Footwear major Bata India is planning to open around 100 outlets during this financial year despite the COVID-19 outbreak, an official said on Wednesday. The shoemaker, which currently has around 1,500 stores across India, plans to add 500 outlets by 2023 to strengthen its network in semi-urban and rural markets, he said.
"We will open around 100 stores this year and 80 per cent of these outlets will be opened through a franchise model in tier-II and tier-III cities," Bata India chairman Ashwani Windlass told PTI over the phone. The network expansion will be executed mostly in the rural areas where economic performance has been comparatively better than in urban areas during the current COVID-19 crisis, another company official said.
The footwear major has taken a new initiative - Bata Store-on-Wheels - to reach out to its customers in urban areas. Bata India CEO Sandeep Kataria said this new channel allows customers to shop at their doorsteps. The temporary stores are set up at large residential complexes and condominiums, he said, adding the initiative offers a convenient shopping experience to customers, especially children and elderly whose movement has been restricted due to the pandemic.
Windlass said the footwear manufacturer has taken several digital marketing initiatives and he hopes that the share of e-commerce sales will double by this fiscal. The share of online sales, through its own portal and third-party e-tailers, is estimated at around five to six per cent, according to Bata officials.
Bata India is expanding its e-commerce footprint by ramping up its presence in online marketplaces, allowing delivery in over 1,300 cities and rolling out home delivery from more than 900 stores. The shoemaker has rolled out an option for its customers to shop from the comfort of their homes via WhatsApp chats with employees in their neighbourhood stores, the officials added.