Mr. Aldo Bensadoun, founder of the Aldo Group talks about Aldo’s commitment to the Indian market.
On his very first trip to India, Canadian businessman Aldo Bensadoun, founder of the Aldo Group, is enthused by the promise the Indian market holds for premium fashion retail chains such as his. In an interview, he spoke about Aldo’s commitment to the Indian market, what premium fashion retailers are doing to pull consumers back into stores, the challenges posed by e-commerce and fast fashion chains, and the lessons learnt while selling encyclopedias as a door-to-door salesman.
Aldo Group operates a worldwide chain of fashion footwear and accessory stores. Edited excerpts:
How important is the Indian market for the Aldo Group? Where does it stack up in the larger scheme of things?
Right now, the Indian market for the Aldo Group is extremely small. However, we believe this market has a lot of potential and we are very well accepted here. Our business here has been growing at a very fast rate over the last two years or so. Even though we have been here for the last many years, we haven’t given this market the attention it needs. And today, we realize that India has been growing at a phenomenal pace and we want to be part of that growth. We expect growth to be fuelled by increased access to our physical stores as well as e-commerce, especially in smaller Indian cities.
Globally, an increasing number of people are steering clear of bricks-and-mortar stores, buying everything from shoes and clothes to groceries, online. How do you pull people back into stores?
Basically, retailing around the globe is really transforming itself. While it amounts to approximately 15% today, e-commerce will easily represent 30-35% of our sales moving forward. What’s happening is that there is a change in consumer behaviour. Not only are they shopping online, consumers are also doing their research online before venturing out into a store to buy. So, we are investing a huge amount of money to ensure we have a reliable platform to serve our customers both online and in the actual, physical store. Today, if we don’t have a size that the customer wants in the store, we will ship it to their home from another store, or even another country! What we’re also doing is to improve the store experience, with new systems, store renovations and staff development. Take technology, for example, when consumers walk into the store, there are additional incentives if they are registered on the Aldo app. The minute they walk into the store, the app signals their presence to a salesperson who will already know their name and shoe size. Moreover, the sales staff is armed with tablets, which helps them to check inventory and request a pair for the customer, without leaving the customer’s side. A runner from the back will bring out the shoe for the customer to try on. Moreover, we also have technology which will help consumers see how the shoe or bag will look with different types of clothing.