We plan to open more than 125 stores of Metro, Mochi, Crocs and Walkway in the year 2018-19: Farah Malik Bhanji
We plan to open more than 125 stores of Metro, Mochi, Crocs and Walkway in the year 2018-19: Farah Malik Bhanji

While leveraging on consumer data to offer unique consumer experience, Metro Shoes is intensely focusing on its online channel to achieve the target of offering all-inclusive omni-channel experience to its consumers by 2020. In line with leading fashion and footwear brands, its overall ecommerce contribution in numbers is approx 3 percent which the brand is further planning to enhance. The brand is also planning to open 125 stores across Metro, Mochi, Crocs and Walkway in the year 2018–19. Thus talking about brands further focus on online channel and offline expansion, Farah Malik Bhanji, MD & CEO, Metro Shoes Ltd. spoke to Indianretailer.com.

How is omni-channel strategy paying off for the brands surge in online sales?
Omni-channel still has to evolve far more to make a significant impact on Indian consumers. For the last couple of years, Indian shoppers have only been buying online to reap the benefits of deep discounting. The Indian consumer is still maturing into one that will start leveraging the online channel for variety that is not available in their physical location, and offering that are tailored specifically to their preferences.

Offline retailers also have to ramp up their technological capabilities and leverage their customer data to offer a full-fledged omni-channel experience. Although they may be able to engage with customers at various touchpoints (online and offline), yet they have to track and identify the customer throughout their entire purchase journey during their lifetime.

How do you better leverage the consumer data?
In Metro, whether you buy a product in a showroom at Colaba, Mumbai or at Karol Bagh, Delhi, or for that matter on our own ecommerce portal, you would end up getting the same product at the same price. In case of size or exchange issues, the same can be facilitated at multiple points, offline or online – you would be treated as one unique customer within the company. It also enables us to leverage our nation-wide inventory to offer our guests the widest possible range at the touch of their fingertips, either with the service available in our stores or in the comfort of their own homes. It will eventually allow us to recognize a customer whether they enter a store in Jammu or access our mobile site and based on their purchase history, allowing us to tailor an offering exclusively for them.

What is your target for the online sale by 2020?
Our target for online sales by 2020 is to build the experience for the consumers coming online and shopping. Our experience is such that this age group is widely looking for the options online and we are sure to make a lot more changes for the millennials. The target is to run an experience and build an all-inclusive omnichannel experience given that our offline footprint is well-spread.

How do you cater to the ever-growing consumer aspirations and awareness of global trends?
With the advent of media, online offerings and increased global travel, Indians have become more style conscious. Fashion footwear with comfort is now the trend in the market. Given the growing trend of lifestyle and comfort we have introduced a comprehensive range of sneakers for men and women. In addition, we have launched an exclusive line of formal women’s wear with a special memory foam technology to cater to the needs of a rapidly expanding market. Theses ranges will be rolled out to all stores along with our new party wear collection.

We are trying to incorporate an element of comfort, be it memory foam or latex to each product as we fundamentally believe that no shoe should be uncomfortable. Boots, wedges and chunky silhouettes still see strong demand. In the high fashion category, the androgynous look keeps women looking iconic from brogues to derbies in a wide variety of colors. Ethnic wear such as mojaris and kolhapuris still work well with both Indian and western outfits.

For men, Bulky kicks are totally in trend this winter. Sneakers continue to be key for FW 2017 with chunky, maximalist soles taking focus. Formal wear with memory foam was launched this year and is doing incredibly well.

What could be the stores expansion plan for Mochi, Crocs and Walkaway in 2018 – 19?
We plan to open more than 125 stores of Metro, Mochi, Crocs and Walkway in the year 2018 – 19. The stores will be opened in a mix of tier 1, 2 and 3 cities with more penetration in tier 2 and 3 cities.

How much do e-commerce marketplaces and your own e-commerce contribute to your total revenue respectively?
The ecommerce contribution in numbers is approx 3 percent of our overall sales, but we know that it is going to be a sizeable portion. Offline shall remain a primary focus. Even in stable markets, online accounts for only 15 to 18 percent. Hence, we are yet to experience the growth. 

Further what could be your expansion plan of product portfolio along with bringing new international brands?
The footwear market has a high potential for growth considering many international brands in the premium and semi-luxury segment. In fact, the first foreign brand that has a 100 percent approval in FDI is a footwear brand. We understand that there will be more players wanting to have a piece of the growth trajectory of Indian retail.

While we are a brand for all footwear solutions, we also are now partnering with international footwear brands like Crocs for their distribution, expansion and launches in India. Besides being India’s leading retailer of fashion footwear, Metro Shoes also showcases a curated range of foreign brands which retail their products through our outlets. Our internal product portfolio is also rapidly expanding and we keep introducing new styles throughout the year remaining in trend with the latest styles.

What are the challenges still being faced post GST?
The impact has been neutral. Sales of products have not been affected. The latest move by the government to reduce the GST rates for leather accessories to 18 percent as against 28 percent earlier is also a welcome one. We have passed on the reduction in rates to our consumers. GST reconciliation with online players is still a challenge due to higher return volumes.

What is your current revenue and the target for the next fiscal year?
In the financial year 2016-2017, we have achieved sales revenue of Rs1040 crores and expects to achieve revenue of Rs 1250 crores in the current financial year.

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