13 December, 2019
21 June, 2018
- There is limited seasonality these days, in a sense Customers shop all through the year compared to “Occasion-based Shopping” such as for festivals, wedding season, special occasions etc. So, while the lean periods through the year have more or less flattened, the demand spread has also evened out
- Ever since the 2008 Economic Crash worldwide, Customers have become wary of spending high on products which would eventually be available at a lower price in a few weeks (sic). While India saw a boom in Mall culture between 2009-2014, the sheer number of Brands and their availability all through the year have been a cake for the Customers with easier accessibility 365 days
- While I am not a big fan of “E-Commerce killed Offline” theory, it is a fact that there has been a reasonable impact for fashion brands, especially. This is mainly because the unsold Inventory were pushed to their digital vertical by Brands to liquidate the stocks and over time, the likes of Jabong and Myntra have become more of “Factory Outlets” where discounted Merchandise are available, always. It is no wonder that the share of products which are on Full Price on such Ecommerce Marketplaces is relatively low compared to those on Discounts. Actually, this is applicable for all categories
- Department Stores offer a larger “Discount Pie” compared to the Mono Brands, given that most of them operate on a “Buy and Sell” model with no stock returns to the Brands. Therefore, in an effort to reduce the impact of their exposure to unsold Inventory, Department Stores offer aggressive discounts & promotions to ensure they clear old stocks as much as possible.
03 January, 2017
23 October, 2016
01 July, 2015
24 December, 2013
Santa Claus is a symbol of positivity and cheer, is well known. But he has been used as a constant Brand Ambassador by Retailers all over the world for quite many years now. Retail Stores use various displays of Santa at their precincts – some use static images and some use real men (or women) as real life Santas who give away candy bars and chocolates, goodies and gifts to children and elders who pass by the store. Santa is a global symbol of mass Retail Advertising, I would say. From Brown Goods to Apparel, all Retail formats use Santa in their copy some way or the other to connect with their audience and to bring the relevance of shopping during this season.
Afterall, Christmas is not just a religious festival, not atleast in India, one of the most secular countries in the world which embraces all forms of worship in its country. While it may be rare to have a Masjid, a Temple and a Church to share walls, its not uncommon for people across religions to celebrate each others festivals. Diwali and Id are two other festivals which are celebrated with much fervor all over the country. Christmas is no more restricted to Christians in India, but to the community at large. Many Hindu and Muslim homes decorate their premises with small and large Christmas Trees and Stars in their balconies and order Cakes to consume with their family and friends.
This Christmas Season, leading Retailers have used Santa in their campaigns. Pantaloon Retail, formerly owned by The Future Group and now by Aditya Birla Group has a “Buy 2 Get 1” Offer on its entire range of products. Shoppers Stop, India’s largest Department Store chain with over 61 outlets across the country has a 20% cash back offer in the form of Discount Vouchers. While the offer is only for a limited period, it would promote future walkins and shopping due the Discount Vouchers being provided with every shopping worth Rs. 5,000 or more.
Its also a great time to shop for Consumer Durables. Chennai’s leading Retailer Shahs and Viveks are offering massive discounts on LED Tvs, Washing Machines, Refridgerators, Cameras, et al.
Leading Brands like Apple and Samsung, surprisingly do not have any special schemes this Christmas – Diwali is probably a bigger festival for shopping personal gadgets. Now is the best time to fill your homes and wardrobes. So rush to your nearest Retail Store and shop more, save more! Have a Santastic Shopping Season. Merry Christmas.
28 September, 2013
I was recently at Forum Vijaya Mall (Chennai), one of the newest in town. It was a Sunday and I was there for lunch, but the upper level of car parking was almost empty around noon, which took me by surprise. However, I was told two days later by someone who works for the Mall that there were over 45,000 footfalls on that day. The Restaurant that I was supposed to visit was located on the second floor of the Mall. As is usually the case, I checked the reviews of the restaurant on the Zomato app on my iPhone. Most of them had written good things about the place and its menu, not to forget their wonderful service. Here is a sample;
After such a good meal, the bill came to around 2500 bucks. "Not bad at all!", we thought, given the amount of food we had eaten. The service too was perfect. The waiters were very watchful, responsive and most importantly, proactive. – Amruth
A great place with tastefully done interiors and food! The options on the menu are limited, but every single item you are served taste good and also look really good on the plate! – Nandhini
If I have to be perfectly honest, there could not be a more unfortunate location to host such a lovely restaurant. A mall in Vadapalani is hardly any place for a classy place like this. Where venue fails, Salt takes North Indian Cuisine and gives it a fantastic twist, to ensure they stand out from the others. I expect much more of this restaurant in the near future. – Vaishnavi
Apart from many reviews, the one above set me thinking. Are Restaurants in Malls a viable option as compared to those on high streets? Are Mall shoppers the right TG for specialty restaurants in Malls? For the cost of operation in Malls, do restaurants make any money at all as a business option? When I spoke to the gentleman who runs the restaurant, he mentioned that the rent is about Rs. 65 per sft per month. Assuming they have an area of 2,000 sft, their rent per month would be about Rs. 1.30 lakhs. Add to that all other expenses which would be around Rs. 2 lakhs pm. On a conservative estimate of Rs. 15 lakhs of sales per month and an operating margin of 50%, the store would recover its expenses and have an EBIDTA of about Rs. 2 –3 lakhs per month. Given the way the outlet has been done, their investment would have been about Rs. 70 lakhs. So, the restaurant makes about Rs. 25 lakhs in profits (before interest and taxes a year) and would take about 3 years to break even.
