E-tailers woo customers with gifts this festive season


October 29, 2012

Raghavendra Kamath & Shivani Shinde, Business Standard
Mumbai, October 29, 2012

E-commerce sites are giving out home makeovers, wardrobe offers and free gift deliveries during the ongoing festive season to woo customers. Most of the sites offer additional products, other than discounts, to lure customers.

For instance, ‘members only’ site fashionandyou.com will launch a 15-day ‘home makeover’ campaign, wherein three highest shoppers will get home improvement products costing between Rs 10,000 and Rs 50,000.

The e-commerce site is running a month-long promotion called “Festival of indulgence” from October 16 to November 16, wherein the highest shopper can win a designer gold necklace worth over Rs 3 lakh.

Private label-focused site Zovi.com is running a ‘wardrobe offer’, wherein the buyer gets accessories worth Rs 399 for free on purchases worth Rs 1,500 and above.

“We do not believe in discounts. We thought by giving free accessories, we can engage with them better and strike a personal chord,” said Kavindra Mishra, founder-member and vice-president, sales at Zovi.com.

Zovi is also looking to launch the kidswear segment on its site and add a range of winterwear next month to its offering. Another site, Jabong.com, is launching exclusive international products on its site and has started free delivery of gifts.

“Free delivery of gifts requires a lot of effort and processes. We thought the festival period is ideal to launch this service,” said Praveen Sinha, co-founder and managing director at Jabong.com.

Online market place eBay, too, has been promising goodies during the festive period. For purchases made between October 5 and October 15 for up to and above Rs 5,000, gifts such as branded headphones, iPod shuffle, mobiles, iPads and laptops were given out. During October 16-31, buyers need to make purchases only for Rs 2,500 to get gifts.

Besides, eBay has come out with an offer for purchases worth Rs 20,000 to Rs 4 lakh between October 19 and 31. On such buys, customers get gifts such as LED televisions and laptops.

Another player, Snapdeal, is also offering special Diwali offers around home products, consumer durables and others. According to consultants, the strategy of e-commerce sites will not only push sales of products, but also increase margins and positioning in the minds of customers.

“There are two ways of giving offers. Either you can give a discount of 50 per cent on a Rs 500 product, or you can offer the product for Rs 400 and give an additional product,” says Devangshu Dutta, chief executive, Third Eyesight, a retail consultancy firm.

According to Dutta, this (the additional product) would push up the implied value of the product in the minds of customers.

Retailers not bullish on this festive season


October 25, 2012

Dipti Jain, The Times of India

New Delhi, October 25, 2012

After a sluggish start for retailers this year, even the festival season might not be a mood-lifter. With consumer spending still not encouraging, retailers are not as ambitious on their prospects this festive period as compared to the previous years even as they expect a pick up in sales.

While most retailers that TOI spoke to said this quarter (October-December) sales would definitely be higher than the rest of the year, not many expect the increase to be same as during a typical October-December period. According to industry estimates, the retail sector has been reeling under the impact of steep price increases and a significant depreciation of the rupee.

Growth in the industry has nearly halved between 2010-11 and 2011-12 , causing most retailers to aim for even lower growth targets this financial year, analysts said. While the luxury sector has performed relatively better, it is the mid to premium range of brands that have been worst hit. "Festival quarter has always been good but there is still a fair bit of slowness in the economy. Retailers will push very hard to revive some optimism ," said Mohit Bahl, partner , transaction services at KPMG India.

Madura Garments-owned Louis Philippe, said while it was expecting around 20% growth this quarter, it is significantly lower than previous years. The brand, which is currently witnessing a 15% annual growth, said growth has declined from 50% in 2010-11 . Even last year, sales growth was in the range of 20%-25 %. "Raw material prices have gone up. Plus excise duties have increased and so imports are costlier . Even hiring is low in the industry so the sentiments are poor," said Jacob John, brand head, Louis Philippe.

Having taken multiple price hikes in last one year, retailers said any further increase would not be possible either as it would further dent purchasing sentiment. The industry has seen a 20%-30 % increase in prices in the last one year.

