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Agrani set to change technology products retailing in India

By , agencyfaqs! | In | July 17, 2001
Essel group company ACL will launch the fifth TIME (telecom, information technology & learning, media & entertainment) store, SWITCH, in Noida (Uttar Pradesh) soon



agencyfaqs!
NEW DELHI

Agrani Convergence Ltd (ACL), a subsidiary of ASC Enterprises, an Essel Group company that operates in the area of retailing of 'TIME' (telecom, information technology & learning, media & entertainment) products and services, is rolling its fifth 'Technology Superstore'. SWITCH will be located in Noida's (Uttar Pradesh) sector 18 market, the hub of branded superstores. The store will be opened on July 25, 2001.

The first SWITCH store was opened in February 2001 at Carlton Tower, Airport Road, Bangalore, followed by two stores at Ansal Plaza and Connaught Place in New Delhi in April and May 2001 respectively. Agrani now wants to take SWITCH national. By the end of this year, it plans to have 26 outlets in the top 23 cities of the country. And by 2006, it will have 2,500 stores. Of these, eight will be in the national capital region. The company plans to launch Agrani SWITCH stores in Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Chandigarh in the next two months.

It appears that the company is trying to live up to its name. Agrani means "staying ahead' in Sanskrit. For Agrani, it means staying ahead both in terms of product offerings and market presence. The offering at a SWITCH store is exhaustive indeed. The range includes both TIME products and services. On the one hand, it will have products like cellular phones, satellite phones, hardware for DTH reception, virtual calling cards, video conferencing equipment, computers, computer accessories and peripherals. On the other hand, it will showcase services like web hosting (spider), ASP services, SitiCable as well as Zee Interactive Multimedia Learning subscriptions, and will even host a cyber café.

Since some of these services are specialised and cater to a niche segment, is the launch of so many specialised stores justified? Sudesh R Jog, vice-president, marketing, ACL, says, "Our preliminary studies have shown that there is a huge gap in the understanding of technology products among people. We hope to bridge this gap by advising him on his 'technology requirements'. Broadly, our target consumers fall under three categories. One, those who are technology savvy - they are the early adopters. Two, those who understand the power of technology but do not understand how to maximise the utility. Three, there are those who have absolutely no understanding of the benefits of technology but are willing to be guided. In a nutshell, we are targeting individuals, SOHO (small-office-home-segment) players as well as corporates/institutions."

To draw the attention of its target consumers, ACL launched a print campaign recently and supplemented it with some promotional activities as well. Talking about the communication strategy, Jog says, "We are talking about how technology can make life simple. In short, it will be people-oriented. Keeping this in mind, the entire campaign (created by Euro RSCG, the advertising agency of Agrani) renders the brand as warm, de-intimidating, smart and savvy. The thought that 'Agrani SWITCH brings you the Technology to set you free' is weaved in in the entire campaign."

The SWITCH stores will be a mix of company-owned and franchised outlets. The company plans to splurge around a crore on each store, which will be located on a floor area of between 1,500 sq.ft and 6,000 sq.ft. Agrani anticipates no direct competition immediately. However, computer hardware markets like the one at Nehru Place, Delhi, may give it a fight in the initial stage. "Our products will be priced at a competitive level and we will deliver the best value for money to the consumer. Once people get used to a wide variety of branded products and services in a legitimate, friendly environment, they will certainly not go for pirated software and suspect hardware," says Jog.

To bring a wide assortment of products and the latest technology to the Indian consumers, ACL plans to source products internationally. "We are planning to set up interactive kiosks within the retail outlet. In future, we may have interactive kiosks at key traffic areas," he adds.

With all this in place, the company hopes to achieve a turnover of over Rs 900 crore by 2006. This optimism is understandable, given the potential of the retailing industry. KSA Technopak's Consumer Outlook 2001 presented at the 3rd KSA Retail Summit estimates retailing in India to grow to a $300-billion industry by the year 2010. Rajan Chhibba, principal, KSA Technopak, opines, "Today's urban Indian consumer has three key expectations from retailers - variety, availability of the latest products and location close to home. In response, the industry has welcomed the emergence of the pure retailer as well as the multi-location-multi-format retail organisations. This, in turn, will account for the gradual but determined spread of organised retailing to the top 15-20 cities in India."

His assumptions are based on facts deduced from KSA studies that show, on an average, 65 to 75 per cent of consumers prefer going to multi-brand outlets for apparel, consumer durables and home textiles. "We expect a similar revolution in technology," adds Jog, "as the multi-brand retail experience is addictive."

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