Retail industry hiccups and bounce back strategies for Q3

Brands won't cut down marketing spend, only realign them

NEW DELHI: India’s retail industry has been badly hit due to Covid2019. The last three months have resulted in no revenue for a majority of fashion brands. From manufacturing supply chains to shut down of stores, the pandemic has shaken up the fashion industry.

Though Unlock 1.0 announced the re-opening of malls there are no footfalls in shops. Retail brands across the segment have seen new changes in the last few days, owing to the pandemic. had a virtual conference with top leaders on the future of shopping. The panel members were Viviana Mall chief executive officer Manoj K Agarwal, Liva assistant vice president & digital head Rishi Sharma and Spykar Lifestyle chief executive officer Sanjay Vakharia. The session was moderated by senior reporter Dolly Mahayan.

Vakharia shared, “Our business has been quite impacted because it’s not part of essentials, there is a sea change which we have seen be it in terms of marketing, communication and we are adapting to the new changes, and keeping close tabs on consumers, and trying new mediums to reach out to people.”

Speaking about the opening of malls, and how its rebuilding confidence among people, Agarwal said, “Unlock1.0 doesn’t have the opening of malls in Mumbai, but everyone will follow SOPs by Shopping Centre Association of India to be implemented by all malls which have been opened, and a detailed SOP has been made which will be strictly implemented."

“We need to create an environment of comfort and no fear in the customer's mind to visit malls and shop. All malls have come up with videos that gives all necessary information on how they can move around in malls,” he added.

Sharma also agreed with the other panellists and explained, "In India, the mall is a destination. We have not made a buying pattern. Retail in India is pretty new, brands are young. They are ready to adapt and change themselves. People use e-commerce to create their wish list and when they want to buy a product they will rush to a store. Covid2019 has taught consumers about adaptability and has moved digital.”

Vakharia shared that the brand will follow its protocol to ensure the safety of consumers, “We are quarantining the garment for 24 hours before letting a customer try it. We are ensuring social distancing and regulating traffic. Consumers are also following all the protocols. There are many checkpoints in the mall for consumers' safety.”

He also added, “Though online is the need of the hour but pleasure of shopping can’t be felt online. We will see a change where consumers will buy essential stuff online, but for other kind of products people would prefer location shopping.”

Talking about what kind of changes the brand has seen in the pandemic crisis, Rishi shared, “Sustainability and eco-friendly will be the next big thing in the fashion world. We need to add a layer of care and technology to our fabric and give added protection to consumers.”

Agarwal said that initially there may be 30 per cent footfall in some malls. "Internal dwell time has been reduced by customers. People are coming for focused shopping. Tier 2 cities are faring better than metros and tier 1 cities on the mall front.  In Q3, I think we are expecting to do good business because the fear of the virus will subside.”

Vakharia said, “The situation is unprecedented and it looks grim but we are hoping that Q3 will bring little hope as a lot of festivals are around the corner. We are not wanting to get on the end of season sales because the supply chain is distributed, it’s difficult to get new merchandise. We will get interesting products by Diwali.”

The panelists also shared that in the festive season, they would prefer to advertise more on the digital medium.

"Brands will be investing heavily on social media platforms to gauge consumers as far as advertising is concerned. We are not sure how print media will work. We will not cut anything on our marketing spends, it’s only the medium and channel which will see a difference. I don’t think so we can afford anything on the marketing and communication budget to be slashed,” Agarwal explained.

Rishi echoed a similar perspective, “ATL and BTL will take a hit, digital will become big and there will be a lot of new interventions in the space. A very small part of advertising budget may go higher, we could see social-commerce to be the next big thing in India.”

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