It is still not safe to say that the pandemic is behind us, but still as we wait to bid adieu to 2021, let’s look a little closely towards the year-end retail market and see how the brands and retailers are gearing up to make the most of the lost sales owing to the pandemic. Trade Desk has recently in a report revealed that 91% of Indian consumers planned to shop during the festive season this year. Isn’t this a piece of good news, given the dreaded times we all lived to witness. What’s more, this data certainly lifts our mood and makes us look for some optimism in the market.
Major brands in a hope to claim their market share back and win some brownie points with their customers are bringing forward the best deals and discounts on the eve of New Year and Christmas for their customers. According to a report by Forrester, e-retail sales are expected to reach US $9.2 billion in India during the festive months of 2021, up by 42% year-on-year. But why only online, with the market opening up offline trade is certainly back on track and retailers are not failing to lure the customers back to store through the right offers.
Brands are using different strategies to attract their customer base. To understand the trends in focus, we spoke to the different brands from across sectors to know how they are planning to make the best out of the year-end sales.
Clicking with the customer through social media
Social media from the very onset was more of a Gen Z phenomenon and it helped them to be socially connected. But, over the years, the space has seen a lot of brands actively creating their customer base through the changing norms of social media. Social media is today a business ground and the retail sector has witnessed a majority of customer orders coming via online channels, including their social media pages.
Social media is as relevant for a brand today as other e-commerce channels, there is so much to explore, engage, and narrate on these platforms that brands are eyeing these as powerful ‘commerce tools’. Sameer Bhatia, Managing Director, House of Candy mentions that the brand has built a well-established relationship with social media influencers over the years, “These prominent influencers talk about us by promoting our gift boxes. They communicate our brand narrative and engage our target client base. Since the majority of our new-age customers are more comfortable with online communication channels, we depend a lot on social media to engage and interact with our customers”.
Influencer marketing is a common trend among brands and Anuj Mundhra, Chairman & Managing Director of Nandani Creation Limited ( Jaipur Kurti.com) also told us that “Earlier it was very difficult to maintain a direct touch with customers, but now, as we are having a strong social media presence the bonds gets tighter. The dissemination of content is 360 degree and is done across platforms to cover all consumer touchpoints, including all social media channels, emails, SMS, WhatsApp etc. Indian customers have started purchasing online as they have understood the importance of online purchase and are attracted towards the benefits, discounts, return/exchange policies etc”.
Prabhkiran Singh, Founder CEO, Bewakoof mentions that they are a trendsetter in the content-marketing segment and they are constantly planning newer ways to engage with the customer. Between October-December, they are planning to rejuvenate the brand completely to communicate the versatility of the brand across different market segments. As for social media and influencer marketing, they’re putting content marketing on priority and trying to fit in product promotion wherever possible. For influencer marketing, they’ve also tied up with multiple agencies and are using tools like Agorapulse to boost social listening and engagement.
Personal touch: driving a new trend of shopping
Today, brands and retailers merely don’t sell, they want to offer individualistic solutions. Especially keeping the festive season and the trend to shop for something unique among customers in mind, a majority of them are ideating innovative packaging, allowing customers to add personalized notes, or take recourse to initial engraved boxes to add that personal touch to their shopping. This helps customers sort their gifting plans with ease and makes them feel more secure with the retailer in question.
Raghunandan Saraf, Founder and CEO, Saraf Furniture when asked about this mentioned “Gifting is one of the main aspects of celebrations in India. Surely we have focused on these aspects for some time now. We offer flexibility to the customer and allow them to choose colours and also let them pair two different furniture pieces together leading to individual-level customization of the products”. Raghuram Kuchibhatla, Founder and CEO, Yes!poho shared that their brand Yes!poho is all about customization and believes that customers can create their own products by virtually trying it on themselves, share it with friends and family and then obtain feedback before making a purchase.
