About a month ago, Royal Enfield launched store.royalenfield.com. This in itself is news enough. For the first time in India, a motorcycle brand is officially offering their merchandise and apparel online. But more importantly, it’s the range and look of the products on offer that excites us more. Everything from boots and jackets to wallets and diaries (#really?!) is on offer, though we’d like to see a few essentials added to the range. Enfield has, thankfully, done away with the deadwood part of their old range and added sleek, contemporary products in its stead. However, they’ve retained the best products from their old range, making the new range a good mix of old trusted, tested products and brand new retro styled ones. Sounds like a win-win combination.
Royal Enfield’s online closet is basically (and very wisely) split into two categories of products; safety or performance gear that’s meant for hardcore riding and urban or lifestyle gear. The safety gear is appropriately armoured, uses good materials and looks like it will last. What we simply love is their new range of urban apparel and accessories, specially the new range of footwear and jackets. Definitely worth a dekko.
As it happened, a few days back we bumped into Samrat Som from Royal Enfield. An old hand in the apparel business for more than a decade now, he currently heads the Apparel & Accessories business at Royal Enfield. We met over lunch and he was gracious enough to answer a few questions that we had to ask about the newly launched e-store of Royal Enfield. Here’s what he had to say…
Motonomous: We love the look of the new product portfolio. Who’s the designer? Is it a team or one person? Do give us a little background about the people who made this happen.
Samrat: Thank you. It’s a small start. The product portfolio has been designed by the in-house design team at Royal Enfield. We are a bunch of people who worked for the longest in the apparel retail business and have gathered here at Royal Enfield to create some exciting stuff. Siddhartha (Lal, MD & CEO, Eicher Motors) has been the driving force behind Royal Enfield and we keep discussing ideas over. For our riding gear range, we also talk to our Rides and Community team a lot.
Motonomous: Many of the titles given to products are not from common Indian lingo, like knits, Henleys and cardigans. Is this a positioning decision?
Samrat: The names reflect either heritage names of these products or the techniques used to make those products.
Motonomous: Why now? This revamping of merchandise and accessories has been long overdue since the revamping of the brand and the logo. Is this move well timed or forced by need of the hour?
Samrat: We have been working on these for a while. We did bring out a couple of small collections earlier. The brand visual identity change necessitated updating earlier products while the new collection has been in the works for almost a year now. We brought it to market soon as we were ready.
Motonomous: Bikers sometimes like to colour match their gear to their bikes. Are we likely to see more colour options in the gear, in the various Enfield colours?
Samrat: It is an interesting idea. While we will endeavour to bring more exciting products and colour variations for our motorcyclists, commercial constraints are always going to be there. It’s easier to bring in colour coordinated products in certain safety (riding) gear and test if there are enough takers. Its not so easy in other products. We will keep trying.
Motonomous: You’re the first motorcycle brand to officially sell merchandise online in India. No other company, Indian or international, has an e-store that officially sells in India. Do you think that’s a big first mover advantage? Will others follow?
Samrat: We didn’t know that. Or we didn’t notice that. Our effort has been to create products for Royal Enfield’s customers and enthusiasts. Next logical step is to make it convenient for them to access all the products and the web-store is one of the many steps towards that effort.
Motonomous: There’s a clear demarcation of products on the e-store. Lifestyle+Urban gear v/s Safety/Performance gear. Which category do you see as being the major seller? Tell us about your philosophy behind both.
Samrat: Riding Gear (safety/performance) is a very important product category for us. This is a small but growing category in this country; it ought to be given its due importance. The riding gear market in India is hugely underserved and has a big scope of improvement in both quality and the choice of products. We believe our well crafted, meticulously detailed, purpose-built riding gear will allow motorcyclists the much needed selection and hence promote safe riding. Royal Enfield gear is inspired from the brand’s 114 years of rich heritage and classic motorcycling in general. Our products are contemporary yet timeless, simple (pure/essential) and fun. The lifestyle and urban range is an ode to the brand Royal Enfield- its history and the places it has been to. The products enhance the pleasure of “Pure Motorcycling” both on and off the motorcycle. Right now, we see very similar off-take in both the categories and that gives us the belief that we need to invest in both.
Motonomous: For the Enfield e-store to become a one-stop-shop for a motorcyclist, a few things seem to be missing. Like touring luggage, rain wear, bolt on kits, bike accessories, etc. Any plans for these in the near future?
Samrat: There’s a lot to be done and this is just the beginning. We always keep working on and developing new product categories. As and when we are ready with something new, we will talk about it.