On the contrary, business would be double, if not more were it to be on a High Street. There are a number of good quality specialty restaurants that are garnering those numbers already. So, why do Restaurants still prefer Malls? Perhaps, Brand building and familiarity. I don’t see any logical reason why someone would invest so heavily in a Restaurant inside a Mall and wait for 3-4 years to break even, when it could be faster in a High Street. What works best are for established brands such as Rajdhani, Sigree, Mainland China, etc. which have built reputation over the years and have hence chosen to be within Malls to leverage their brand value. For first timers in the Restaurant business, Malls are probably not the place to be in. This is not restricted just to Chennai but to other cities as well. I was at Chandigarh a few weeks back and they have a brand new Mall called Elante. I was almost alone at Chilis on a weekday evening, which is located in the same floor as the cinemas on the fourth floor of the mall. Restaurants in India’s most successful Mall, Select City Walk face the same fate – Restaurants are empty through the week with weekends being their only busy times.
So, what ails Restaurants in Malls?
Mall shoppers are mostly for spending time, probably window shopping. Conversions for Retailers too is lower than on high streets. The sheer number of footfalls make up for lower conversions and therefore helps Retailers and Restaurants. Unless you are a destination such as a Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle, Café Coffee Day, Starbucks, Subway, KFC, Pizza Hut, etc. These are places which plan to visit and hence drop by. Eating out is way to expensive these days, given the cost of ingredients. And Restaurants are trying their best not to upset their clientele by absorbing losses as much as they can. But then, consumers are staying away from eating places on a regular basis, as was the case a couple of years ago. For example, a could of years ago, the neighbourhood area of Koramangala in Bangalore had almost 50 eating joints, a third of whom have closed over the last one year.
Mall hoppers prefer food courts instead, which are usually pathetically planned. Mall planners in India somehow do not build large enough food courts, with thousand of chairs and a breathable exhaust system, that are modular and scalable as and when consumers increase. Instead, they try to lease all counters at one shot thereby not having scope for further expansion in future. What would cost around Rs. 600 for a family of three in the food court would probably cost over 50% more in a fine dine restaurant within the Mall.
Restaurateurs would do well to experiment new concepts first on the High Streets. That is where people frequent. There are no SCAM, errrr CAM expenses (Common Area Maintenance) on High Street Locations and no restrictions to close the restaurant at a stipulated time. The biggest benefit of being on High Streets is that the signage builds familiarity among customers over time. No wonder, there are more successful restaurants in India and the world over on High Streets!
26 March, 2013
There was a cover story about Alibaba.com, China’s largest ECommerce company in recent issue of The Economist. Quite a few facts. That it is turning out to be one of the largest ecommerce companies in the world, with sales of over $170 billion, which is Amazon and eBay put together. That it has a financing division, viz., AliFinance which provides micro credit to small firms and consumers; and that it has 6 million vendors registered on its site. What was started in 1999 by the firm’s founder, Mr. Jack Ma, an English Teacher as a B-2-B portal connecting small Chinese manufacturers to overseas buyers has now transformed into an internet behemoth. “EBay may be a shark in the ocean,” Mr Ma once said, “but I am a crocodile in the Yangzi river. If we fight in the ocean, we lose; but if we fight in the river, we win.”Taobao, a consumer-to-consumer portal not unlike eBay, features nearly a billion products and is one of the 20 most-visited websites globally. Tmall, a newish business-to-consumer portal that is a bit like Amazon, helps global brands such as Disney and Levi’s reach China’s middle classes.
