How Bata's Power Brand is Taking Fashion Forward with the Launch of Power Apparel

How Bata's Power Brand is Taking Fashion Forward with the Launch of Power Apparel
Pankaj Gupta, Head of Retail Operations, Bata India highlights the various dimensions of the company's business strategy, exploring response to the sneakerization trend, the launch of Power apparel, omnichannel dominance, strategic store expansion, etc.

By Vaishnavi gupta , Sr Correspondent

08 Jan 2024 | 11 min read

Bata India, with a rich heritage spanning over a century, has not just witnessed the evolution of the footwear industry but has actively shaped its trajectory. In the ever-evolving landscape of Indian fashion retail, the brand has emerged as a pioneering force, seamlessly blending tradition with cutting-edge trends.

In an interaction with Indian Retailer, Pankaj Gupta, Head of Retail Operations, Bata India highlights the various dimensions of Bata India's business strategy, exploring its response to the sneakerization trend, the launch of Power apparel, omnichannel dominance, strategic store expansion, tech integration, and the future growth prospects.

Sneakerization Trend

The seismic shift in workplace fashion norms, popularly termed as "sneakerization," has been a defining trend. Bata India, quick to recognize and adapt to this shift, has positioned its Power brand at the forefront of this cultural transformation. The acceptance of sneakers as suitable office attire, accelerated by the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, has not only influenced customer preferences but has also redefined the boundaries of traditional fashion.

“At present, the sneaker portfolio contributes a substantial 16-18 percent to our overall business,” said Gupta.

Power Apparel Launch

The company's strategic move into power apparel is a testament to its commitment to providing a holistic fashion experience. The Power brand, already a significant player in the footwear segment, now extends its influence into the apparel domain. The recent launch of apparel aims to offer customers a seamless transition from choosing shoes to assembling an entire ensemble.

“We anticipate that the power apparel segment, with its diverse range of offerings, will surpass footwear in customer preference. With a current presence in 65 stores, we envision expanding this to over 200 stores in the upcoming year, reflecting our confidence in the potential of Power apparel, he highlighted.

Omnichannel Strategy

In the digital age, where online and offline retail experiences coexist, Bata India has strategically positioned itself as a leader in omnichannel retail. While the majority of sales still originate from offline channels, the online or omnichannel segment has witnessed exponential growth. The company's omnichannel strategy encompasses its direct-to-customer (D2C) platform, along with collaborations with renowned third-party brands such as Amazon, Myntra, Flipkart, Nykaa, and Ajio Luxe.

“Our approach to omnichannel is not limited to mere presence; it extends to enhancing the in-store customer journey through technology. We envision our physical stores as tech-empowered spaces, embracing a forward-thinking, customer-centric approach. Although offline purchases still dominate at approximately 88-90 percent, online-led purchases have experienced a higher growth delta, currently standing at 10-12 percent. This shift is a clear indication of changing consumer behaviors and preferences,” stated Pankaj.

Store Expansion & Ideal Location Selection

The brand's expansive network of over 2,150 point-of-sale locations, operating under the Bata and Hush Puppies banners, is a testament to its strategic growth initiatives. The selection of ideal locations is a meticulous process, involving considerations of economic viability, micro-market analysis, customer profiling, and competition assessment.

“We will be continuing to add 130-150 new stores and will launch SIS and kiosks. Hence, we will be adding 200 plus points of sales year on year,” he noted.

The company, armed with a century of market insights, collaborates with technology partners like MapmyIndia to identify micro and macro markets with precision. The focus is on pinpointing the most advantageous locations, with a keen eye on demographics, customer behavior, and the competitive landscape. The accuracy of up to 1 kilometer in location selection underscores the sophistication of Bata India's market research and location strategy.

Franchise Model

The brand's robust franchise model has emerged as a key driver of growth, with over 500 franchise stores contributing significantly to the company's footprint. The franchise-owned franchise-operated model, built on a buy-and-sale concept, has not only facilitated rapid expansion but has also established a strong foothold in towns where organized footwear business is gaining prominence.

“The plan is to consistently open approximately 150 franchise stores each year, and the progress thus far suggests that we might surpass our initial projections. If the current momentum continues, we are optimistic about achieving the milestone of 1000 stores nationwide by 2026,” asserted Gupta.

Focus on Tier II & Beyond Markets

While Tier II markets contribute around 30-35 percent of Bata India's turnover, their importance transcends mere financial metrics. Often underserved by organized retail, these markets provide the company with a substantial market share and a clear competitive advantage.

“The franchise model has played a pivotal role in reaching these markets, where we often stand as the sole organized footwear player. The growth potential in Tier II markets is immense, and we aim not just to keep pace with overall network growth but to outperform it,” he added.

Loyalty Program

The loyalty program, Bata Club, represents the brand's commitment to building lasting relationships with customers. In existence for five years, the program employs a non-card-based approach, utilizing the customer's mobile number as a unique identifier. Beyond the typical points accrual and redemption system, Bata Club engages customers through personalized offerings on birthdays, and anniversaries, and exclusive access to new product launches and sales. The collaboration with other brands further enhances the program's appeal, fostering customer loyalty and brand advocacy.

Tech-Enabled Customer Journey

Bata India's commitment to enhancing the customer journey through technology is exemplified by its comprehensive tech integration in-store operations. As a paper-free organization, it has digitized every aspect of its retail units, from store operations to display management.

Upon entering a Bata store, customers encounter digital signage, setting the stage for a tech-empowered experience. Advanced camera analytics measure customer demographics, preferences, and behaviors, enriching the understanding of in-store journeys. The application 'Find a Pair' empowers customer associates with real-time insights into a customer's purchase history, allowing them to offer personalized recommendations.

An innovative feature, 'lift and learn,' further elevates the in-store experience. This interactive screen, positioned next to the sneaker studio wall, provides detailed information about each shoe, creating an immersive and informative shopping experience.

Strategic Partnerships and Future Outlook

Bata India's strategic collaborations and partnerships underscore its commitment to staying at the forefront of fashion trends. The recent alliance with Nine West, a renowned fashion brand from New York, exemplifies its foray into ultra-fashion for women aged 18 to 28. This partnership aims to bring the latest global fashion trends to the Indian market, offering a diverse range of colors and edgy designs.

“While the partnership with Nine West is a current highlight, we remain open to exploring more opportunities. Our receptivity to customer feedback and market trends guides our product offerings, technological solutions, and potential partnerships,” concluded Gupta.

Bata India, with a rich heritage spanning over a century, has not just witnessed the evolution of the footwear industry but has actively shaped its trajectory. In the ever-evolving landscape of Indian fashion retail, the brand has emerged as a pioneering force, seamlessly blending tradition with cutting-edge trends.

In an interaction with Indian Retailer, Pankaj Gupta, Head of Retail Operations, Bata India highlights the various dimensions of Bata India's business strategy, exploring its response to the sneakerization trend, the launch of Power apparel, omnichannel dominance, strategic store expansion, tech integration, and the future growth prospects.

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