Best Foot Forward
There’s a lot happening in the footwear market in India today. More brands, more categories and new store experiences for shoppers with a fetish for footwear. VM&RD looks closer at this growing product category in retail, while speaking to some popular brands in the market on how they plan to put their best foot forward to capture the consumer.
India’s total footwear retail market amounting to be INR 33,592 crore is expected to cross INR 54,000 crores by 2017, according to the latest report by ICRA. It also suggests that India is world’s second largest footwear producer after China representing 9% of global annual production, where India produces almost 2.1 billion units of footwear, 90% of which is consumed within the country. The reports indicates that India has shown a growth of 20% CAGR in footwear exports specially to European nations in the last 5 years. Some leading footwear brands share their growth story, scope of this category and how they are preparing to increase their share in this burgeoning product category in the Indian retail landscape.
Walking the omni-channel way
While omni-channel is driving the growth of retail and e-commerce is a robust supporting medium, footwear brands are now focusing on more number of stores. American lifestyle sportswear brand Skechers plans to open 400 stores in next 5 years, while Bata has revealed its plan to open 110 more, Woodland to open 40 every year, Crocs to open 50 more stores by next year and Rosso Brunello to open 15 more EBOs in next 2 years. With giving major focus to build a strong EBO presence, these brands are also focusing on their MBO and e-commerce presence. Rahul Vira, CEO, Skechers South Asia, said, “EBOs are our strongest assets. Skechers has adopted a cautious approach in the online space, as it does not support the discounted model of sale. The brand is adopting omni channel approach by integrating online and we will go live on our exclusive online store in India in a couple of months.”
Rajeev Gopalakrishnan, President, Asia South, Bata India Limited, said, “Our omni-channel presence makes it
easy for consumers to either buy online and collect it at the store, or place a request for a product that they can reserve for up to 48 hours for trial in-store. Although EBOs allow us to represent our brand story, this kind of seamless omni-channel approach is much needed.”
With a plan to add 300 POSs including MBOs and EBOs, Crocs believes that the future of e-commerce lies in the brand’s brick-andmortar network.
Step into experiences
Creating the right brand story is certainly fuelling the retail expansion strategy of these brands. Footwear brands, like any other brands, are giving a makeover to their existing retail design while international brands are fast bringing their international concepts to India. Talking on the kind of story they are attempting to bring, Ankita Shankar Bajaj, Marketing Lead,
Vans India explained, “Along with right lighting, highlighted product stacking etc, we play videos related to skate, music, our national and global events to bring out the playful nature of the brand.”
With strong focus on in-store VM and window displays lately, Bata has introduced new headers, shelves and POS elements. According to Gopalakrishnan, the strategy adopted is to convey a unified communication style by creating highlight areas and focal points. Currently skyrocketing in the category with a 100% growth in business, Vira of Skechers India mentioned, “It is essential to have a display that not just looks good but offers information about the product. A store should be strong enough to sell itself and newness in experience is much needed.”
Although Crocs shrunk their average store size to 350 sq ft, is adding lot of visuals pertaining to their international campaigns and focusing on modular fixtures. Deepak Chhabra, CEO and MD, Crocs India told,
“Today, having a space in a mall is often not sustainable. Hence, we use easy-to-move fixtures so that logistics are easy if we have to shift.” Agreeing to the need of modular fixtures, Harkirat Singh, MD, Woodland Shoes Limited added, “With these fixtures, it is true that we have to revamp our store design every 4-5 years, but the fringe benefit is that we can provide newness of retail experience.”
Footwear has even taken major prominence in MBOs too. Future Group’s Central recently unveiled India’s biggest footwear section at its store in Punjgutta, Hyderabad. Speaking on the same, Pawan Nagarwal, Chief Experience Design and Visual Merchandising, Central Stores, said, “Looking at the influx of footwear brands, we dedicated about 8000 sq ft space to the section. The store is the first MBO where international brands like Steve Madden, Aldo, Nine West have come to participate. Design-wise, we accommodated surprising props, special leg-forms and specially-created mirrors embedded with LED lights to uplift the zone. Footwear retail today has gone far beyond than just sit-and-try arrangements. Hence, we created luxury seating area for each and every brand retailing from the section.”
Awakening of new categories
India’s footwear market is broadly divided into three segments – men’s, women’s and kids’. According to brands, at present, men’s market contributes around 60 per cent of sales in the footwear segment as against women’s share of 30 per cent. However the women’s segment is growing at a much faster CAGR of 20 per cent. Interestingly, some footwear brands are bringing and strengthening more categories. Crocs, for example, plans to go beyond its regular casual beachwear range and plans to foray as a larger player of casual footwear segment and grabbing 10% of the pie of almost. Meanwhile, Skechers wants to develop a new category of lifestyle sports which merges the style and performance.
Woodland, celebrated as men’s adventure shoe brand, recently strengthened their women category and launched a new luxury line of footwear, Woods. Harkirat Singh, MD of Woodland said, “Out of 40 new stores that we are going to add every year, we plan to open 5 stores exclusively for Woods.” A trusted footwear brand across the nation, Bata, which also completed 123 years, is fast breaking its archaic image by strengthening their women’s range and they are now concentrating on manufacturing merchandise that are meant for ‘young India’. Similarly, Rosso Brunello, which is known for its evening shoes for men and women, is now dabbling into experimenting in styles blended with comfort such as sneakers and flats.
With more number of Indian brands entering the footwear category and international labels anchoring on India’s retail shore, we can definitely expect a lot of action from this segment. India is already the third largest footwear consuming country in the world after China and USA, but with very little percentage separating the three, India is expected to come forward in terms of consumption as well.
Kishor Shah, Proprietor, Details
Having worked with national and international footwear brands Dune, Steve Madden, Cole Haan, Bally, Johnston & Murphy, Heatwave, Reebok and Nike Shah told, category space location and sequential experience is of utmost importance. Visuals happen to play a pivotal role including both static and video content. Since footwear is a category that got popular lately, it is necessary to promote global brand ambassadors and other aspirational stories inside the store.