With a multi-tier retail strategy, Vodafone, a foremost player in India’s telecom industry is expanding its retail footprint in the country.Since April 2014, the telecom retailer has opened as many as 200 Vodafone stores, 1,000 Vodafone Mini Stores and taken the total count to 9,800 branded retail stores with an operational area covering over 1.54 million sq ft.
It attracts more than 115 million footfalls annually, which means that the telecom major believes in the significance of the offline retail in digital-everything times. “Despite digital being the larger focus for investment in future, we believe that the offline channel is very important for us. It is a strategic time that we are investing in digital channel, while we are getting closer to the consumer through expansion of offline retail stores,” said Kavita Nair, National Head of Retail and Digital, Vodafone India.
Airtel, a major competitor of Vodafone’s had recently launched its 4G services in few cities like Kolkata, Chandigarh, Bengaluru, Delhi among others, just ahead of Reliance Jio’s pan-India launch and news of commissioning more than 100,000 base stations by end-2015. Amid the setting up of base stations and spreading across geographies, Vodafone, which is also set to launch its 4G services by the end of the year, is concentrating on connecting with the consumer wholly, understanding their evolving needs and servicing them comprehensively, end-to-end.
“It is about us reaching closer to our customers, not all the customers will go online. With the launch of 4G, some customers will prefer to go online and for them we will have click channel. It’s not about 3G or 4G, but the customer service. Both are really important. 4G is just another part of Internet, so to that extent, these two channels will play critical role in driving data,” continued Nair.
It could well be said that Vodafone India has built one of the largest retail footprints across the country. With more than 9,800 retail stores, including more than 700 Vodafone stores, approximately 3,300 Vodafone Mini Stores and around 6,000 Rural Mini Stores, Vodafone is closer today to its customers via its own branded stores. They cover almost 300 towns and 5,000 villages across the nation.
The increasing use of smart phones, mobile internet and new age technologies, has resulted in customer needs changing rapidly, especially in urban areas. To fulfil this need, Vodafone India introduced the Global Design Store, an industry first retail format, which offers a uniform and consistent customer experience through 200 stores in urban centres, pan India. Nair added, “The 200 global design stores completely replicate our overseas stores.”
With rural India taking rapid strides in the on-going information revolution, the telecom major has marked its presence through its Rural Mini Stores, popularly known as Lal Dukaans. “Compared to the other telecos, we are fairly ahead,” said Nair, adding, “It’s not about the competition, but our strategy to get closer to the customers, and in that, 9,800 seems a large number. Vodafone retail branded outlets in total has acquired 1.54 mn sq ft of area across the country. Around 80 to 85 per cent of these stores are company owned, the mini stores and the Lal Dukans are franchise owned.” These Lal Dukaans are entrepreneurial ventures located in around 5,000 villages in the hinterland of all circles. They act as key relationship hubs for the brand as they are managed by local community members.
Thus, the telecom major Vodafone has further cemented its position amongst one of the foremost players actively engaged in the holistic development of India’s rapidly growing retail sector.