Started in 2007, with an aim to be one stop shop for all consumer durable related needs, Reliance Digital is all set to transform the consumer electronics market in India with widespread network of stores catering to almost every product category coupled with a dedicated team of resQ experts providing assistance not just at store but also at home.
Once primarily dominated by brands and traditional stores, the consumer electronics market has diversified with organised retailers aligning the retail scenario by not only delivering quality products but also ensuring complete consumer experience.
This phenomenon has been well versed by Reliance Digital – the leading electronics’ retailer of India that gains an edge over competitors while ensuring round the clock consumer experience with its service arm - resQ. “We are the only retailers that offer its own service arm for products, both in-store and at home for product installation or repairing, which is a big plus for us,” says Brian Bade, Chief Executive Officer of Reliance Digital.
Marking a pan India presence across 200 cities through a network of 1,500 stores, Reliance Digital unfolds in four distinct formats – Reliance Digital (200 large format stores house almost all categories), Reliance Digital Xpress (50 mid-sized stores primarily showcasing high tech categories as tv, laptops, mobiles), Reliance Digital Xpress Mini (1,250 small sized neighborhood stores focusing on gadgets and mobile services) and iStores (authorised apple stores).
Marking an edge over peers with ResQ
wearing by the core values of making technology affordable and accessible to all, Reliance Digital focuses on key areas – ease of access, affordability, store ambience and technology assistance by experts, tells Bade with special emphasis on resQ. He points, “We believe, what strengthens our differentiation and lends us a strong competitive advantage is, our team of resQ experts providing assistance not just at store but also at home. They are your go-to person for any tech assistance across products and brands.”
Reliance Digital is the only retailer to provide a full-range of after-sales at home services. ResQ is India’s first and only multi-product, multi-brand after sales service unit and they are available 365 days of the year including Sundays. Considering many customers are not first time purchasers and are upgrading to a better technology, the Consumer electronics retailer also offer an exchange value for their old tech products.
Only brands being a passé
Formerly brand conscious, the consumer electronics market has diversified giving way to newer brands – with comparatively lower price points, but superior features. Analysing the shift in Consumer electronics consumer behaviour at Reliance Digital, Bade says, that the brand name is still very prevalent, but now people are open to other brands as well depending upon the features and the value they get for their money.
“Certainly there are some iconic brands with iconic products out there that people aspire to, but in certain cases if people see better value or better products for less money and just a different brand, they go for that too,” states Bade while adding that brands do maintain their age-old rank, when it come to making a purchase in high-end segment. He pins down that the brand vs. feature phenomenon has been in focus in past five years.
In words of Bade, there are certain categories wherein customers are doing away with the brands, for instance, appliances where people seem to be less concerned about brands, and more about features like cooling etc. Accessories followed by cables and routers, power banks, cases etc. are the categories where people are becoming more agnostic for brands. Still, the high-end smartphone space and hig- end television space is brand driven to a big degree. “The high-end space is still driven by brands, while towards mid-segment, the market becomes more diverse,” asserted
Sensing the emerging demand, Reliance Digital has welcomed some new brands in mobile segment at its stores all across India, for instance, the retailer has just launched mobile phones by Chinese manufacturer Gionee. “We are first modern retailers to sell Gionee which is a good brand and is popular especially in the north. One can check out that brand at our stores before Diwali. Also, we have just launched LAVA,” stated Bade.
Further, the retail giant has successfully created a private label brand ‘Reconnect’ addressing the demands even in high-involvement and high-ticket segments as television, washing machines, and has been well accepted by the consumers.
eCommerce trying to create price impression
Post sales service mechanism is something that online players can’t offer, says Brian Bade, CEO, Reliance Digital to Retailer Media while explaining the exclusive mobile launches across platforms.
Few mobile companies do exclusive launches with both eCommerce and physical players like you. What is your take on the same?
We are now the platform for global brands to launch their products and reach customers across the length and breadth of the nation with ease. Recent launches of Fitbit, Google Chromecast were able to have the customers experience these interesting and experiential products at our stores across the country.
The biggest thing we offer to the customer is the touch, feel and the ability to play with the product and express doubts and get answers. We think there is a big benefit to sell offline and hence, we have expanded our network. We are really available everywhere now especially with mobile phones and will continue to do it. There is a big benefit to it and all the major brands that are most popular in India are being carried by us. There are a few brands like Motorola and Xiaomi that are launching online but there are still limited and don’t have a huge market share and they are not positioned towards the higher end.
We also do some exclusive launches with some brands we carry. May be not on that large scale, but we do have some exclusive launches where the customer can come and first see that before making a purchase.
Reports suggest that consumer electronics industry is back on its growth trajectory. What’s your take on the growth and the potential this segment holds?
As far as whatever growth is expressed is for mixed category and mixed consumer sentiments. Some categories are growing at faster pace than others. We have seen growth across categories for our brand. I am not sure about the market itself, but I see the potential is very strong over the next few years. Not just the market has grown, but it has changed a lot. Now people are using high range products such as bigger TVs, more smartphones, more connectivity and that will continue to change in next few years.
What is the highest selling brand at
It changes from season to season, but Samsung and LG offer the most SKUs and are placed in most categories, so by default they are going to be the most selling brand, whether it is smartphones, TVs, appliances, audio equipment. Samsung and LG are the most diverse brand across categories, so I think it is fair to say that they are the biggest brand we have. Shares for other brands shift from time to time depending upon who brings the best product and season of the year etc.
In Reliance Digital, how do you ensure superior customer service and after sales mechanism? In this regard, have you set up any standard parameters to delight customers?
We are the only retailers that offer its own service arm for both in-store and at home product installation or repairing. That is a big plus for us and recently the other way we ensured customer service is the 30 second online survey offered to customers for their feedback. This is conducted at the time of product installation as well and the feedback is taken very seriously and necessary changes are done.
On other side, we do focus a lot on training and have created our training systems over past couple of years to include Online Interactive Metric System. We do video training, so that we can continue to give the information as quickly as possible because products change very quickly.
What are the future plans for Reliance digital?
The future plan is obviously to fully expand our network and take it to 800 cities by the time our expansion is done smaller stores. Within next few months that would be done as it is an easy thing. The next thing will be to launch omni-channel experience which will allow people to buy from anywhere.
Do you see eCommerce as a competition?
We think eCommerce is good because it brings a lot of visibility and education about products thus leading consumers consider the products that they may not consider offline. eCommerce is its own kind of entity and has a different set of customers right now. I wouldn’t
say we have a direct competition with them. Our sales are good and we see growth in this year and will continue to.
eCommerce fits in this eco-system. Probably it hits the general traders and small retailer as compared to us and doesn’t have a bigger impact on national retailer like us. At times, our products are priced lower than those at online portals. It is not that eCommerce has lower price on everything. They are trying to create price impression but there is also a fulfillment factor added to that, which can’t be fulfilled by online players.
What edge do you have over regional retailers?
We have a lot of benefits in terms of equity and pricing that we can offer that the regional players cant or sustain over the time because our size, service arm which we call ResQ team, the distribution synergy that drives India and the chain of stores. Moreover, competition keeps us on toes and enforces us to deliver better customer experience but I think the retail players are built over time and some of them are built on customer’s trust, but once the customer has experienced our stores, they would make repeat purchases as well.