Most people hesitate & #BANNER1 & # to enter a shop, fearing they will be forced to buy something or that the salesmen will eye them suspiciously. But now it seems that marketers are finding ways for consumers to try out products without the compulsion to buy them.
If not in the other sectors, there has certainly been a change in the IT products category. Xplore, an IT products shop in Mumbai, allows consumers to experiment with different IT products on its premises.
Shubhendu Nath, executive director, mEssence Consulting and Services, which has started this new concept, considers this to be a digital magazine with a fortnightly frequency. He says, "We change the content or products every 15 days."
He adds, "At Xplore, shopping does not imply shopping bags and salesmen, but educating the consumer about the use of digital products."
Nath explains the concept behind Xplore, "In India, 80 per cent people buy products without knowing fully the features of the product or without optimising the use of the features. If they go into regular shops, they are framed in as 'potential buyers' without being educated properly about the product."
"Besides providing full information to the customers without pressurising them to buy the product, our lounge conducts workshops and training with tie-ups from industry majors like Intel and Mac. This is a place that has been designed like a magazine. People can relax here while browsing through the categories," Nath adds.
So, how does the outlet generate revenue? Nath replies, "We do not sell the digital products on display, but generate revenue from the companies the products of which we display. Besides providing information, the outlet gives the addresses and dealer contacts for people to buy the products they finally zero in on."
About how Xplore has been faring with the consumers, Nath says, "Our outlet has been getting about 50-100 footfalls on weekdays and 125-140 footfalls on weekends, if there are no festivals and cricket matches. This implies success for us."
To create more footfalls, Xplore will market itself though selected mass media and depend on brand extension and community building. Nath explains, "In brand extension, we will create sections in shops within malls such as Xplore Home or Xplore Gaming Section, where we will sell the products and re-direct the people to our shops to learn more about the product. Besides, we plan to start a newsletter for the community that frequents our shops, such as newsletters for Mac enthusiasts, and then plan to start a magazine dedicated to consumer needs."
On the scope of such theme shops in India, Nath says, "This is a new concept and people are welcoming it. Technology is supposed to cater to a very niche segment, but we have people from different sectors and age groups coming to our shops. So, the market should open up to such options. It is high time we started educating the consumers."
On expansion plans, Nath reveals, "We will open up another outlet in Mumbai at Goregaon, besides one in Gurgaon and Bangalore. We are also targeting 15 shop-in-shops by March 2007."
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