Godrej Interio to focus on design thinking to compete with modern retailing

Sahil talks to Godrej Interio's COO, Anil S Mathur to get an in-depth learning of how the brand plans its expansion and the measures to maintain a mix-bag of online and offline retailing.
Anil S Mathur, COO, Godrej Interio

Consumers are changing and hence it’s a must for brands to change accordingly. Furniture industry in the country has seen huge leaps and bounds over the past decade. From local carpenters to branded stores and now these experiential centres, the buying behaviour has evolved and how. The furniture landscape in the country covers the entire gamut of activities, from sourcing, manufacturing and distribution to sales and after sale. This digital revolution has disrupted the overall business model inside out.
One of the country’s oldest premium furniture brands, Godrej Interio has recently moved towards strengthening its presences in the northern region of the country. Apart from an aggressive expansion spree, the company has placed Omni-channel strategies in place to gel with the storming digital format of retail in the country.
Sahil talks to Godrej Interio’s COO, Anil S Mathur to get an in-depth learning of how the brand plans its expansion and the measures to maintain a mix-bag of online and offline retailing.

Can you talk us through the journey of Godrej so far?
Godrej was an office space and a home storage company till about 2006 and that’s when we decided to move into the furniture business. We had about 25 stores with all Godrej products. After this we decided to have specialist stores because that’s what consumers really wanted. Our idea, when we started the journey was to create an environment where consumers could come and see good and well-designed products but later on we realised that why not create an environment where consumers could see how their homes would look like.

What were the major challenges at the time of switching to a new model?
Doing this required two things: one was to go in for comparatively larger stores and to create an ambience after studying how the consumer journey has been. The second requirement was to adapt adequate technology to meet such needs. We tied up with Dassault Systems and developed a software called “Room Planner”, where we made a library with all products we had. Here, a consumer can have a 3D view of his home. They could sit with our designers and develop the complete room plan. We realised that many a time consumers needed help in finalising their requirements.

What kind of franchising option do you look at?
We went for a two prone strategy. One was to have our own stores and another was to develop entrepreneurs and so, we went for franchisee stores as well. Here, we came up with franchisee model where entrepreneur would have the space and the manpower. We would take the complete back-end process on ourselves.
We came up with a flagship store of 20,000 sq ft. in Mumbai and now the second one is at Kirti Nagar, New Delhi. We are also coming up with the third one in Bangalore soon.

Godrej Interio is now aiming at Omni-channel strategies. Can you elaborate on your plan for the same?
Our whole strategy of Omni-channel retailing is to make our offline (which exists today) available and utilisable to the consumers online. If you see, there are online players who are now starting some stores offline. Our advantage would be that we have offline stores in various parts of the country, and how do you these supply chain to make it accessible to people who are not aware that there is an Interio store in their neighbourhood. Today, consumers go to different channels such as press, television, social media etc. and we need to be present in all these spaces.

What trends do you see in tier II and III cities in your space (furniture)?
The urbanisation is happening in India. Today, maximum job opportunities are in tier I cities but if you go to tier II and III towns, development is happening there on a larger scale as malls, food chains etc. are opening up. So, urbanisation trend can be seen here and when the connectivity will improve, states are taking about smart cities. There lies a huge opportunity and the Omni-channel will help us in making our presence in these cities.

Take us through a customer’s journey at an Interio’s experiential store?
When a customer comes to our experiential store we assist them in two manners. One, you can walk through and understand by yourself. There are room settings depending upon all kind of requirements you have. Big, small, medium all kinds of furniture and other products are available here.
Two, our designers are there to help you in making a right purchase decision after understanding your needs. These designers are well trained to fulfill your furniture needs. They will talk to you and understand what exactly you are looking for. They would discuss with you all aspects of your furniture requirements and even then if things are not gelling with your need they would take you to the room planner. Here they will take a rough dimension of your rooms, size, area etc. and will start placing certain products to give you a virtual feel of how your house would look.

Anil S Mathur