Chennai stores go virtual; bank on e-tailing for greater reach

Chennai stores go virtual; bank on e-tailing for greater reach

Author | Esha Madhavan | Thursday, Mar 05,2009 8:02 AM

Chennai stores go virtual; bank on e-tailing for greater reach

Large stores in Chennai, offering a wide range from silk sarees to apparels, have been increasingly going online. Much has been written about the growing trend of online retailing or e-tailing in India, but what gets all the more interesting is when your neighbourhood store comes alive in your house, or a saree from your most loved store in your hometown in India is one day at your doorstep in Dallas.

Saravana Stores, Nalli Silks, RmKV, and Pothys are some well-known brand stores of Chennai with widespread ‘fortress like’ shopping centers and which have over the years lived and relived the concept of ‘experience stores’. However, in recent times these stores have shown an inclination towards online shopping, which is a clear departure from the ‘experience store’ concept.

Having a website is no more a ‘for name sake’ item for these sophisticated stores, but part of a well laid out communication strategy to further popularise their brands. With most of them already having their online shopping infrastructure in place, the much hyped Saravana Stores is already promoting its online shopping feature with a colourful ‘coming soon’ tag.

Will the format of online shopping work for these stores? What is the reason behind the growing attention on online shopping? Does it prove to be cost effective for the customers? Will the trend catch up well here?

According to Gopal Marar, consultant, RmKV Stores, “We launched our online shopping section last month, and quite contrary to the scepticism about the prices for online transactions, we have priced our products reasonably cheap. The whole concept works tremendously well for gifting people here as well as abroad. The low price makes a lot of sense in big cities as the cost of reaching a store sometimes is not factored in the price of the items bought.”

Online stores are thus not just saving your time and energy, but surprisingly also your money that you would have spent commuting to the store. Tackling the huge rush during peak seasons is also one of the reasons when online stores seem a better proposition. As Marar said, “We have customers coming after making their selections online and sometimes they even come with printouts.”

Thus, online window shopping is perhaps getting more popular than online purchases. Most often, these sites are also become a platform for showcasing the products and being interactive, the store owners get an opportunity to connect with their customers. Most of these brands have also got plans to promote their online shopping feature separately in the recent future.

Citing a few flipsides of the online stores Ashok R Sankhethi of Kaybase Research, said, “Since most of the stores deal with products in the physical feel category and most of these shops are experience stores, people generally prefer to go to the store itself than buy online. The hiccups in the delivery mechanism are also stopping the concept from getting popular. But as far as the process of going through the catalogues or making the selections is concerned, these online stores will be successful. There is a sign of the trend catching up in India.”

With most of the large retailers in India already joining the trend, the concept of the large stores in cities and towns going online will be a phenomenon for further studies and reports. With Women’s Day coming up next week, buying a surprise gift online for women is perhaps making this report all the more relevant. Online stores can easily help transcend geographical borders and are bound to catch up sooner than later.

Tags: e4m

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