This was Toronto-based tech journalist Shruti Shekhar’s first bookstore after moving from Singapore to Canada in 2007.
She found comfort in the neat shelves of indigo, meditated on the latest thriller and reveled in scented candles and comfy socks. But ever since COVID-19 hit, Shekhar now does most of his shopping on IndiGo’s app.
“Don’t look like you’re missing out on much,” he said, adding that the physical aesthetic of IndiGo’s store is “translated well” to its app.
It is not the only regular IndiGo that has embraced online shopping despite the easing of norms.
When the pandemic hit, the troubled book and lifestyle chain, like many other retailers, was forced to close its brick-and-mortar stores, lay off a hundred employees, and worst-case scenario. For the first time in its history, it will have to rely on online sales for 100 percent of its revenue.
But while other retailers suffered, and some, such as J. Crew and Brooks Brothers filed for bankruptcy, something miraculous happened to IndiGo: Its online sales soared — more than doubling during the pandemic, to $370 million.
In fact, during the fiscal year, from April 2020 to April 2021, in the depths of the pandemic shutdown, overall sales declined by only 7 percent – even as many of its stores remained closed for months.
IndiGo President Peter Ruis said, “(The) acceleration has been tremendous, and has been positive for us in terms of our future strategy.”
IndiGo is still losing money and its future is uncertain. In the decade leading up to the pandemic, the retailer struggled to maintain profitability, with its stock price on a roller-coaster ride, rising from $14 a decade earlier to $20 in early 2018, Then fell below $4 before the pandemic hit. .
Could its surprising jump in online sales be the way forward? It may turn out that the pandemic shutdown, which has devastated so many businesses around the world, could be the key to saving IndiGo.