Indiaplaza, which was also founded in 1999 back home in India is unfortunately facing its toughest time yet. With over 80% of its 150+ workforce having quit over the past six months, the company which pioneered ecommerce in India has no takers today. With a weak b-2-c model based on product listing by various partners, the company has just not been able to scale up over the last few years, thus allowing late entrants like flipkart, myntra, jabong and coupon sites like snapdeal and groupon to surge ahead. To be fair to Indiaplaza, most of the Ecommerce sites in India are on deathbed, awaiting Angels to come and save them. The top three players, Flipkart, Jabong & Myntra with sales of over USD 600 million collectively are only making losses and there no signs of any profitability in the immediate future. Offline Retailers have had a slow start without much success in this arena. Croma, part of the Tata Group’s Trent Ltd., Crossword, India’s largest book store chain along with Landmark and Shoppers Stop, India’s largest Department Store chain are the only few large Retailers who have attempted an Ecommerce entry over the past years. With FDI in Retail not included for Ecommerce businesses, the Government’s backing has been minimal in this regard.
Even as I was thinking so, I came across an article which mentioned about an auction site named QuiBids (spelt as KweeBids). More out of curiosity, I set-up an account to know how this works. Registration was simple.GBP 0.40 is the value of each bid (for the UK Site) and can be bought online at the store in bundles that the user can choose, which in turn can be used while placing bids or while buying an item on the site after discounts and offers. The joining fee will be refunded in full or part thereof if bids are not placed for the said value. They have listed hundreds of items and all of them are on auction. The products are genuine and the processes are audited by Grant Thornton, one of the top audit companies in the world (I have personally seen the audit assurance report which is published on their website). One can bid an item only 5 minutes before the bid time comes to an end. Which means, users keep track of all those items on bid and are probably hooked on to the site all through, if they want to participate in the bidding process. Each time a bidder places a bid, the time slot for the auction increases by 20, 15 and 10 seconds in that order. If the number of bids the user holds is over, then he/she cannot participate in the bid anymore but the value in their account can be used against purchases. Also, the value of the product is discounted to the extent the bids are placed by users. Which means, if a product is priced at, say GBP 100, and the auction ends at GBP 32, with a discount of GBP 9, then the user can buy the product for GBP 91 (less the value that is already in the account). Shipping is charged depending on the size and weight of the product. All in all, it is a win-win for the company and the user. The company makes a thin margin on sale of such products while the loss on bid money is usually written off against a publicity fee paid by the brand to feature their products. And on top of it, users also buy the product which is at a discount for them but which fetches a margin for the company. In addition to this, users may also buy “bids” for set values, so as to keep on bidding. At the end of the day, a user will only gain from the tremendous discount that he gets out of the product even after buying bids.
The prose above may not be fully convincing, so do log on to www.quibids.com to explore.
According to their website,
“QuiBids was started in July 2009 as an attempt to improve the Internet auction model by making it more exciting, safer, and more reliable. We're based out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and our goal as a business is simple: To provide an exciting online auction model with better deals for the consumer than any other website in existence."
You can win all sorts of popular products at incredibly low prices. Look at our homepage to see what products are up for auction right now, and if one catches your eye, buy some bids for a low price! When you place a bid, we add a maximum of 10-20 seconds to the timer - to give someone else the chance to bid if they're interested. This is similar to the "Going Once...Twice...SOLD" approach of auctions.
If no one else bids and the timer reaches zero, you’ve won a sweet deal on QuiBids! If you don't win the auction, you never have to go away empty handed. Any time after you've placed your first bid in an auction, you can choose to buy the product for a discount using the Buy Now feature. This will help limit your losses so you don’t have to leave all your bids on the table. You’ll never have to pay more than the Value Price for any products on QuiBids.
I have never come across such an exciting business model which I can comfortably say is an alternate Ecommerce model. There is hardly any publicity that I see for this company or for this form of Ecommerce and yet there are hundreds of dedicated users who are constantly bidding to win their favorite products at rock bottom prices. I guess the typical profile of the customer would be in their 20s and this is almost like a contest for them! Internet penetration is quite important for the success of this model and I presume the success of this model in western countries, which is not so the case in India where most of the internet consumption still happens at workplace with curious onlookers peeping into each others’ desktops and laptops. With Wifi (at home) using the iPad and other tablets and 3G on mobiles such as the iPhones by Apple and Blackberry gaining popularity coupled with the deeper penetration of Android smartphones starting at $ 100 (Rs. 5,500), chances are more young ones in India will appreciate and participate in such promotions in times to come.
Indian Ecommerce players need to reinvent themselves to stay ahead in the game. Afterall, everyone remembers who is the biggest of ‘em all, and not really the one who started. Such is life.
