Leadership is an influence. One doesn’t lead by pointing at a place and asking people to go there. One leads by going to that place and making a case. Similarly, leaders from different brands had to lead from the front in this fight for survival.
The last one year was time for some serious strategic planning, decision making, investing in new areas, resuming business, implementing digitization, technology, innovations and also ensuring safety to the employees and consumers.
One such leader, who helped lead his brand out of the crisis and direct it on to the path to normalcy was Shaishav Mittal, Founder & CEO, Lovely Bake Studio. In an exclusive chat with IMAGES Retail Bureau, he talked about how his brand faqred during the pandemic and how they worked to bring back consumer and increase sales.
Excerpts from the interview…
From your brand’s perspective, how did you fare during the lockdown and what was the consumer response in the initial Unlock phase?
We fared well in the lockdown with all our tea-time products including 100 percent eggless cookies, biscuits, rusks doing well. The sooner our partner supermarkets / stores managed to reach their consumers directly at home, we saw demand picking up. Initially, the customers coming to the stores were less, but with sanitization and safety processes being implemented, they gained confidence and we saw the numbers do better every day. We also took proactive steps in our showrooms to start delivering directly to customer homes.
What steps did you take to bring the brand firmly on the road to recovery?
We tied up with the biggest e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Flipkart, Big Basket, Milk Basket and few others to reach consumers pan India. We also initiated home delivery services and made our presence felt on Swiggy & Zomato platforms to deliver to our customers right at their doorstep. Abroad too, we continued our quest to reach new shores and made new tie ups in Middle East, UK, USA and are initiated talks in many new countries.
Did you emphasise more on a digital presence in this time period or did you opt for the traditional retail model with minor adjustments?
During the lockdown, we increased our digital platforms presence extensively. It was our window to connect with our customers throughout. It also helped us answer their queries, suggestions and requests in real time basis.
Have you launched any innovative consumer experiences over the pandemic period?
In the initial phase of lockdown we introduced a ‘Mobile Bakery Van’ that went around the city offering completely contactless home deliveries. We also introduced express deliveries for our customers where all orders were delivered in less than 2 hours.
Does your brand have an Omnichannel / Phygital strategy? If yes, elaborate.
Currently we have a strong retail presence in 2000 supermarkets, 40 cities, 9 countries and at the same time we are growing everyday with our e-commerce partnerships as well as are increasing traffic on our website. Our marketing efforts are spread across both offline and online channels, depending upon the markets, our customer’s demographics. We are also keen to explore innovative marketing strategies and platforms to reach our customers more effectively.
Which are the new technologies – both in-store & online – that you have introduced in an effort to go contactless?
We just launched our mobile app, which gives our customers access to our full menu and free contactless home delivery. We have also introduced new training and procedures for our in-house delivery team and made new partnerships with reputed courier and delivery companies to enable contactless deliveries. Our new exciting customer friendly website make it easy to order your Lovely Bake Studio favourites at the click of a finger. You can connect with us on Whatsapp too and request call back at your convenience for easier buying and deliveries
How has been the consumer response been like in the festival season? Were you able to match the level of business and profit last year?
The response was great this year with customers coming out and purchasing in big numbers. Our corporate gifting section was slower in comparison to last year but overall, we were happy with the response.
Stores in malls vs streets, which ones are bringing in more revenues / raking in more footfalls? Why?
Currently all our stores on in high streets and we are keen to expand this model going forward. Most of our retail partners like big bazaar, Reliance and others have their showrooms in malls and our packaged range of products especially Cookies have performed exceedingly well in the mall outlets.
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 have reached approx. 75 percent of pre-COVID sales numbers thanks to our customer support and their patronage for our brand. We are looking to introduce new products soon and continue to grow our sales in India and abroad.
What are your future plans?
We plan to increase our pan India presence. We also intend to reach new countries and delight new audiences with our 100 percent Eggless delicacies and become one of the biggest direct to consumer brands. We have an exciting range of new products lined up, and we will be announcing them soon.