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Westside: More than a transactional brand; it’s a lifestyle

Over the last few decades, India has undergone a huge cultural transformation towards confidence and self-expression. Now more than ever, people are expressing their personalities through diverse fashion choices. One brand that remains at the forefront empowering customers to embrace their unique identities is Tata-owned Westside.

In the bustling streets of modern India, where tradition dances with innovation, Westside has been weaving its story for 25 years. Founded in 1998 under the umbrella of Trent Ltd. by Tata Group, Westside is beyond just a clothing store. It has become a beacon of contemporary fashion, evolving alongside the dynamic Indian consumer. But at its core, Westside is all about fashion—fresh, contemporary, and affordable.

Since its inception, Westside has grown beyond just fashion and has evolved into a much-loved family lifestyle brand. While their primary focus still remains on being a fashion-forward brand, they also recognise immense potential in other segments including lingerie, beauty, swimwear, and resort wear. Additionally, their home business is also growing steadily.

“So I think the core of our business is great fashion. Around it, we want to build a lifestyle proposition because then people connect with Westside not just as a transactional fashion brand, but as a lovely lifestyle and grow with it,” states Shailina Parti, COO, Westside.

Key Brand Features

1. Completely In-House: Westside operates 100% on their private labels. It does not sell any other external brand within their ecosystem. But the highly-innovative brand is always on the lookout for what is next.

2. All-inclusive Brand: Westside has been one of the few brands in the country that has been body positive from its inception. The brand has done it all – from lingerie campaigns featuring curvy women, to its all inclusive campaigns featuring diverse sizes and shapes. The brand is a great champion for embracing differences with plus size brands like Gia and Deezer, one of the fastest growing brands under its aegis.

Westside

3. Store Design: The design philosophy for Westside stores revolves around simplicity and purpose. They are spaces where people can explore, discover, and connect. The brand’s aim is to offer styles that cater to every moment in a consumer’s life, whether they are going on a vacation, starting a family, or looking after their skin. Their stores allow free browsing without distracting the customers with signages or price points.

They are a ‘feel-first brand’ with a heavy focus on store aesthetics, easy navigation and a clutter-free environment.

“We recognize that consumers like to discover. So there is no salesperson following you saying, ‘hey, buy this right now.’ Making sure that it is easy for the consumer to navigate is a priority. We recognize that the consumer enjoys that sort of, I would not say passive way of communication, but they allow themselves to indulge and they also allow themselves the freedom and the safety within the space not to be pounded upon,” says Umashan Naidoo, Head, Customer & Beauty, Trent Ltd.

4. Pricing: Westside’s pricing is straightforward, adhering to ‘first price, right price’ strategy avoiding fluctuating prices and discounts to maintain transparency in the market. The brand acknowledges the challenges posed by the marketplace but it sticks to its values. Instead of putting a discount on the items that do not do well, it prioritises bringing in new designs regularly while removing what does not work from stores.

5. Responsible Sourcing: Being a Tata brand, Westside puts integrity above all throughout its operations. The brand became a pioneer of responsible sourcing before it attracted buzz in the market. It monitors compliance quarterly to ensure adherence to standards in fabrications and sourcing processes, is diligent in testing sourced materials and has taken steps to reduce environmental impact by implementing sustainable practices in areas including, water usage and energy conservation.

Understanding the Consumer

Technology touches Westside’s business at an entire level in all the processes. But one of the key areas where they are using technology is to understand customer behaviour. Westside has put customer preferences at the forefront of all their activities. To stay on top of their innovation game, they have been using technology to understand the preferences of their customers and predict the trends well in advance.

“I think the recognition of form and fit is very important for us. And we have been through many processes of making sure that we have the right modern foot and contemporary foot for our consumer because there is no point in having a nice garment that does not fit well,” says Naidoo. Every four weeks, Westside offers something new in terms of collections across all their 26 brands. “Our stores are our billboard and the newness is the way we connect with consumers and keep them engaged with us,” explains Naidoo.

Westside

On a weekly basis, Westside looks at the behaviour of its customers to understand what they might want. “So hypothetically, if a woman came into the store and bought something from Westside, what else did she buy? And then we compared those baskets with the second and third choices with other brands. And one of my aims in campaigning is to almost get it to shift and try new things. There is a lot of focus on how we bring it together using tech,” he says. The brand believes that nudging and cheering customers to try something new based on their previous choices is one of the big opportunities for them.

Westside also uses social media as a tool to drive communication with customers while also tracking their fashion journeys to understand their behaviour.

Distribution

Westside currently operates in over 230 stores throughout the country. On average, the brand opens 30 new stores each year and currently has a presence in 86 cities across both tier 1 & 2 cities. The brand is currently focusing on tapping into the vast potential of India, particularly in emerging markets where the incomes are getting stronger and there is a growing demand for fresh styles.

Westside

The brand has also observed a keen interest among the younger demographic in regions like Pune and South India, where there is a vibrant energy and emerging acceptance towards embracing new trends. In Bangalore, Trent Ltd. has created an innovative concept called ‘The Shed’ which houses Trent brands, including Westside, Star Bazaar, Spool (their beauty brand), and Zudio, creating a hub for Trent enthusiasts.

EXPANSION AREAS Apart from brick and mortar stores, Westside also has a significant presence on their e-commerce platform, but that remains an area of opportunity for the brand.

  • The brand started its e-commerce operations in 2020, so it remains only a small part of their business.
  • Apart from their own website, Westside only sells its products on Tata Group’s Tata Cliq.
  • Their digital channel is updated monthly to reflect the new arrivals in-store, ensuring consistency on both the channels.
  • They recognise the importance of mobile applications in reaching the customers more efficiently.
  • Moving forward, the brand plans on adding new features to their app such as contactless sizing assistance, and options for delivery or in-store pickup.
  • Like Zara and H&M, Westside also eventually plans on putting everything into their app, which will then reflect a customer’s entire history.

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