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Last Updated : Jul 08, 2020 08:42 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

COVID-19 impact: Retailers tap omni channel, social media to boost sales

Retailers body survey shows 67 percent consumers losing interest in shopping. Instagram prominent presence in sales strategy of firms

Representative image
Representative image

With ‘shop till you drop’ becoming passé in COVID times, retailers are finding solace in omnichannels. Since the national lockdown in March 2020, they have suffered the most, with almost zilch sales.

Though there were early signs, their cup of woes started overflowing in May. “Retailers selling non-essential items have reported 100 percent drop in sales due to COVID-19. Non-essential sales have seen a frightening drop from 50 percent in March 2020 to 80 percent in May,” Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India (RAI), had told Moneycontrol in May.

In June, RAI conducted a consumer sentiment survey. It only brought more bad news to retailers. A majority (67 percent) of consumers showed little to no excitement in shopping, post the lockdown, found the survey.

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Enter Omnichannels

An omnichannel strategy is designed to optimise sales by creating a seamless customer experience across all channels and customer touchpoints, from brick-and-mortar to online and mobile web browsing.

How are retailers looking at it?

Sanjay Vakharia, CEO, Spykar, believes “in these times, a multi-channel approach is crucial for every brand. Every cross gives businesses a chance to reinvent, evolve and come back stronger.”

For Abhishek Ganguly, General Manager, PUMA India and Southeast Asia, it’s all about customers. “The main focus is to enhance customer convenience. We will integrate our offline, online and social media channels to give them the choice of product discovery, trial, purchase and engagement,” he said.

Unlock 1.0 has certainly brought relief to the dampened spirits in the retail sector. But it is far from what is cherished. Though 85 percent retail space is now operational, customers are still skeptical to be out shopping. Metros like New Delhi and Mumbai are the worst hit, and they are also the biggest fashion markets in India.

A premium clothing brand Madame said that hi-street stores in Tier-II Tier-III towns are doing almost 40 percent business compared to last year. Malls are hit bad, contributing to only 10 percent business compared to last year.

They hopes, too, hinge on online platforms. So far, for Madame, online business is stable and continues to produce the desired results.

The omnichannel experience on social media focusses particularly on Instagram. “The shop feature on Instagram is something we are leveraging, given that customers are currently spending the maximum amount on social media,” Vakharia said.

Social media buffs can now buy with ease — without having to log into a retailer's site when they see a product they're interested in.

Social media is a huge part of a good omni-channel marketing strategy with most millennials hooked on to Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Pinterest, said experts.

Akhil Jain, Executive Director, Madame, said: “Ecommerce sales have picked up due to the redirection of inventory from brick-and-mortar shops to the likes of Myntra, Ajio, and the brand's own official portal.”

“In a lot of stores in small towns or neighbourhood markets, personalised selling is happening. Customers are either coming at the prescribed time to ensure social distancing or stores are sending images over WhatsApp and delivering products personally,” Jain said.
First Published on Jul 8, 2020 08:35 pm
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