After establishing Odyssey as a strong player in the leisure retail business, the next vertical Ashwin ventured into was eyewear with Stylei, offering multiple international brands of eyewear in a very cool and international ambience. Another addition is Editions, a premium and luxury pen store. Toyopia the latest concept from the company is an exclusive toy store.
Being a retail brand, focus is not much on corporate brand building. Rather, most of the spending is on store level BTL activities. Book events are the focus still, and there is a revised marketing budget providing separate allocation for book events and also ensure they are spread out across all cities and stores.
Odyssey was conceived and positioned primarily as a neighborhood leisure store stocking books, music, stationery, gifts, toys, cards, multimedia and accessories.
The challenges overcome
The challenge is maintaining an intimate relationship with customers since leisure retail is very impulsive by nature; this is met with lots of innovation and enhanced technical support. Other challenges are high property rentals making most projects unviable, fragmentation of the market due to high overlap of catchments among too many mall developments, shortage of skilled and experienced manpower especially in specialised functions, high cost of manpower, attrition, etc. All these are encountered by efficient front-end and back-end operations
Odyssey is coming up in Coimbatore and after that one more in Chennai. Many more express format tie-ups are being worked out and these will be rolled out in a phased manner. Editions, Stylei and Toyopia being specialty/luxury retail, will together see over 10 outlets opening in 2011 and 2012 across metros. The e-commerce portal www.odyssey360.com is undergoing an extensive site revamp to offer more feature-rich contents.
His understanding of the retail business and his learning in this process
“My learning in this retail journey is - be clear and focused in your vision, do not dilute the brand positioning as customers loyalty is very important and this is built over the years, take calls based on ‘gut-feel’ but balance it with analytical data also. As the business grows and expands, build a strong organisation structure, processes, controls, etc. Ensure that the DNA of the brand is not only communicated as part of induction but also reiterated constantly– formally and informally – to all employees.”