Bata Malaysia has rolled out its new Bata ChatShop on WhatsApp, enabling customers to chat with each Bata store directly to enquire and make purchases on their mobile phones. Using WhatsApp, customers can enquire on promotions and shoes available at the store nearest to them before confirming and paying online. The shoes will then be delivered on the same day or next from the very same Bata retail store. Additionally Bata said it has also beefed up offerings on its own website.
This comes as the shoe retailer realigns its retail strategy to place digital at the focus amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in Malaysia. According to Bata, retail footfall for its stores during the CMCO was only 30% of pre-COVID level.
In a statement to A+M, Bata Malaysia's country manager Ajay Ramachandran (pictured below) said it began preparing for Bata ChatShop since April this year and it has been testing it since May. "We chose WhatsApp as it is the most popular messaging service used by Malaysians and is widely available," he added.
Bata had originally planned to target digital natives using ChatShop, more specifically individuals who did not like to shop on eCommerce or through websites. However, after several months of experimenting, he realised that ChatShop attracts "a wide demographic of users between the ages of 20 to 65" and they were drawn to the function because of the same day or next day delivery options.
"We are promoting the ChatShop through our database of 3.3 million customers, most of the communications are targeted to them as we consider them brand advocates. The conversion rate is higher and therefore higher ROI," he added.
According to Ramachandran, the company invested in IT infrastructure to enable its omni-channel strategy to happen in the second quarter of 2021. He explained that the omni-channel strategy will enable its goal of serving consumers from anywhere to anywhere. Additionally, Bata has also invested more marketing dollars to drive traffic to its eCommerce website, although he did not reveal the exact monetary amount. Bata hopes for ChatShop to increase its revenue by 5%. As for its website, Ramachandran said it has achieved a 189% year-to-date increase in revenue.
According to Ramachandran, the pandemic has resulted in a bigger piece of its digital pie being channelled into digital marketing. "Currently our digital revenue is 4% of our overall business, and we hope to turn it to 10% by end of 2021," he added.
Like most companies, Bata has also witnessed an accelerated adoption of eCommerce and social commerce during the pandemic. Ramachandran said there has been an increased frequency of online conversations through its Facebook, Instagram, emails and WhatsApp. As for the fashion industry in particular, customers are looking for value items rather than seasonal ones.
In addition to ChatShop and improvement of website offerings, Bata has also doubled down on employee training to improve conversion rate and this move, Ramachandran said, has helped to cover the impact of reduced footfall.
Just last week, Malaysia reinstated the CMCO across all states in Peninsular Malaysia except for Perlis, Pahang and Kelantan, following new cases of infections after the elections in Sabah. The CMCO was first reinforced in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya on 12 October. When asked about the learnings from the first MCO which Bata will rely on to adapt its marketing and retail strategies, Ramachandran said it has learnt to go with "lighter and later", whereby its planning for marketing implementations is now lighter and done closer to the launch date due to the volatile environment.
Separately last month, Kantar announced that it has appointed Bata CEO Alexis to lead its operations effective 30 December. In the meantime, he will oversee the transition and will be supported by the executive committee and the board in this ongoing process.
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