It has been a tough one year for the Retail Sector. The onset of COVID-19 and the shutting down of stores and malls indefinitely was a challenge no one had predicted. Millions of retail employees lost their jobs. Retailers were left with little manpower as workers migrated to their native places, and with each day turning up huge financial losses, the situation has been chaotic and worrisome to say the least.
The task for the leaders in this unprecedented crisis was to offer perspective on major concerns, find measures that proved most successful in mitigating the human and business impacts of the virus, and to lift the operational emphasis shifted through the pandemic.
One fashion retail titan who stood tall during the pandemic was Nitin Yadav, CEO & Founder of Gempundit. He spoke to IMAGES Retail Bureau and detailed how the team worked steadfastly during and after the lockdown to ensure sales stayed up…
From your brand’s perspective, how did you fare during the lockdown and what was the consumer response in the initial Unlock phase?
The pandemic disrupted the economic and social processes and systems. It altered people’s behaviour and their orientation towards various products and services. Overall, the revenues were higher by (20-30 percent) and the cost of marketing during that period made the business more positive. In short, we got better conversion rates at lower marketing costs.
We faced a lot of operational challenges, but we did not lose our faith and opened early to fulfil our customer’s demands. A lot of our customers felt a huge sense of self-confidence apart from the normal benefits of gemstones during that phase.
What steps did you take to bring the brand firmly on the road to recovery?
We focused our efforts on ensuring that our standards on these two fronts will not come down despite the challenging operational circumstances. Special concessions were driven by vendors and service providers. Special efforts were made to keep our gemstones procurement as well as services (certification, pooja energization etc). We made sure that our customers continued to receive top-notch services even during the pandemic period. We were very innovative to be able to get the sales back to the track. Excellent customer services, nimbleness, fast decision making and full support from our employees led our brand on the road to recovery.
Which are the new technologies – both in-store & online – that you have introduced in an effort to go contactless?
We adopted technology and added an element of personalisation to it. We provided virtual consultations as well wherein customers remotely connected with our design consultants and viewed designs or gemstones, discussed options and had all their queries answered, all from the comfort of their homes. The other effort that we brought into action was that the gemstones and jewelry were properly sterilized in UV sanitization box before shipping. Also, during product packaging and pooja energization, all COVID-19 protocols were put into place to ensure contactless delivery of products. Also, we made sure that only the online payment mechanism was used during that period.
How has the consumer response been in the festival season? Were you able to match the level of business and profit of last year?
The pandemic period has typically proved to be a boon for online players, and we saw a lot of surge in demand during festival season. Yes, we did match the level of business and profit last year.
Has the brand reached pre-COVID levels in terms of sales? If no, how much more time will be required to reach the same?
We are working really hard to recover from this situation and hopefully, by mid 2021, we will be able to reach the same level of sales as pre-COVID times.
How much has the company grown under your leadership during COVID?
Revenue wise, we have grown by 20-30 percent but the real growth has come in terms of changes and improvisation in management style. The COVID era allowed us to focus more on efficiency and profitability which had helped us in managing things smoothly despite having operational obstacles.