Life­style: Pro­vid­ing a Seam­less Shop­ping En­vi­ron­ment

Shoes & Accessories - - Contents -

Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of Life­style In­ter­na­tional Pri­vate Lim­ited, Akash Se­h­gal has had a colour­ful ca­reer his­tory span­ning over 21 years. Dur­ing the pro­fes­sional ten­ure, he has spent 20 years at the Land­mark Group, and is still count­ing. His ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence ranges from strate­gic plan­ning, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, com­mer­cial op­er­a­tions, sourc­ing, buy­ing to mer­chan­dis­ing, cat­e­gory man­age­ment and brand man­age­ment, to men­tion some. He is par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate about de­vel­op­ing busi­ness strate­gies and mar­ket anal­y­sis. But from sourc­ing and buy­ing right through to brand man­age­ment, there’s no doubt Se­h­gal brings a wide and var­ied skill set to his role at Lifet­syle. Se­h­gal says he was drawn to the com­pany be­cause it of­fered a gen­uine point of dif­fer­ence in what was a crowded un­or­ga­nized mar­ket. Un­der the lead­er­ship of Se­h­gal, the fash­ion re­tailer com­pany has made a suc­cess­ful pivot to the re­tail mar­ket. Life­style is In­dia’s most pre­ferred fash­ion des­ti­na­tion for lat­est trends and best of brands. Part of a Dubai-based re­tail and hospi­tal­ity con­glom­er­ate - The Land­mark Group, Life­style brings mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories in­clud­ing men’s, women’s and kids’ ap­parel, footwear, hand­bags, fash­ion ac­ces­sories and beauty un­der the con­ve­nience of a sin­gle roof. Life­style pro­vides seam­less and has­sle-free shop­ping and of­fers lead­ing na­tional and in­ter­na­tional brands the con­ve­nience of a true omni-chan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence with its on­line store lifestyle­stores.com. He talks about the footwear and re­tail in­dus­try’s growth and its ap­peal with S&A’S Amit Cho­pra.

How’s the jour­ney been for the Life­style footwear di­vi­sion?

Over a pe­riod of time, we have moved from 11.5% con­tri­bu­tion to 13% of over­all sales for the footwear and ac­ces­sories cat­e­gory.

Can you give me a pro­file of the typ­i­cal Life­style con­sumer?

Over the years Life­style has carved a niche for it­self amongst con­sumers who are look­ing for in­ter­na­tional prod­ucts along with a unique and mem­o­rable shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. The ‘typ­i­cal Life­style’ con­sumer is the ur­ban male and fe­male, between 18 to 34 years old. We take pride to be the pre­ferred brand of choice of our cus­tomers, a 30-mil­lion mem­bers strong loy­alty pro­gram is a tes­ti­mo­nial to this fact. As a brand which has stood the test of time and has a strong loyal cus­tomer base across the na­tion, we are con­fi­dent of grow­ing fur­ther - lev­er­ag­ing our strengths, na­tion­wide pres­ence and cus­tomer loy­alty to main­tain the lead­er­ship po­si­tion.

What does Life­style footwear have that is dif­fer­ent from other MBO’S?

A strong pri­vate la­bel of­fer­ing dis­tin­guishes us from the rest in the mar­ket - of­fer­ing con­sumers a wide va­ri­ety of styles and trends in footwear that cov­ers fash­ion and style across gen­res.

Who’s your big­gest com­peti­tor in the same for­mat and generic cat­e­gory?

While brands like Cen­tral and Shop­pers Stop of­fer a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence, Life­style’s strong pri­vate la­bel of­fer­ing dis­tin­guishes us from the rest in the mar­ket.

Elab­o­rate on the most sig­nif­i­cant slice of the group (Pri­vate la­bels or shop-in-shop brands)

Pri­vate la­bels along with na­tional and in­ter­na­tional brands en­joy an equal share in footwear and ac­ces­sories.

Which seg­ment and cat­e­gories of footwear have been con­sis­tently per­form­ing well?

Women’s footwear and ac­ces­sories along with sports­wear, as an over­all cat­e­gory, have been con­sis­tently per­form­ing well.

“Over a pe­riod of time, we have moved from 11.5% con­tri­bu­tion to 13% of over­all sales for the footwear and ac­ces­sories cat­e­gory.”

What are the rea­sons at­trib­uted to their suc­cess?

Womenswear and sports­wear are two of the fastest grow­ing cat­e­gories in the re­tail in­dus­try. With an abun­dance of knowl­edge made avail­able to con­sumers through so­cial me­dia, their affin­ity to­wards global trends has be­come a key growth driver for the seg­ment. An­other key growth driver is the ris­ing af­flu­ence and in­crease in dis­pos­able in­come. Added to the mix are as­pi­ra­tion, ac­ces­si­bil­ity and a strong of­fer­ing of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional brands – the ease with which to­day’s con­sumers can shop across chan­nels, in­clud­ing on­line stores. More­over, at­trac­tive pric­ing, es­pe­cially for the sports­wear cat­e­gory, and the con­sumers’ in­cli­na­tion in prod­ucts that are more life­style ori­ented rather than pure­play per­for­mance, have at­trib­uted to their suc­cess.

What is the ra­tio­nale be­hind the busi­ness ex­pan­sion ma­jorly in the South?

Our ex­pan­sion is driven by avail­abil­ity of good re­tail in­fra­struc­ture and good busi­ness op­por­tu­nity. It is not re­gion

spe­cific. Our re­tail foot­print is uni­form across re­gions with 25 stores in the south, 23 in the north, 20 in the west and we are slowly ex­pand­ing our pres­ence in the east.

