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.
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."
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.