Woodland, the footwear and apparel brand known for its rugged, close-to-nature image, is trying to come close to its customers with its online store woodlandworldwide.com. Launched in March 2012, the site currently features only the “hottest selling items from the brand’s Spring Summer 2012 collection,” says Harkirat Singh, managing director, Woodland. “Eventually, the website will have the entire range. We are building the catalogue,” he adds.
Websites like Myntra.com and Yebhi.com, not to mention global giant eBay, are known for offering a host of brands under one roof. Singh says Woodland needs an exclusive site that showcases its entire portfolio. As with most other sites, Woodland is offering added features like cash-on-delivery, payment with debit/credit card, cash card, mobile payment and free shipment. “The Woodland e-commerce experience will also help us reduce the carbon footprint.”
Reducing the carbon footprint is in line with the company’s vision of being an eco-friendly brand. “We have always been an outdoor brand and very much in tune with nature. It’s this connect that has been the soul of the brand,” remarks Singh. The company is planning to strengthen this image by changing over its entire range of shoes and apparels to eco-friendly products using a three-step process: using materials and chemicals that don’t harm nature, making the manufacturing process less harmful, and by promoting the brand along the same lines. As Singh says, “The intent is to make eco-friendliness our brand recall.”
Woodland has currently allocated Rs 50-Rs 60 crore for “product development and technology enrichment” for its manufacturing facilities. Singh reveals, “We have tied up with a German company, Desma, to ensure high quality on the product side. Footwear manufacturing has always been labour-intensive, involving cutting of leather, stitching, sewing and so on; more manpower means more mistakes. To avoid these mistakes, Woodland, in collaboration with Desma, would now bring robots in the manufacturing process. The new technology will take in automated designs and handle all functions using robots. It will reduce the manpower to one-third.”
Coming back to the other initiative — the website — Singh says, “It is a natural extension of our existing business. We see the introduction of this channel as an important way to connect with our customers. Woodland will also be bringing out a lot of limited edition products, exclusively for online buyers.” Singh adds the website has been doing brisk business since it was launched, even when the complete range is not yet available. “Online sales via the company-owned website are doubling every month and we expect it to be around Rs 20 crore within a year,” Singh tells optimistically.
With a host of online shopping websites already present and having made their mark, Woodland is not exactly the early bird. But the company is taking the virtual medium seriously. “Statistics say that online shopping in India is already on a boom. Retailers across categories are expanding product offerings, adding new features like cash-on-delivery, flexible exchange policies, free shipping and experimenting with social media,” Singh says.