list. Footfall at the stores is very low. Consumers who come to the store know what they want and spend exactly the amount of time they need for that purchase”.
To combat this problem of low footfall and even a fall in online orders, brands are coming up with new and innovative ways to lure customers while at the same time trying to ensure that maximum precautions are being taken to stop the spread of the virus.
Talking about the new methods of marketing, Rohit Chawla says “The pandemic has surely given birth to new marketing techniques. For the safety of our new and existing customers, our in-house lab made it possible for us to research formulations and give out free sanitisers with every order, as well as sell them in packs, which was greatly appreciated by our customers during this time of need.”
He also talks about the changing patterns of sales: “There has been a trend of bulk buying seen in customers, especially when it comes to necessities. There is also more unity seen across the market, as brands communicate transparently and customers become more understanding of delays. Also, with increased health awareness, we have observed that customers have become more diligent about their overall health and the ingredients used in the products they use. Focusing on the same, we have launched a new range of nutraceuticals to help consumers achieve their health and hair goals with products that work from within.”
(Caption: Different brands are coming up with new innovative methods like using to connect with potential buyers)
While providing sanitisers and understanding the mood of the customer base is the approach taken by Bare Anatomy, social media has come to the rescue of others, “Social media has been given a lot of importance given that it is one of the most consumed mediums at this point. Making a personal connection and engaging with customers is now more important than ever. Witty and relatable content is very crucial to gain the attention of the customer amidst the chaos of communication coming in from multiple brands. We are holding weekly contests and providing information about our discounts and offers through social media. It’s a virtual community that we are creating and the instant gratification is helping in further strengthening the customer base,” says Rajesh Sharma, of Spykar jeans.
However, some brands are moving beyond social media and are getting up close and personal with their customer base to boost sales. Popular brands like Pantaloons have started providing sales through Whatsapp. Under the model, the brand outlets share videos of available merchandise using Whatsapp, which is also where customers after selecting the items they need can place their orders.
Keeping abreast with the new changes, Bindals is also facilitating shopping via Whatsapp. And while apparel stores have Whatsapp, eyewear brands like Lenskart are relying on providing eye checkups at homes with opticians in full PPE kits to ensure their steady flow of customers.
This shift in the methods of marketing is not just limited to apparel and eyewear. Brands operating in medical services and even real estate are hopping onto the personalised and internet-based approach to marketing. Apollo 24*7 provides not just medical equipment for purchase but also facilitates online consultations with doctors thereby removing the need to visit a hospital.
Similarly, in the real estate sector, Angie Homes.co, a 3-in-1 online portal for the high end and mid-end customer and clientele, under the collection called Angie’s India provides thousands of interior products for living spaces. Angie’s e-commerce site Angie Homes provides a collection of interior products which range from home, office interiors, hospitality, real estate, restaurants and weddings.
With the progression of the pandemic, businesses are learning to pick up and invest in new avenues of connecting with their customers to ensure sustainability in these dire times. Talking about the time it could take for the retail industry to fully recover, Rajesh Sharma, Director- sales, Spykar says “ The retail industry as a whole has been hit hard by the spread of the Coronavirus. With consumer behaviour changing there is much emphasis given on shift to essentials and health. It’s now more about adapting to market changes and providing platforms that would help in achieving sales. Government policies definitely need to be looked at to help the retail industry to be able to stand back on its feet. There can’t be any fixed time frame that can be mentioned as we are still unsure of how things are but it sure needs the government to look at the needs and take steps to help reform the industry”.
In the meantime, we can expect companies to explore more and more innovative ways to connect with their customers and try to recover from the devastating effects of the Coronavirus.
(Cover: Despite relaxations reopening non essentials services and markets, customer footfall had seen a sharp decline // Photo: OYOrooms.com)