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IT's UniverCell appeal: Sathish Babu

Shubhra Rishi | Jan. 16, 2014
In the last 13 years, that gap grew into UniverCell, a Rs 1,000-crore mobile retail chain, with 450 stores in 300 locations, that sells three times more phones than any of the other large retailers in the country, says Babu. But now Babu is faced with another challenge: To ensure mobile retailing stays relevant in the age of e-commerce--and grow UniverCell into a Rs 10,000 crore company by 2020. IT, he says, was key to getting UniverCell to where it is today and it will help it get to the next milestone.

This year, in July, we launched our first 'techsperience' store called UniverCell SYNC which lets customers select gadgets from a variety of devices such as music, imaging, social/productivity and the Noteworthy, which is a very popular feature of the SYNC store. It is also a first-of-its-kind store in the sense that it allows customers experience gadgets that haven't yet been introduced to the Indian market. Going by how complicated phones are becoming, our personal services will go a long way in delivering excellent customer experience by helping customers figure out what they want to buy.

CIO: How do these different store formats facilitate sales?

Sathish Babu: India is a replacement market, which means that the number of customers coming to stores to buy mobile phones for the first time is negligible. Today, there are customers who will research online but buy a mobile at a store, and then there are those who will research and buy online. We want more people to come to our stores and hence, the need to create and upgrade our experiential-themed stores.

According to GfK, the average selling price (ASP) for mobiles in India is less than Rs 3,500. But the ASP of a customer coming to a SYNC store is close to Rs 20,000. If you look at the buying pattern of different customers, they are likely to spend an additional 10 percent on mobile accessories such as headphones, cover, skins, and pouches, etcetera. Therefore, we have trained our sales staff to recommend additional items and increase the bill size.

We are also experimenting with selling new and quirky mobile apps. For instance, health apps aimed at helping consumers quit smoking or control diabetes. These are available exclusively at our stores.

 

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