Get Lacoste products online from next year in India

Lacoste, the French retailer of premium clothing and accessories, is considering offering its products for online purchases, after facing slower sales growth across its stores last year.

In what will be the first such move by the retailer in India—it does not participate in e-retailing in India— Lacoste is expecting to launch a website by next year to sell and deliver products across the country.

“It’s a good sales channel that we just cannot ignore,” said Rajesh Jain, managing director at the retailer in an interview. The local website—lacoste.com\in—will likely be linked to the company’s global homepage, allowing consumers to shop here.

Jain said consolidated sales growth for the retailer slowed to 15% last year, down from 25% in the year-ago period. The company opened fewer stores as consumers spent more time and money shopping online.

“Growth has slowed down from what we are used to seeing in this market, largely because of more sales moving online and a sluggish economy,” said Jain.

The retailer, popular for its polo t-shirts in solid colors, added only two new doors in calendar year 2014, as opposed to the 5-7 stores that it would typically open in a good year.

Clearly the French are waking up to the fact that Indian shoppers are moving towards shopping online, driven by both the ease and discount, from retailers such as Flipkart and Jabong.

“When shoppers open their wallets online their need to step outside and shop reduces,” added Jain. “So we clearly saw lower footfalls in stores.”

The retailer had so far shunned third party websites as it doesn’t normally offer steep discounting. “Whatever you get online from Lacotse is possibly counterfeit. We just don’t subscribe to that model of promotions,” Jain said.

However, not anymore. Lacoste intends to open its own website and not sell its products through thrid-party websites.

Consumer sentiment at large wasn’t as promising either to lure shoppers to shop more added Jain, who has been the retailer’s India head since it opened its first store in Delhi in 1993. It currently has close to 50 point of sales in India.

The retailer’s pace of store addition will, however, speed up by early 2016 as it expects “frivolous online discounting” to cool down over the next 12 months and the markets to see a correction.

“From our conversations with industry experts at large and other retailers, we except excessive discounting to cool off gradually,” Jain said. “We will start expanding by adding 8-9 new doors next year.”

Lacoste isn’t the only retailer seeking to build an online presence in India. India’s largest retailers such as Future Group and Reliance Retail too are adopting strategies to scale up their presence on the Internet to capture the shift away from physical stores.

Courtesy:: http://www.livemint.com/

Amit Chaudhary

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