Croma, the electronic retail chain from the Tata group, said it intends to expand its initial steps at integrating its physical stores and its ecommerce website croma.com.
The integration would make it possible for customers to seamlessly merge the physical and online operation.
As a result, they would not only be able to buy on the ecommerce website and pick up the item from the store, but would also be able to tell the store staff to order from croma.com in case the item is not in stock at the outlet.
Launched in October 2006, Croma now has 97 outlets across 12 major cities of India. Croma sells over 6000 products in the stores from 5 lead categories namely Home appliances, Entertainment, IT products, Digital imaging and Communication gadgets.
While some of the omni-channel retail features have been put in place over the last one year, some others are in the pilot stage, said Infiniti Retail, the parent firm of Croma.
“Customers have also been quick to adopt this new age shopping method, with over 30% of Croma’s online sales now choosing to enjoy these omni-channel features,” it said.
Many customers, it pointed out, walk into Croma stores with either information about the product they desire or having already booked the purchase online.
Croma, Ezone and Reliance Digital — the three electronics retailers — have seen the biggest impact from the rise of online retail in India.
Unfortunately for these companies, the online retail wave happened about 5-8 years after they set up stores, giving them insufficient time to recoup their substantial investments.
However, all three have tried to address the challenge by beefing up their online presence. However, traditionally websites of brick and mortar retailers typically tend to be less sophisticated and user-friendly when compared to online-only specialists like Amazon and Flipkart.
Croma launched its webstore in 2012. It said that the two most used omni-channel features on webstores are checking stock availability at physical stores and order-online-pickup-at-stores.
These features were the first to be implemented by Croma.
In addition, Infiniti Retail is experimenting with express same-day delivery of select products ordered online, but delivered from the nearest Croma store, and the ability to ask sales staff at a physical store to place an order on croma.com.
“This journey is no longer about a customer choosing between the touch-feel-try experience with the friendly Croma store staff and the convenience of purchasing a product online. It is now about allowing the customer to choose the best of both worlds in an entirely new shopping paradigm for India,” said Avijit Mitra, CEO, Croma.
Infiniti Retail Limited is a 100% subsidiary of Tata Sons.