While most retailers have turned to deep discounting as a means to combat weak demand, Kishore Biyani-led Future Group is doing what perhaps no other retailer has ever done: charging customers a cover of Rs 100-250 to enter its discount fashion format Brand Factory.
The cover charge would be applicable during the fourth edition of its annual shopping festival ‘Free Shopping Weekend’ from December 4-8, when Brand Factory will charge consumers buying goods worth Rs 5,000 at maximum retail price (MRP) from its 103-odd stores only Rs 2,000, and even that would be returned in the form of free merchandise, gift vouchers and cash back in the company’s mobile wallet.
Customers can also redeem the entry fee against purchases. "The idea of this campaign is to acknowledge our customers personally. We are not really charging because it is redeemable. The entry fee will help us avoid long queue and ensure that we cater to serious shoppers and bring exclusivity to their shopping experience," said Roch D’Souza, chief marketing officer of Brand Factory.
This year, Brand Factory — a discount chain built on the lines of American chains such as TJ Max and Marshalls — has also surprised its customers with its personalised marketing. The company has identified one lakh customers, who have conversed with Brand Factory through various social media platforms over the last 3-4 years, and sent them customised invites in video formats.
In fact, customers who have had any sort of bad shopping experience in any of the previous editions have been given free passes with which they can shop first day, first hour. "We are very upfront in terms of what we promise and we ensure that we deliver it.
Last year, we had to shut the stores as there was chaos and we couldn’t service all customers so this year we expect a more controlled environment and curate the footfalls better," Roch explained, adding some 15 lakh people visited Brand factory outlets during the event last year and this year it is expected to be around 20-22 lakh.
The campaign is also seen as Future Group’s one-upmanship with e-commerce majors such as Flipkart and Amazon that are offering deep discounts to lure customers. Brand Factory, however seems to be staying the course unlike Flipkart and Amazon who are bleeding profusely as they continue to pamper consumers with hefty discounts.
In the second quarter of the current fiscal, Brand Factory has achieved a net revenue of Rs 573 crore with an overall growth of about 41 per cent. The company is looking at opening 20-25 stores mainly in the tier 2 and tier 3 cities, while also ramping up its online presence.
Biyani had earlier said he expects online sales of around Rs 1,000 crore this financial year. “We are investing in the online business and trying to understand the space again after we have lost money in Fab Furnish and had to shut operations,” said the quinquagenarian businessman.