How the Offline-to-Online transition is powering retailers in COVID times

With the COVID-19 outbreak and home-quarantine regulations, it became increasingly important for brands to live up to their promise of inspiring a healthier lifestyle and ensuring the wellness of our consumers without stepping out of home.

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While retailers focus on keeping shelves stocked and protecting customers and workers, the go-to-market strategy has shifted much of the brands' focus to digital platforms.

Vishal Shah, Founder and Managing Director, Storia Foods & Beverages, informed Adgully, “In past few months, Storia has created its presence in modern trade and e-Commerce channels to grow the reach of its product to consumers. With the help of retailers’ push and distribution reach, we have enjoyed heavy visibility across all consumer age groups. We’ve received a lot more queries and traction from consumers and business partners alike from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities as the consumers are seeking towards healthier options. Through our latest offering, we want to offer convenience to consumers to access range of Storia products and avail discounts on our recently launched D2C website”

The future of retail is increasingly shifting towards online, with the opportunity to engage with the consumers directly. However, it became a little easier for the brands which had already gone online before the lockdown started.

Sanah Shah, Merchandiser and Media Manager, FUEL, added here, “We had begun the process of going online a few months before the lockdown. While the global pandemic did act as a catalyst for us to work harder to go online as soon as we could, it was not the primary reason for us to take up the task. We mainly decided to go online as most of our NRI and international clientele were unable to shop from our stores from the comfort of their homes. This problem became even more prevalent when the pandemic hit. During the lockdown, we had to work around various speed bumps to get the site live by July 24 as most of our teams were working from home.” 

As it became necessary for the brands to go online, it was equally important for them to create awareness about them going online.

Rimo Bose, Corporate Communication Manager, TCL India, remarked, “Social media is our first channel of communication, we make sure that all pur offers, product details are present and updated. Online PR also plays a major role in dissemination of information.”

Shikhee Agrawal, AVP, Kiehl’s India, added here, “We keep our consumers constantly updated about the USPs of via our social media handles. The new E-Boutique is intuitive, user-friendly and aspires to replicate the Kiehl’s experience digitally. With a sophisticated user-interface designed to make shopping online a fulfilling experience, the website is optimized for mobile phones and desktops.” 

Working remotely for the first time and going online was a challenge for most of the brands, shift in the audience, distribution and co-ordination was a task for everyone.

Rimo Bose said, “The challenge initially was the understanding the audience demand and then how to direct them towards online platforms like Flipkart’s and Amazon. Also, to educate customers about benefits of going online.”

Sanah Shah added here, “The only and biggest challenge we faced was that goals were being met more slowly than we had anticipated as we found it hard to coordinate among all our teams working remotely.” 

The lockdown came right before the summer season. Many brands that rely heavily on the season were impacted substantially due to complete country wide lockdown. Supply and distribution also came as a challenge to the brands.

Vishal Shah said, “With the support of our stakeholders, we have been able to pivot very quickly and mark our presence in medical and grocery outlets that were not in our ecosystems before to prevent any revenue drops in the retail markets. E-commerce has been a silver lining and we are very grateful for the traction received online.”

In spite of all the challenges, the supplies were maintained across all markets, and brands ensured consumers had access to their products.

“We are trying to ensure that we can meet the demand and operate at an optimal level to cater to our consumers with their favourite Storia products. Safety of the customers and employees is of the utmost priority to us,” asid Storia’s Shah.


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