The Titan Company's Jewellery arm, Tanishq, has started re-opening its stores in a phased manner. Apart from the store's staff maintaining the regular hygiene norms such as sanitising the store at regular intervals and wearing masks and gloves, the store has started appointment shopping and isn't allowing more than five customers to be present at the store at a given time. However, the lifestyle major's MD, C.K. Venkatraman's dilemma is to get people to dress up and celebrate special occasions even while they are at home. After all, in the new normal, post the lockdown people would continue to stay and work out of home. Going out to restaurants or attending weddings and parties will be out of bounds till a vaccine for Coronavirus is invented. "This has put pressure on dressing up and the challenge we are dealing with is how do we create desire when consumers are sitting at home," says Venkatraman.
Venkatraman, who took charge as MD in November last year, after the retirement of Bhaskar Bhat, is fascinated by a video posted by a Scottish couple, wherein they have created a make-belief restaurant for their kids. The wife plays the role of a waitress, while the husband is the chef. From an elaborate menu card with starters, main course and desserts to even chef's special dish for the day, the couple offer a complete restaurant experience to their kids during the lockdown. "Can we create a similar make-belief world? Can we persuade people to dress-up, dine-in at their own homes and celebrate special occasions," he wonders.
Venkatraman says that his various teams are continuously rattling their brains to find newer ways of getting consumers to consume their products within the comforts of their home. The company's jewellery arm has recently launched video-assisted shopping on its web site. A consumer can request for a video call and the sales-person at the store would do a virtual display of the jewellery. Venkatraman says once the lockdown is lifted, the company would even encourage home trials of jewellery. "Customers can choose the jewellery online and our sales team will go to their home to enable them to try it out. There will be a considerable reshaping of shopping habits in the days to come," he says.
So, does he expect jewellery shopping to switch online completely or for that matter even watches? He says that 70 per cent of jewellery shopping will still happen at the stores. "It's only the small ticket size products like an ear-ring that has an opportunity to be sold online," he says. But what will leap-frog according to him, is the omni-channel model, where people will select jewellery online and either come to the store to try it out and close the sale or request for a home-trial appointment.
What would be the company's innovation strategy? "Our focus would be on lower price-points as consumers will want to conserve cash till this crisis dies out," he says.