"Retailers are cautiously optimistic and are focusing on improving footfalls through promotions as well as margins by promoting higher priced and higher margin products. Expansion plans are more realistic ," said Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight, a specialist consulting firm.

With the festival season setting in late this year, the window for raking in huge profits for retailers is smaller too. DLF Brands, which has the franchise rights for international brands like Claire’s , Alcott, Boggi, Sunglass Hut, said it has significantly ramped up its marketing and promotion activities this year to increase footfalls. "The reform measures announced by the government in the last few weeks will take time to show its benefits. So people are more cautious. Brands which have come up new might perform well, but those existing already will continue to feel the pinch," said Pradeep Bhanot, senior vice president (accessories), DLF Brands.

Offering heavy discounts is not on the cards for most brands but retailers are looking at adding new range of low-priced products to increase footfalls. Adventure sports brand Woodland is planning to come up with "well-priced" products apart from offers for its loyal customers. The brand, which grew 30% last year, is expecting a 12-15 % same store growth for this quarter. "These three to four months are very important for us. We are tying up with a lot of advertisers to increase sales this season," Woodland India MD, Harkirat Singh said.

At Horniman Circle opener, Starbucks sets premium tone


October 20, 2012

Nupur Anand & Ashish K Tiwari, DNA (Daily News & Analysis)

Mumbai, October 20, 2012

The Seattle, US-headquartered Starbucks on Friday opened its first store in India, kickstarting what could be a sedate rollout, going ahead.

Yet, if the 4,500 sq ft store in the historic Elphinstone Building in South Mumbai’s Horniman Circle — with an upscale brand Hermes at sniffing distance — is any indication, the company has positioned itself at the premium end, about 50-60% costlier than Café Coffee Day.

The experience is akin to “walking into a shrine of Starbucks coffee”, Howard Schultz, chairman, president and CEO, Starbucks Coffee Company, said of the flagship store, which sports tastefully done up, wood-and-leather interiors.

Two more stores are slated to open in the city next week — in the Taj Mahal Palace Annexe (Gateway of India) and the Oberoi Mall in Goregaon East — before the coffee chain hits Delhi and elsewhere with another 3 stores in the next 6 months.

Beyond that, officials of Tata Starbucks Ltd, an equal joint venture (JV) between New York Stock Exchange-listed Starbucks Coffee Company and BSE-listed Tata Global Beverages Ltd, were tight-lipped, underscoring a circumspect debut.

The bigger question, say experts, is whether Starbucks can really crack the India code, coming in now?

Schultz appeared gung-ho. “The size of the market is very large. If you look at other countries where we have stores — 700 in mainland China, 800 in the UK, 1,000 in Japan, 8,000 in the US — this is a very large opportunity and putting an overall number for stores here will not be possible at this stage. But with Tata’s help and the size and scale of this market, we believe this is where we will grow significantly and make investments over the near future,” he said.

Experts feel the brand name, too, will work its magic — at least initially.

“It is a very successful brand. They have been able to establish themselves in other Asian markets such as China, which is predominantly a tea drinking country. In fact, they are believed to have created the demand for coffee in the Chinese market and have met with roaring success. Therefore, India may not be difficult either,” said Arvind Singhal, chairman of retail consultancy Technopak Advisors.

Technopak expects India’s cafe market to touch $410 million by 2017, up from $230 million now, with the number of cafes rising from 1,950 to 2,900.

Others feel Starbucks will benefit from localisation, as it has in other markets. For instance, in China, it worked with ingredients like green tea.

Something similar will work just fine here, said Gaurav Sharma, assistant vice president, Technova.

Schultz appeared to concur. “Though we will be importing coffee beans, for the first time in our history, we will be sourcing and roasting coffee locally,” he said.

“This apart, we will also offer a host of localised food items sourced from Tata’s food and beverage operations. So, you will see items like elaichi mawa croissant, murg tikka panini, tandoori paneer roll among others,” said Avani Saglani Davda, CEO, Tata Starbucks Ltd.

But will this be enough, given that competition is rife, with several players in the fray?

Singhal of Technopak feels it would take a herculean effort to upstage the market leader, Café Coffee Day. But of course, the positioning of two brands is different and so a clone war is not impending, he is quick to add.