04 May, 2012
After a lot of careful consideration over the past few months, including reading various literature online and discussion with friends and users of the iPhone, I finally decided to take the plunge. Yes. Now I own an iPhone 4S 32 GB. So, what? Actually. It is just another phone, in my opinion. It is indeed a true case study of how an ordinary product can be made an extraordinary success with simple, yet effective Marketing. One must learn from Apple in this regard. Much has been written about the technical specifications, uniqueness and superiority of the iOS of the iPhone, the Siri and various other features and hence I wouldn’t delve into it. Nor am I a technology expert to rip through comparisons with an Android phone (from Samsung or HTC ) or a BlackBerry or a Windows Phone. Oh yeah, by the way there is Nokia too. Apple iPhone 4S, for me lacks some basic stuff – such as a favourite tune as an alarm; select many / select all in the email box to delete and many such small features. Wonder how the Apple engineers skipped these and a bigger wonder that Apple Marketers kept them low-key, promoting various other features. It is a good smartphone but can be a lot better. Will leave it there.
10 days ago, I ordered my iPhone online – through www.indiaplaza.com where I work. Not just because of a particular loyalty – but also because of the Price. The phone is about Rs. 2,000 (USD 40) cheaper while buying online, compared to the ones sold at an Apple Store or other Electronic Retail chains such as Croma (from the house of Tatas), Ezone (part of the Future Group), Reliance Digital, etc. Two months ago, I bought an iPod Touch (also from www.indiaplaza.com) and the price online was a lot cheaper – I got a 10% discount while the company was celebrating the birthday of Apple founder Steve Jobs. In my view, the iPods, iPhones and iPads should also be sold through Department store chains such as Shoppers Stop and Lifestyle too. After all, it is indeed a lifestyle product as promoted by Apple and not just merely a gadget. The Apple stores are more a novelty than being electronic stores. They are a lot more engaging, inviting and most importantly (well stocked). And I am referring this from an Indian context.
I visited the Apple Store twice in a span of two months to buy accessories for my iPod and iPhone. Every time, the staff have delighted me. They speak little, but with a lot of sense. I have already bought Rs. 10,000 (USD 200) worth accessories from the Apple Store and I believe it is only because of the wonderful staff interaction that I have had each time. On the first instance, I wanted to buy a case and screen guard for my iPod and the staff showed me gladly all the varieties that they had – without indicating any obligation on me to buy. I walked up to two nearby stores that also sold mobile accessories to check out what they have – at one store, the staff was busy canoodling with his girlfriend (I guess) on the phone and had least interest or respect for the customer who came to spend money. At another store, they had stocks for every damn model but an iPod. The staff felt sorry but couldn’t offer anymore. I came back to the Apple store and ended up buying from there. I repeated my visit a month later – this time to buy a screen guard and a case for the iPhone. I visited various other electronic retail stores who didn’t stock them, and were more interested in selling larger items such as LCDs, Washing Machines and Refrigerators. Even Croma, which is known to stock a wide range of accessories wasn’t carrying anything specific for the iPhone.
Back at my favourite Apple store at the Forum Mall (Bangalore)m Simran, the sales assistant was not just being polite and interactive but was also non-obtrusive. She allowed me to have a look at things, touch and feel them and never got perturbed by the questions that I enquired regarding the various options. She was happy to answer as many and even offered a few ideas such as a “Matt-finish” scratch guard that would not leave traces of oil from the face and which is easy to wipe off. She suggested a case that not just matched with the phone but was sleek and had a good form factor. Amongst other things, she also showed a few headphones and a couple of JBL speakers. And eventually, I ended up buying a noise-cancellation Apple ear phone worth a 100 dollars (Rs. 4,800) which was completely unplanned! All in a span of a few minutes. Now, that’s what I call “engaging customers” smartly. She knew my preferences for music, realised I had an iPod Touch and an iPhone and that I could, most importantly – appreciate and enjoy the stuff that they make and sell. Hats off to their level of knowledge and customer service. Next on my list: JBL Speakers for the iPod.
I have been using a Samsung Galaxy Tab for the past one year and a BlackBerry for over 3 years. Its been just over two weeks since I have been using the iPhone. Happy with it. But would go back to my BlackBerry any day. I am just that. But all said and done, Apple is not just a product maker but also a smart Retailer. With its unique offering of products, they seemed to have mastered the art of letting customers engage with their products. Single Brand Retailers have a lot to learn from them. Of how not to sell, but to make customers buy the products. And appreciate them all their life. Kudos Apple.
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