Servicing customers through the pandemic: Alisha Malik, Vice President - Marketing and E-commerce, Metro Brands Ltd
Brands have to figure out new and effective ways to service customers in a seamless, convenient and safe fashion writes Alisha Malik.
The equation between brands and customers has radically changed with this pandemic. A whole new style of shopping is emerging which puts the customer right at the heart of everything the brand does today. While in the pre-COVID days, the customer would go to where the brand was physically available – stores, markets, public pop-ups or malls, in the post-COVID era, the brand is reaching out and going to where the customer is, which is primarily online or at their homes or residential localities. In this current scenario, the customers have got used to getting what they require at their doorstep. While many customers have moved to online shopping, there are many who still miss the pleasure of choosing, trying and then buying, especially in the footwear industry Brands not only have to be relevant in their product offering but also in the way they reach out to the customer and thus figure out new and effective ways to service customers in a seamless, convenient and safe fashion. The way we make our customers feel now, will also be remembered by them in future.
Here’s how brands can stay relevant in these uncertain times by prioritising customer loyalty above everything else.
1. Going Digital: As customers stay home and avoid venturing out unless necessary, it is integral that all their material needs are met online or through any other digital medium. Brands are more aggressively turning towards keeping their ecommerce sites up-to-date technologically; creating a diverse inventory and secure payment options to ensure the online shopping experience is as enjoyable as in a store.
They are also tying up with various online marketplaces to ensure their products are accessible to a wide range of customers across India. Though the footfalls have dropped due to this crisis, the good thing is that a whole new online ecosystem is emerging that is helping brands make up for their lost sales to a certain extent.
Marketeers are also moving their marketing budgets from offline medium to digital medium. With the drop in Top Line, it’s important to spending more effectively. At this point, it is crucial that brand marketeers are aligned to the change by optimising the spends, choosing the right mediums and maximising the reach. Though brands are spending less, their spends are more targeted and effective. Performance marketing should be the need of the hour to drive in the sales.
2. Dynamic Inventory: The pandemic has in a way, frozen all social life. Offices are shut, public places such as parks and gyms are best avoided and festivities have been so far subdued, because of which the demand for certain products such as formal/party wear, office wear or sportswear has taken a beating.
However, this new normal has increased demand for athleisure, work from home wear, comfort wear such as padded slippers, sliders and flip flops. It is important for brands to understand the change in consumer demand and stay relevant.
Also, brands must leverage Omni channel inventory that will reach the customer in every way possible. The festive season around the corner can help revive the magic as brands look at new and innovative ways to make their customers feel good after months of staying put and holding on to their purse strings.
3. Customer Centric Approach: Being creative and relevant, keeping the changing service needs of the customer is the key going forward. How creative you are in terms of reaching out to the consumers, will determine your brand’s longevity. At Metro Brands, our focus is always been customer centric and we have been consistently working hard to come up with special services for customers like ‘Drive Thru’, ‘Home Visit’ and ‘Pop up Stores’, which allow the customers to enjoy a safe shopping experience, without coming out of their comfort zone.
'Home visit' service enables the customer to enjoy a virtual store shopping experience via WhatsApp and then ‘Try and Buy’ from the comfort of their home. Through our ‘Drive Thru’ services, customers while seated in their car can try the products and make a purchase. What makes this initiative unique is that there is no condition of minimum billing or mandatory purchase to avail this facility.
Our ‘Home Shop’ Service is now also on wheels. We have started setting up ‘Pop-up’ stores in apartment complexes with the objective to getting closer to the customers. With the festive season coming soon, our Home Shop on wheels and Home Visit service, will surely make festive shopping exciting and safe for customer
At the end of the day, having a customer centric approach and building loyalty at the time of a crisis can either make or break a brand’s image. Whether it is reaching out to customers in creative ways, engaging with your own loyal customers ensuring that the brand messaging is consistent, positive, engaging and informative.
Around The World