R&D is Key–samir Dhingra
For a company to constantly deliver innovative and high-quality products to any given industry, a solid stress on research and development is mandatory. Agra-based Aman Shoe Company has this attitude down to a tee, resulting in a long run of success for t
Established in 90’s with just minimal staff members, Aman Shoe Company has grown significantly over the years and today it employs more than 600 people. It is globally active and has a reputation as a young fashion brand and market leader in its category. The S&A Magazine sat down with SAMIR DHINGRA, the MD of Aman Shoes, to discover what the business is delivering to its customers — predominantly in the youth segment.
Mr. Dhingra , first up, who is your target consumer?
Our target is 18-28-yearolds but as you would expect, our actual consumer ranges from 16-year-olds up through 45. We also get senior bracket men on social media asking us about comfort fashion wear, so it’s actually very wide-ranging. Our belief is much more of the mindset of not disregarding anyone, and making everyone feel welcome within our brand, and that’s a philosophy that has been spread through the company.
Income is something that happens as a by product of a healthy business model and a positive customer experience. Human-tohuman connections are the heart and soul of any business. You know it that at the end of the day, you’re dealing with individuals — your company is solving complications and delivering lovely customer experiences.
How you have seen the retail industry shift in recent years?
The world is in continuous growth, so every year something changes and something happens. I’m not hundred percent sure if I agree, but I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how multi-brand retail & distribution has had a hard time over the past three to four years, which I think is true. Many folks think it will be more like singlebrand stores in the future.
Considering the rentals & retail challenges, I am not sure about that because I think it’s like after a few weeks of sunshine when you have a bit of rain. But certainly, owing to the Internet and the information world that we’re living in, the planet is much smaller now than a few years ago.there’s a lot happening in retail at the moment, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Many new challenges are arising and many good things are coming out of it. A typical dealer has to now add other services and other things into their store to make it interesting. It can be pretty lonely behind your screen.
The newer generation is so straight up; they will tell you if they don’t like something (from color to quality) and which is so important for a brand to get it right “Our target is 18-28-year-olds but as you would expect, our actual consumer ranges from 16-yearolds up through 45.”
“The biggest challenge with any firm and its move is having liquid cash to do it. We use our own money to grow – there are no borrowings.”
How important is right branding?
It’s extremely essential. It’s your chance to build the right impression, get potential clients to take you seriously and show the world what you’re capable of. Great branding is all about carefully planning the impression you want to create for a very specific group of customers and then executing that with flair and style. It’s about attracting the sorts of customers who really value what you do and will pay what you’re worth. And it’s about creating a look for your business that you can be proud of.
What’s your strategy for making profits?
We started with manufacturing as an OEM and now we are focusing on our brand, and have expanded slowly to 350 outlets. We would continue to expand and have a target of creating 600 plus dealers by 2018. We are completely a manufacturing and sell business, which means we produce all the merchandise, and keep it in our warehouse. We want to be distinguished in customer experience.
What do you enjoy most about your business?
My fundamental values marry very well with what the company involves, so it’s a perfect match. I started the company 25 years ago, and I believe that’s partially because of the uniqueness I wanted to bring in the sector. The business is proprietary, so we don’t have shareholders breathing down our necks and looking at quarter-toquarter results. We can think more in the long term and take a longer view of the markets and the businesses we’re engaging with and apply short-term tactics too. The profits from the organization go back into the company, mostly into new technology developments, and I’m an enthusiast for technology.
What is the biggest challenge in business?
The biggest challenge with any firm and its move is having liquid cash to do it. We use our own money to grow — there are no borrowings. That is one of our core values. I am extremely passionate about the business. I believe that Aman Shoe’s is a family company that offers a sense of permanence and connection.
Why should customers come to you when the competition is bigger both by product range and discounts?
Our note to distributors always has been that we will be differentiated and we will give you priority and we will position you the way you want to be positioned. Our sales may not be very large scale compared with all the other players but our brand probably is very similar size in terms of scale of business. The other brands have, say, 500 dealers and we have only 300, but then we are providing a lot more margin and quality to the dealer.
Our target customer is not the person who is looking for a discount, but somebody who is looking for the best fashion & value. One of the biggest pain points in this industry is on time delivery & payments and we have a model where we provide merchandise to you with in seven working days. Nobody else does it.
In an age where digital disruption continues to challenge many industries, do you feel a lot of pressure to keep pace with your customers?
We invest a lot into R&D, much more than other companies in the industry, and we place a strong stress on innovation. We are smaller than a lot of our customers, and I think we actually surprise them sometimes with our new approaches and new technologies. Usually, we have continuous dialogues with our consumers to help them understand the benefits of the new technologies and show them how they can improve their competitiveness by using our products.
It is important for us to always be a step ahead when it comes to technology. It doesn’t just stop at the development of a product, quality is very important.
Today, consumers are demanding more from their products and they are not afraid to tell you on social media, how do you handle that?
The newer generations are so straight up; they will tell you if they don’t like something (from color to quality) and which are so important for a brand to get it right now. I believe that’s great. So it’s our business to really get across what the product looks like and feels like. This instant feed back from customers helps us to learn too, to really understand what our consumers need and what improvements they would like to see.
What key elements of BANISH make it stand out among its competitors?
As we work in a very niche market; therefore, the expectations of our customers are extremely high. So our main focus has always been on upholding a strong brand, using cutting-edge technology to create lasting, high-quality products. Now, we are also focusing more on how we can embrace digital solutions in both our customer interactions and overall product offerings. Today, when the customer buys from BANISH, there’s no compromising the quality. To live up to high standards I put a lot of emphasis on our people. We’re also constantly seeking out quality partnerships with research facilities and companies to expand our outreach and continue to produce the same high quality and innovation for our customers well into the future, always with our customers’ comfort in mind.
What’s next for shoes?
Flexible soles & Comfort is still about and in terms of sales our products are still performing strongly. But I also agree that sneakers are in big time, people are looking to get comfort & fashion, so lace ups with flexi soles and color are really popular now. It’s all about sneakers, easy wear, bright colors and fresh, and I think we’ll see more of that as we move into the season.
38 banish leader speaks /
Samir Dhingra, MD, Aman Shoes