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Mobile Store, UniverCell offer 4-hour delivery to online buyers


Mobile Store, UniverCell offer 4-hour delivery to online buyersMUMBAI/NEW DELHI: Mobile phone retailers such as The Mobile Store and UniverCell will offer delivery within hours along with all the in-store perks, such as buybacks and data transfers, to their online customers, in a bid to beat their feisty online rivals at their own game.

Top executives of The Mobile Store, UniverCell, Sangeetha Mobiles and Hotspot say they will begin offering guaranteed delivery within four hours of placing the order, and by a sales executive who will handhold consumers till the new device is fully operational.

"The online stores have courier guys that deliver, and the person still has issues such as phone book migration and sim cutting in case the new phone requires an alternate dimension," said Alok Gupta, chief executive at The Mobile Store, the country's largest mobile phone retail chain with over 550 stores across 90 cities.

Besides selling through their own portals, retailers such as UniverCell and HotSpot are also tying up with price comparison engines such as mysmartprice.com and junglee.com, which will automatically prompt the companies to approach consumers searching for particular smartphones on their sites, industry officials said.

Company executives will contact consumers over the phone, assist them in zeroing in on the smartphone they want to buy and deliver it to their home within a few hours from stores in the vicinity, they said. At present, walk in customers account for around 60% of sales at mobile retail chains while the rest comes from shipping or delivery-based sales. Company officials say that ratio of that would invert quickly once customers understand the promise of delivery.

"But we need to make noise about it," said Subhash Chandra, managing director at Sangeetha Mobiles. The Bengaluru-based firm has trialled home-delivery in less than two hours in the city, Chennai and Hyderabad, through its portal Shopno47.com, and is now trying to bring down the time to less than an hour, Chandra said.

Krishna Kumar, chief executive officer at Spice Hotspot, said, "Our trained staff will go with the phone within four hours, set it up and transfer all data onto the new device, for free. Online retailers can't do this." Spice Hotspot has 300 stores across the country, out of which 120 are in its headquarters Delhi.

Chennai-based UniverCell plans to offer buyback of an old smartphone in exchange of a new one and finance schemes at your doorstep within a couple of hours of order placement. Gupta of The Mobile Store said the Essar Group firm's sales executives will carry add-on products like protective covers, scratch guards, sim alteration, and theft or damage insurance, that could be cross sold in bundled packages when they go for delivery. The focus would remain on selling smartphones because although it forms 17% of volume, it accounts for 30% of the revenue.

Mobile retailers hope that this strategy will help them get a slight premium on product prices that can boost their profitability through sales of ancillaries. Mobile phones are among the most sold electronics products in the country's booming online retail space where marketplaces such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon often offer deep discounts to attract consumers, a price traditional retail outlets cannot match due to their higher cost structure.

The Retailers Association of India recently filed a petition in the Delhi High Court, seeking level playing field with online retail on foreign direct investment (FDI) rules, arguing that most online market places are operating just like retailers with their own warehouses and logistics operations. At the same time, traditional retailers are looking for ways to differentiate themselves in the online space.

Nonetheless, the industry agrees there is room for everyone. India has a market of nearly one billion devices with only a tenth smartphones. The remaining are expected to be replaced over a three-year period.
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