Even as retail chains scurry to open online stores to cash in on the ecommerce boom in the country, firms like MakeMyTrip, CarTrade, FirstCry and Lenskart are planning to build their offline presence with brick and mortar stores to woo more consumers. Also Read - Flipkart: E-Commerce booms in pandemic-struck India, including Tier 2, 3 cities
A slew of companies that started business online are now opening physical stores which the owners say is a strategy to reach out to people who still do not have access to Internet. While online travel firm MakeMyTrip has opened 18 company-owned stores in the recent past, baby and kids product portal Firstcry has taken its tally to more than 100 stores across the country. “About 85 percent market is going to remain offline even after five years however hard we try to push e-commerce. Also Read - E-commerce sector in India to touch $200 billion by 2027: Morgan Stanley
Online shopping is convenient but it does not give that touch and feel experience, which customers in my segment would specially want,” FirstCry CEO and Co-founder Supam Maheshwari told PTI. Maheshwari added that the firm, which has presence in more than 80 cities in India, is planning to add 100 more stores in the next one year. “We give same prices both online and offline, so we can claim ourselves to be a true player in both spaces,” he added. MakeMyTrip CMO Soujanya Srivastava said a lot of customers want to meet a company official before handing over the money, which was the intent behind its stores. He added: “We have both company-owned stores and franchisees, which are located in both metro and non-metro cities. The primary objective is to expand our business by reaching those who are miles away from the Internet through these stores.” Also Read - Flipkart acquisition may negatively impact Walmart income in the current fiscal year
However, for online furniture retailer FabFurnish, setting up a brick-and-mortar store is more of brand building exercise. “Furniture is a segment which does not have a brand as such in our country. Though we started as an online store, which still remains our focus, we are also looking at physical stores as a brand building exercise and make it more visible to our customers,” FabFurnish Co-founder and CEO Vikram Chopra said. Currently, the company has four stores in the country – two in Bangalore and one each in Gurgaon and Faridabad. “Average footfall in our stores is around 50 per day, which cannot be compared to the number of visitors to our website. For us, these stores are just a way of reaching those people who want to meet us face-to-face,” he added.
Online auto classifieds platform, CarTrade, has also taken its business offline with the company having 50 franchisee operated shops across the country besides plans to double the number of stores in next six months. “We want to give our customers a seamless experience, so that they can see a car on the website and also have an amazing hands on experience at our showrooms, so we decided to make our business available on both platforms,” said CarTrade Founder CEO Vinay Sanghi. One of the earliest adopters on e-commerce route, BharatMatrimony has also taken its matchmaking business to physical locations with more than 180 stores in 20 cities as well as international locations in the US, UAE, Singapore, Australia and Canada. Lenskart, on the other hand, has set up 68 stores, which Founder CEO Peeyush Bansal says is a strategy to ease a person’s hassle of getting his vision glasses. “Though we started with a website but we adopted a different business model with passing time. The customers will get their eyes checked up at our stores and then place the order online which will give an ease of selecting a wide range of choices for the frame we offer,” Bansal said.
He added: “We have also launched mobile check up services in several metro cities where the eye testing can done at home and the customer then gives the order online.” Lenskart is planning to open 10 stores each month in next one year.