Fashion is important to Indian culture for people of all ethnicities and generations because the type of clothing someone wears reflects her identity. In fact, each of India’s 29 states has its own distinct traditional clothing. Since fashion is core to women and their family’s precious time together, retailers that sell Indian fashion pieces must put customer satisfaction first.
Meena Bazaar, a Delhi-based retailer known since 1970 for beautifully designed sarees, suits and kurtas, knows the importance of creating unique pieces that reflect current trends. No one wants to show up at a wedding in the same dress someone else is wearing. When Suresh and Vishnu Manglani started the business in 1970, Meena Bazaar was a small store selling printed sarees. They passed the family-business down to their grandson Sameer Manglani who continues to run the business with the same priority: creating memorable customer experiences. In order to do this, the company uses technology throughout its production and merchandising process, keeping employees in its 55 stores worldwide on the same page. Here, Sameer Manglani shares the story of how Meena Bazaar started its online business to provide the best possible shopping experience.
Sameer Manglani, COO of Meena Bazaar, believes innovation is vital for a business’s success.
Q: How is technology supporting your business growth?
As a family-owned business, we understand the emotions our customer experience when they’re shopping for weddings and other special occasions. We provide customers with a wide range of styles and fabrics, so they can customize their clothing. We saw an opportunity to provide our customers with a better experience by launching a website that serves as an archive of photos of previous and current styles. When customers order a new piece, they can look at the existing models for inspiration.
With our online business, we’re also able to stay in contact with customers who don’t live near one of our stores. When families move outside of the country, many want to stay in contact with their home and order authentic Indian pieces from a traditional company.
Q: When did you introduce Google Apps for Work?
When we launched our website, I got hooked on Google Analytics because it gave me insights into website traffic. We could see the regions where our customers came from and what pages they visited. That helped us understand where we should open new stores.
When I learned about Google Apps for Work, I knew it would improve our day-to-day productivity. We use Google Drive for the entire supply chain management—sharing pictures across stores, coordinating pricing, ordering materials and communicating new product information. We use Google Docs to train in-store employees on how to create a better customer shopping experience. We equip all of our stores with tablets so customers can browse products and employees can access resources about custom orders and pricing using the Google Drive mobile app.
Mr. Sethi and his team use Google Drive to store photos and videos of their products.
Q: How do you keep track of so much inventory data?
We keep all product photos and videos stored in Google Drive, so we can easily access collections from three or four years ago using digital archives. Employees take pictures of what’s new in the store, upload them to Drive and post them to Instagram to share with our customers.
Our employees also take pictures and videos of products sold and upload them to Drive, so we can keep track of which pieces are popular. It’s also a good way to visually relay that information to our suppliers and restock our inventory. Every day, each store creates a new Drive folder to keep this information organized.
Google Sheets helps HR and store managers keep track of employees’ schedules.
Q: How has technology changed the customer experience?
When we stop making a product, we don’t remove it from our website because we want to listen to customers’ preferences. Every retired product is displayed with a button that says “show interest.” When a customer clicks, their information is automatically saved in Google Sheets, and we look at that spreadsheet daily to see if a good number of people have shown interest in an old product. If so, we’ll put the product back in stock. The first design we brought back was a saree that was first created 11 years ago. A lot of people showed interest in that design, so we brought it back to the market. It’s one of the ways we stay on top of fashion trends and customer preferences.
Fashion in India reflects a person’s identity.
Q: What benefits have you seen from using cloud technology?
Aside from helping us deliver a great customer experience, the biggest impact I’ve seen is the ability to make and see changes to documents in real time. For instance, I review HR documents for our global stores. On the first of the month, the HR team tells me the salary table is updated and I can easily look at it in Drive, highlighting my approvals in green. In the past, they would have emailed it to me as an attachment, and I’d have to download it, make changes, save it and send it back. Considering we have 55 stores and are growing, Drive saves me a lot of time.
Sameer Manglani, COO of Meena Bazaar