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Online presence can help a retail brand to increase its sales revenues: Bata India

by Satrajit Sen

Bata India’s virtual presence has not only helped the brand in getting extended eyeballs and creating a good consumer connect, but has also helped in increasing the sales numbers for the brand, according to Manoj Chandra, vice president, marketing and customer service, Bata India.

by Satrajit Sen

Bata India’s virtual presence has not only helped the brand in getting extended eyeballs and creating a good consumer connect, but has also helped in increasing the sales numbers for the brand, according to Manoj Chandra, vice president, marketing and customer service, Bata India.

“Bata has put its entire inventory online and the price is dynamic. The brand also gets consumers in its physical stores who come with webpage printouts of products and, according to the company statistics, two thirds of the store sales are web driven,” Manoj Chandra revealed while speaking at a conference, titled Retail Branding 2.0, organised by Wirefoot, in association with IBM, in New Delhi on July 9, 2010.

According to Manoj Chandra, web branding helps a brand understand in real time what the consumers want and thus helps in providing the consumers with what they are looking to buy and not what the brand is looking to sell. “Retail brands should at least have an e-catalogue of their products, if not an ecommerce portal,” Chandra said.

Vikas Gupta, founder and director, 9.9 Mediaworx, said that retail marketers see internet as a medium that is used less in the country, which is actually a wrong way to look at things. “If we go deeper, bulk of the revenue for a retailer comes from metros and bigger cities and people there use the internet more. One level deeper into the data and we see that people in the age-group of 20 to 39 years, who form the primary chunk of buyers for retail brands, are actually bigger users of the internet medium,” Gupta added.

Vikas Gupta further said that internet is the only medium that offers targeting, interactivity and reach and yet in far cheaper rates and hence it makes perfect sense for retailers to carry branding exercises on internet.

Citing an example from his company, Vikas Gupta said that on June 30, 2010, 9.9 Mediaworx launched NEXT100, a talent hunt to identify 100 future CIOs (Chief Information Officers) in the country who would be recognized and honoured at a special awards ceremony in November 2010. This is a web-only exercise and till now the online campaign has got 42,000 page views with 7,200 registrations so far. “These numbers were achieved only because we carried this activity as an online exercise. We could have never reached this figure in this short time if we went for a print media exercise,” Gupta said.

According to Vikas Gupta, old generation marketers are not so comfortable with computers and hence they find internet as a tough media to understand and thus invest. The new generation decision-makers, however, will come and change the scenario.

Virginia Sharma, director, marketing and communications, IBM India, said that most engaged brands in social networks have increased their revenues by 18 per cent. Giving an example, Sharma said that American blogger Jeff Jarvis once wrote on his blog about the customer satisfaction regarding Dell computers. Dell at that time didn’t pay attention to this and the result was lethal.

Virginia Sharma further said that Web 1.0 users were consumers and Web 2.0 users are participants. “It is absolutely imperative for retail brands to listen to web conversations happening across platforms concerning the brand. Monitoring is not easy and hence you should lookout for whether people are actually talking about something that you care about. And if it is so, identify the person and try to address what he or she says,” Sharma added.

Amarjit Batra, country manager, OLX India, said that a retail brand should understand its consumers well and thus design and create a platform through which both can participate in a conversation. “Brands should engage with people through social networks or business blogs and for this they need to identify the right design, the right content and the right partners,” Batra added.

Giving an example of crowd participation, Amarjit Batra further said that in 2008, Malaysian car-makers Proton announced a campaign, called Proton MPV Naming Contest, to find a name for its new multi-purpose vehicle (MPV). The name Proton Exora was picked from 251,763 entries. The winner was awarded with the first Proton Exora off the production line.

Rahul Sethi, president, ecommerce, Ibibo, said that internet retail is all about an entire buying process that includes awareness, information, decision making and transaction. “Now, a brand can actually make an impact through its website and online activity on all the four stages of a particular buying process. Awareness can be created by good search marketing campaign; information can be given through a good catalogue, product demos, and videos on the website. Decision making can be influenced by a shopping comparison tool and ease in transaction can be provided through presenting maximum payment options possible,” Sethi explained.

According to Kedar Gavane, director, comScore, visits from Indian users to ecommerce websites have gone considerably up. “In May 2009, 12.4 million unique visitors from India had visited ecommerce websites whereas in May 2010 the number rose to 18.7 million. The page views to ecommerce websites rose by 100 per cent. Compared to the other markets, this is a good trend,” Gavane said.

Kedar Gavane further said that click-throughs might no longer be regarded as the right metric to look at branding on internet. “Reach and frequency through a website, which is not talked about in India, actually helps in identifying the target group and then direct categories to build awareness step by step,” he added.

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