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Grip on customer handling crucial

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DQW Bureau
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Bhopal-based Microworld is expanding its retail initiative. "In retail

multi-brand is the way to go," said Kapil Jain, CEO, Microworld. The

company is considering dividing its retail space into an HP exclusive zone and

the multi brand zone. "Survival on any one brand or product is tough,

elaborates Jain. He added that retail is good for the cash flow.

In the city of Bhopal where the government is the biggest buyer followed by

student community and home segment Microworld has the unique distinction of

being able to sell 30-35 laptops a month.

Retail has particularly picked up in the city because of the student

community and finance options that are available. Jain has already started work

on the expansion of the company's retail initiative. He has sealed

arrangements with HCL, Intex and Canon among others for the multi-brand space.

"Then, of course, there is a dedicated space for the HP range of products.

The company boasts of a strong association with HP in the region. According to

Jain, the company is also sprucing up its service centre boosting the call

handling and spares replacement capacity. "We have shifted our Nokia

Service Centre to another premises to create space," he said.

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Across India a large number of channel partners who have taken to retail are

beginning to realize that location and demo zone is critical to profitability.

Besides, in a market scenario where just about everybody is either into retail

or getting into it creating a differentiation has become a tough task.

"The customer should perceive value in coming to the retail

outlet," stated Ashish Aggarwal of Delhi-based Trifin Information

Technology. According to Aggarwal, locational advantage is half the battle won

and keeping it multi branded to give the not-so-focused customer enough options

brings in sales volume.

While the debate bet-ween exclusive and multi-branded outlet continues the

majority is opting for the multi-branded model, few preferring the comfort of

selling at the exclusive outlets. Kapil Wadhwa of Delhi-based Champion

emphasizes, "When a custo-mer walks into an exclusive outlet he/she is 98

percent ready to buy. It makes selling that much easier giving a high

customer-conversion rate whereas in the case of multi-branded possibly only two

out of 30 people may end up buying anything at all."

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In a random survey conducted by The DQ Week-spanning retail business across

Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and one class-B city from the five regions of

north, south, west, east and central India- it was discovered that retail in

class-B cities is hot and happening and in some instances the outlets are doing

better than the comparable counterparts in the metros. Personalized customer

experience in smaller cities is making it work there.

Dushyant Mehta, CEO of Mumbai-based Mediaman Group of Companies who has two

percent of his revenue coming from retail - about Rs 3.5 crore in the last

fiscal - elaborated that retail needs different handling in terms of

promotional activities as well as sales staff training. These two areas have

been a bottleneck for many of the channel partners in retail.

Be it Bloom Electronics in the distant Coimbatore or Comtech in Goa focusing

on creating good customer experience is a value addition not many can afford to

ignore. The key is sales staff training.

According to the survey, other than the product training, whenever a new

product is introduced, the sales staff across board has received no specialized

training in customer handling. Retail partners are grappling with the issue.

Nandita Singh


New Delhi

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