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Script has moved its stores to WhatsApp to build a stronger connect with consumersPixabay
The WhatsApp store is almost like a micro site enabling rich content for our consumers
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How Godrej and Boyce’s WhatsApp stores are ensuring social distancing doesn’t become a deterrent for sales

The WhatsApp store is almost like a micro site enabling rich content for our consumers
  • The pandemic has led to a complete overhaul of the retail industry where more and more people are looking for contactless consumer experiences.
  • To solve this problem, Godrej and Boyce’s premium furniture brand Script is taking its stores live through WhatsApp.
  • Rajat Mathur, Business Head, Script by Godrej and Boyce talks to us about this strategy as well as everything else that the brand is doing to make its consumer experience frictionless.
The country is slowly coming out of the lockdown. Malls and public places are being gradually opened. However, the fact still remains that the corona-crisis is far from over.

India recently made headlines as the country having the maximum one-day jump in positive cases. It is therefore obvious that consumers, despite having an intent, might not feel comfortable in physically visiting shops and showrooms yet.

This has thrown a major challenge for retail brands for which touch and feel is a very important part of the entire consumer journey. This challenge has made brands think out-of-the-box and come up with innovative, novel solutions to make consumers excited about their offerings.

Script, a premium furniture brand from the Godrej and Boyce stable has recently come up with an innovative idea, to connect with its audience. It is taking its stores live via WhatsApp in 4 cities. The platform allows the brand to upload campaigns, catalogues, brand/product stories, while also building a direct contact with consumers.

However, while strengthening its digital offerings, the brand is pretty confident that the brick and mortar stores will continue to stay relevant and people will come back to them soon. We spoke to Rajat Mathur, Business Head, Script by Godrej and Boyce who told us the brand’s efforts to build a stronger connect, to smoothen consumer journeys and also to make sure they come back to them, once things get back to normal.

Excerpts:

Q) What was the idea behind the WhatsApp store? Have there been any logistical challenges of the WhatsApp store?

Social distancing is likely to stay for a long time now, and we have always been looking forward to technological integrations in retail for enhancing the customer experience. The Whatsapp store is a versatile tool which helps us interact and engage with our customers. It’s almost like a micro site enabling rich content for our consumers. With a very simple user interface this platform allows us to upload campaigns, catalogues, brand / product stories and much more. It also helps us with customer query resolutions since it enables us to be in direct contact with them. It also helps us in giving virtual store tours to our customers. Also, since it’s a very simple application, we haven’t faced any logistical issues as yet.

Q) What kind of reception have you seen so far? Can you share some figures, in terms of what kind of enquiries or actual conversions have you seen on your Whatsapp store so far?


The response has been very encouraging. We have started getting a lot of enquiries on the Whatsapp store and have had conversions as well in most of our stores. The best part is that most of these conversions have large ticket values.

Q) You have opened this facility in 4 cities so far. What are some of the other cities you want to take this feature to?

We have started this initiative in Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore and Mumbai. We are also opening our Park Street, Kolkata store soon and have already implemented this there with the pre-cursor campaigns.

Q) What will retail in this new world order mean? How will things be different once the lockdown is over completely?

I think brick-and-mortar retail will continue to flourish post the lockdown. We will see a lot of technology integration in physical retail. This phase, if anything, will catalyze the omni-channel concept across industries and categories. Also, the success of a retail business greatly depends on its ability to adapt to the various lifestyle changes and be able to help its consumers have a seamless experience irrespective of the situation. With the world turning to the virtual aid, where the consumers cannot visit the store, we made the store come to them. The new world calls for a great sense of trust in any retail brand and to seed that, the retail industry needs to empathize, adapt and implement.

Q) What role will technology play in the post COVID world?

Necessity is the mother of invention and the COVID-19 outbreak proved this no end. As I said we can expect a lot of technology coming into physical retail. Phygital will be the new mantra across the country in the retail industry. A lot of technology based tools have already been developed and implemented. For the consumers, the post COVID era will greet them with a very different level of shopping experience powered by technology.

Furthermore, there are organizations that are willing to continue the work from home model even after the post COVID world while there will be employees opting for the same as well. This makes us anticipate a growing demand for the multi-functional and work-from-home furniture like the Float Ecosystem, Lagoon Bed or the Dwell Ecosystem that will add to the efficacy of a consumer’s experience.

Q) There has been an obvious increase in demand for home-office related furniture. Can you share how important this segment is for you right now, and what your area of focus going ahead will be?

As the world goes through a pandemic, it is important to map out the challenges and opportunities for Script to communicate and stay connected with people. Clearly the following trends have emerged out during this phase and we believe strongly that these are here to stay for good.

  • Home, which is the center of people’s universe, has become the new workspace
  • Focus on home activities with family
  • Furniture is central to all activities
  • Home aesthetics and functionality matter
  • Furniture is the new essential

The work from home segment is extremely important for us and we are working on coming up with smart solutions towards the same with the intent of giving our customers the greatest level of experience while they work from their home spaces. We are in the process of designing compact WFM ecosystems which will be out in the market by November this year.

While WFH is big today, Script is committed to providing creative solutions for other activities in the home space and those which are integral to today’s urban living. So we are working on creating solutions for binge-watching, socializing, reading, other me-time activities so on and so forth.

Q) Being a retail, consumer-facing brand, what have your key learnings from the experience been so far?

Retail will remain a relevant experience for both consumers and brands. It has become part of the society’s fabric; a ritual with firm roots in contemporary living. As such, retail is not going away anytime soon. For someone with a high disposable income, going to a retail store provides twin joys: the experiential joy of the place itself as well as the joy of taking part in a pleasurable, indulgent social activity. Since our stores reopened, we have been pleasantly surprised to see the level of footfalls we are getting. It is almost the same as last year for the same period. Thus, reinstating our firm belief that furniture is the new essential. During the lockdown people have had an opportunity to interact with their home space unlike ever before. Consumers also realized that this pandemic has led to a permanent cultural shift, WFH being a prime example. Also since furniture is a category which solicits touch and feel before a final buying decision is taken, physical retail in this category will never lose relevance.

Q) Where will the next phase of growth for Script come from? What will your key areas of focus be, going ahead?

Growth for Script will come from both, business from the existing stores and expansion through the new stores. We are relatively a new brand. Most of our stores have been around just for a year at most and we expect them to grow at inorganic rates. Apart from this, we are looking at adding 5 new stores every year for the next 3 years. The Pandemic has catalyzed online retail growth across categories. We are hopeful of improving our online sales. Definitely creating a great omni-channel experience for the customer is the way forward for us.

Q) How did your marketing strategies change during the lockdown months, and going ahead, what will your broad marketing strategies be?

During the lockdown phase, we moved forward with the following philosophy:

  • Communication and messaging should primarily show genuine empathy and solidarity. People are seeking out smaller moments of joy and reasons that will distract them at least a little from the dark reality looming outside their quarantine windows.
  • By offering something that people want, positioning it as something that eases their guilt of purchase or helps them justify their needs will help build RELATIONSHIPS with the consumers. And the power of these relationships should not be underestimated.
  • Even going forward, we believe that merely regular brand messaging and product pushing will not work. Messages that relate to these lifestyle changes and are relevant to positioning the products as needs and essentials will reinforce the brand relevance.
  • We need to highlight ways in which the brand is doing its bit to give back to the community.