We are facing something no one had ever imagined. No one had even dared to explore the consequences (of COVID-19) that we would have to face. But the thing is that the pandemic has impacted industries adversely and all operations have come to a standstill.
I believe the Indian economy is likely to witness a sharp contraction of 4.5 per cent (de-growth) during Q4 FY20 and expected to recover gradually to post a GDP growth of just 2 per cent in FY21. But yes, as they say, “the show must go on.” We are working on the emotional make-up of our teams and preparing them for the second phase of the current crisis—gearing up for a totally new market after the COVID-19 experience.
I save you, you save me
When the market reopens, we would have to establish a sense of trust in customers. We, for our part, are committed to make their safety, and our internal team has already started working on some safety measures.
All our exclusive stores will be fully sanitised, sales staff would be equipped with all possible safety kits—hand gloves, face masks, body aprons. They will also ensure customers’ hygiene on priority by asking for hand sanitisation while entering a shop.
At our factories, we have already started manufacturing washable face masks for our internal staff and workers there. All factories have been equipped with thermal scanners, sanitising machines, which will ensure the control of any threat.
Stay connected digitally
Liberty will shift its focus from the print media to social and digital media platforms. This is a key moment for us to step up and do what’s required as consumer psychology will change.
People are spending most of their time on phones, Netflix, Amazon and music apps now. This behaviour will continue. So, we will explore more these mediums in the coming days.
Our brand website was already doing its fair contribution to the overall sales. We are now working more SEO, as we have plenty of time at hand. The digital team is enhancing the UI and UX for better customer experience. Digital is going to be the new print.
Keep nimble, adjust to customer needs
Customer beahaviour is going to change. Consumers in the coming days will be more inclined towards localisation. People were running after international brands earlier and will now be more engaged with home-grown brands. Liberty intends to take some aggressive steps to go out of the way and provide customers with the comfort they are looking for.
People will cut on their luxury needs, focusing on fulfilling just necessities. Keeping this in mind, Liberty will focus on the price range of ₹499–2,499 for the initial days. We are sure the market will eventually come to the normal curve, maybe by the end of the year.
We are gearing up fast to make our whole system omni-channel friendly. The team is also looking for secure door-to-door delivery partners who conform to our safety and promptness checks. That would be “shop from home.”
Crisis always create opportunities
The entire global market is likely to move away from the import dependency on China. The world is looking at India with hope.
The future holds a great opportunity for Indian artisans and factories as global trade will pave ways for homegrown markets to stabilise themselves. India will rise as an export hub amid this pandemic. Liberty, being into manufacturing, has an added advantage of managing supply chains. We have our plans for action and are working on the same.
A lot of positive things are waiting for us around the corner and my guiding principle in such situations is to focus on what lies ahead of this pandemic. All we have to focus on are the various strategies and scenarios that we might have to face after this lockdown. The challenge is to prepare ourselves, and come out winning at the end of it.
We have always believed in Make in India. After COVID-19, we will score on home production. Our manufacturing capacity is of international standards. Not only are we going to put a stop on imports, we are also gearing up for exporting on a high scale.
Anupam Bansal is Executive Director (Retail) at Liberty Shoes Limited.