Footwear Industry Retailers Strategies to Deal with COVID Second Wave

Majorly driven by the store visits and the footfall, the sector witnessed a dip in its revenues. The pandemic-induced lockdown further pushed the consumers to increasingly purchase online rather than going out and risking their lives.

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Article by Ambud Sharma, Founder & CEO, Escaro Royale 

Ambud Sharma, Founder, Escaro Royale

Ambud Sharma, Founder, Escaro Royale

The pandemic’s occurrence last year indeed disrupted our lives. While some businesses had to suffer a setback, others came to a halt. The footwear industry was no exception and had to face the brunt of the situation. 

Majorly driven by the store visits and the footfall, the sector witnessed a dip in its revenues. The pandemic-induced lockdown further pushed the consumers to increasingly purchase online rather than going out and risking their lives. However, with the start of 2021, there was a hope to survive and thrive. But with the second wave of the coronavirus, the situation seems to have upturned altogether. 

Strategies adopted by the footwear industry retailer to deal with COVID-19 second wave

The footwear industry has been affected severely but is indeed making concerted efforts to bring back the lost business. The industry retailers have realized that one of the most effective strategies to deal with the global pandemic crisis and to revive the business would be to bring about a change in the marketing and operational strategies. 

Digital-only approach

The e-commerce platforms seemed to have boomed and the digital-only approach is the need of the hour. There has indeed been a shift from the brick and mortar concept to e-commerce working along with a focus on digital strategies to enhance the online presence. The rise in internet usage and the proliferating e-commerce industry witnessing the surge in the e-commerce players have led footwear retailers to adopt new practices primariy being the focus on developing their e-commerce platforms. 

Hence, now is the time to come up with innovations in our products and strategies so as to surpass all the challenges. Having an edge over the other players is extremely critical in the present times when the competition in the market is so high. This can be achieved only via technological adoption, robust digital strategies, and an active e-commerce presence. 

It is the right time to leverage the potential of the online space and utilize it optimally to recover the business and regain the lost customer base and revenues. 

Connecting with the consumers

COVID-19 has made the retailers realize that we do not have to focus only on selling our products but we need to maintain our communication and connection with our consumers as well. Consumers connect and engage with brands that tap the human emotions and make efforts to connect them via storytelling techniques. Hence, we need to incorporate emotions of empathy, encouragement, support and positivity and focus on connecting with our audiences via unique content and marketing strategies. 

Need for innovations

This challenging time has made us change our perspective and has given us the push to introduce ‘work from home’ fashion and create products as per the demands of the customers who now give equal preference to comfort as to style and fashion. Catering to their needs and preferences has become all the more important and hence introducing new designs and styles matching up to their expectations is essential to maintain our existing customer base and to attract new customers so that our business can pick up pace. 

The future of the Indian footwear market

India is the second-largest consumer of footwear at the global level. With the abundance of raw material, the know-how of the industry, skilled manpower, and technological adoption, the country is soon emerging as not only the leading consumer of the footwear industry but also a leading manufacturer and supplier. 

As per Invest India, India is the second-largest producer and consumer of footwear and the Indian footwear industry contributes to 2% of the country’s overall GDP, along with employing 2million workers. Be it leather or non-leather footwear, the nation has been gaining prominence in these markets at the global level and will continue to do so in the future as well. 

While the Spring/Summer Season 2021 got affected, it is anticipated that till the Autumn/Winter season, the situation might turn for the better, and the industry is set to spring back in action soon. As per Research and Market’s reports on the Indian Footwear market, the Indian market was valued at $9.70 billion in 2019 and it is projected to grow at a CAGR of 8.28% from 2020 to 2025. The rising trend of premiumization along with the shift of the consumers from unbranded to branded footwear will be the primary reasons for this growth. 

The report further states that the footwear market will flourish in the coming times due to the surge in middle-class income groups and increasing literacy rates. Rise in working professionals, increasing population and rapid urbanization will be other key reasons for the growth of the industry. 

Summing up

Owing to the increasing demand along with the adoption of initiatives like Atmanibhar Bharat, Made in India, and Vocal for local, the Indian footwear market will soon recover. All that is required is modifications to adapt to the cutting edge strategies and introduce innovations in the offerings to have an edge in the market. The rising online presence, robust omnichannel conceptualization, and the product innovations to cater to the shift in consumer psyche will play a major role in the industry’s growth. The footwear retailers will soon be able to surpass all the challenges induced by the coronavirus and the Indian footwear industry seems to have a promising future.

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