Apparel, jewellery, electronic retailers to roll out store-on-wheels; launches virtual tour of stores

“The idea of store-on-wheels is that customers should not feel suffocated that they can’t go out and shop, and feel the same pleasure right at their doorsteps,” said Vishnu Prasad, managing director of Future Lifestyle Fashions that owns Central a...

KOLKATA / BENGALURU: Apparel, jewellery, electronics and smartphone chains, including Central, Brand Factory, Tanishq, Sangeetha Mobiles and Great Eastern Retail, are reaching out to housing societies to send vans filled with their products for consumers to buy right from their doorstep.

These retailers, along with Croma, Lifestyle and Vijay Sales, have also started opening their high-street stores in states that have allowed retail sales of non-essential goods as part of the gradual opening up after lockdown, and are taking orders through virtual tour of their existing stores and from their online stores, company executives said.

“The idea of store-on-wheels is that customers should not feel suffocated that they can’t go out and shop, and feel the same pleasure right at their doorsteps,” said Vishnu Prasad, managing director of Future Lifestyle Fashions that owns Central and Brand Factory.


Future Group has already received approval for store-on-wheels from six resident welfare associations (RWAs) in Bengaluru, and it is reaching out to more RWAs in many states. “The fear of going to crowded places will continue for some time, may be six months, and hence these will continue,” Prasad said.

Tata Group jeweller Tanishq is piloting try-at-home in Bengaluru and plans to roll it out in two more cities by June.

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Ajoy Chawla, CEO of the jewellery division of Titan that runs Tanishq, said it will wait till RWAs’ anxiety is reduced to take this initiative nationwide, adding this will be a long-term feature irrespective of Covid-19. “Shoppers may want to get back to this traditional style of buying jewellery to avoid driving and parking in the new normal world,” he said.

South India’s largest cell phone retail chain Sangeetha Mobiles and East India’s largest electronics chain Great Eastern Retail, too, are firming up store-on-wheels plans.

Subhash Chandra, managing director of Sangeetha Mobiles, said such mobile shops will have entire merchandise, but there won’t be any product demonstration as several brands have prohibited it.

Many chains are offering virtual tour of their stores to customers through store cameras and WhatsApp video calls with sales executives providing assisted shopping.
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Departmental store chain Lifestyle is yet to open stores but has started ecommerce operations with assisted shopping by store staff in green and orange zones, its managing director Vasanth Kumar said.

Ritesh Ghosal, chief marketing officer of Tata-owned electronics chain Croma, said daily traffic on its web store has increased by 50% over the last week while operational stores are enjoying double digit growth even though they have to down the shutter by 6 pm or 7 pm.
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Arvind Fashions that sells brands such as Gap, Calvin Klein, US Polo Assn, Tommy Hilfiger and Unlimited, is discussing with mall owners to deliver products at the car park for shoppers who purchase online and want to pick from store, said chief executive J Suresh. He said the brands will not deliver products to any housing complex where RWA objects.

Retailers are also allowing customers to fix an appointment time to visit the store so that they don’t have to wait in queues as store entries are limited due to social distancing norms.

Future Group has also reported a surge in sales with average billing value going up from Rs 3,500 in pre-lockdown period to Rs 5,000 now.

However, retailers said this may not sustain after the initial surge since consumers are likely to cut down on spending till the festive season.

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