A unique retail concept combining Music, Electronics and Style: Headphone Zone

Retailer Media caught up with the CEO of Headphone Zone, Raghav Somani to know more about the ongoing revolution in audiophile industry and his vision towards making Headphone Zone an ultimate destination for headphones and related accessories.
Raghav Somani, CEO, Headphone Zone
In today’s technology driven society, gadgets and accessories have become an integral part of our lives. With mobile phones and tablets becoming primary music devices, it looks like soon the market is going to see a huge surge in audiophile industry. The demand for premium headsets is increasing amongst the youth and over the past couple of years the numbers have grown in triple digits.
Looking from retail prospective, the segment has been a niche but has finally started seeing a boom. Technological developments in wireless technologies such as Wifi, Bluetooth, Infrared, NFC etc. are expected to continue to fuel the growth of earphone and headphone market further.
On the same, Retailer Media caught up with the CEO of Headphone Zone, Raghav Somani to know more about the ongoing revolution in audiophile industry and his vision towards making Headphone Zone an ultimate destination for headphones and related accessories.
Talk to us about Headphone Zone and the journey so far?
Headphone Zone is India’s first exclusive online store for Headphones, Earphones and Personal Audio devices. A unique retail concept combining Music, Electronics and Style, Headphone Zone aims to find a niche in the rapidly growing category in India’s e-commerce space. A destination store for discovering the world’s finest Headphone brands, Headphone Zone focuses bringing the best music listening devices from around the world to India’s passionate music listening population.
The brand Headphone Zone started out in 2011 as an exclusive headphone and earphone offline retail store and quickly scaled up to operate 6 stores in Chennai and Bangalore. Since then the focus has shifted primarily to the webstore, which went online on 1st January, 2015.
What potential does the audiophile segment has in India?
The addressable market for headphones and its accessories share similarities with that for high-end personal audio products in India. Our customers range from regular music lovers to serious audiophiles and professionals. In all our marketing strategies, our target customers comprise of males between the ages of 20 to 50 years. The market of high-end audio products has seen a steady widening what with the urban Indian population being a relatively early technology adopter.
What were the initial challenges faced while rooting this business into the market?
We have witnessed the devolution of offline retail as a whole and our retail stores have taken a hit. As a result, we’ve had to close down 2 of our retail stores in Bangalore and Mumbai. However, since having launched our webstore, we have seen a tremendous month-on-month growth in sales.
Building an audience and educating them about the nuances of High-End audio has been a challenge. The current eCommerce scenario in India has made buyers a Deal-Hungry audience and building a reputation of offering transparent and fair prices without indulging in excessive discounting is an on-going challenge.
Define your USPs
Headphone Zone aims to elevate the listening experience of India’s music enthusiasts. Not just another eCommerce portal, Headphone Zone aspires to educate its audience about the nuances of high-end audio. This is done through direct communication with each and every customer, detailed buying guide pages and genuine reviews from industry experts.
Headphone Zone has differentiated itself from the start by being an exclusive brand for headphones and earphones. India’s growing community of audiophiles warranted for a platform through which its premium brands could be showcased. That’s precisely what a brand like Headphone Zone strives to create.
Is there a need of specific product marketplace when players like Amazon, Snapdeal are like one-stop-shop for all purpose?
Headphone Zone decided to partner with online e-commerce marketplaces such as Amazon, Flipkart and Snapdeal to cater to the requirements of the online buyer with moderate success. Amongst the challenges faced were that the online buying experience and the level of service and support were simply not adequate enough to enable a well informed decision especially given the intricacies and nuances of high-end audio.
This is what prompted us to start our online webstore. The webstore allows us to give the highest level of customer service, support, and create an ecosystem for better understanding and learning about headphones and to create the best possible buying experience for our customers not just in the metros but all across India's length and breadth.
How do you manage your payment mechanism and logistics?
Headphone Zone runs a nil debt, non-borrowing, 100% family equity funded business. Headphone Zone maintains a simple online retail business model of procuring products from international brands and manufacturers and fulfilling orders using India’s various logistics and courier solutions.
Share with us your expansion plans?
I along with my team aim to take Headphone Zone to the length and breadth of music listeners in India. Headphone Zone plans to remain focused on Headphones, Earphones and related accessories as a category and maintain its niche while making available several new prominent high-end international headphone brands in India. Building a strong audiophile community in India is key to maintaining an audience for its products and Headphone Connect meetup events are planned for several small cities and towns where passionate music listeners can experience a wide range of High-End Headphones and earphones.
Headphone Zone is focusing on not just bringing audiophile products and brands, but also premium lifestyle oriented products. Upcoming brands in the pipeline include the audiophile brand HIFIMAN, Master & Dynamic, a New York City-based premium audio company, ​Romanian boutique brand Meze Audio and high-end amplifier brand Burson Audio.
What potential do you see in tier II and III cities of the country?
Headphone Zone has dedicated its attention towards building an audience for its webstore. By maintaining a fast paced growth curve, the store is able to reach out to new users across India. Headphone Zone has reached out to consumers from over 230​Indian cities. We find that our consumers who are interested in high-end music devices are beyond just Tier I cities like Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, & Chennai and include Tier II & III cities like ​Ahmedabad, Vellore, ​Ghaziabad, Chandigarh​,Vadodara, and Trivandrum.
Raghav Somani