Given the fact that shoes are our basic requirement and also a reflection of our life style is giving impetus to footwear sector all over the world. India being the second largest producer of footwear in the world after China is witnessing an upward trend in retail as newer channels of sale is emerging everyday and the most intriguing from the crop is Online Shoe Retailing. Although it has been there for quite some time, yet it could be termed as latest in India due to the fact that only recently, retailers, following the practice in west, are waking up to the fact that an online store presence supplements the retail sale. With Etailing, consumers can shop premium brands from the convenience of their home and get the best deal. What’s more, even websites(not supported by stores), housing a wide variety of brands under single fedora have been established as part of their experimentation. But, if these channels are successful is a big question? The article decodes both types to understand the mechanism of ‘Online Footwear Sale’.
The need factor
People today are exposed to all brands and they also have the desire and means to own them. Regrettably, the traditional system of distribution has its own bottlenecks so there is a gap between demand and supply. Further, the internet revolution has opened doors to a lot of possibilities and exposure to buy online, all thanks to various retail portals. Today, a customer has a wide choice in similar products that he can compare to decide on. What’s more, he can even get the product delivered at home!
Advantage over Brick and Mortar sale
Proof of pudding is in its eating and as new websites emerges every day; this is testimony to the fact that online shoe retailing has definite advantage over Brick and Mortar rummage, like;
• One can see more variety of products which cannot be displayed in a showroom.
• Comfort of shopping without leaving the house.
• Easy payment method and check out procedure to avoid long queue at the cash counter.
• Friendly Return and Refund policy.
• A platform to weak brands which do not find a place on store shelves.
• One comes to know of new offers first without going to the market.
• Showcasing of products to a larger geography.
• Great discounts and offers.
Moreover, since a retailer saves a lot of money by way of rent and other things needed for a smooth running of the business, he could afford to give deep discounts and offers.
Manmohan Agarwal of Yebhi.com (an online shoe sale website) says, “It is a mutually symbiotic relationship and both are integral to modern retail. They are here to co exist and complement each other”. Murtaza Anverali of metroshoes.net agrees with the above, “It is imperative to have offline physical store to gain customer’s brand loyalty”. While Utsav Seth, CEO of Pavers England that runs an online store called paversengland.com reinsates what has been spoken by both as he puts in his own words," An online store is a supplement and not a substitute".
Such websites are more suitable for people who are looking for bargains. Fashionable people, office executives and housewives who would like to do shopping for the family will find great succor in deals and discounts that they will normally not get in store sale.
Basically, such websites run on world class software which they keep updated through various means. They issue new additions and run special promotions from time to time.
Agarwal, whose website houses multiple brands, explains, “Apart from bringing together popular brands, we combine offers, discounts, sale and free vouchers that attract customers to the website. This ensures repeated customers or loyal customers’. Adding to the above, Seth says, “Unlike Yebhi that depends solely on sale from website, our’s is just an extension of our store that gives us add -on sale and we too have offers and discounts like others”.
Anverali explains, “At Metroshoes.net, we do not believe in discounting the products, however we have come up with Wednesday offers were in we offer a particular pair at 50 %, and have also carried out off Line sale ( reduction sale) ONLINE, to have the customer experience online Buy. Additionally, we have a Club Metro CLP program, were customer gets points for online purchases.
Apart from advertising on different domains to grab eyeballs, more retailers are now gravitating towards TV commercials and print advertising for advertising space.
If returns are not handled properly , it can disappoint the customer. For example, in most cases, if the product is cheap, people do not return only. And also it needs patience for deciphering returns.
A user friendly return and refund policy through a dedicated team for customer support which takes care of not only returns but also help the customers in placing the order will ensure goodwill of the website.
Seal of success
Many websites disappear faster than they come due to their failure to keep pace with customer expectation and handling their grievances in a satisfactory manner.So, it calls for a good technology, sharp CRM and correct marketing strategy to get that seal of larger approval.
The domestic footwear market which is estimated to be over Rs 15,000 crore in value terms and is growing at the rate of 8.8 per cent will only grow further as the internet penetration increases. Undoubtedly, this is the future of retailing !