Nobody had imagined the transformation Indian retail landscape is currently going through due to COVID-19 crisis. The debilitating effect of continuous lockdowns has sent many retailers, especially those in the luxury segment, into a tailspin, with more consumers opting for delivery services, curbside pickups, online services and WhatsApp-based concierge services, says Yogeshwar Sharma, CEO & Director, Select Citywalk.
Consumers are either booking a slot online for luxury brands such as Bottega Veneta or buying products in stores and getting them delivered to their cars, says Deval Shah, Group Vice President, Reliance Brands.
Need for customer-oriented approach
The onus of making the shopping experiences impeccable rests on the well-trained store team. The staff needs to ensure that all their stores, including changing rooms and billing desk are sanitized, points out Anshuman Singh, Founder-CEO, Paul Adams. The team should also visit client’s homes with pieces chosen online or a catalogue, adds Divyansh Sanklecha and Vipul Pirgal, Founders, Curio Casa. This would allow clients to test products. Moreover, the staff needs to be service driven and find quick solutions to customers’ problems, says Yogesh Chaudhary, Director, Jaipur Rugsem.
Sangeeta Boochra, Owner of Eponymous jewellery brand, advises retailers to deploy VR solutions for store associates. Beauty brands like Kama Ayurveda have already replaced testers with virtual consultations and complimentary samples of new products. Their stores have been rejigged to allow fewer customers.
Bridging the online-offline gap
To leverage the growing demand for e-commerce, brands need to bridge the online and offline experience. Customer’s decision journey needs to be tracked to understand their changing preferences. Broocha, implements a mirroring 3D technology to offer in-store experience to customers, digitally to boost sales.
As customers are being more cautious about their purchases, luxury brands need to focus on offering more value for money products. They need to add meaningful value to their luxury offerings and make them more sustainable.
Domestic shopping to boost luxury retail
Indian luxury retail sector may benefit from continued closures of borders as more people may spend in India. Earlier, around 50 million Indians travelled abroad each year to meet their shopping needs, particularly during the peak months of May, June and July. Now, most of this demand is coming from within India. Indian luxury stores are dealing with lesser footfalls by adopting a highly personalized ‘By appointment’ strategy, However, this may reduce impulse buying amongst consumers.
Also, consumers may now prefer to shop in a malls as they have are dealing with the situation more effectively with employees dressed in PPE, temperature check, air filters and purifications.