Covid-19 lockdown has forced many small and medium kirana retailers to go online? What is your strategy for kirana digitisation?
E-commerce and digital adoption were already growing but with the need for social distancing and lockdown accelerating the traffic towards online has led to an increase in online shopping spends. To stay abreast of the customer demands and ensure business continuity, it important for companies to adopt multiple channels of retailing including digital and physical approach.
Technology adoption has been helping businesses in the smooth day to day operations and effective management. At LOTS, we believe in providing a personalised experience with a blend of technology. We have adopted an offline to online (O2O) strategy to provide a multi-channel integration, which helps us fulfil the business needs of our members. During the lockdown period, we have seen a huge surge in demand coming through our e-commerce platform which complements our physical presence. To provide more convenience to our members especially kiranas, our Sales Force app coupled with technologies such as geo-tagging enables real-time inventory management allows us to predict buying patterns and meet our customers’ requirements.
The company has been successful in building and developing a stronger bond with our members by continuously providing maximum stock availability, transparent pricing, timely delivery and a great experience through our O2O strategy. We will continue to deliver enhanced technology methods to our members for their ease.
Covid-19 lockdown also caused unprecedented growth in essential items like groceries. For LOTS Wholesale Solutions, how was the lockdown period? Did you see any visible impact on your business?
Covid-19 has brought about significant change and a marked difference in consumer buying behaviour throughout the lockdown period. With the increased spending in the FMCG category by households, we have seen significant growth in various segments like sales of commodities, hot beverages, snack options and packaged food.
The first phase being marked by panic buying resulted in bulk purchases of essential commodities and FMCG food products. The second phase witnessed ease and calm among the consumers, as they saw the availability of all the essential products across all LOTS stores. Ready to eat meals including frozen snacks witnessed increased attraction from consumers during this phase and led to increased sales in this category. Whilst in the third phase of lockdown, consumers continued to focus on snacking options, with more emphasis on premium and healthy snacking options, biscuits, processed food items, packed snacks, and green vegetables. There has been an increase in the sales of dry fruits and the non-veg category as well. Recently, we have seen the trend of our customers becoming more brand and health-conscious as the demand for branded hygienic products has increased.
As a result, the average purchase value per customer has gone up and this has led to growth in our overall sales. We have recorded a growth of more than 80 per cent during the lockdown time frame as compared to the same last year.
An unlocking exercise has begun nationwide. Which are your up-ticking categories now?
Given the current scenario and with every passing day, customer behaviour has been changing. During the lockdown phase, the purchase of commodities and packaged food was high as consumers focused on stocking of day to day essential items, majorly in the food category. But with the reopening of the market, we are witnessing an increase in demand for other categories besides commodities and food items like skincare, haircare, beauty etc. Another segment that has emerged stronger than ever is health & wellness. With the workplace reopening and people stepping out, there has been a heightened need for clean living. They are more cautious and are purchasing hygiene essential products including hand wash, sanitizers, soaps, disinfectants etc.
Covid-19 has disrupted distribution channels as the sole focus is on online channels. What would be your distribution expansion strategy as we go forward?
At LOTS, customer centricity is pivotal in everything we do. Through our continuous efforts and the essential stock availability has helped us meet all our consumers’ business requirement.
Keeping in mind the changing times and ever-evolving market demands, we have put a lot of emphasis on our supply chain and inventory managing. Our supply chain management is flexible, scalable and sustainable and evolves constantly as per changing requirements in the retail landscape, customer needs and behaviour.
LOTS being a trusted partner to its members believes in going the extra mile to ensure customer satisfaction and aims to provide a hassle-free shopping experience. Keeping in mind the challenges posed by Covid-19 and the need to maintain social distancing atstores, we are taking orders through our e-commerce (lotswholesale.com) and are directly delivering to our customers at their doorstep in regularly sanitised vehicles.
Following a cluster approach, we have set up our stores close to our customers. We will continue to follow the same and keep serving our members better with more focus on quick delivery and efficient supply chain.
What is your strategy to fulfil contactless shopping?
As markets re-open, there is a growing need to provide a quality shopping experience with more focus on hygiene and wellness. Our priority has always been the safety and wellbeing of our employees and customers. Keeping the same under consideration, we are working actively to minimise the physical touchpoints at our stores. Various facilities of digital payments through QR code scanning has been enabled to reduce the check-out time as well.
With the core thought of having technologically driven innovation at the centre of our business model, we are merging new age technology across all functions to enhance our members overall service experience. We are encouraging them to order through our e-commerce platform and our Sales Force app to avail lots of benefits and direct doorstep delivery.
What is your strategy to adopt new normalcy?
During Covid-19 lockdown phase, despite the challenges and disruptions, at LOTS with our continuous efforts, we have made sure to deliver the best of facilities to our members with relevant essential assortments and availability.
Keeping our customers’ requirements in mind, we have regular offers and bi-monthly campaigns such as Yellow Coupons, beverage festival and other seasonal offers for them, which ensure to pass on the benefits and help them save more with every purchase. Through our e-commerce portal and Sales Force app, we further aim to enhance the overall shopping experience and assist our members in the smooth functioning of their day-to-day operations.
Completing 2 fabulous years of operations in India, LOTS will keep working towards the satisfaction of its members and will continue to provide them with the best services.