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“Non-Metro cities have gained higher sales this festive season”: Vipul Mathur

In a conversation with Indian Retailer, COO, Vipul Mathur, Mufti reveals why non-Metros have done better sales than Metros, is ecommerce an opportunity or a challenge and more.

Tags: Mufti, retail expansion, Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle

BY Shwetha Satyanarayan  |  October 30, 2018  |  comments ( 0 )  | 
“Non-Metro cities have gained higher sales this festive season”: Vipul Mathur
Vipul Mathur

It’s that time of the year when there’s high decibel war on the ecommerce marketplace over seasonal sales and festival discounts. But how do you play the game as a non-discounted brand and still be ahead in the race? While the market is bombarded with Diwali offers and discounts, MUFTI sticks to its differentiation philosophy.

Interview Excerpts..

It’s the season of festival sales, how is it been for Mufti so far?

So far, we must say it’s been good especially with the ecommerce retail boosting the sales. As a brand, we had three key things in mind for this seasonal sale- as the whole offers and discounted sales started in the ecommerce marketplace, we felt the heat but decided to remain as a non-discounted brand. Our focus was to offer value products and not simply discounted products, which resonated with the brand’s differentiation philosophy. Also, we expanded our footwear range ahead of the festival season and we introduced lifestyle range products starting with Bluetooth speakers. Since the seasonal sales will continue till the end of Diwali, for now, we can say we have had a good start.

But festival sales have become mostly about online discounts in ecommerce marketplace. Is that a challenge?

Well, the online channel makes us available in the cities where we are not present and it helps people migrate from unorganized retail to organized retail. Although the ecommerce marketplace uses discounts to lever sales, it helps brands during such sales by handling the existing inventory in a better way. Since ecommerce has the capability for high consumption, we get a chance to focus on fresh inventory. It’s sort of a win-win situation for both.  

How have the sales been this season in comparison with last year?

To talk about offline market, the overall physical retail itself has become stagnant. However, we were able to growth by differentiating our products, adding more value to the existing products and launching new product categories. As a result, bill value at stores goes up. We have been able to convert higher bill value this year, when compared to last year’s sales.

Do you think there have been unique challenges to this year’s online sales alone?

Well, it’s always debatable whether online sales are challenges or opportunities. For instance, never before in India was so much spent on marketing to convey the message to consumers to just go out and buy. Essentially, the idea is to make people buy from the sites and this creates more consumption. The positive side of ecommerce is that brands can display their inventory and introduce a brand to varied customers. The key highlight has to be that ecommerce has played a big role in educating people how to consume fashion- whether it’s using the right accessories or making right colour choices- it has helped people consume fashion in the right way.

So offline or online - which channel has performed better so far?

I am yet to get complete data on the online sales, but in the offline market, products with offers have higher sales in Metro cities and value products have higher consumption in non-Metros.

But have Metro cities recorded higher sales than non-Metro cities?

Interestingly, it’s the non-Metros that have recorded higher sales and have better receptivity to this season, which means they are festive sensitive and not discount sensitive. From the figures so far, this season, the non-Metros have gained better for us.  

Going forward, how are you creating seamless omni-channel experience?

We are working on several things and investing on tech capabilities to strengthen our tech facility is our immediate focus. In the first stage of this process, we are trying to facilitate tech support at stores. In the sense, we will create visibility of inventory at stores, and if a certain product is not available in the racks, a customer can browse through the collection in the online channel and if they are willing to wait, we will get them delivered to their location or they can pick it up from us. Moving forward, we are working on integrating our channels. For example, if a customer buys a shirt from our store in Pune and wants to exchange it in Mumbai in any store or even be it a Lifestyle or a Shoppers Stop, he will be able to do it. The program will be launched on experimental basis in Pune next year, and based on the results we plan to take it pan-India. 

What are your expansion plans and targets?

Where ever there is an upcoming market and there are people to consume fashion, we want to be present there. Having said that, we have 275 exclusive stores and our first target is to reach 300 stores. We want to open at least 30-50 stores in FY 20. Apart from that in April next year, will launch our accessories range. Soon, we should be able to close Rs 400 crore revenue and we plan to keep growing.

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