Interview | Titan is working on an omichannel strategy: S Ravi Kant, CEO, Watches and Accessories

Updated: May 10, 2019 1:19:49 AM

E-commerce is growing rapidly; we have seen an over 40% growth in sales. The contribution from our partners such as Flipkart, Myntra and Jabong is much higher than Titan’s own website, says S Ravi Kant.

S Ravi Kant, CEO, Watches and Accessories (Photo: Meghana Sastry)

When it comes to retailing on e-commerce and adopting an omnichannel model, Titan has been a late mover. S Ravi Kant talks to Sonam Saini about the impact of e-commerce on sales, the company’s foray into the fitness segment, and its efforts to stay relevant to the youth. Edited excerpts:

Having launched your e-commerce operation in 2015 — rather late compared to competition — would you say it is a setback?

E-commerce is growing rapidly; we have seen an over 40% growth in sales. We are also redesigning our websites. Most recently, we relaunched Fastrack.in, which is e-commerce enabled. Consumers want to shop on websites where they get a wide range of choices. Therefore, the contribution from our partners such as Flipkart, Myntra and Jabong is much higher than Titan’s own website. We work very closely with our e-commerce partners. There is no rapid discounting on these sites; therefore, the brand image remains protected.

How do you deal with brands online that offer deep discounts and affordable style?

The so called ‘stylish watches’ that sell on e-commerce sites at low prices — below Rs 500 — are largely unbranded. They cater to a very different consumer segment, and hence do not compete with Titan brands.

Most retailers are embracing the omnichannel model, but not Titan. What’s the plan?

We have 750 exclusive brands outlets across the country. An omnichannel strategy is something we are working on. We are trying to expand Helios, our premium brand retail chain which is already omnichannel. Currently, we have 74 Helios stores that contribute over 20% to our growth.

Omnichannel will be launched through Titan.co.in, and the World of Titan and Fastrack stores will get connected this fiscal. Customers will have the option to buy or reserve the product online and pick it up from the nearest store, or even have it shipped from the store.

How does selling international brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Police, Espirit and French Connection online affect Titan’s sales?

We have many verticals within the watches business; each of our brands operates independently and has separate teams. The licensed brand division is where we have the licence for international brands to market in India. We select these brands very carefully, seeing to it that these help us acquire new customers and tap into segments that Titan is not serving. Consumers also want international brands. This space contributes 30% growth to Titan’s business, and is growing. This doesn’t eat into our share. If at all there is an overlap, it would be around 5-6%, which is fine. We typically don’t sell brands that directly compete with our own labels.

What prompted the diversification into fashion and fitness accessories?

A couple of years ago, we noticed that Fastrack (our fastest growing brand last year) was going down because the youth gradually stopped buying watches, and instead were spending money on upgrading mobile phones. We also noticed that some of them had started buying fitness bands; hence, we launched the sub-brand Reflex under Fastrack, which is growing the fastest, followed by Fastrack watches, belts, wallets and backpacks.

Similarly, we realised that women see Raga as a watch for special occasions. Also, it was used by women over 35 years of age. To fill the gap, we took two steps: we launched the Raga Viva collection, and tied up with Masaba Gupta, who has great appeal among the youth, to launch Raga Masaba.

The reason to get into these categories is to become a part of the youngster’s life. We are also developing new properties such as the Fastrack Music Run. Furthermore, there are products like the Titan connected smartwatch, and a fitness brand under Sonata at a low price point for small-town consumers.

Why would a consumer opt for a Titan smartwatch as against any other established brand?

Titan has a loyal consumer base which is an advantage. We also provide after-sales service, which is missing in the case of a majority of international brands. Although there are some challenges, we are developing our own expertise as we grow in this journey.

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