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Reliance Brands Limited is the biggest luxury goods retailer in India, as well as being one of the big retailers for Reliance Industries Limited, but the global lockdown caused by Covid-19 provided a big incentive for the company. Using WhatsApp catalogues, they have created a new way of ‘distance selling’ innovations.

For the past few months, we have been missing the human element from our shopping experiences and we have massively relied on online shopping. President and chief executive of Reliance Brands Limited, Darshan Mehta, noticed a unique opportunity to cash in on distance selling. To do this it involves using platforms like WhatsApp, Zoom and Microsoft Teams to have video calls or make appointments for customers to shop their products at home. We know how popular online shopping is here in the UK, and it is on the rise in India currently accounting for 25% of the organised retail market however it is expected to be at 37% by 2030.

WhatsApp has 400 million users in India, since launching in 2009, making India WhatsApp’s biggest audience. The shopping catalogue using WhatsApp was launched in 2019 and currently is available in India, Brazil, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, the UK and the US, and the feature allows businesses to display a mobile storefront. Le Mill is a popular concept store in Mumbai stocking brands like Balenciaga and Saint Laurent to name a couple popular brands, and for the past seven years they have used WhatsApp and have a 75% conversion rate. Shivan & Narresh have also used the app since 2017 and it has generated them a conversion rate between 80-90%.

Reliance Brands Limited have at least 45 brands from all over the world stocked and have a different price range to suit different customers. With their success, they now have the influence to push distance selling into mainstream retail in India.

For Reliance Brands Limited, this new distance selling model still exists in a grey area between in-store and online shopping, but this strategy will also be successful after Covid when we all start to return back to some normality. This new model can be used to reach customers who would never have been reached before with online shopping.

Brands such as Bottega, Veneta, Salvatore Ferragamo and Tiffany & Co are some of the brands who have hugely benefited from distance selling. Sale figures for Reliance Brands Limited show that luxury brands account for 25% of their sales using distance selling and premium brands like Steve Madden, Superdry and Gas account for 17% of their sales.

This approach has been successful in smaller cities, who don’t have all these big stores on their doorstep. Dehli accounts for 41% of distance selling sales figures, and people in smaller cities are choosing to distance shop rather than travelling to bigger cities to shop.

So far there are an estimated 500,000 customers and 75% of this results in distance sales being made through WhatsApp. Using their customers.

By Abigail

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