Millennium Post

E-commerce cos firm up offline presence to woo customers

Even as retail chains scurry to open online stores to cash in on the e-commerce 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.

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 per cent market is going to remain offline even after five years however hard we try to push e-commerce.
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 said. 

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.” 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. 
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