Manohar Chatlani, Chairman and Managing Director, Soch
“I think we have overestimated the prospective of this virus (COVID-19) to do harm. It is not as deadly or as dangerous as we think. It spreads faster than any other virus we have known so far. If we can overcome this fear, business will slowly come back to normal. Besides sanitizing and cleaning stores the government will have to think about public transport where people have the confidence to use them. Of course, to attract customers we will have to offer good discounts that are better than online discounts and newer merchandise than online. It is a question of time as public memory is short and things should become normal fast. I am hopeful.”
The biggest challenge that Indian retailers face today is to remove fear about COVID-19 from customers mind. “Few ways we can achieve this is by assuring a safe environment by sanitizing, gloves , face masks , maintaining social distancing , ironing, steaming or using ultra violet rays on garments that are used for trail to generate customer confidence that if they visit our stores it will be virus free,” said Manohar Chatlani, Chairman and Managing Director, Soch at Webinar #2 organized by DFU Publications-DFU LIVE in association with TRRAIN on the theme: ‘Consumer Bulao, Retailer Jitao’ (Spiking Consumption, Winning the Customer Back).
Overcoming fear to normalise business
Chatlani observed, the fear will take some time to disappear. “We don’t know how long we can sustain our business with this kind of fear. We have to get rid of it as I believe we have overestimated the harm that this virus can do us,” adds Chatlani. According to him, it is not as deadly or as dangerous as we think. “It spreads faster than any other virus we have known so far. However, if we overcome the fear our business will slowly come back to normal,” he says.
Boosting customer confidence
Apart from sanitizing and cleaning stores, Chatlani advises the government to revamp public transport so that people can use it confidently. “Of course, to attract customers we will have to give better discounts and merchandise than what online brands offer,” he states.
Chatlani also advises brands against advertising in newspapers as people are afraid to use newspapers lest they contact the virus. “What I do is that I iron the newspaper as it comes so that the heat kills the virus,” he informs. However, he feels, it’s just a matter of time before things become normal as public memory is short.
Currently the business being generated is from the pent-up demand. “This pent-up demand may last for a few days or a week or 10 days. Once customers start venturing out of their homes, they will become bolder. They cannot be confined to their homes for too long. Already they are tired and fed up of sitting at home,” Chatlani sums up.