With coronavirus restrictions playing spoilsport for physical retail, an increasing number of local and regional brands are adopting e-commerce platforms such as Flipkart and Amazon on a massive scale to reach customers during this festive season. Walmart-owned Flipkart is hosting its biggest six-day flagship festive sale ‘Big Billion Days’ (BBD) and its rival Amazon is conducting a month-long ‘Great Indian Festival’ (GIF).
These brands are selling products ranging from traditional silk sarees, footwear to work-from-home furniture. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has accelerated the shift to online retail. The huge growth of e-commerce is driven by consumers in tier-2 and tier 3 towns. These brands are also discovering new frontiers and consumers by creating special product lines catering to a pan India market.
“Enabling brands to break geographical barriers and venture into the hinterland is an important focus this year,” said Nandita Sinha, vice president, events, engagement and merchandising at Flipkart. “This year, some of the traditional brands are exploring wider market access with us. We are enabling (them) to expand their reach and acquire more customers,” she said.
For instance, saree buying has traditionally been an in-store experience. But the Covid-19 pandemic is leading The Chennai Silks to reach out to customers in innovative ways.
“At a time when people could not directly walk into our stores, our collaboration with (Flipkart) has enabled us to maintain business continuity and reach out to a wider set of consumers across the country,” said P A Ravindhiran, general manager at The Chennai Silks.
As a heritage brand operating in the country for over five decades, The Chennai Silks is one of the largest regionally-renowned brands operating in South India. The partnership with Flipkart has provided the business with an opportunity to build a relationship with over 250 million customers online.
Flipkart has also provided The Chennai Silks with a deep understanding of what consumers are seeking. This helped it customise the offerings. For the first time, The Chennai Silks has co-created a range of affordable silk sarees that consumers can purchase conveniently.
Leveraging its presence of over 700 stores, Kolkata-based footwear retail player Khadim’s is closely working with e-commerce partners to service online orders from the stores. This is ensuring faster delivery and improving the customer experience.
Khadim’s has been operating in the country for over 35 years.
“We seek to delight our customers by expanding our online presence through a strategic partnership with Flipkart,” says Namrata Ashok Chotrani, chief executive officer, Khadim's. “We have worked with them to double our offerings on the platform, thus providing the best-curated experience for our customers,” she adds.
Khadim’s aim is to become an omnichannel business for consumers beyond its stores-through its website, Whatsapp bot and e-commerce marketplaces. Home delivery of products and easy returns is helping it to provide a seamless experience for new and existing customers.
With the rise of work-from-home, Flipkart’s BBD sale is helping Indore-based Bharat Lifestyle reach consumers across the country to meet their furniture requirements. The intelligence provided by Flipkart especially during the post lockdown period helped it prepare for the work-from-home furniture demand.
“While we continue to enjoy great reach and brand loyalty in Indore, Flipkart has enabled us to capture a much larger market,” says Prem Ramchandani, CEO of Bharat Lifestyle. Now with the festive season coming in, the firm is increasing its manufacturing capacities by 20 per cent to 9,000 units a month and employing over 500 people across the business.
Ramchandani began his entrepreneurial journey from being a craftsman to venturing into the furniture business with Bharat Lifestyle several years ago. It had limited access to the consumer base considering the asset-heavy nature of the business. However, after nearly 4 years of collaboration with Flipkart, a significant chunk of its sales are coming through e-commerce.
This year more than 20,000 offline retailers from ‘Local Shops on Amazon’ programme are participating in their first ‘Great Indian Festival’ sale event. Among them is Adith Electronics, a popular consumer electronics store in Hyderabad, which recently came online to expand its reach.
“I have always been intrigued by e-commerce, but wasn’t sure how my business could benefit from it,” said VR Chary, who runs Adith Electronics. “Our online business was extremely helpful in the last few months when the footfalls to the stores had gone down,” he added.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Orka, the decade-old Bengaluru-based furniture and furnishing brand also recently joined Amazon’s 'local shops' programme. It sells products such as bean bags, sofas, bunk beds and kitchen accessories. It has seen a surge in demand especially for work from home and study at home furniture. It has shipped over 2000 units of product assortment to customers through this programme. Orka is now working on its logistics and supply chain set up with the 'local shops' team to meet the demand.
“With the festive season kicking off, we are really excited and look forward to serving our customers in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Delhi and Kolkata,” says Chandan Kumar from Orka.
Amazon had also launched the Karigar programme three years ago to enable weavers, artisans, and micro-entrepreneurs to come online. Today, Karigar showcases over 60,000 products, including over 270 unique arts and crafts from over 20 states.