Bengaluru: Apparel retailer Madura Fashion & Lifestyle, part of Aditya Birla Nuvo Ltd on Saturday launched a new digitally integrated store under its flagship formal wear brand—Van Heusen—indicating the two-decade-old retailer’s push to morph into a more tech-savvy brand at a time when shoppers are switching to shopping on the Internet.

With sales staff equipped with tablets and virtual fitting rooms, the store is the company’s first attempt to allow shoppers to use touch-enabled screens to shop and pay for garments. The store also allows for shoppers to order unavailable inventory to their homes by linking the company’s in-house web-portal Trendin.com to the store.

Changing customer expectations couples with technology are influencing consumer choices far more today, said Vinay Bhoptakar, chief operating officer, Van Heusen, at the retailer’s store launch in Bengaluru.

The store—called Van Heusen Style Studio has been in the works for over a year. It will offer more expensive collections and a wider range. Built at twice the cost of a regular Van Heusen store, Bhoptakar said, five more such stores are underway in Delhi and Mumbai.

The retailer has partnered with Fitch Retail in Singapore to draw up the concept, with virtual fitting rooms sourced from Experiential Design Lab.

Diluted version of this store will be planted across the brand’s existing 275 stores, added Bhoptakar, indicating that existing stores will borrow technology elements of the new format in a limited way. Madura’s other ready-to-wear apparel brands including Allen Solly, Louis Philippe could too borrow from this format.

Taking cues from a surge of sale fashion goods on the Internet, most large traditional retailers in India are making efforts to venture in to online retail even as they try to preserve footfalls at brick and mortar stores. Most have found a midway in the so called “omni-channel" retail format that allows shoppers to seamlessly shop for online and offline inventory both within and outside the store.

Aditya Birla Group too has been stepping up efforts to catch shoppers online where more Internet focused retailers such as Flipkart and Snapdeal are biting in to consumer’s share of wallet.

In October this year the group launched its own fashion marketplace—Abof.com—privately held by chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla in his personal capacity. In 2013, Madura Fashion & Lifestyle launched Trendin.com—an in-house online portal—retailing its brands Allen Solly, Peter England, Louis Philippe among others.

Bopatkar, however added that such evolving retail stores are “not a reaction to e-commerce but a reaction to changing consumer behaviour." As a result, “the physical store will always be there, but role of the physical store has to evolve," he added.

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