Some analysts believe that in order to succeed Starbucks will have to focus on the location and quality.

To be sure, the café chain is not a leader in all the markets that it is present in, Devangshu Dutta, chief executive, Third Eyesight retail points out. According to him, pricing, product offering and location will decide its success.

Yet others feel the company will do well to focus on smaller sizes and cheaper beverages.

The world’s largest coffee chain will need options that are priced as much as 33% lower than its US offerings to succeed in the Indian market, said Saloni Nangia, president at Technopak Advisors.

For example, Café Coffee Day, the nation’s biggest chain with 1,360 stores across the country, sells a regular cup of cappuccino for Rs61 in Mumbai, while its closest competitor Barista, with 318 stores, sells for Rs69. This, in a nation where the World Bank says about two-thirds of the people live on less than $2 (around Rs108 as at Friday’s conversion) a day.

That may prompt Starbucks to sell its drinks for about $2-2.50 a cup, Nangia said, compared with about $4 in Beijing and $3.50 in the US.

But it may well choose not to do that and remain a premium player, said Larry Miller, an Atlanta-based analyst at RBC Capital Markets Corp. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see similar levels to other markets around the world, which would be a pretty expensive proposition for the Indian consumer,” he said. “In China, their products are just as expensive as they are in the US.”

With Bloomberg

How to get the best deal for your old car


October 19, 2012

Prashant Mahesh, The Economic Times
Mumbai, October 19, 2012

“Bring the old and take a new one.” Manufacturers and dealers of white goods and cars come up with exchange offers during the festive season. With Navratri and Diwali around the corner, you are likely to see many such offers in the coming days. For example, car companies are offering Rs 20,000 to Rs 1 lakh as exchange bonus this festive season, depending on the model you choose. Similarly, you could get Rs 2,000 to Rs 8,000 for your old refrigerator depending on its condition.

“In the case of consumer durables and white goods, there is no organised resale market. Given the hassles involved in locating a buyer for your old product and the time and energy it will consume, it makes sense to go with an exchange offer,” says Devangshu Dutta, CEO of Third Eyesight, a consulting firm on retail and consumer durables. However, the rule doesn’t apply to cars.

“If you upgrade your car to the same brand, it makes sense to opt for an exchange offer. However, if you are changing your brand, it may be better to sell the car in the second-hand market and buy a new one,” says Roshun Povaiah of Cartoq, an automobile website.


There is an active resale market for cars, but there is no such market for white goods or consumer durables. Your neighbourhood scrap dealer won’t offer you more than Rs 1,000-1,500 for a fridge or a washing machine in perfect working condition. You could advertise on some websites, but getting a buyer and the right price depend a lot on your luck.

Even if you are lucky to find a buyer, transportation cost would be another issue. Also, going through the drill may consume a lot of energy. That is why many people prefer to give it away to friends, relatives or domestic helps than selling these dirt cheap.

“In most cases it may make sense to dispose of your old appliance to the dealer itself,” says Devangshu Dutta. However, check with at least two to three dealers to get a fair idea of the resale price before taking the final decision.


If you are looking to sell your old car and buy a new one, zero down on the model first. If you are upgrading to the same brand, the manufacturer or dealer may offer you a loyalty bonus. This could be crucial in your decision making.

For example, if you plan to sell your old Maruti Alto and upgrade to another Maruti car, say Maruti Swift, you may get a loyalty for staying with the same manufacturer. The loyalty bonus could vary depending on the model. It is typically around Rs 15,000 to Rs 25,000.

“Chances are when the loyalty bonus is added, the resale amount you are getting could be higher than what you may get by selling your car in the second-hand market. Also, since it’s the same dealer, the total amount is adjusted easily and helps you make a down-payment for your new car,” says Roshun Povaiah.

However, if you plan to shift to another brand, things won’t be the same. For example , if you wish to sell your Maruti car and shift to a Toyota make, you may not get any loyalty bonus.

“In this case it would work better if you independently sell your old car, than giving it to the dealer in an exchange offer,” says Banwari Lal Sharma AVP (marketing), Carwale, Automotive Exchange.

