While retailers worldwide struggle to stay afloat, China’s brick-and-mortar store InTime has found a way to turn the economic downturn to its advantage.
It is without a doubt that the economic crisis brought upon by the coronavirus pandemic has forced small to huge retail stores like InTime to shut down, resulting in massive revenue loss.
For an Alibaba-run department store, however, it turned out as a catalyst to discover the power of online selling and, ingeniously odd, live streaming.
Chen: Digital selling helped us amid pandemic
InTime—whose sales are heavily dependent on foot traffic—had closed 65 of its stores in China during the lockdown period, dragging the company’s revenue to fall in the first quarter of the year. To put a standstill to its declining sales, the Alibaba-owned store tried to incorporate live streaming as a sales strategy.
In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, May 28, InTime’s CEO Chen Xiaodong said that the company’s shift to digital selling has surprisingly helped the company in terms of revenue.
“The traditional service in our department stores or shopping mall, they only can serve one person or two. But live streaming can serve a bunch of people at the same time,” he explained.
InTime’s May sales have seen an upward trend, according to its CEO, and has reportedly recovered to last year’s levels despite the ongoing crisis. Almost 20% of this year’s earnings were driven by online sales as well, compared to its 2019’s “single-digit” contribution.
Given the increasing trend, Chen also expects the brick-and-mortar store’s sales to hit a 50% mark in 2021.
InTime to ramp up its online presence
InTime made between 100 to 200 sessions during the pandemic, and looking at its positive results, its CEO told CNBC that the company is now looking to boost its digital footprint.
As per Chen, the China-based department store will particularly improve its live-streaming efforts. InTime will also ramp up products being sold through live streaming and other forms of digital content.
“The live streaming is booming in a period of the pandemic, but I think in a normal time, we will also focus on this kind of tools.”
At the same time, Chen revealed InTime’s plan to add new physical stores despite the ongoing health and economic crisis. He said that prior to coronavirus, the company has been aiming to build five to eight stores per year.
Given the facts, it looks like the only way to fare the pandemic is for brick-and-mortar retail stores to take refuge online.