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Retailers take the online route to banish Covid fears

NARAYANAN V Chennai | Updated on November 02, 2020

From shopping malls to individual stores on high streets, the hustle-bustle of the festival season shopping is missing this year as consumers are wary of visiting crowded places due to fear of coronavirus infection.

But retailers are not willing to let the fear dampen the festive spirit of customers. From WhatsApp video shopping to augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) simulation, leading textile stores and jewellers in Tamil Nadu are leveraging technology and social media to offer comfortable, safe and personalised shopping experience for buyers.

Virtual tour

Leading brick-and-mortar textile stores such as Nalli Silks, Pothys, Sri Kumaran Silks, The Chennai Silks and Jeyachandran are upping their game on video shopping. Customers can book an appointment with these retailers by giving a missed call or WhatsApp message with their requirements such as preferred colour, brand and price range. At the appointed time, a store executive takes customers on a virtual tour displaying a wide range of products through FaceTime, WhatsApp or Skype to help them shortlist and order online.

“Currently, people are scared to go to crowded places. While some of our customers are still visiting showrooms, some prefer to shop through video calls using WhatsApp,” textile baron Nalli Kuppusamy Chetty said, adding, “Customers ask our executives to display all the sarees available in a particular price range and then order it to be delivered to their home or pick it up outside the showroom.”

Shoppers go online

A recent survey ‘Festive Shopping Index 2020’, published by the Retailers Association of India (RAI) and LitmusWorld noted that 75 per cent of consumers are planning to purchase through online channels while 66 per cent will consider standalone shops. “Customers do feel the need to reconnect with a sense of cheer and are slowly coming out to shop. However, they may not shop in the same way they have been shopping all these years. There is a lot of reliance on what is being shown to them digitally,” Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India said in the report.

Leading jewellery brands such as GRT, NAC Jewellers and Kalyan Jewellers also offer impeccable ‘In-store experience’ through exclusive video shopping facilities where a customer can view the entire collection of jewellery at the showroom, compare and shortlist; ask questions and make the choice through a live video chat session at a convenient time from the comfort of their homes.

Insta sales

All these major textiles and jewellery brands have a strong presence in social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to target young and millennial consumers. Even small neighbourhood stores are using these platforms to market their products to a wider audience.

“Lots and lots of new customers have come to our showroom after seeing our designs on Instagram. Even people sitting in the US and UK have sent their parents or cousins to buy a particular dress and get them stitched and shipped to them. In that way, these platforms provide a great opportunity,” said Ramesh Ramakrishnan, Founder and Managing Partner of Just Salwars.

Published on November 02, 2020

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