Innovation is the latest buzzword in the retail industry. Buoyant domestic demand for better goods and services and increase in the disposable income have added fuel to the fire giving impetus to innovations in every category. By adding innovative products retailers are boosting the footfalls. By bringing in innovations manufacturers are changing the face of the retail industry.
Innovations provide solutions
‘Customer is the King’ says every astute retailer. Products with additional functionalities and value add-ons have replaced the ordinary utility products. Manufactures have undertaken detailed market study to find advanced solutions to address the challenges in the existing stock by making huge investments in R&D to launch some innovative products. Skechers has launched Shoe Collection ‘Shape-ups’ for women to promote weight loss, tone and firm thigh muscles, and improve posture of the body. Vimal has come up with DEO2 anti-fungi fabric. Woodland has introduced Yoga collection suits to absorb moisture during workouts. Oxemberg Div, Siyaram has created Rainwalk trousers to address the problem faced by consumers in the monsoons. LNJ Denim has designed anti-odour, anti-bacterial Denim fabric with 99 per cent efficiency of killing bacteria etc.
Megha Poddar, Director, Siyaram says, “Our collection is to give solution to the mass market. People in Mumbai and other rain-driven areas would definitely keep our rainwalk trousers in their wardrobes. Further, it definitely poises brand position.”
Retail outlets stocking such innovative and advanced-quality products in apparels, or footwears, etc have an edge over others as these products make them ‘special’ destination for consumers. In common parlance, if a retail store lacks upcoming variety of stock, he lags in the competition.
“We feel that the innovations are required to create a new identity of the organisation. Today, the entire world is customer oriented, and we have to make the customer realise its real essence by making better and more meaningful, useful garments,” opines YC Gupta, Chief Executive - LNJ Denim Business, RSWM Ltd, LNJ Bhilwara Group.
Further, innovations break monotony, boost revenue generation through value addition, and most crucial, create long-lasting impression on the consumer and earn their credentials.
Retail channels and pricing
The retail channels for such innovative products are decided based on the target audience, For instance, Dhama Apparel Innovations Ltd aims at reaching the doctors and hospital chains and pharmaceutical stores to educate people about their pain relieving systems- ClimaWare Tennis Elbow Pack and ClimaWare Jackets; and sports retailers at Golf Clubs in Hyderabad for its innovative shoes incorporated with heating/cooling effect technology. This is because the products are for elite class and not the masses. The pack is priced at Rs 5000-6000 whereas the shoes are priced at Rs 7000-8000. However, for Oxemberg (Siyaram), the case might not be the same. The company has launched its Rainwalk trousers, priced at Rs 1199, at all its shops (both EBOs and MBOs) evenly for masses.
Depending on the category, the innovative products are available at exclusive stores, multi-brand outlets, and shop-in-shops etc. Such products are initially manufactured on a small scale and depending on the customers’ good response the production increases. Pricing is also decided keeping in mind the target audience with the hope to make the product a success and not focusing on higher margins for its ‘exclusive’ feature.
Behind the scene
To make such products a success promotion is vital. Communication at point of sale best suits the purpose. Presentation plays a crucial role in communicating clearly about the product. In today’ scenario attractive visual merchandising can come in handy.
“We position our product with standout POP in most cases that helps us to explain and market the product in the most informative way. It is very important to catch the consumers’ attention once they walk into a store and visual merchandising has a strong part in that. The entire communication is kept direct, simple and catchy,” asserts Ria Guha, Brand Head, Skechers.
Neat and simple display without overloading the shelves with SKUs (Stock Keeping units) would enhance the look.
For Skechers, Vimal and LNJ Denim, following works to promote and sell the ‘special range of product line’,
- Training: Educating the staff and the retailer about the benefits of the new product by direct visit through demonstrations, presentation campaigns.
- Stock backup: The retailer should store additional stock besides those displayed for sale to suffice the increasing demand from the customers. Guha, reveals, “We keep the product at least thrice extra in the retail warehouse whenever a new launch enters the market.”
- Promotional Practices: In-store branding for MBOs and posters for EBOs are employed. MBOs are exclusively chosen by the manufacturer to conduct shopper marketing. Aiming squarely at increasing the footfalls in the store, various schemes, gift vouchers etc are offered.