Wilasinee Parnurat: Footprints from Sole to Success in Footwear Retail

Wilasinee Parnurat
Wilasinee Parnurat

In the vibrant realm of Retail Apparel and Fashion, where every step counts in leaving an indelible footprint on style, innovation and customer satisfaction, Wilasinee Parnurat is an emerging figure who embodies the essence of this dynamic industry.

As the Country Manager for Bata Group Thailand, a prominent division of the company, Wilasinee’s leadership is underscored by an innate ability to harmonize the legacy of Bata with the evolving demands of modern fashion, resulting in an enchanting array of footwear options that resonate with Thailand’s style-conscious populace.

Her localized perspective, coupled with global expertise, ensures that Bata resonates with the hearts and souls of diverse communities worldwide. With a deep-rooted understanding of the industry’s intricacies and an unyielding passion for footwear, Wilasinee brings an unparalleled vision to lead the company.

Let’s delve into the journey of Wilasineepoised to witness a captivating blend of tradition and modernity, craftsmanship and trendsettingall while walking in step with the ever-evolving aspirations of the global fashion community!

Brief our audience about your journey as a Marketing leader to your current position at Bata. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?

After spending more than 14 years in the beauty industry at Unilever, L’Oreal and Yves Rocher, I joined the Bata group in July 2022. With a high ambition to lead the team of this long-standing heritage company and one of the most familiar brands in the market to stay more competitive and in tune with times and consumer shifts.

It needed work to be done to take the brand from ‘awareness’ to being at the top of mind, leveraging the iconic legacy that evokes everyone’s strong sense of nostalgia. We are still in the process of this transformation but the initial results have been very promising.

In addition, selected as the Country Manager for Bata Thailand as the first local and first woman to hold the position since its establishment in 1929. Although not easy, I am truly excited and immensely proud to have a chance to challenge pre-conceived notions to serve as a living testament, breaking the stereotype and unconscious bias around gender roles.

Tell us something more about Bata and its mission and vision; how does Bata thrive towards enabling advancements in the dynamic business arena?

Bata—the rich heritage brand with almost a century as an integral part of the Thai footwear market—has been a trusted provider of high-quality footwear to a wide range of consumers, particularly renowned for its school shoes and comfortable sandals. With the accessible price point, along with a wide distribution footprint, Bata has established the name well among Thai consumers for a very long time.

Nevertheless, the brand recognizes the need to address challenges in its perception and brand image to associate only amongst mature consumers and is now required to evolve. It includes crafting the communications with a sharper positioning, enhancement of the product portfolio and a newly defined consumer journey to ensure the best experience across touchpoints.

Enlighten us on how you have been impacting the sector through your expertise in the market.

The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated a marketing digital transformation and led consumers and businesses to radically alter behaviors and strategies. All of us in the industry had to respond to these changes by investing heavily in digitally transformed marketing technologies, expertise and practices to stay relevant and thrive in this new era.

My proven case of successfully steering the brand has provided me with valuable insights and learnings that can benefit others in the market. I have had a chance to share my experiences and knowledge through various seminars, forums and workshops.

By sharing my learnings, I hope to contribute to the industry’s collective understanding and adaptation to the rapidly evolving digital marketing landscape. Together, we can overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic and emerge stronger and more prepared for the future.

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives you and your organization.

Survival of the fittest has always been our motto, emphasizing the need to be agile and flexible in the face of challenges and constant changes. This is particularly important when we have a team with a high degree of diversity as part of this transformation agenda. We foster a ‘One team’ mentality to overcome obstacles, leverage our strengths and achieve our goals more efficiently.

In line with our commitment to growth and innovation, we have embraced the mindset of ‘fail fast and learn fast’. We encourage everyone in the organization to be bold and try new initiatives—taking calculated risks and if it fails moving to the next one fast. Simultaneously, we also emphasize the importance of extracting valuable lessons and insights, allowing us to continuously improve and iterate.

Undeniably, technology is playing a significant role in almost every sector. How are you leveraging technological advancements to make your solutions resourceful?

We have intensively utilized technology and automation tools to help boost efficiency, streamline workflows and simplify collaboration. Two obvious ones amongst the rest would be CRM tools as one of our priorities is to retain the loyal consumers who have been long-term fans, staying with the Bata brand for a long period while we are acquiring the new potential ones. CRM automation does help us to understand much clearer on the insight and to develop the proper journey for the best offers to the right segments.

Another one would be the tool that helps us achieve the real omnichannel more effectively. It’s called the Instore sales (ISS) platform under the commercial name “You Shop, We Ship”, which helps us to serve the shoppers at the offline stores that face the problem of broken size or out of stock of some collections in that specific store to locate in real-time. This provides help with the available stock location and accommodates the purchase to ship the item in demand directly to the shopper’s home address

What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the global marketing industry? How is Bata preparing to be a part of that change?

One trend is clear—social responsibility, ethics and transparency matter to modern consumers. Having said that, I believe we will see more companies prioritize social responsibility as part of their strategy.

We already witnessed many more companies have begun to pivot social media strategies to focus more on inclusive initiatives, promotions and offerings while highlighting causes or missions they support.

Although this might not sell products immediately, showing a sense of social responsibility is still both thoughtful and effective. For Bata, we have been conducting the Bata Children Program (BCP) all along to support underprivileged children to be able to make their first steps in their lives stronger.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals for Bata?

My ambition for Bata Thailand is crystal clear. I want to lead the team to reach the highest recorded sales in these past almost 100 years and to get the brand back to the No. 1 market leader once again.

What would be your advice to budding leaders who aspire to venture into the marketing industry?

Do not jump into investing in automation tools so quickly if you are not confident in the human resources or the proper process in the organization yet. A machine is still a machine. We will only get the full maximum benefit if we have the right users.

And be bold! The doors will be opened to those who are bold enough to knock. Time is more precious thing so let’s not waste too much time overthinking yet should be bold on any initiative.