Motonomous: Tell us a little about the in store (off-line) availability of the new portfolio? Will the complete range be available in all stores, franchise outlets, or will you be selling some selected merchandise online only? Is there a flagship store in the offing exclusive to merchandise?
Samrat: We have stores that are run by our dealer partners. They are closest to their markets and catchment areas and they would know better about the optimum merchandise mix for their stores. They will have a fair representation of all the categories. We already have a good process of quick ordering and replenishments; we are continuously working on improving this process. Royal Enfield company-owned stores will continue to have all our products. The web-store would be definitive and it will of course have the complete assortment.
Motonomous: What about girls? Any plans for an all exclusive product line up for girls?
Samrat: It’s a small start for the Royal Enfield Gear business and for now our collection caters to men. Women motorcyclists are a small but growing segment and we are aware of lack of options in this market. But it is also a more complicated product group. We have to be ready with products in this category before we can talk about them.
Well, our fairer counterparts definitely need purpose-built gear and accessories as much as we do, so we certainly hope Royal Enfield releases their women’s line sooner rather than later. Having gone through the site in detail, here are some things we thought the store needs in order to give the shopper a richer, better experience. We’re nitpicking here, but what the hell.
Relevant Sizing Charts and Sizing Instructions for Each Produc
We saw no sizing charts on the site. For an e-store selling apparel, a sizing chart is a must. Also it’ll be nice if there are clear instructions on how to size for a specific product.
Specify Volume/Capacity of Products Wherever Relevan
Shoppers would love to see details on the size, volume and/or capacity of products wherever they’re relevant. Are the diaries A4 or A6? By how many centimeters are the Long Gloves longer than the Short Gloves? etc.
Scale/Size Comparison of Product
We’ll explain this through an example. Under ‘Bags’, there is a product called ‘Travel Kit’. When seen in the thumbnails view on the landing page of the ‘Bags’ category, the Travel Kit looks bigger than the Tote Bag listed just above it. Photographs of products in use, depicted in the relevant ambience might solve this problem. Show a rider in a hotel room in the morning, shaving in front of the mirror, with the Travel Kit placed in the photo. That’ll give the viewer an idea of size and intended use.
Appropriate Units of Size
Indians typically measure shoe sizes in UK units. On the Royal Enfield store, the footwear is sized using US sizes. It’s a little confusing. Either use UK sizes, or give us a comparison chart.
It’ll be awesome to read what previous buyers of a product think about it. Add a review section, where a person can either write a detailed review and/or just give X out of 5 stars to a product.
Again, we’ll explain this with an example. There are many boots to choose from, many of which have similar features. It’ll be good to be able to compare 2 or more products feature to feature, so we can make a better informed choice.
To end with, here are some products from the Royal Enfield’s range, which we at Motonomous simply loved.
We’ve always rued the lack of availability of good riding/touring boots in India. Presently, all quality options cost well over 10,000 and whatever is available under that is crap. The Long Riding Boots from Royal Enfield are priced at Rs 6499/- and their list of features is pretty extensive. Our first impression is of good workmanship and built-to-last quality of construction.
Hussar/Oil-Pull-Leather Riding Boots
These seem to be the only boots from the urban/lifestyle collection that boast of a certain degree of reinforcement at toe, heels, etc. They seem to have the degree of safety required for daily in-city commuting and they look awesome! And they come in two colour options.
We have a kink for tough denim. Though we recommend using only purpose built polymer textile riding pants when riding long distance, in the city, while commuting, its good to wear tough denim. India lacked a pair of tough denims with armour though. Till now. Available in 2 colours, the new RE riding denims look slim and svelte and the styling seems contemporary. And they boast of genuine Sastec armour!
Show us a biker who doesn’t love a bit of camo, and we’ll show you an odd job. When executed tastefully, camo looks sexy. It’s a universal fact. The Classic Field Camo Jacket from Enfield looks cool enough to be worn by itself when not riding and seems to be airy enough to wear with the under-armour when riding.
So that’s it then. Here’s hoping this blog entices you to shop for good purpose built safety gear. God knows we need it! There’s a comments section below, don’t forget to use it! We’d love to know what you think.
Ride hard. Ride safe.
#motonomous #AintMonotonous #atgatt #RoyalEnfield
"Give me a motorcycle, a camera, a good book and I can rule the world", says Aditya.
Aditya is the lead strategist and conceptualiser at Motonomous and also heads the content, design, photo and video teams.
Aditya bought his first motorcycle in 2009, and has been travelling on two wheels ever since...