In Digital, Digital Marketing, Digital Selling

Silk Sarees

One of our clients of our Digital Consulting firm is a famous silk saree business situated in the temple city of Kanchipuram in Tamilnadu, India. They are among the most popular destinations for pure Kanchipuram silk sarees. Their brand has become so popular that over 70% of customers are from outside Tamilnadu. Walking into their store is like walking into Tirupathi Devasthanam, the ever crowded temple. Their shop is open on all days of the week and it becomes even more crowded during the Muhurtham (auspicious) days as families throng the shop to buy silk sarees for their family occasions. When Covid-19 stuck, all physical stores including the silk saree showroom was forced to close down and this brought their roaring business to an abrupt halt.

Until then, much of their focus was on store sales as this was bringing in the lion’s share of the business. Their sales from digital was a small percentage and they had a token presence online. But with the unprecedented pandemic, the senior management’s attention shifted to digital and they started to take it a lot more seriously.

It was around this time that we quickly revamped their website. We did away with their archaic website which had bloated code and built a spiffy, good looking website from the ground up that was mobile first and responsive. We added advanced commerce facilities. Customers could visit the website, browse through, select and buy the sarees of their choice. 

However, there was one crucial element missing in the website shopping experience. There was no active interaction between the customers and the staff. E-commerce is a passive experience.  If you looked at how customers bought the sarees in their physical store, you will notice that the customers would like to look at multiple sarees, then they would shortlist a few of them and then finally handpick the best ones from the shortlist. There was a lot of discussion that happens. The staff would intently listen to the requirements of the customers and patiently show many sarees until the customers would be satisfied. This crucial element of interaction with the staff was missing in the E-commerce shopping experience.  So, along with the management we came up with the idea of enabling shopping via Whatsapp video.

Here is what we did. We set up a customized appointment system using Calendly where customers can choose a particular date and time of their convenience within the working hours. While registering, we will request them to give their name, email and Whatsapp number. On that particular date and time, their staff would call them from a mobile device on Whatsapp video.

Once the staff has successfully connected with the customers on Whatsapp Video, they proceed to interact with them just like they would in a physical showroom. The staff would ask the customers the occasion for which they are buying the saree, the price range and their favorite colours. The staff members would then select a bunch of sarees and display it to the customers.  While one staff member holds the camera, the other staffs would spread the sarees one by one while explaining the intricate details about the saree.

This interactive live video medium has now made it very easy for customers to ask questions about the saree, ask for a particular pattern or to show closeup of a particular design. The knowledgeable staff can now answer each of these questions. This mimics the real shopping experience.

What was very interesting is that multiple family members from different cities and even different countries would join in on the same Whatsapp video call. In most cases, buying silk sarees, especially high priced bridal silk sarees, is always a group decision. This was easily accomplished using Whatsapp video.

Once the customers select the sarees, a bill is generated and instantly sent to them via whatsapp messages and email. The customers can then pay the money via credit card or online bank transfer. Once the payment is received, they courier the sarees immediately to the customers and they receive them in a day or two.

Customers started to feel comfortable with the medium and interestingly, they found this even more convenient than conventional shopping. Now, they can experience shopping that is as close to real world shopping, without the hassle of traveling from their hometown to Kanchipuram.

By embracing the digital medium, the silk saree brand was able to continue to do business even during the lockdown.

If a traditional business like this silk saree brand can become tech savvy and quickly adapt, then it is a wake up call for many other businesses to embrace digital and leverage this effectively for increasing their bottom line.  At Business Blogging, our digital consultancy that focuses on digital selling, we work very closely with our clients to better understand their objectives, be sensitive to their challenges and help them achieve their business goals by smartly leveraging digital and social media.