Although shopping centres are finally reopening after a nationwide lockdown was announced on March 23, 2020, visiting malls is going to be a very different experience from now on keeping in mind new hygiene, sanitization, and social distancing norms. Despite this, fashion brands like Ayesha Accessories are quite elated at the development. The brand, which has a large chunk of its exclusive stores in malls across the country compared to high streets, is working to meet all the necessary SOPs issued by the Government while reopening its stores.
“We have prepared a very detailed SOP handbook, which will help train the front-end staff for interactions with customers,” said Jacqueline Kapur, Co-Founder and President, Ayesha Accessories. “Customers, especially millennials, who come to the mall will have a positive emotional experience. Shopping is a mood booster. The feelgood factor will kick in whether they buy a pair of earrings for Rs 500 or an expensive new handbag. With Ayesha Accessories’ average ticket size being approximately Rs 600, we are hoping to make lots of customers smile again,” she said, adding, “Fashion retail is not a necessity-based purchase, it is more recreational and entertainment. I am optimistic that in a short time after the lockdown is lifted and a vaccine for COVID-19 is discovered, customers will come back to their normal shopping patterns.”
The brand is getting all its EBOs sanitized through a government approved agent. “Our staff is being trained on all procedures – from cleaning the store and the merchandise on a daily basis to the correct way of interacting with customers. The ‘new normal’ at Ayesha Accessories stores and other workplaces will be to make the place as safe as we possible for consumers and staff both,” Kapur said.
The brand is particularly excited about an additional step at the stores. They have tied up with an American origin med-tech company which has developed a proprietary anti-microbial mask among other applications.
“We are introducing this FFP-3 category mask which kills any microbes on contact. This revolutionary technology will be merged with Ayesha’s design sensibilities and we are excited about the possibility to merge a super cool look with the ultimate possible safety features. Our employees will be the first to wear these masks to ensure maximum safety for themselves as well as for the customers. All this while still being fashion trendsetters,” she explained.
Like most of the retailers worldwide and in India, Ayesha Accessories is also making a strong effort in pushing its omnichannel capabilities to sell. “Our e-commerce site is being revamped and we are projecting a 300 to 400 percent increase in sales through e-commerce within the next 12 months,” said Kapur.
With customers being worried over safety and financial concerns, there is no doubt that consumer behaviour has undergone a radical change. As a result, fashion and accessories retailers fear that their products will become a ‘needbased’ commodity.
“Most brands still haven’t managed to get fresh merchandise into the stores. The only way out here seems to be to put certain products on sale and not the entire product range. In such a situation e-commerce is the safest bet and the channel will experience a major boost,” she concluded.