There is a multitude of hassles involved in the construction business. The primary one is finding the right products as per your needs because on an average, customers have to visit 70-80 stores throughout the construction, face delays in projects, face issues related to duplicate and fake products, have limited knowledge, and deal with the opaque pricing system where they don’t know if what they paid is right. There are very few players in the market solving these pain points and Hippos Stores is one such brand.
Hippo Stores’ omnichannel strategy enables customers with convenience given the multiple formats, physical stores, and digital platforms. The physical store acts as an experience center, giving the customers the ability to physically choose what they want as well as interact in person with product experts to seek advice.
Munir Suri, Senior Vice President, Hippo Stores said, “A multi-channel or omnichannel approach is best to service today’s customer for whom convenience is as important as savings and benefits. Hippo Stores aims at increasing the in-store footfall as well as getting more traffic online which may convert into sales.”
On the other hand, the online presence through the website and app provides easy access to do subsequent research, price benchmarking, and comparison and purchasing. The website is even more beneficial to the brand for its B2B customers, who place frequent orders, and already know what products they want to order.
In terms of sales, the brand has serviced more than 10,000 customers already with its single-store presence in Mayapuri. It is growing at a rapid pace and just in the 3 months between December 2021 and March 2022, doubled its sales. The brand has opened its second outlet in Noida.
Pain-points In Construction Sector
As stated, the home construction and renovation involve a multitude of hassles and so the brand should have faced an equal number if not more of pain points to build its business.
“This market is highly unorganized and adding on to it is the lack of price transparency in building products. Therefore, we offer clear and transparent pricing and specifications for each product. To save time and make the process convenient, we let our customers make their own decisions by comparing and choosing products and pricing across all categories,” said Suri. The brand is said to provide all the building materials at wholesale pricing.
The second challenge is that of the supply chain. Even though the backbone of the Indian retail sector is a strong supply chain, the complexity of the supply chain is one of the highest in the construction industry. And the lack of visibility in the supply chain results in higher risk.
“The supply chain for various construction and building materials is fragmented and unorganized in this sector. This entire process from creating an innovative technology-driven retailing, to the online process of construction material procurement was challenging, taking into account the existing complexity of the supply chain,” Suri said highlighting the struggles.
Need For Educating Consumers
Given the apparent complexity, there is very little education and awareness among the consumers about how to go about the construction work. Keeping this in mind, Hippo Stores has decided to educate the customers with knowledge and information about the products.
“We make product comparisons easy for our customers. Through our digital platform, customers can compare and choose from more than 30,000 building products across 160 brands. All the building products available online and at our physical store are available at wholesale prices,” Suri further added.
And on the marketing front, Suri shared: "Our e-commerce website reaches out to a larger audience to help them have a seamless experience just like it is in the store. Through our social media marketing, we aim at reaching every customer and offering them an experience that stays with them forever. Whether they plan to get a new house constructed or get a modular kitchen installed, they can reach out to us through multiple platforms for easy solutions."
Given the construction industry has a lot of challenges to solve, there is a lot of scope going forward for the brand (and for other entrants in the industry).
"Over the next 5+ years, we aim to be in 27 cities and plan significant investment of over 100s of Crores into building technology, procuring material, maintaining inventory, and creating physical store presence. Ultimately, our vision is to be part of every home being constructed or renovated," Suri stated.