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COVID Lockdown Completely Disrupted Our Sales: Gaurav Mehta, Founder & CEO, Jaipur Watch Company
In conversation with Businessworld online, Gaurav Mehta, Founder & CEO, Jaipur Watch Company, talks about the future of retail and how “shopping” is going to evolve post-COVID.
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Post COVID, how do you think the shopping experience will change and evolve as we open?
Lines between online and offline shopping have been in the process of blurring for a while. This pandemic has lent the final push that completely erases the line now. Earlier, shoppers would reply on salespeople to understand the products and make a choice. Today’s shopper does his own research to derive maximum value from the money they spend. This can be beneficial to smart retailers provided they follow the customer’s online decision-making journey, thus understanding their buying behavior which in turn will enable them to make better decisions for the brand.
The existing Brick and Mortar stores will see changes such as 1) automatic, cash-less payments (Amazon is already doing it with it’s Amazon go store) 2) digitized experiences of the product you intend to buy. 3) Sustainable products: Gen Z and Gen Alpha are all about the environment. They prefer to do business with brands that promote eco-friendly attitudes.
Shopping is a rather tangible experience, about touch and feel. Given the prevailing fear, how would the experience change? How would it affect your retail sales in the future?
Customers still want to feel right before they make the purchase, so it is up to the brand to make them feel it.
Digitizing the product experience for your customers is the way forward. Technology has advanced to a level where things that could only be experienced physically can now be experienced via simulations. There are innovative techniques that brands are working with today, such as no touch pop up stores (Tupperware).
At Jaipur Watch Company, we have always been about making the customer feel. We provide 3D videos of each product, so that the customer knows exactly what the final product will look like. Only once the customer is satisfied do we proceed to manufacturing the watch. So, far we’ve have received only positive reviews on the final product.
Pre-COVID we were selling at minimum 1700 watches per year. Then the COVID lockdown completely disrupted our sales. Going forward, the manner in which we retail will be different as mentioned above, the sales will take time, but soon enough the customers will be comfortable with the new normal and life will go back to normal.
What is the kind of shift in consumer behavior that you are seeing?
Customers are more comfortable shopping online and with brands scrambling to provide exclusive product experiences, customers are spoilt for choice. Even post-COVID, this is going to stick, customers would rather stay in the comfort of their homes to buy a product versus step out and make an effort to go to the store.
We often picked by watch connoisseurs, who have been a consistent customer base. As a preferred gifting brand—Many look at our product as a piece of Indian history or a souvenir that is a conversation starter. Most times, landscape shift in target audience happens, when we introduce new products… for example, when we had launched our 3D printed watch, we saw a lot of interesting inquiries from younger clients as compared to our regular age group clients.
For us customer data is everything. We have been in the business of selling bespoke watches for 7 years and the only thing that kept us doing good business was out ability to understand what exactly our target audience were seeking and providing them with exactly that!
Now, we intend to further strengthen this area by investing in the right technology to understand and keep track of customer-buying behavior online in these uncertain times—this will enable us to create and pitch the right products.
Do you think that discount percentage by brands help them get more orders as compared to their competitors?
Especially for luxury brands, it’s less about the discount and more about the product, the style and its stand/status in the market.
What are the new retails formats that will evolve? What is the future of retail?
The future of retail relies heavily on getting creative. No- touch pop ups, online product simulations, etc. sure, but the Gen Z and Gen Alpha do not fall for the generic templates that have been a part of most online shopping experiences. They are very specific, strong and vocal about their likes and dislikes—hence, online shopping does not have to cater to the masses.
Here’s where understanding the customer’s decision journey places a role. Retailers need to be vigilant when inspiration strikes the consumer and he makes a purchase. Multiple such decisions can open up a massive box of creative ideas that will enable the retailer to create a powerful brand experience. The right message at the precise time can immediately lead to a sale.