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Zivame’s online success story leads the way for other online retailers to enter the O2O space

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Lavanya Pachisia, chief operating officer – Zivame shares the brand’s online to offline journey and learning over the years

New Delhi: Zivame has been one of the most early entrants to enter the offline space post creating a niche for itself online. In a quick interaction with Phygital magazine, Lavanya Pachisia, chief operating officer – Zivame shares the brand’s online to offline journey and learning over the years.

You have been one of the earliest players to set trend for O2O in India. Three driving factors that led to the foray into the offline space?
There have been a couple of factors that helped us foray into offline space. First, we wanted to create a physical centre of experience of the product in terms of fit and touch and feel. Second, it would assist in driving higher awareness of the brand. Third, offline stores would help in creating adoption amongst women who were not comfortable shopping this category online.

The criteria that was in place before narrowing down on the first store?
We had three criteria in mind. We wanted to consider prime markets which are considered the hotspots for branded retail. We wanted to cater to high density of evolved customers looking for a personalised experience. Additionally, we wanted to start our offline store journey from our home city- Bangalore.

Was the initial response received in line with the plan set or did it surpass/ underperform the set expectations?
The initial stores were not built to be commercial outlets. They were simply supposed to be experience centres where consumers could find their right fit, a great trial experience, and useful product recommendations to suit their outfit, occasion and life stage. They were also designed to serve as stepping stones for seasoned offline customers to experience online intimate wear shopping. However, we received great traction and positive word of mouth through the first stores. These quickly became popular destinations for trustworthy and educational experiences.

How would you differentiate your brand from other offline retailers in terms of technology deployment (those specifically that have had their base as offline and then moved on to the online space)?
Some technical factors assist us in creating that differentiation. Starting with a rich consumer data repository which helps us in building inventory intelligence and the right assortment for new stores basis our understanding of the data. It also helps us in identifying needs gaps, and deciding which collections and product families to promote in different regions. Secondly, we have maintained similar consumer experience of product and price across our online and offline channel. Thirdly, the feature of endless aisle, i.e., Buyers can place in-store online orders, which ensures that the physical limitations of a store do not affect the consumer’s choice. Lastly, our in-house developed technology of Fit Code. We have extended our revolutionary fit code to the stores, with the help of which customers can find their right fit without any interpersonal interaction, if they so wish.

Based on your experience in the O2O space so far, the nuances you had to overcome (could be from real estate, rents, HR, SKU mix etc.) and the ones that still pose a challenge?
E-commerce customers have visibility to the entire inventory of a company, which is not possible in a retail store due to physical constraints. Hence it can become tricky to manage the consumer’s expectations. Regardless, we have attempted to solve this through endless aisles, and having local inventory servers which can be potentially synced to provide customers visibility into the stock holding at their nearest store.

Another factors are the high rentals that imply that stores are often small in area, which really puts a premium on inventory intelligence and choosing the right assortment for the customer of that particular micro-market.

Talking about your customers; do we see any difference in the purchase patterns of your offline vs. online customer? Average cart value online vs. bill value at the offline store?
Offline stores have trained manpower for assisted selling, hence the contribution of innovation and specialised products in offline stores have been observed to be higher. Additionally, cart value, average sales price of each item, and units per transaction at offline stores is much higher.

According to you, the major factors that lead a customer to the offline store and do we see repeat footfalls or are they a new set of customers wanting to feel your brand before making online purchases? Or is it vice versa?
A majority of our customers shop both online and then offline- and vice versa. Also, there are customers who experience the product offline and that makes them comfortable to shop online.

How have you integrated your customer experience in this O2O space?
That has been done through variety of things like product availability, price parity, endless aisles and usage of similar brand elements across online and offline channels.

To conclude, top 5 major learning you may want to share specific to your O2O journey.
Our learnings have been multi- fold. We have an understanding of our consumer needs and gaps and addressing it through innovative products. We have maximised inventory across all channels through endless aisles. We have attempted to maintain pricing parity and of course providing a seamless shopping experience across channels.

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