Footwear maker Bata seeks to continue its growth journey in India by realigning its retail strategy. Focusing on digital platforms, the company is putting up offerings on its website, Bata.in, and also looking at alternate channels such as WhatsApp in order to connect with its customers. According to the company, the easing of the lockdown has brought back 60-70% of the footfall in tier II cities and beyond; but only 20-30% of the pre-COVID level in the metros. Bata India currently gets about 6-7% of its sales from online channels, including e-commerce marketplaces and its own website. Thus, it is targeting digital novices as well as digital natives under its new strategy.
Vice President of Marketing, Anand Narang said, “Some of our core customers are not comfortable on the internet and hence, we have taken initiatives such as setting up mobile shops in apartment complexes for them.” A Bata Chat Shop has been rolled out on Whatsapp. It covers 600 of Bata’s stores across India, where customers can chat with their neighbourhood store to order products. The company has 1,500 stores in the country and 70% of them are currently operational.
The company, looking at digital ways, has scaled up its inventory and is delivering to more than 1,300 cities. Narang added that they have introduced apparel under the Power brand a few months ago in select stores. This range has now been launched online as well. Apart from apparel, Bata India is also rearranging its product portfolio with an emphasis on casual footwear instead of formal fashion. “We have brought out an easy-to-wash collection that enables professionals venturing out to wash their footwear after returning home, to ensure safety,” Narang said.
In an attempt to cut costs, the footwear company is now looking at the digitization of its processes as well. This includes connecting over 1,000 stores to warehouses for inventory optimization and becoming a paperless organization. VP Narang also said that the company is digitally connecting with its franchisees, who can now track their orders digitally. The company has cut down its overall marketing budget through the digital medium as well. Naturally, the share of spends on digital has almost tripled.