What would be the ma­jor chal­lenges for you in the com­ing years?

De­pre­ci­a­tion of the In­dian ru­pee and in­crease in im­port du­ties by the gov­ern­ment lead­ing to the in­crease in av­er­age sell­ing price of raw ma­te­ri­als and footwear are two ma­jor chal­lenges in the com­ing year.

Ac­cord­ing to you, how big is the mar­ket size for mid-priced ranged brands and how con­fi­dent are you of their suc­cess?

There is a huge po­ten­tial for mid-sized and mid-priced brands be­cause In­dia is a grow­ing mar­ket. With ris­ing af­flu­ence and in­crease in dis­pos­able in­come, op­por­tu­ni­ties are im­mense.

Do Life­style in-house brands and Life­style re­tail com­ple­ment each other or do they com­pete in the mar­ket arena?

Our pri­vate la­bels and na­tional and in­ter­na­tional brands com­ple­ment each other well.

Your take on the cur­rent footwear re­tail en­vi­ron­ment in In­dia.

The footwear cat­e­gory is a grow­ing seg­ment and has a huge op­por­tu­nity both on­line and off­line. One of the big­gest ad­van­tages of this cat­e­gory is that due to its fixed sizes, fit is­sues that com­monly oc­cur with ap­parel are avoided.

What would be re­ally high-sales den­sity fac­tors?

Lat­est trends, mem­o­rable re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence, avail­abil­ity of sizes and styles and at­trac­tive pric­ing among oth­ers

What would be the re­tail mar­ket­ing strat­egy in the com­ing years?

Life­style has a coun­try-wide pres­ence across 73 stores, 44 ci­ties and its on­line store lifestyl­stores.com where cus­tomers can shop from the con­ve­nience of their home. We de­liver to over 18000 pin­codes across the coun­try. We only plan on grow­ing our re­tail foot­print from here.

“…We take pride to be the pre­ferred brand of choice of our cus­tomers, a 30 mil­lion mem­bers strong loy­alty pro­gram is a tes­ti­mo­nial to this fact…”

Ex­cel­lent com­pa­nies sug­gest that a com­pany’s at­ti­tudes about peo­ple, prod­ucts, and its way of do­ing busi­ness are de­fined by its founder. What’s the cul­ture at Life­style?

Micky Jag­tiani, Founder Chair­man of Land­mark Group es­tab­lished the or­gan­i­sa­tion on the prin­ci­ple of in­tegrity in every­thing we do. His hum­ble­ness and trans­parency in busi­ness has en­sured that Land­mark Group is to­day one of the lead­ing re­tail or­gan­i­sa­tions in Mid­dle East, Asia and Africa. It’s with this phi­los­o­phy that at Life­style, we have pro­moted a cul­ture of re­spect, pride, open­ness, trans­parency, mer­i­toc­racy and ca­ma­raderie, which has gone a long way to make it one of the most vi­brant and hap­pi­est places to work. Our HR in­ter­ven­tions and peo­ple pro­cesses en­sure that we care­fully and con­sciously lis­ten to our peo­ple’s voices and em­power them to take de­ci­sions that mat­ter. These be­come per­ti­nent to adapt to chang­ing busi­ness sce­nar­ios that help us de­liver the best for our in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal cus­tomers. Peo­ple work­ing at Life­style are there­fore as­sured of a safe and se­cured work­place en­vi­ron­ment that fos­ters a healthy work-life bal­ance.

Lis­ten to your cus­tomers, build high-qual­ity prod­ucts, take care of your em­ploy­ees -- many of the book’s key phrases sound like plat­i­tudes. Aren’t these things com­mon sense? What’s spe­cial at Life­style?

Con­sumers to­day are con­stantly on the look­out for a re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence that is unique. In­cor­po­rat­ing tech­nol­ogy that is both in­ter­ac­tive and en­gag­ing off­line is one of the surest ways of en­sur­ing that. It not only en­hances busi­ness func­tions, it also en­hances the over­all shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence for the con­sumer as well. From con­sol­i­dat­ing sig­nif­i­cant con­sumer in­sights to iden­ti­fy­ing trends, the im­pact of tech­no­log­i­cal in­puts in off­line re­tail is al­ready note­wor­thy when it comes to cu­rat­ing mean­ing­ful ex­pe­ri­ences for the cus­tomer. At Life­style we have im­ple­mented sev­eral such ini­tia­tives to en­sure that the re­tail ex­pe­ri­ence of our cus­tomers in-store is noth­ing short of mem­o­rable. The in­tro­duc­tion of “Click & Col­lect” - a cus­tomer-fo­cused ini­tia­tive, rep­re­sents a step in our jour­ney to­wards pro­vid­ing a com­plete, sim­ple and con­ve­nient Omni-chan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence – where the cus­tomers can or­der on­line and col­lect mer­chan­dise in store. Life­style, to­day, is one of In­dia’s most pre­ferred fash­ion des­ti­na­tions. Be it in-store or on­line, our con­sumers are pro­vided with a seam­less shop­ping en­vi­ron­ment, el­e­gantly fram­ing the trendy and fash­ion­able of­fer­ing that Life­style is renowned for.

What would be your on­line strat­egy to pro­mote re­tail?

Life­style is a true omni-chan­nel player. Ad­di­tion­ally, with key part­ner­ships with some of the larger e-com­merce plat­forms, our on­line re­tail foot­print will only grow from here on.

“There is a huge po­ten­tial for mid-sized and mid-priced brands be­cause In­dia is a grow­ing mar­ket.”

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