Staying steady and ready for the customer with technology-support
When planning year-end sales and keeping the volume of transactions in mind, it is time for brands to keep their storefront ready for the customer orders. It is all about getting the right set of technology at play to make it agile and seamless. Dolly Kumar, Cosmetic Engineer and Founder & Directors at Cosmic Nutracos Pvt Ltd. (parent company to Gaia & Skinella) in this aspect mentions, “At gaiagoodhealth.com, we provide live-tracking and same-day delivery in selected metro cities. We have expanded our presence to every digital touchpoint for instance CRED, Magic Pin, Amazon, Flipkart, and more so that customers can buy Gaia products from any of these platforms. We believe that by introducing these tools we have drastically improved our customer-base, as now we have a wider reach for the brand.”
Ayushi Gudwani, Founder and CEO, FableStreet also talked about leveraging new technologies for her brand, “We have put the FS Fit algorithm, which is a proprietary algorithm for sizing. This tool provides more data and allows us to cater to Indian size needs with ease. The fitting we get now is more accurate and right for Indians. Other than this, we have leveraged our Martech potential through Moengage. We heavily use their funnel visualisation techniques to interact with our shoppers at every crucial touchpoint in their shopping journey. For example, Moengage helps us map out a customer’s user journey and recover abandoned carts, retarget customers who have visited our website, cross-sell basis historic purchase history. We also partner with SearchTap and use this tool to optimise our search algorithm, in order to improve the customer’s product discovery journey. This tool also has an auto-sequencing feature that helps us push our best-selling, non-zero inventory products to the top of the e-commerce page. The implementation of this feature is a work-in-progress.”
Chirag Taneja, CO-Founder & CEO, GoKwik that solves shopping experience related problems for e-commerce websites told us that major e-commerce companies are using AI and MI-enabled automation systems to solve problems by tracking and also analysing customer behaviour patterns and flagging high-risk orders. And, they are constantly working further on automation and other issues that D2C e-commerce merchants may face and in the process to create a unified commerce identity by democratizing the shopping experience.
Expecting a ‘Big success’
From social media to right branding practices, a galore of marketing strategies, offers, customisation plans and much more, the retail industry is certainly weighing high on the year-end sales. With expectations and sentiments right on track, here’s a passing overview on what some of them are expecting to achieve by the year-end with their customer-centric approaches.
Dolly Kumar, Cosmetic Engineer and Founder & Directors at Cosmic Nutracos Pvt Ltd.
“Our brand is looking to expand the portfolio for both the brands Gaia and Skinella by introducing new products in the market. We’re also planning to increase advertising expenditure for GAIA along with targeting potential customers through ATL & BTL.”
Dr. Himanshu Gandhi, Co-founder, CEO, Mother Sparsh
“We are looking forward to some new product launches, scaling up with new marketing strategies, and also adding new touchpoints with the overall stack.”
Anuj Mundhra, Chairman & Managing Director of Nandani Creation Limited ( Jaipur Kurti.com)
“Our company is planning to open around 30-40 retail stores all over India and the rest will focus on our Online Business Model by introducing New marketing strategies. Since, the company has moved to the main board of NSE on 02nd Sept, 2021, now we are looking for investment in the Company to make our company a 500-600 crores revenue generating platform.”
Raghuram Kuchibhatla, Founder and CEO, Yes! Poho
“Our brand is looking to introduce new products and expand horizontally into other sectors.”
Jatin Gujrati, Business Head, Vedix
“We will be diversifying the product portfolio and try to enter into new segments.”
Prabhkiran Singh, Founder CEO, Bewakoof
“Our company is planning to revamp the brand. Now, we will have a new look, logo, tagline along with a new set of celebrities that will endorse Bewakoof so we’re excited to roll out and create buzz around it along with backing it up with top-funnel marketing investments.“
Raghunandan Saraf, Founder & CEO, Saraf Furniture
“Our brand next year’s plan is to expand in offline retail by opening multiple stores in major cities.”
Akshit Goel, Managing Director, TNW- The Natural Wash
“Our brand is looking forward to launching a cosmetics range in this financial year. The brand is planning to onboard with a celebrity face to get the brand endorsed. In 2022, we’re planning to foray into offline and international markets.”
Sameer Bhatia, Managing Director, House of Candy
“Our brand is carefully strategizing the corporate and customized event segment to add bursting flavours of sweetened candies to the customers’ lives.”