Hindustan Lever Limited has launched what it calls a "full line" grocery home shopping service called Sangam Direct. Launched as a pilot project at Thane in Mumbai, Sangam Direct intends to go nationwide if the project takes off in a big way. The service offers customers some 5,000 branded and grocery products, ranging from toiletries and provisions to home maintenance and beauty products to over the counter drugs.
The consumer either have to telephone the service (2000333 in Mumbai) or get online and place their order. The theme of Sangam Direct is "Shopping Ghar Baithe."
Sangam Direct will offer not only Lever products but also those of its competitors. The concept is not exactly new. Small entrepreneurs have already undertaken such initiatives. In Mumbai, Nitin Sawant runs webrishi.com, which offers similar services, another small businessman runs Bhajipala.com, which offers similar services. But Lever is the first big Indian company to leap into this service-oriented area.
Home delivery is absolutely free for orders above Rs 400. For orders under Rs 400, a nominal delivery cost of Rs 20 is charged. Officials from HLL said: "We will send our customer service agent to the customer’s house when he or she wishes to place the first order. This person will help set up the shopping service which is fully customised to meet one’s needs. Even if you wish to place the order over the telephone, our agent will visit your house to give you the Sangam catalogue and also to help you place the first order."
While the service is currently restricted to the geographical area defined by the Thane Municipal Corporation, it will over a period of time be extended to other parts of the country.
Analyst who tracks the fast moving consumer goods sector says that this is a good move by HLL as it has the widest brand/product portfolio to offer. Others point out that HLL will be able to offer consumer products at a relatively lower price as the company will save on distributor and retailer margins.
And best of all, the project could help the company beat the slowdown, if it takes off in a big way.