Brand news

Godrej Interio to go online, ties up with IBM

25 Jan 2017

The initial portal will be launched in March while the fully functional ecommerce website will be launched in September. The brand intends to integrate online and offline services

The journey of Godrej’s furniture goes back to 1923 when the company launched ‘almirahs’ (steel cupboards). It was almost a trend to have an almirah back then. Now when wooden cupboards and wardrobes are common, almirahs have taken a backseat.

Having forayed into the furniture space back then, Godrej decided to expand into all forms of home and office furniture in 2006 with the launch of Godrej Interio. Consumers could visit a Godrej Interio store and buy furniture. But in an era when consumers are doing everything online, it has become necessary for brands to have their presence online. Although the Indian market is a tough nut to crack, there has been quite some progress in the last five years in the online commerce space.

With an intention to integrate online and offline services, Godrej Interio has collaborated with IBM. It intends to launch its fully functional ecommerce portal ‘www.godrejinterio.com’ in September this year, while the initial portal will go live in March.

In a conversation with BestMediaInfo.com, Shanu Singh, Head, Ecommerce and Digital Transformation, tells us about the journey of going online and integrating online and offline services.

Godrej Interio has been planning to enter the ecommerce space for the last two years. The brand sees huge potential in going online. Hence it collaborated with IBM to leverage on IBM’s Design Thinking and Commerce Solutions so as to deliver a personalised and seamless Omni-channel brand experience. This investment in technology will help the brand reduce many offline costs. IBM Chicago’s creative team will be designing the website and at the same time maintain it for Godrej Interio.

In 2015, Singh got a new team on board to manage the ecommerce vertical. When asked about the strategy, he said, “Godrej Interio has always innovatively used the omni-channel strategy to break through the clutter along with its different approaches towards advertising and marketing. Therefore, we will continue to be present across platforms -- from print to outdoor, digital and television. However, bringing digital to real and linking both is critical for us to engage with our consumers. As a brand that has a product portfolio that is extremely diverse, it’s essential for us to be present across platforms.”

The furniture maker chose IBM because of its robust enterprise platform. The ecommerce platform plans to offer all its three brands – Godrej Interio, U&Us and a new lifestyle home furniture brand. Currently, products branded Godrej Interio are offered through multi-brand online retailers like Mebelkart, Pepperfry and Flipkart.

Singh believes that anyone who has a smart phone is their customer. “He could be a 15-year-old or someone who is of 25 years of age,” he added. They intend to offer a range of products for all kinds of consumers.

Singh thinks branding of furniture has become important. He is of the opinion that people buy furniture because it is of a certain brand. But in spite of this, the unorganised furniture market in India is as high as 87-88 per cent. While the players are tackling with the unorganised furniture market, the organised furniture sector still has huge potential.

Players like Pepperfry.com, Urbanladder, FabFurnish and online furniture rental players are all competing in the remaining 12-13 per cent of the organised furniture market. It is only the manufacturer who can actually tackle the unorganised market while established companies like Godrej Interio or a Pepperfry cannot do much. The organised furniture manufacturing industry in India is around Rs 120,000 crore and employs over 300,000 people.

While online players like Pepperfry went from online to offline for the touch and feel factor in the Indian context, Godrej Interio is going in the opposite direction. Singh is of the opinion that offline footfall will be positively affected as it will further boost the footfall at the stores. He said, “It will only enhance the customers shopping experience. Hence while e-commerce is an opportunity, we do look at this platform as a channel to drive the online consumers to our on-ground stores.”

Asked about their media plans, Singh said, “Earlier, Godrej Interio majorly spent on traditional media. Today, about 10 per cent of our marketing budget is reserved for digital and the number will only grow. The objective of the media plan would also be to focus more on search engine optimisation and market.”

It must be noted that Godrej Inerio’s offline media business is managed by Mindshare, while creative business is split between L&K Saatchi and Saatchi and Joshbro communications. Their digital agency is WATConsult and performance management agency is iProspect. WATConsult and iProspect may partially assist the brands online commerce, but that is yet to be decided by the brand. In course of time, the brand will have media, creative and digital agencies on board.

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