Today, the distribution segment with reference to consumer and IT electronics has evolved a lot where Point of Purchase environment, display merchandize and customer service play an important role in achieving brand awareness, customer loyalty and sales volumes. An Experience Zone in this regard has been a very effective medium to give customers a touch-and-feel experience for a company's range of products, while providing them a platform to receive expert advice on the right products which suits their requirements.
Significance of Experience Zones...
|Parveen Sahni, Director, Canon India-Retail Division |
|Mahendraa Kumar D Jain, MD, LACS |
|Sanjay Yadav. Director, Sales & Distribution, Consumer and SMB, Dell India |
|Amit Mathur, Director, Channel Sales India, Research In Motion |
| S M Ram Prasad, Deputy General Manager, Sales & Marketing at Epson India |
The Experience Zones allow customers to get a first-hand experience of the products. However, Experience Zones hold different meaning for different vendors. One may strictly restrict experience zones to its literal meaning where products are there only to experience, while others make use of it for dual purpose, from where sales also happen. Canon Image Square, an exclusive brand retail store launched by Canon India, caters to all digital imaging needs. It was created to provide Indian consumers an experience before buying that allows them to use and familiarize all the technological products that Canon offers. The brand not only aims to sell products, but also aims to educate customers about the wide range of Canon products. However, Canon also has Canon Image Lounge which is only for first-hand experience.
"Our retail stores that allow consumers to come and experience Canon's latest technologies, is a one-stop destination for people with imaging needs, enabling increased visibility and reach across the country. Canon Experience Zones are located in areas where there is high footfall with the intention of ensuring mass reach," says Parveen Sahni, Director, Retail Division, Canon India.
In spite of having presence in 80 cities through 4,000 outlets across the country, RIM continues with its efforts in the retail domain, and comes up with a unique concept of BlackBerry Experience Zone. Amit Mathur, Director, Channel Sales, India, Research In Motion, says, "It is a step towards equipping our consumers and providing them true experience of our products and services. BlackBerry Experience Zones are based on the store-in-store concept that open a world of possibilities. The intention is to give the customer an opportunity to experience the product through demonstrations and provide in-depth information on product specifications and benefits. Such information is provided through our retailers, distributors, in-store demonstrators and salespersons."
Dell makes available to the customers expert advice on the right Dell products that suit their user needs and allow them to purchase the product of their choice in the most convenient way for them. "The Dell Experience Zones were conceptualized to reach a large number of people over a short span of time, to create awareness about the latest product from Dell and the newest technology in the market. Typically, these Mobile Experience Zones are set up in popular malls and during long weekends where, besides entertaining the visitors with fun-cum-action-oriented games, we have also created these Experience Zones to allow them to get a first-hand experience of the product," says Sanjay Yadav, Director, Sales & Distribution, Consumer and SMB, Dell India.
"At LACS, we very firmly believe that, irrespective of the product type or its variants, in India, nothing gets bought without some basic form of reference (from within one's social circle usually) followed by the opportunity to touch, feel and experience the product first hand, before activating the purchase decision. Hence, our primary USP (beyond pricing) is our go-to-market book-and-ship distribution model combined with the on-ground customer contact points in the form of easyEZs (Experience Zones)," said Mahendraa Kumar D Jain, MD, LACS.
Benefits for channel partners…
Big retail formats may at first give an impression that it brings in competition to the channel partners and resellers. In fact, this unique model ensures that there is no conflict with channel network and at the same time give consumers a chance to choose and purchase the product configuration that best suit their needs and in the manner which is most convenient for them.
Elaborating on this, S. M. Ram Prasad, Deputy General Manager, Sales & Marketing, Epson India, says, "Since we have experience stores manned by the distribution partners or regional distributors or what we call accredited partner. So, we don't want to create a situation where we sell at a competing price. Thus, what we do is the products that we sell in the Experience Zones are closer to the MRP. If the customer feels that he gets a better price in other outlets, he is free to go and buy as long as he is happy to see the products in the Experience Zones. Our primary objective is achieved."
Experience Zones have been able to provide convenience to consumers as they are able to distinguish one product vis-a-vis other products. "By visiting any of the BlackBerry Experience Zones, consumers get an opportunity to experience the product through demonstrations and access in-depth information and insights on product specifications and benefits. Such initiatives support our channel partners and resellers achieving higher sales and also help consumers in making informed decision about their preferred BlackBerry devices," opines Amit Mathur of Blackberry.
Sanjay Yadav of Dell shares a similar view as he says, "We work closely with our partners to ensure the success of the Experience Zones. Our focus is to ensure that the consumers get access to our products while making sure that our channel partners and resellers remain profitable."
Large Footprints of Experience Zones…
Epson, which came up with its first experience zone in Mumbai in the year 2011, the company currently has seven Experience Zones in the key metro cities. Canon currently has around 50 stores in 32 cities. The company is planning to open most of its stores in tier-II and III cities gauging the potential present in these cities with very low penetration.
There are more than 500 BlackBerry Experience Zones across the country and they hope to double the number by this year.
Dell has fixed Experience Zones in 56 Dell Exclusive stores and in "shop in shop" large format retail outlets. Dell also has mobile Experience Zones that are set up in high-traffic areas like popular shopping malls.
Earlier, the entire buying-selling was lengthened to a great deal. Customers had to wait for the partner to provide a demo and in the process a lot of time was wasted. When it comes to high-end products, Experience Zones play a very critical role. Now the customer can just walk into the Experience Zones and get a touch and feel of the complete range of products. This has made the buying process speedy and swift.
Earlier, there could have been a situation where customer had to compromise and settle for a certain model, but now the entire range is tabled in front of the customer. Thus, he can very well go for a better and advanced model, as per his budget and requirement.
Moumita Deb Choudhury