How Future Group Turned Pandemic into an Opportunity

Pawan Sarda, Group CMO, Future Group- Digital, Marketing & E-Commerce, says, "During the pandemic, the biggest strategy change that Big Bazaar opted for was shifting to multi-channels or having an omnichannel presence."
How Future Group Turned Pandemic into an Opportunity
Pawan Sarda

Amid the pandemic, the Indian retail industry has witnessed a huge change in shopping patterns and consumer behavior, which has compelled traditional retailers to change the ways they retail. E-commerce and M-commerce have influenced consumer behavior by offering them various options to choose from. 

Pondering on the same lines, traditional retailers have diversified their offerings as per the consumer demands and recognized the need to move online. One such brand that shifted to digital retail quickly and adapted to the changing needs of consumers is Big Bazaar.

Shift from Offline to Digital Retail

During the pandemic, the biggest challenge for the retailers was to provide the customers with the essentials at their homes as they were confined within the boundaries of their homes and were skeptical of moving out due to the fear of COVID-19.

Pawan Sarda, Group CMO, Future Group- Digital, Marketing & E-Commerce, says, “Big Bazaar is known for offering essential goods to its consumers. So, just like other brands, it was also left with no other option than to shift to digital mediums. We have always been a physical retailer, yet we adapted to digital retail very quickly. In June 2020, we opened our online platform, in order to ensure whatever the customer needed from Big Bazaar could be bought by just a click on their phones.”

“We realized that restricting just to the website was not enough. There’s a large part of India that would want to shop through WhatsApp because they don’t have enough exposure to the online mediums. Therefore, we introduced WhatsApp shopping and observed a very good response. Later, we also started missed call shopping where one could give a missed call and we would call them back and take their orders,” he asserts.

2-Hour Delivery Service

Big Bazaar has been very agile in terms of understanding customer requirements. During the second wave, the brand was more prepared and dynamic in terms of addressing customer needs and wants.

“One of the major moves taken by us was introducing a 2-hour delivery. We launched this service because we understood that whatever customers order they need it instantly, as who wants to wait for 24 hours or 2 days,” Sarda tells.

Changing Consumer Buying Behavior

Consumer needs keep on changing according to the circumstances they are going through. For example, the first wave of pandemics created panic among the consumers and they hoarded the FMCG products. However, by the second wave of the pandemic customers were assured by the brands the supply chain won’t get impacted, and hence there will be no impact on deliveries.

He informs, “Initially, customer basket was restricted to selective buying. However, it changed as festivities approached and they shifted to premium selections.”

“As consumers were staying at home during the pandemic, so they opted for t-shirts and shorts, however, now as they have started stepping out, they are opting for options like chinos, dresses, casual shirts, trousers, and kurtis,” he adds.

Marketing Strategy

Digital marketing took the centre stage during the pandemic as consumers were glued to their mobile phones or laptops.

Sarda explains, “Our marketing is a mix of digital, TV, and print. We use different platforms like Google, YouTube, OTT platforms, and Facebook to spread awareness and assure conversions. Television is used at the national level, whereas as far as print medium is concerned we opt for releasing our ads over the weekdays as most of the markets are closed over the weekends.”

“Apart from this, we also depend upon influencer marketing at the local level in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerela, and Bengal to name a few. These local influencers create awareness about our products in fashion and food categories along with this home influencers help us with reviews and promos,” he further states.

Omnichannel: The Way Ahead

During the pandemic, various leading brands adopted an omnichannel strategy to sustain in the never-seen environment as an omnichannel strategy assures consistent brand experience across all channels.

“During the pandemic, the biggest strategy change that Big Bazaar opted for was shifting to multi-channels or having an omnichannel presence. We decided to reach the consumers where ever they are. Similarly, the idea behind introducing phone shopping through the app, Whatsapp, and missed call was to reach our customers despite the restrictions and to keep ourselves afloat,” Sarda says.

“Localization of stores helped in catering to the consumers in a particular area. As soon as the customers select a store, the app shows the available merchandise at that particular store. We try and deliver the same experience when consumers are shopping online as we offer while they are inside our stores. At present, we have 286 stores in 150 cities, so it was easy for us to seamlessly deliver the same experience in all cities,” he concludes.

Pawan Sarda
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