Converting stores into SMART STORES!

In this digital-age, no doubt e-Commerce has rooted itself deep into the market but this cannot margin out the brick-and-mortar stores. Here is this new SaaS-based application software which could potentially disrupt the e-Commerce buzz and give a digital
Redefining offline shopping experience
In a candid conversation with Deep Malik, Founder, SaleAssist, Retailer Media got to know more about this unique model that is all set to change the face of traditional retail in India.
 
Take to us about SaleAssist and the business model?
SaleAssist is unique and powerful tablet-based software designed to set up the profit and productivity of offline retailers with an e-commerce experience. It is a SaaS-based tablet application that not only brings an offline retailer online but at the same time gives an in-depth analysis on shopping behavior, likes, consumer feedback and many more.
SaleAssist is not just an application but a one stop destination to enhance your in-store experience, boost sales and build reputation. 
 
What is the market need for such a product and how has been the response so far?
The e-Commerce boom has forced these bricks-and-mortar stores to innovate and transform their business models to connect with these new digital-age millennials. We at SaleAssist bring an entire store on tablet-based software and provide them with tools and techniques required to compete with the current market trends.
Online marketplaces monetize because they own the transaction and that is what we intent to do with offline retailers. Though we don't provide e-Commerce solutions but help retail stores to showcase their products with an online experience. Going online is a different ballgame altogether. A marketplace without any buyers cannot attract sellers and vice versa. Thus solution to this infamy chicken and egg problem will help offline retailers to overcome the challenges that oppose their existence. Sale Assist enables a store to come live on and help showcase their large inventory on one small tablet. Consumers can easily browse through the inventory on a tablet and shortlist their likes by few finger-clicks. It not only helps to increase sales but stores can also easily clear their inventory by putting items on Sale. SaleAssist also enables stores to capture consumer details, feedback and shopping behavior.
 
How do you promote a particular brand? What platforms/ mode you chose while promoting them?
We do not promote brands or retailers. We provide them with a tablet-based application to showcase their large inventories. A buyer will love to know more and more about a particular product before making purchase decision. It may sound like a counter intuitive but our goal is to connect the two sides and complete the purchase. SaleAssist do enable to engage clients by sharing new designs over prominent social media platforms like Facebook.
 
What all cities do you cater to? Are you planning to approach the tier II and III market? What will be your strategy for the same?
Currently we have started off with Delhi and will soon reach out to NCR. Talking about tier II and III cities, here the buying behavior, especially in jewelry space is still old school. People still prefer going to a traditional "sunar" which more like a family advisor for jewelry shopping. 
Big names in Jewelry such as Tanishq or PC Jewelers etc. are still trying to get a grip in tier II and III market, so for us it might take a year or two to explore such markets. Through we are very keen on expanding this concept across the country and so we have a continuous watch on the market trends. Currently our focus is to root ourselves in Delhi NCR and then to tap other metro cities.
 
Why only jewelries? Are you planning to expand to other categories as well?
India's jewelry market is worth $50 billion and surveys say that a jewelry item is sold in every 20 seconds in India. This is the only space that has seen a humming response lately. The sector has also attracted many investors as well as business leaders. Still there are many big-small retailers in this space who are hesitant of innovations in their business model. These retailers will be our prime prospects and the idea is to give them a taste of this new "digital bazaar". 
We have started the pilot with many jewelry brands and are in talks with big names in the space such as Tanishq and PC Jewellers. We are also planning to approach to designer boutique stores, shoes stores, home décor and furnishing, art exhibitions, antique store etc. After a successful execution of the pilot, we would expand our services other sectors as well.  
Will keep you posted on the same..
 
When you say "enhanced shopping experience", how different is it from other SaaS based platforms?
SaleAssist is not a typical SaaS-based platform where a retailer can sell and customers can buy. SaleAssist is primarily focused on in-store shopping experience. We help retail stores to upgrade into a smart store. Some of our feature such as digital showcase of products, ordering sold-out items, analyzing shopper's behavior and feedback, maintaining digital catalog & signage etc. works as a catalyst to boost footfall in a store. 
Customers always prefer stores that have products of all ranges with wide variety and this is what we assist them with. Even if a shop is running out on a particular product, customers can still see it, know about it and place the order. So, ultimately with SaleAssist tablets a store never goes out-of-stock. 
 
What are the challenges being in your kind of a business?
The first and the foremost important challenge was market awareness. Many SMBs, mom-and-pop stores etc. fail to understand the reason behind low consumer penetration. They start hopping around other not-so-important reasons such as adding more stocks, infrastructural improvement, location and what not. But the main issue is engaging with clients and knowing what they want. When we reach out to a retailer, we explain them about how they can learn their consumer's need, target group and inventory management and believe me, taking it further is a cakewalk. 
Offline retailers now-a-days wants to combat with the highly aggressive e-Commerce biz and so now even these SMBs have started analyzing market and have learnt the mantra of "go with the flow". This product will act as a boon for these offline retailers and will make them neck-to-neck with the e-Commerce.
 
What is the market share of this industry and where do see SaleAssist 3-5 years down the line?
I would take this pride to call ourselves the only player in this maket. It will be too early to comment on the market size but the current retail market in India is around $600 billion which, by 2018 is likely to grow at a CAGR of 13%. Jewelry itself nabs 10 percent of it, which is around $60 billion. So, we have a lot of opportunities to explore. Maybe a year later we might have some possible competitions but by then we would have a lead of good 2 years. In 2016, we also wish to launch SaleAssist in international retail markets.

 

Deep Malik
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