While businesses across the world were upended by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, smart brands and retailers were on their toes in a bid to refresh and rejuvenate their businesses. A webinar organised by NIFTA – Association of NIFT Alumni – featured industry leaders from around the world who expounded on the changes taking place due to the impact of COVID-19 and the opportunities arising for brands to refresh and rejuvenate their businesses.
On the measures that they exercised to offset the loss and be future ready, Molly Robbins, VP, Global Licensing, USPA Global Licensing Corp shared how US Polo has sifted focus on communicating – both internal and with its partners. “Keeping the communication alive is crucial to help everyone reprioritize spend and chalk out areas that will prove to be fast turners when the market turns back on. The brand also has also ramped up its global digital transformation with focus on social media,” she said.
Converse, which operates 3,000 plus mono-brand stores in Asia, had to shut stores right before one of the most commercial times for them annually – the Chinese New Year in February.
“There was zero traffic and demand. But the good thing is that, at least in China, the infrastructure with supply chain is sound, so you could still leverage the digital channel to deliver products. That’s where we also started taking stock of future demands, handling inventory situations and forecasting KPIs for the unknown. The digital channel has been our saving grace and for all retailers who had used it well. The market in China resumed once again – we could see the consumers emerge slowly demand picking up. So, we are being optimistic,” said Gautham Rao, Sr. Director, Buying and Planning, CONVERSE Asia.
Apart from keeping up communication levels within the brand and with its partners, Blackberrys utilized the lockdown to review SOPs and train its staff. “What was also important was to review cash flow. Since there is zero revenue coming in it was imperative to give guidance to our vendors on merchandise pickup and payment scheduling,” stated Nikhil Mohan, Founder, Blackberrys.
Throughout Levi’s long standing existence, it has seen enough disruption – right from the Great Depression, World War II to the deadly Spanish Flu of 1918. According to Sanjeev Mohanty, Managing Director – South Asia, Middle East & North Africa, Levis Strauss & Co., the brand is confident that it will overcome the current COVID-19 pandemic and emerge stronger than ever.
“In terms of digital transformation, redefining the brand, etc., various work streams were already underway since the past few years. We started to react early, when the pandemic hit China and it was a steep learning curve. China created a fantastic playbook – what they did and the hits and misses – and that playbook is coming handy for all our markets including the Americas, Europe and Asia,” he added.
According to Mohanty, although India lacks the resources and level of control that China possesses, he is positive that the country will have a strong comeback and witness the revival of demand by the fourth quarter.