Economy

Planning to shop? Book an appointment

Forum Gandhi Mumbai | Updated on May 15, 2020 Published on May 15, 2020

Covid impact: Retail outlets are trying to get consumers back in the stores by controlling the crowd   -  Bloomberg

Players including Croma, Star Bazaar, Kalyan Jewellers enable customers to fix the time to visit a store to avoid the rush

As part of post-lockdown measures being taken to keep customers safe, retail chains are asking them to book appointments to avoid the rush at the stores. Croma, Star Bazaar, Tanishq and Kalyan Jewellers, among others, have begun such efforts.

“We foresee that, going forward, customers will display certain behaviours — they would either want to shop from the comfort of their homes or want to visit the store but be very sure that there is no crowding. All steps are being taken to maintain hygiene before they enter,” said Mayank Sanghani, Head of Operations at Croma. The electronics chain has resumed operations at 43 outlets out of the total strength of 160.

A recent survey by BCG Consulting stated that over 44 per cent of those surveyed would reduce their spending at standalone stores (Single/multi-brand) in order to avoid crowded places.

Retail outlets are trying to get consumers back in the stores by controlling the crowd. Croma, for example, has launched the “Connect to Croma” feature. Customers can either book a slot to visit the store or request for a call-back from Croma staff and complete the purchase without visiting the store.

In order to maintain social distancing, hypermarket chain Star Bazaar has introduced online queue management at two of its Mumbai stores that essentially enables customers to pre-book a slot online for shopping at the store.

“The initial customer reaction has been positive and we are monitoring this closely so we can firm up launch across our other stores,” said a Star Bazaar spokesperson.

Mahesh Tyagi, a regular customer at Star Bazaar’s store at Churchgate, said that the appointment system worked well for him. “Last week, I had to wait for an hour in a queue just to get inside the store. Today, I walked in at the time allotted to me without waiting outside even for a minute. But there was a lot of waiting at the billing counter since some of the billing machines were not working.”

Demarcated jewellery counters

While many may not consider jewellery shopping as a priority, Tanishq and Kalyan Jewellers are also offering customers the option to book a time to visit their stores. Arun Narayan. AVP, Marketing, Category & Retail, Tanishq, said, “Customers can take appointments either by calling our stores or from tanishq.co.in or from the google page of our stores.” Tanishq has resumed operations across 65 out of 328 stores across the country and over the next few weeks, it plans to open the rest of the stores in a phased manner.

T S Kalyanaraman, Chairman & Managing Director, Kalyan Jewellers, reckons that there is a pent-up demand in India, the UAE and Qatar. “Considering that the lockdown has coincided with the peak purchase/wedding season, we are expecting the pent-up demand for gold to resume in these markets,” Kalyanaraman told BusinessLine.

Demarcated counters for wedding, gemstone, diamond, or daily-wear jewellery is an added advantage during these times of social distancing, he added.

Contactless shopping

Retail outlets are also taking other steps to reduce touch points between customers and staff to ensure contactless shopping. Kalyan Jewellers, for instance, is deep cleaning everything on a timely basis, including counter-tops and doorknobs. Along with this, all customers of Kalyan Jewellers will have to go through a health screening with handheld scanners at the entrance and wear single-use gloves and masks inside the showrooms.

Tanishq is shortly introducing video-calling to help customers shop from the comfort of their homes. “Virtual Jewellery Try Ons is another interesting feature wherein customers can ‘try’ & ‘buy’ jewellery online that is being rolled out to some of our stores as well,” Narayan said.

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Published on May 15, 2020
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