With almost everything going online, traditional businesses that never existed on E-commerce platforms have also been forced to take the E-com route and in a very short time have adapted to a new normal. One of the worst-hit sectors by COVID-19 is the fashion retail space and it is not easy to imagine a contact-less shopping experience while shopping for clothes or apparel.
The nation-wide lockdown is slowly being lifted across orange and green zones and life is slowly crawling back to a new-normalcy. Fashion brands are now are making their way back into malls and their standalone stores; planning their communication plans for a new world post the COVID-19 lockdown, keeping a note of some of the new buzz words such as ‘social distancing’, ‘contactless shopping’ and the latest one; ‘atmanirbhar’.
In this story of Medianews4u’s new brand series, Back to Business, we spoke to Siddharth Bindra, MD, BIBA.
How are you coping with the impact of Covid-19 on BIBA? How effectively have you used the lockdown period?
The fashion retail sector has been the worst hit. We as a brand have maintained the pace throughout this lockdown and have focused on engaging with our customers. As consumers are social distancing and working from home, they’re spending more time online, we have gotten more creative through effective messaging and communication to engage with our audience. The internal teams have been involved with many projects and getting ready for a comeback.
The quest for a solution to a particular crisis helps invent new business opportunities and sometimes leads to a revision of existing business models … What sort of innovation has or will the Covid-19 pandemic bring to BIBA?
I think adapting to technology and moving to digitization is something that this pandemic as made us all adapt to very quickly. This pandemic has made us relook at many of our processes and we have used this tie to upgrade ourselves digitally and become very agile. Innovation will come in various aspects of the business and in customer experience. BIBA is also introducing a line of fashionable masks which is what the customers are demanding today.
While some parts of the country have become Covid-19 free, cities like Mumbai and Delhi are still in a lockdown situation. How are you planning to resume business across cities that are not in the Red?
We have opened over 100 stores across India while not opening up stores in containment stores. We are going as per the government guidelines, taking all preventive measures to ensure the safety of our customers as well as the staff at every store. To ensure smooth functioning of business across the country we are following norms like provision of contactless shopping including touchless cash points while encouraging digital payment methods, regular sanitization of stores, and disinfecting all the touchpoints, crowd management, and so forth. And we are delighted that e-commerce too has started off and we have resumed operations through e-commerce as well.
What will be your communication strategy post the opening of the lockdown? What will be the objective of the communication/marketing strategy?
Currently we are focusing more on Digital marketing and ensuring that the stores are safe for our customers to come to. We have been communicating all the measures we are taking to ensure the safety of our staff and the customers. We are also driving traffic to our website since quite a few are preferring to shop online.
Customers who need to purchase clothes for summer are visiting stores and will continue to do so and we are using our loyalty program to reach out to them and communicate with them.
How did you keep the morale of the employees during this lockdown period? On a personal note, what kept you positive?
Employees look to their leaders and their behavior especially in times of crisis, it’s important to remain calm and manage the situation effectively in such unprecedented situations. During this lockdown we have focused on the well-being of our employees and training them on the precautionary methods that need to be taken in the future. We have created online training and learning modules to keep employees engaged.
Personally I have been spending quality time with my family, reading, exercising, planning the next steps for the Company and this keeps me motivated. I am positive that we will all come out of this pandemic together and be back for our customers.
What are some of the post-lockdown business strategies that you will use to bring the business back on track or at least get it in the right direction and also create demand for yourself?
This is the time to innovate and move to the digital space very quickly. We are working on some at our end too. Currently, our focus is on digital marketing, we are very active on our social media platforms and have been engaging with our customers through relevant content and online sessions. Post lockdown the focus will be on ensuring our customers feel safe coming back to the stores and get exemplary customer service.
There is a demand and many of our loyal customers are coming to us as we are opening. Women have not got the chance to shop for their summer clothes and kurtas are extremely comfortable, stylish and our range caters to their requirements across occasions. We are positive that things will start looking up slowly and steadily.