Bata began operations in India in 1932 as small scale organisation in Konnagar, near Kolkata. During the 70s and 80s, the brand emphasised range, comfort and durability making it a one-stop-trusted family footwear shop for decades. As a brand, Bata has continuously evolved over the years in India and has shown strong growth. It has come a long way since its foray into India and has today, grown into one of the largest footwear retailers with approximately 1,400 outlets across the country.
“Bata has always been a popular brand. However, despite being a dependable and value-for-money brand, consumers started call us boring. To bring back excitement and lure youth, we have been revamping the stores and collections for the last four to five years now,” says Sandeep Kataria, Country Manager, Bata India.
“Now, our stores look brighter, vibrant, customer-friendly and our designs look more contemporary than ever. For us, as we re-write our strategy, the biggest and most important pillar of success is our product. We are offering best quality products to the consumers at different price ranges,” he adds.
The footwear major is trying to re-design its stores to a contemporize them, improve store decor to strengthen its popularity among Millennials.
“As a part of this strategy, Bata has rolled out the ‘Red Angela’ store concept with a red and white colour format that is aimed at standardizing the Bata brand identity,” says Kataria.
The Bollywood Factor
To reach out to youngsters, Bata has appointed Bollywood actor Kriti Sanon as brand ambassador. She has been promoting Bata’s newly launched ‘Bata Red Label’ fashion collection along with their other ranges.
“Kriti’s creative talent, drive and her fresh approach to style are the perfect match for Bata. We are very excited to have her as the face of brand Bata in India. She is the perfect choice as she reflects Bata’s personality of being vibrant and authentic,” asserts Kataria.
Technology: The Enabler
While the brand ambassador will serve to pull consumers into a store, to enhance brick-and-mortar experience and serve them better, Bata is also focusing on revamping in-store technology.
“Bata has recently introduced home delivery facility in Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru. Consumers can place orders in-store, pay in-store and get their product delivered at home within 48 hours. This facility is a huge hit since many-a-times, stores may not carry a particular style in a particular colour or size. Customers can then place an order for any of our 1,500-3,000 different lines of footwear, as per their specifications and use the home delivery facility,” Kataria explains, talking about in-store innovations.
The brand is planning to roll-out this feature in other parts of the country soon. The footwear major is also using technology to get the feedback from customers and to ensure the sales staff is equipped to serve them better.
“We are equipping our retail associates with the capability of finding out whether they have an article in the right size / colour in-store in minutes. If a particular store doesn’t have a product, salespeople are also being trained to contact Bata stores in the vicinity, procuring the product in the least amount of time and providing it to customers. We are ensuring that this exercise takes 15-20 minutes, tops,” explains Kataria.
Another way Bata is trying to strengthen its brand image among Millennials is giving it a push through advertisements and communication using mass media like billboards, TVCs, newspaper and digital ads to communicate with the consumers. Apart from using social media heavily to connect with new-age shoppers, Bata is also aggressively pushing its loyalty program, Bata Club.
“Any consumer who comes into our stores and buys from us and is ready to share their contact details, automatically becomes the part of the Bata Club which allows them to take advantage of the loyalty program and a whole lot of other benefits like previews of sales, faster check-outs etc. This is another channel which we are beginning to use very strongly for communication,” says Kataria.
More Power To Bata
In March, Bata launched its first exclusive store of Power – its international sportwear brand at Great India Place Mall, Noida.
The 750 sq. ft., spacious high-tech store, caters to the increasing demand for active lifestyle with a range of shoes, apparel, bags, and accessories.
Kataria says, “Designed in Canada, Power is an iconic brand world over, and building exclusive retail touch points for Power with an international retail environment is a key aspect of our growth strategy. The active lifestyle trend across India presents a big opportunity for the Power brand.”
Creating a new-age, high-tech retail experience, the store has six high-tech merchandise display walls with a large LED Panel and blue LED lights that lend an attractive yet clean and minimal look to the store.
“Over the last few years we have witnessed a change in the Indian consumer, who is becoming more focused on leading an active lifestyle. This has spurred a demand for international running and training footwear. Exclusive Power stores shall enable us to fulfil this growing demand by delivering world-class products in an unmatched retail environment. We are supporting this new brand initiative, through our latest ‘FIND YOUR POWER’ campaign which features celebrity Indian cricketer Smriti Mandhana who has been an inspiration to scores of young Indians for adopting an active and fit lifestyle,” says Kataria.
He adds, “Together with Smriti, we hope to inspire and motivate young Indians, to start an active and healthy lifestyle. Our goal is to provide excellent value to our customers and succeed as the India’s leading athletic and sport-lifestyle footwear brand.”
Bata has opened two more Power stores – one in V3S Mall, Delhi and other in Indore.
Just like Power, other sub-brands of Bata are Bubblegummers, Footin, Naturalizer, Marie Claire, Hush Puppies, North Star and Scholl.
Currently, the brand has almost 1,400 stores across the country and aims to open 100 new stores every fiscal year.
In 2017-18, the footwear major added over 100 new retail stores, 31 franchise stores and renovated more than 90 stores across India.
Bata India is aggressively penetrating into footwear markets of Tier III & IV cities in order to reach out to consumers in untapped markets. The footwear major had adopted a dual strategy of driving same store growth while adding new retail stores in malls, high street locations.
“We have opened 101st franchisee store recently and aim to have 500 stores in next 4-5 years,” says Kataria.
The growth of the industry has been triggered by increasing internet and smartphone penetration and the shoe maker sold more than 8.9 lakh pairs of footwear through e-commerce channels, recording a turnover of Rs 879 million during 2017-18.
In order to expand its presence in the e-commerce space, the company also listed its products on high traffic-generating websites. The brand has presence on Amazon, Flipkart, Jabong, Myntra, ShopClues, TataCliq along with its own website Bata.in.
“The intention has been to be able to leverage technology and to offer all the sizes and designs where ever the customers want to shop from. We already have Bata home delivery, where consumers can try sizes at our stores and can get it delivered at their home. As we go forward, we are also looking at being able to offer consumers ‘click-and-pick’ from stores facility,” says Kataria.
E-commerce currently accounts for 4-4.5 per cent of the company’s revenue. The figure will move into double digits pretty soon. For the financial year 2017-18, Bata’s net profit was at Rs 224 crore while its revenue stood at Rs 2,636 crore
“We are looking at double digit growth for current fiscal year,” Kataria concludes.