Demand has been rising for last three weeks: Bata India CEO

June 04 2020

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 In an interview with IANS, Sandeep Kataria, CEO, Bata India said that the demand has been rising for the last three weeks and the trend is expected to continue as consumers start feeling more confident. "We are expecting a revival in demand by September with the onset of festival season," he said.

The company is working on various cost-optimisation measures including rental renegotiation, closure of unviable stores and digitalisation drive across the organisation, etc to eliminate redundancies, he added.

Kataria said that in tandem with the ongoing market trends, Bata has shifted its focus towards driving online sales and expanding its ecommerce footprint by ramping up presence in online marketplaces, rolling its omnichannel home delivery offerings through 900+ stores, increasing its pan-India footprints in order to meet customer demands.

"After grappling with severe business disruptions, we are back with safety and hygiene as our top priority. We are also recalibrating business operations with a strengthened product portfolio, a steady focus on cash conservation in the company and better online presence and services to ensure seamless shopping experiences for our consumers," Bata India CEO said.

"Change in consumer behaviour is bound to be a natural fallout of the on-going crisis. There will be a new order in place in the post Covid world, and health & safety will assume paramount importance for everyone," he said on the changing consumer behavior patterns.

Bata India is increasing the focus on our omnichannel approach where the online and offline stores are integrated seamlessly to be present at all customer touchpoints. "We are offering contactless home delivery services for the customers along with our delivery partners. We see demand picking up in Tier3-5 towns, where stores have opened earlier than in metros," he added.

Q: What is the Bata strategy to reopen the stores?

A: We are approaching our store re-opening with utmost care as safety of our Customers, Store Teams and Retail Operations is of paramount importance. Basis various directives received from the concerned Government authorities & learning from the best industry practices from various retailers across the world, we have created a detailed Store Re-Opening Checklist.

This instruction manual has been translated into 11 regional languages so that it's understood by our own and franchisee store teams. We have created an on-line training module & it has helped train over 6,000 retail staff via our e-learning platform.

We have sanitizers, gloves, masks, dispensers, quarantine boxes for tried shoes for all our stores.We have completed our entire drill of deep cleaning & sanitization and are welcoming customers back following best practices.

We would be using easy to understand marketing collaterals which enable the customer to know what steps we are taking to make their shopping experience safer & what care they need to take while they are in a Bata store. We are encouraging customers to try shoes themselves, make contact-less payments and insist on an e-invoice. Our contact centre is keeping customers informed about which stores have re-opened. While, half of our physical stores are already open, our online store www.bata.in is already offering consumers essential collections ranging from Work from Home, Fitness, Washable and more comfortable range of shoes.

Q: What will be the company strategy to evolve a portfolio of products in the current environment?

A: Change in consumer behaviour is bound to be a natural fallout of the on-going crisis. There will be a new order in place in the post Covid world, and health & safety will assume paramount importance for everyone.

Keeping the current situation in mind, we at Bata India, have curated a special range of Easy wash footwear, Work from home range, Back to Work and Fitness at Home collections for our customers. We are also rolling out sanitizing wipes, sprays for footwear and other protective equipment like masks and others as part of our bouquet of offerings.

Bata already has a range of anti-bacterial school shoes in market and we are looking to extend the same anti-bacterial properties to more of our products.

Q: What are the upcoming cost-optimization measures on rentals and unviable stores?

A: The company is working on various cost-optimisation measures, including rental renegotiation, closure of unviable stores and digitalisation drive across the organisation, etc to eliminate redundancies.

Q: How will the neighbourhood stores (In-stores) stay relevant?

A: Being aIndia's leading & most trusted footwear brand, Bata caters to varied needs and requirements of customers of all age groups through company owned stores, franchise stores and multi brandoutlets.

Bata has 1,600+ stores reaching consumers in more than 600 towns.

We understand that consumers might feel apprehensive in stepping out to shop for a while. That's why we are following 20+ point checklist to ensure safety of our customers, staff and stores.

As more than half of our stores are open now for different days of the week as per local state government guidelines, we are ensuring that we are communicating the store operations times to our customers alongwith store manager's number. Customers can call and request information about products, choose products by going over product pictures received from store manager over popular chat services and get home delivery of the chosen products. Neighborhood stores are also able to offer quick delivery on same day in most cases.

Q: How is Bata expanding the ecommerce footprint due to the pandemic?

A: In tandem with the ongoing market trends, Bata has shifted its focus towards driving online sales and expanding its ecommerce footprint by ramping up presence in online marketplaces, rolling its omnichannel home delivery offerings through 900+ stores, increasing its pan-India footprints in order to meet customer demands.

In addition, consumers are shopping from our existing online store www.bata.in that offers a wide product assortment, free home delivery, and multiple payment options. The delivery can happen in over 1,300 cities and towns.

Q: What in your estimate will be the impact of the pandemic on consumer behaviour and demand and how will Bata navigate this?

A: Change in consumer behaviour is bound to be a natural. There will be a new order in place in the post Covid world, and health and safety will assume paramount importance for everyone.

Brands that employ the best of safety measures, right from the production stage to, the final delivery of the product are certainly going to be in vogue and find more takers. Consumption through online channel will increase as some consumers will be wary of stepping out of their homes. They will prefer shopping from neighbourhood stores also.

We have always banked on our resilience to navigate through trying times and emerge stronger. As an organization, we remain empathetic towards all our stakeholders and strongly hold on to our inherent values of putting people first, something that has always helped us make a strong comeback amidst unprecedented situations and this time too, it is no different. After grappling with severe business disruptions, we are back with safety and hygiene as our top priority.

We are also recalibrating business operations with a strengthened product portfolio, a steady focus on cash conservation in the company and better online presence and services to ensure seamless shopping experiences for our consumers.

Q: What is the Bata growth strategy post lockdown?

A: We are increasing our focus on our omnichannel approach where the online and offline stores are integrated seamlessly to be present at all customer touchpoints. We are offering contactless home delivery services for the customers along with our delivery partners. We see demand picking up in Tier3-5 towns, where stores have opened earlier than in metros.

The demand has been rising for the last three weeks and the trend is expected to continue as consumers start feeling more confident. We are expecting a revival in demand by September with the onset of festival season.

(Sanjeev Sharma can be contacted at sanjeev.s@ians.in)


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  • Source
  • IANS