Since cars enjoy an active second-hand market, you do some research to estimate what kind of price you can get for your old car. Manufacturers have their used-car buying arms also.

For example, Maruti True Value, Mahindra First Choice and Hyundai Advantage are some manufacturer secondhand dealers. Added to this, there are websites, local used-car dealers and even garage mechanics who double up as car agents. They too can help sell your car. Get an estimate from a couple of dealers on what they are ready to pay for your car. Compare that with what the new car dealer is ready to pay, and go with whoever is paying you more.

Starbucks opens its first store in India


October 19, 2012

Sapna Agarwal, MINT (A Wall Street Journal Partner)

Mumbai, October 19, 2012

A welcome sign in six languages—Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Gujarati, French and English—greets customers at the entrance to India’s first Starbucks store, which opened Friday at Horniman circle in south Bombay, offering a glimpse of the localization that the Tata group and Starbucks Corp. are attempting.

The atmospherics are spot on. There’s the aroma of freshly-roasted coffee; the decor is identifiably Indian, thanks to the signature jali (lattice) design; the mugs are emblazoned with Starbucks India along with an image of India Gate; iron trunks and jute bags stamped with Tata Coffee Ltd line the walls.

The pricing has been aligned with that of Café Coffee Day and Barista, starting at Rs.85 for a cup of brewed coffee excluding taxes. There are 42 items on the mixed menu but no pork or beef items.

The first Indian store is a big deal for Starbucks, which needs to make sure that it can pack in more international customers as markets back home get saturated and habitues gravitate towards other brands and stand-alone coffee shops.

Howard Shultz, founder and chief executive officer of Starbucks, was on hand at the opening.

“This is the largest market in the world for Starbucks and we will make significant investments here and build a leadership business,” he said. The company had waited for many years to come to India and had been frustrated that its entry was getting delayed due to the financial crisis and a lack of suitable partners.

Shultz declined to give details of the investments planned or the roll-out strategy. In January, when the firm announced its joint venture with Tata Global Beverages Ltd, Starbucks said it would roll out 50 stores by the end of the year. That target may be difficult to achieve.

Starbucks plans to open two more stores in Mumbai next week at the Oberoi mall and the Taj Mahal Palace annexe—before launching in New Delhi early next year.

“India is a complicated and complex market; it has become easier to enter due to Tata,” Shultz said.

Globally, Starbucks has 18,000 cafes in 60 countries. It has 700 in China, 800 in the UK and 1,000 in Japan.

“They have got their pricing similar to the other coffee chains present in India,” said Devangshu Dutta, chief executive, Third Eyesight, a retail consultancy. A localized menu is a must in India as food is a big part of café culture, he said.

The Starbucks café also offers Himalayan water beverage packs besides tea that’s branded Tata Taazo.

In its 40-year history, India is the first location where Starbucks is sourcing and roasting its coffee locally. A sign in the shops says: “Be prepared to be delighted. Our rich expresso made with coffee beans, grown in India, for India.”

“The decision to locally source is not because of economics,” said Shultz. Sourcing locally is a part of being “respectful” to the country and taking advantage of the huge coffee plantation heritage of the Tatas, he said.

The organized food market which includes fine dining, quick service restaurants, cafe chains is a $2 billion market, of which the cafe business—which consists of chains such as Cafe Coffee Day, Costa Coffee and Barista—is already a $230 million market, according to an October report by Technopak Advisors, a retail consultancy firm.

“There are close to a dozen coffee shop brands, with 1,700 cafes in India and at least another 10 coffee retail firms looking at setting up here at the moment,” said Siddharth Bafna, a partner and head of the corporate finance and transaction services practice at Lodha and Co., a consulting firm that helped Costa Coffee set up operations in India.

The high growth is also attracting many firms from the US, Australia, Thailand and Hong Kong. In May, Dunkin’ Donuts opened its first store in India and has plans to open 10 in its first year of operations. Krispy Kreme, another coffee and doughnuts retail chain, plans to open 80 stores in India in the next five years. Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd is the master franchise for Dunkin’ Donuts in India.

The promoters of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Hindustan Times and Mint, and Jubilant are closely related. There are no promoter crossholdings.