Fashion retailers eye digital push in stores to boost sales

Retail shops increasingly want to retain potential purchases lost due to unavailability of products, ranges or sizes


Max’s upcoming ‘endless aisles’ initiative links inventory and stocking data at its stores on a single network. Photo: Beenu Arora/Mint
Max’s upcoming ‘endless aisles’ initiative links inventory and stocking data at its stores on a single network. Photo: Beenu Arora/Mint

Bengaluru: Are you at a clothes shop, really like something but want to skip the long queue outside the trial rooms?

Is your size sold out? Are you in a hurry and would like the garment delivered home?

Come 2017, you can tick off all of the above—and more—at many retail fashion and lifestyle stores. So you will be able to order your garment in your size, try out a garment in front of a ‘virtual mirror’, and get it delivered home.

Retail shops increasingly want to retain potential purchases lost due to unavailability of products, ranges or sizes. As much as a fifth of sales are estimated to be lost because customers don’t find their size or product in stock. 

India’s largest value-fashion brand by revenue, Max, estimates that roughly 10% of its customers are lost due to out of stock products. To get around this, the brand is launching an initiative called ‘endless aisles’ in a few key stores in Bengaluru next year. This involves linking inventory and stocking data at all city stores on a single network. 

That network will be used to help customers order products that are out of stock, from ranges taken off the shelves or are not available in their size on the high street. Customers can either pick up their orders from a nearby Max store or have it shipped to them. 

“We typically launch 3,000 new styles (or a new range) every 60 days. So every 60 days the entire floor is changed and hence a lot of ‘out of stock’ happens with us,” said Vasanth Kumar, executive director of Max, which is owned by Dubai-based Landmark Group. 

Future Group’s retail chain Central has a WhatsApp group where customers can send messages, photos and videos of products they like and cannot find. Customers will be notified when the product is back in stock. 

“If a customer has shopped before at Central and visits one of our stores again and purchases only apparel, then along with the bill, we offer him or her a discount on another product category like 15% off on footwear. We call this coupon at the billing till,” Jitendranath Patri, chief of brand marketing and customer loyalty at Central said. Patri said the second phase of that initiative will involve collecting data on customer behaviour, analyzing buying patterns and then offering tailored or personalized coupons at the billing till. 

Shoppers Stop has earlier said that it will offer ‘Click and Collect,’ and ‘Click and Deliver’ by June 2017, which is aimed at helping consumers get products not available at one store but can be sourced from another in the same city.

Govind Shrikhande, managing director of Shoppers Stop said: “As customers are moving towards multiple screens and time becomes luxury, shopping needs to be seamless between channels. Click and Collect is an option for customers to order online and collect it from the nearest store or pick up point. It combines the efficiency of online with availability in the physical stores ensuring quicker delivery. Click and Collect is the normal online selection and delivery to the desired location of home, office, etc., and is already available.

Shrikhande said Shoppers Stop has envisaged an investment of Rs60 crore over 18 months, of which nine months have already been completed. “We target to be completely omnichannel enabling seamless integration between online and offline models by next June. We are targeting a 10% share of sales through online in three years time,” he said.

Jealous 21, a brand that’s part of Future Group’s Indus League Clothing Ltd, has a virtual mirror at its Indiranagar store in Bengaluru. Indus League’s chief executive officer, Rachna Aggarwal, said they are planning to introduce the virtual mirror in other stores too. 

The key question, of course, is whether any of this will actually boost sales. 

“If a retailer doesn’t take such initiatives they won’t be relevant with current times. It’s not so much about boosting sales (in the near term). The argument is that if you don’t implement ‘click and collect’ tomorrow, will that affect your sales next year? No. But if you don’t do that tomorrow will your sales be affected in five years? Yes,” said Ankur Bisen, senior vice-president at Technopak Advisors.

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