As demand for high-end goods gradually returns with unlocking of the economy, Reliance Brands Limited that operates super premium labels, such as Diesel, Superdry, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Coach, Diesel, Gas, Giorgio Armani, Hamleys, Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade New York, Steve Madden, among others, in the country has rolled out “distance selling” for its regular shoppers.
The move has helped customers in 38 cities connect with store managers via video calls, e-catalogues with phone assistance and image sharing over WhatsApp and home-shopping between May and June.
The retailer has reached out to 1,50,000 shoppers in the 38 cities, selling over 11,750 units between 1 May and 15 June. Its executives made over 700 calls via Zoom and MS Teams, with over 3,350 customers billed, said Manu Sharma, group vice president business at Reliance Brands.
With fewer occasions to spend on expensive holidays and meals, shoppers turned to upgrading their wardrobes for work-from-home. Wealthy families, said Sharma, are buying kids’ wear, updating their wardrobe for business video calls and purchasing designer bags to mark occasions like birthdays, Father’s Day, anniversaries and even buying “promise rings” from Tiffany’s to acknowledge postponed weddings.
“There is lot of saving happening because you are not spending on a lavish restaurant booking or going out. So you are now moving back to the safest way of celebrating, that is probably getting something cooked at home and getting a couple of nice gifts to make the family member happy,” Sharma said.
Besides, with restrictions on travel—Indian’s affluent shoppers who typically buy high-end fashion on trips overseas—are likely to buy locally now.
Although the company’s stores in malls are opening up, with consumers refraining from stepping out, Sharma said they have accelerated their reach to their homes. The retailer started assisting shoppers with Zoom calls made by store associates from the stores who helped shoppers see and select the latest spring-summer 20 collection that had been lying locked down in its stores.
“We started doing a lot of zoom calls with friends sitting together on a virtual call in different places. We started showcasing some of the products to a group of friends when they were together,” Sharma said.
While, formal wear has taken a backseat for now, top wear, shorts, joggers and athleisure is doing well. “T-shirts, polos, are selling really well. Our kids’ wear brand Mothercare had a good run as babies outgrew their clothes in the last three months,” he added.
Sharma said the pandemic is also driving the company’s move towards e-commerce. “Last year, we would be doing typically 10 to 15% of the business online. But this year it is obviously a very high percentage. For the full year we think more than a third of our business will come from digital commerce channels.”
“Luxury will bounce back sooner rather than later. The core of luxury is to make one feel good and belong to a specific strata of society. These basic facts of human psyche will never change. Luxury will keep fuelling these aspirations and will remain buoyant,” said Abhay Gupta, founder & CEO Luxury Connect & Luxury Connect Business School.
Sectors like beauty, skin care, wellness, leisure wear, wines and liquor will see an early revival, he said, adding it’s not surprising that Reliance Brands is doing sales via Zoom, while virtual video walk through of stores is now an accepted reality.
Reliance Brands has the largest portfolio of fashion and lifestyle brands in the country with over 40 brands, largely popular international retailers, present in India through various brand partnerships. RBL operates 795 doors split into 450 mono-brand stores and 345 shop-in-shops in India.
(Shuchi Bansal contributed to this report)