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FMCG firms bat for digital first strategy once virus subsides 

Live Mint , Oct 30, 2020

There is a need to swiftly adopt digital strategies and cater to consumers online as several brands have seen an uptick in e-commerce orders since the lockdown, according to executives in the fast-moving consumer goods industry.

Addressing an event organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), executives from FMCG firms and others said on Friday that in a post-covid world, companies will need to think digital first.

Prasun Basu, president, South Asia zone, Nielsen Global Connect said several companies will have to undergo a ‘rebound, reboot and reinvent’ framework of recovery following the pandemic. Basu said on the consumer behaviour side, a lot has changed including in consumer mindspace, buying and stocking patterns, and the way media and content are consumed. “Even channels of transaction and purchase are changing," he said.

“The biggest shift that will happen is that online will become a large piece of our business and maybe digital first is now going to be the main thing," said Vineet Gautam, chief executive and country head, BESTSELLER India that retails clothing brands such as Jack and Jones, Vero Moda, Only in India.

Gautam said the retailer already draws a large part of its sales online but the pandemic has prompted the company to try out new ways of reaching out to shoppers, including social commerce.

“WhatsApp video calls have been a big saviour, where people call our stores and place orders. Consumers are very happy having a conversation on a video call and shopping, and then opting for hyperlocal delivery," he said.

India’s offline retailers have been talking about converting to omni-channel retail for sometime. However, not all have delved into connecting their offline stores to e-commerce. The pandemic has re-established the need for retailers to serve more shoppers on both channels.

“We’ve all spoken for five or six years about omni-channel, but there was no real ‘omni’ happening in India. Suddenly, I think covid put pressure on all of us. And the consumers also adapted very, very fast," he said.

Gautam said the retailer’s offline stores were back to 80% of pre-covid levels with week-on-week improvement in business.

Amit Jain, Managing Director, L’Oréal India said covid has led to diversification and a re-boot of go-to-market strategies for FMCG companies.

“All of this was sitting in the textbook so far as India is concerned, but now we see this huge change," he said.

 

 

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