Woodland moves Online in a Bid to Tap Additional Consumers; Gives Credence to the Multi-Channel Format

In a bid to capture the growing number of consumers shopping online, Woodland has launched its online store, www.woodlandworldwide.com. The company which registered a turnover of close to Rs.700 Crores last fiscal, aims to become a Rs.1,000 Crore player in a short span of time, with over 10% of revenues coming through online sales.  The company already sells through multi-brand online retailers in India, such as, BeStylish, Naaptol, Yebhi etc.

Woodland follows in the footsteps of large footwear retailers who had earlier moved online, such as, Liberty, Bata etc. as well as other multi-channel retailers, such as, Mahindra’s Mom & Me, Samsung India, Croma, etc.

Speaking on the occasion, Harkirat Singh, Managing Director, Woodland said, “We are pleased to launch the Woodland e-commerce experience as it will help us reduce the carbon footprint and is a natural extension of our existing business, broadening our access of the brand. We see the introduction of this channel as another important way to connect with our customers and provide them with access like never before”.  He further added “We will also be bringing out lot of limited edition products, exclusively for online buyers.”

The Quebec-based company, which is a part of the Aero Group (started in 1960’s; has an asset base of over $100 million), had entered India in 1992 and initially started off as a footwear company, before venturing into apparels and other products. Currently, apparels contribute about 40% of total sales, which is expected to rise to 50% over the coming years. The apparel industry in India currently stands at over $25 Billion, and is the second largest category in retail after Food & Groceries.

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The company has been gradually investing in building its brand and capabilities over the past couple of years with investments in automated machinery from Italy in 2009 of Rs.5-10 Crores, followed up by Rs.100 Crores in 2011 for expansion of plant and offline presence pan-India. Realising the potential of young consumers between the age of 18-28, the company has also stepped-up its presence on social media sites and has a huge following on Facebook, which it uses for marketing, running ad-campaigns, gathering customer feedback as well as building its brand.

Woodland has a large offline presence in India with over 300 exclusive company stores and presence in over 3000 multi-brand stores across many countries. The company also has plans of rolling-out a lifestyle label selling skincare and bodycare products before the end of the year and have tied up with a Germany-based personal care products company. The company is also investing simultaneously to expand its offline presence to harness synergies in process besides revenue enhancement.

The footwear market in India is estimated to be between $4-5 Billion, while the market for belts and accessories is estimated to be between $500-600 million. Of this, the men’s segment is estimated to be over 60%, while kids and ladies constitute about 20% each. In terms of production, India is the second largest producer of footwear globally, after China, accounting for close to 15% of global production.

Capturing the growing trend of moving online, GAS Jeans, an international retailer of denims has also outlined their pans of going online. MM Kamath, Director, GAS Jeans, said, “Although GAS doesn’t have a dedicated Indian page yet, plans are afoot. We are excited and optimistic of the role that e-commerce shall play in our strategy for India,”. The company already sells through exclusive stores in major metros and has plans of adding another 10 over the next couple of years. The company already sells and ships products to India through its international site, www.gasjeans.com, besides selling through a host of online retailers within India, such as Myntra, Jabong, Fashion & You etc.

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Overall, online retail in India currently constitutes a small fraction of total sales, but is set to grow to a substantial amount and fraction owing to a lot of factors, such as rising disposable incomes, rapid urbanisation (expected to touch 40% by 2026), increasing adoption and penetration of technology such as the internet and mobiles (already adding over 10m consumers every month), rising youth population (expected to be over 240 million) as well as rising rentals for offline stores across the country.

Currently, organised retail constitutes well under 10% of total retail sales, signalling the huge opportunity that lies ahead. However, this enhanced opportunity also comes with increased competition pushing companies to become efficient across various processes as well as overall consumer experience.

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