Companies are trying out new strategies, including launching their own e-commerce sites, taking orders via WhatsApp calls and organising swift home-deliveries as they seek to cope with a world that has been transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.
With footfalls in malls and stores almost disappearing, many apparel and home appliances brands are devising strategies to reach out to the consumer directly.
Benetton, for instance, plans to launch its India-specific website before the end of the year. While sales through online retailers such as Amazon, Flipkart and Myntra contributed roughly a fifth of its sales before the pandemic, it expects the number to rise to almost a quarter by the end of the year. Currently, only 77% of the retailer’s stores are open. “Online is seeing a big surge right now because of the current environment,” said Sundeep Chugh, chief executive officer, Benetton India. Similarly, LG Electronics India has rolled out its online shop for customers in nine cities after beta-testing its website last month. However, offline trade channels continue to be the backbone of the company in India. “Covid has changed the paradigm of how customers are looking at buying certain products. Online has become an important function, and we see that a lot of new customers are coming from tier 2-3 towns,” said Deepak Taneja, business head, online and e-commerce at LG Electronics. The company has seen online demand pick up in categories such as dishwashers, microwaves and washing machines amid the lockdown.
Bengaluru-based e-commerce solutions firm Tenovia Solutions, meanwhile, has seen its business surge by about 80% in the past four months because of demand for building e-commerce websites and helping companies maximise digital revenues. As Indian shoppers move online, there’s a surge in interest from companies that are keen to set up their e-commerce channels, said Murali Balan, chief executive and co-founder of Tenovia.
While brands expand their online presence, it will be hard for them to match the reach, depth of offerings and discounts offered by Amazon, Flipkart and Myntra.
Shuchi Bansal contributed to the story.