Foret uses lockdown to refocus on digital strategy
Sustainable accessories and jewellery brand Foret has launched a number of projects during lockdown with a focus on digital customer engagement as the brand predicts an increase in sustainable fashion’s popularity.
Foret, which produces and retails vegan accessories and jewellery made from recycled cork, is preparing to launch its new collection on its dedicated e-commerce store. The brand’s online store is now fully operational, while employees are continuing to work remotely to prioritise safety, Foret’s founder and creative director Supriya Satam tells FashionNetwork.com in an exclusive interview.
FashionNetwork.com: How has the pan-India lockdown affected the brand?
Supriya Satam: During the lockdown period we have focussed our energies towards achieving significant milestones. Our team has been working from home a couple of days before lockdown. We took this period to focus our energies towards implementing projects that were planned for the next couple of months as per the initial timeline.
We launched two gift cards during this period. Currently, every time you purchase a Foret product we contribute towards growing a forest in rural Maharashtra with our tree plantation partner Sankalptaru Foundation which provides financial independence to rural farmers. We extended this program to our customers whereby they can contribute toward growing trees and provide sustenance to the farmers. We also launched our virtual gift card to allow customers to gift a choice to their friends and family.
We amplified our customer engagement through our social media channel. I have personally connected with quite a few of our customers and partners during this challenging period to extend our warm wishes and support. We launched our blog which allows us to voice our thoughts and we are excited to have received a good response for the same.
We were planning to announce our new collection in March, however, we decided to put it on hold as we were more focussed on creating new processes that would ensure safety of our customers and employees. We will now be going live with our new collection.
Overall, given the current scenario, and the remote working structure, as a brand we have performed well on the parameters that we had set out.
FNW: To what extent have you restarted operations?
SS: Our website has been available for purchase even during lockdown and we have had quite a few prepaid orders. We have followed guidelines by the state government, and have resumed our shipping from 1 June, 2020. However, for the security and well being of our team and customers, we continue to work remotely. This will be the structure for some more time till the situation stabilises.
FNW: How have you managed your workers during lockdown?
SS: The security of our team members was utmost important and we started working remotely a couple of days before the lockdown started. We understand that the teams are now working from a shared space in their homes and they have other responsibilities thus the timings are kept fluid. The team is being paid in full and on time. Currently, we are still working remotely and the structure will stay until we believe that it is time to meet in person without posing a risk to anyone.
FNW: What will the post-lockdown months look like for Foret?
SS: During this lockdown period, we have taken some time to revisit our strategies and we have worked on possible scenarios and product categories that we may launch. However, we are keeping our strategy lean to allow us the flexibility to make changes as per the customer interests and the season.
We have also connected with our customers during this lockdown period to understand the product categories that they will prefer to buy from us and we would be using this as a focal point for new launches.
FNW: How have customers’ tastes changed since lockdown?
SS: A Foret customer is a mature customer who is confident and is seeking for products that add value and this attribute has permanence. Our customers have continued to make purchases across categories. We do have new customers on board during this period and we do find that there is a change as customers are now seeking products that are lasting and serve our planet.
FNW: How have you had to adjust your future plans following lockdown?
SS: Post lockdown, we will continue to work remotely for a couple of weeks and monitor the situation as the health of our employees and customers is our priority. We have worked on plans for future launches, however, we have also kept it flexible. This is a new reality and we are working on practical possibilities that can help us move forward.
FNW: What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
SS: We will be focusing on our digital strategies and customer engagement during the rest of the year. We will also formalise our plans for a new product launch after taking stock of the situation.
FNW: How do you think lockdown will affect the fashion accessories market in India?
SS: Currently, everyone is focused on essential purchases and this will be a trend for some more time. Face masks and protective gear may be the new accessories on the block and will get a designer touched lift as people start moving around. However, it is difficult to predict the actual pattern and expectation of the overall fashion accessories market as the situation is still evolving and there is no history to forecast in this new scenario.
FNW: Do you think the fashion industry will return to how it was before lockdown or not and why?
SS: There will be a transformation in the industry. The current fast paced approach followed by the fashion industry globally will have to take a back seat. In the wake of this global pandemic, consumers have become more conscious of their environment and prefer buying from brands that are ethical and have values and a sense of purpose. The mind share and market share of sustainable and slow fashion brands will have an incremental growth.
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