We are entering a new evolutionary stage of retail in which more economic activity will flow into e-commerce. In the past few months, online shopping has gone from a regular habit for a minority of consumers to a crucial part of the Bangladeshi economy. While the economy recovers and consumer confidence is being restored, it has become evident that the pandemic has made some tectonic shifts in our irreversible market dynamics. While physical retail continues to suffer and is unlikely to rebound any time soon, it has enabled the Bangladeshi e-commerce sector to leapfrog a generation. The pandemic has paved the way for massive digitalisation of services, and consumers are leaning towards the digital platform to make purchasing decisions. It has prompted every industry towards a digital dimension. Concurrently, the domestic footwear industry is becoming increasingly dominant in the digital sphere. The digitalisation of the footwear market in Bangladesh is led by Apex Footwear Limited, one of the leading manufacturers of quality footwear in Bangladesh.
Shifting Consumer Preference
At the height of the pandemic, Bangladeshi footwear industry experienced a historical slump in sales that pushed it near the edge of collapse. Due to the countrywide lockdowns, most outlets were forced to remain shut for the better part of the last six months. Perhaps the missed opportunity to capitalise on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha dealt the most significant blow to the industry and its stakeholders. Fortunately, as the lockdowns are being lifted, consumer confidence has been restored in the domestic market, and it has been showing signs of recovery. However, according to Apex, consumer choices have inclined towards value for money propositions. The company is witnessing volume concentrations shift from leather to synthetic. Categories like flip flops see increasing demand, especially in semi-urban and rural areas.
Secret to Success
“Our online strategy is different from the one in physical retail. We have exclusive online collections, bundle offers, special discounts. We can ace in consumer engagement through our digital platform. We are just working on creating an experience around convenience by bringing the store to the consumer doorstep” Fahimul Islam Khan, Assistant Marketing Manager – Digital Marketing Lead, Apex Footwear Limited
Although the pandemic has accelerated mass adoption of e-commerce among Bangladeshi consumers, Apex Footwear Limited had to overcome some specific challenges. Shoe shopping has always been a physical experience for Bangladeshi consumers, therefore, making them accustomed to the virtual experience was a giant leap forward for the company. Apex was able to drive substantial traffic to their website through an extensive catalogue, competitive pricing and a seamless online customer journey. The success of the company lies in its quest in replicating the in-store experience virtually – from product selection to order delivery. The critical aspect of driving mass adoption to digital in this category is offering a seamless experience from product discovery to purchase. Having a world-class order fulfilment experience through a fully integrated supply chain is also an essential part of the overall success. Apex Footwear Limited has successfully specialised its online platform by offering exclusive collections, bundle offers and special discounts. They have aced consumer engagement through our digital platform. Apex is pursuing creating an experience around convenience by bringing the store to the consumer doorstep.
The Digital Dynamics
One of the most crucial aspects of e-commerce is digital marketing; it is essential to the company’s success in the digital platform. Strong digital marketing strategy has been pivotal for Apex Footwear Limited in achieving market supremacy. It has allowed the company to concentrate on its target audience and design campaigns that capture their imagination. Digital marketing will enable companies to monitor and evaluate their campaigns which facilitate efficient allocation of resources. It allows the company to adapt and drive better results. Companies no longer need to worry about obtaining feedback from the customers; they can easily track a campaign’s ROI and other indicators to see if it is driving valuable results for the business. Apex has utilised digital marketing to enhance customer engagement which has led to higher revenues. In the post-pandemic world, they have been able to design campaigns which had remarkable effects on their online sales figures. For example, the Eid Ul Fitr online sale was an online flash sale which saw massive participation. It was followed by “Apex Founder’s Day” which is designed to celebrate the birthday of Syed Manzur Elahi – Chairman Apex group via offering a flat 26% discount on apex products has been successful in creating a lot of buzz.
Leading by Innovation
Apex Footwear Limited continually innovates itself to ensure that it leads the Bangladeshi footwear industry. Currently, the company is focusing on e-marketing and marketing automation. Learning through consumer engagement and social monitoring has become a priority. Apex is enhancing its online catalogue and ensuring the best use of social platforms in streamlining target customers. As an overwhelming proportion, the revenue is resourced from the physical stores; Apex has launched ‘Lead2Store’ to ensure increased footfall in its outlets. As we advance, the company will focus more on adaptive and responsive ads to maximize performance. There will be an expanded collaboration with the major marketplaces for new digital opportunities and dynamic user interface of apex4u.com to ensure collections are available according to the target audience.