Retail is in an era of digital boom: Kamal Khushlani, Mufti

Kamal Khushlani, Founder & Managing Director, Mufti spoke about the brand’s journey, expansion into the footwear sector, e-tail market and more

e4m by Dolly Mahayan
Updated: Jan 9, 2019 8:45 AM

Denim brand Mufti made inroads when brands entering in the Indian market were at their infancy. Today, the retail market has seen rapid growth in the sector. The entry of the e-commerce market is seen as a boon to the retail industry.

According to Kamal Khushlani, Founder & Managing Director, Mufti, “Being one of the first casual brands in this space was an advantage and the timeliness of its launch has played a vital role in the brand’s journey.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Kamal Khushlani, Founder & Managing Director, Mufti spoke about the brand’s journey, expansion into the footwear sector, e-tail market and more.

How has Mufti's journey been over the last 20 years? Tell more about its growth over these few years.

We tried to bring a change in the way mainstream fashion is perceived. The brand strives to maintain the same ethos by providing an alternative choice to our lifestyle which is fashionable, at the same time comfortable. The journey has been adventurous and advantageous.

Tapping into the retail space, when it was a completely novel industry, was an occasion where Mufti made a calculated risk. The move paid dividends to the extent where the brand attained first-mover advantage occupying a crucial segment of the market.

We see that apparel brands are either classified into casual or denim brands. But the consumer is one who doesn’t differentiate between the two, thus making it one big category in the real sense.

What strategy does the brand have to increase the number of stores in the e-tail era?

This is an era of the digital boom; e-tail is going to be extremely instrumental and influential in brand expansion. e-Commerce has improved fashion consumption.

Building one’s’ business takes time; we’re constantly looking for opportunities to leverage the brand’s identity in the market to expand its presence in all the geographies. On the offline front, we will increase the number of our outlets, to increase our reach.

Could we see the omnichannel as the future of the retail industry? How it can survive in the online world?

Today customers want to have complete control over their purchasing and buying decisions. Omnichannel retailing helps businesses in enabling and enhancing the seamless experience for its customers in the online space.

Fluidity between channels is increasing, which allows retail brands to shape shoppers' experiences and ultimately build a competitive advantage founded on Omnichannel customer intelligence.

We have collaborated with e-commerce partners like Tata Cliq, where we have the best selling menswear brand, but we are in the process of creating one for ourselves. That shall be a decision that we will take in the next financial year. Until now, we have been implementing the established capabilities of these respective portals resulting in an excessive amount of error-free data, which is authentic and trustworthy, coming from them.

How do you see e-commerce growth in the retail sales industry?

The investment made by e-commerce market leaders in India has contributed to a growing number of digital buyers. The e-commerce industry is developing a pace that is slow, but at the same time steady. The overall growth for the industry ranges between 9%-17% globally, which is slightly lower than what we expect it to be. But on the other hand, there is ample room for optimism as this rate has been consistent with there being no fall in the growth.

Given the current global market trends, the industry will grow exponentially from here on. This growth might be a bit slow paced initially, but it will pick up steam as e-commerce websites and apps for shopping and other purchases are finding more takers.

Why has the brand opted for an expansion into the footwear space?

Mufti's expansion into the footwear segment is a result of the company’s in-depth research. It is the company’s vision of becoming an INR 1000 crore brand on MRP in the coming 5 years.

Our primary focus continues to be on delivering more value to the customer with our products. It’s our responsibility and duty to widen our offerings so that when the customer enters the stores, they get a range of products that will help them buy products that can be coupled together and save their time looking for the products they need. Our footwear collection carries forward our brand ethos and our promise of bringing quality products that comprise of style in the market.

According to you what was the most crucial challenge the retail industry has faced?

Two of the main obstacles that the retail industry faces are the issues of rising rental prices and the consumers being unable to differentiate between various fabrics and variants in apparels. When it comes to the formal, increasing prices have been one of the biggest issues that the industry has been facing. There are limited options for retailers in terms of quality retail real estate so what we see is there being upward pressure on rentals in these spaces as the demand rises. One way for the situation to improve is for us to increase our sales to maintain the income- expense ratio.

Regarding the differentiation, customers should ideally know what they are purchasing and hence be able to tell the difference. Consumer recognition goes a long way in enhancing the way retail products sell their products, as there would be purchases made on the basis of the customer now having much better knowledge and understanding.

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