OYO Weddingz goes omnichannel, to have 200 retail stores in 30 cities by 2020: CEO Sandeep Lodha
With the first Weddingz store opening at Indirapuram, NCR-Delhi, the brand is looking to expand its offline presence across Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, and Lucknow over the next couple of months.
Hospitality firm OYO-owned Weddingz has announced its foray into the wedding retail store category, with its first store being opened at Indirapuram, NCR on Wednesday.
These stores will offer a one-stop solution for all wedding-related requirements, including venue and non-venue services like photography, mehendi, transport, makeup, and consultation. The company said another store in Karol Bagh, New Delhi is in the pipeline, and added that it aims to open 100 to 200 stores across 30 cities over the next year.
In a quick exclusive interview with YourStory, Sandeep Lodha, CEO of Weddingz, spoke about this latest venture.
YS: Tell us, why this move?
SL: Weddingz started its journey as an online platform. Today, our focus is to be present across channels to provide the best value and convenience with 100 percent transparency. We have forayed into the offline retail store category with a vision to increase accessibility for our customers across the spectrum, both online and offline, and to provide the best customer experience. This marks the transformation of the brand from an online wedding service enabler to an end-to-end omnichannel platform.
The physical store will also play a vital role in bringing the brand proposition to life and help consumers visualize their wedding, right from the initial stages of planning. Translating the interaction with customers into a real-life setting, the retail showrooms will bridge the gap between the brand and consumers by allowing them real-time interaction.
The stores will be aesthetically curated with upscale interiors and will offer the best-in-class experience put together by consultants, who are trained in the latest wedding trends.
YS: Are these professionals on-board with Weddingz or will the company connect consumers with them?
SL: The stores are completely Weddingz-owned and self-operated. We have an in-house team of trusted and curated vendors and advisers who believe in delivering nothing but the best.
YS: How do you see this strategy helping the business?
SL: This is a first-of-its-kind store that will offer consumers the power of choice with hundreds of end-to-end solutions. Weddingz, our online platform, has witnessed fast-paced growth since our launch in 2015. It has seen high ratings and a lot of happy customers. We thought, why not take the brand a notch higher through a physical touch-point strongly driven by technology. With our foray into the offline stores category, we can interact with customers in a physical setting, which will enable us to understand their requirements better. We believe that these offline stores will add to the business significantly and expect them to result in roughly 30 percent conversions.
YS: Can you tell us about the immediate plans for the retail strategy?
SL: In the next couple of months, our teams are going to focus on expanding wider and deeper across the 30 cities that we are present in. We look forward to opening about 100 to 200 stores by the end of 2020. We will heavily invest in strengthening our footprint across India, starting with New Delhi, followed by Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, and Lucknow in the first phase of our launch.
YS: With this, is Weddingz looking to dub itself as an offline brand?
SL: With the introduction of our offline wedding stores, we are focusing on transforming into an omnichannel platform. Additionally, to cater to the demands and meet the needs of evolving consumers, we have recently launched our bi-annual magazine, ‘The Wedding Trunk’, designed to provide readers with the latest trends and updates in the wedding industry. We also have a great presence on social media with a strong follower base of 1.5 million on Instagram. This showcases our drive to reach out to all kinds of potential consumers and provide services to best suit their requirements and to cater to diverse tastes irrespective of age, socio-economic background, and other demographics.
YS: The wedding space is a highly competitive one, with popular markets in Chandni Chowk in Delhi and online platforms like WedMeGood and WeddingBrigade catering to customers. How are you building a product-market fit in this segment?
SL: The competition is healthy and we welcome it. However, interestingly, we are not competing with any of these players as we are India’s largest wedding company and venue operators, with our portfolio extending to other wedding-related services as well. The organised wedding market is still at a very nascent stage and has surplus opportunities which are still not fully explored. We are trying to capitalise on a segment that looks to be value-oriented. This is one of the core reasons why Weddingz's primary promise to guarantee 100 percent transparency and delivery manages to strike a chord with a generation that is looking for convenience and end-to-end solutions under one-roof.
YS: How has the acquisition by OYO helped Weddingz so far? Tell us about your overall growth and further plans for scaling.
SL: A year after the acquisition by OYO, we have witnessed 480 percent growth in revenue, and 636 percent growth in bookings since August 2018.
Currently, we are live across 30 Tier I and Tier II cities across India with 800 venues and are managing over 3,500 events, end-to-end every month. We plan to expand to 36 Indian cities by December this year. Additionally, we have over 2,000 employees and aim to reach 3,000 by the end of 2019. That should give you an indication of the magnitude of growth we are chasing over the next few years.
(Edited by Athirupa Geetha Manichandar)
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