Thursday, June 20, 2013

Reliance Digital Experience … What Experience?

Indiblogger presented an opportunity for a Reliance Digital Experience in some of their newly opened Reliance Digital stores dedicated to selling Electronic goods – TV, Music Players, Laptops, Tablets, Kitchen Durables and so on. I was back in Mumbai and took this as an opportunity to step outside with wifey.
After having spent a couple of years in Dubai and being exposed to Super Stores like Carrefour and dedicated large format electronic stores like Jumbo and Max which are housed in buildings spanning several floors … Reliance Digital Store came as a disappointment at first sight. Reliance is one of the biggest companies in India and they do things at a large scale. I had expected a really HUGE store. But then a little thought tells me that they don't really need to have HUGE stores; big ones are just fine.
I went to Reliance Digital at Infinity Mall in Malad and asked for their store manager. The staff found him after a few minutes and he guided me to an individual who seemed to be a trainee. He took my printout, located my name, verified across the name in list and that on printout. I thought, now he will take me on a guided tour of the store and give me some real memorable 'experience' of the interesting electronic goods here … almost making me buy some. But alas … he did not do any such thing nor did anyone else. He asked me to go around the store and look around and then write about it.
I was taken aback. This was not what I had expected. But then … I was anywhere there and thought no harm in going around and looking. I went straight to the end of the store so that I could start from the rear and finish off at the beginning and simply leave from the main gate !!
To my surprise, there was this whole section of BOOKS at the back of the store. At first, I was surprised that the electronic/digital store was selling hard copy books but then a Book Lover like me does not question the existence of a book section. I spent quite some time going through the various sections of the book section. What I found was there there were several books missing from the series and trilogies and they had been placed somewhere else by casual visitors who inadvertedly forget from where they picked up a particular book and end up keeping them in the nearest shelf. I understand that there is little that can be done to change visitor behavior but the staff should constantly be on a lookout for the mis-placed and displaced books. Also, empty shelves/racks are never a good idea unless you are trying to shutdown business.
Another thing which was conspicuous by its absence was an Apple dedicated counter / section. I think the electronic store will have a better chance of selling Apple products if they have their own section. In fact, what surprised me further was the absence of iPods in the music players section. When I enquired, the salesman pulled out 2-3 pieces from the cabinet saying there was not enough display space and hence it was kept inside. Guess the store manager and the staff have forgotten the age old principle of 'Jo Dikhta Hain, vo Bikta Hain' (That what is visible, gets sold).
I visited the store but did not really get any 'Digital Experience'. I had hoped to get a guided tour of the store along with sampling and demo of various key/select products like some action sequence or sports scene on a 3D TV, listening to some instrumental music on iPod, Bose speakers/earphones etc and then giving me hands-on experience of using tablets as well as touch-screen laptops with Windows 8 … experience of the products and their fine quality would indeed translate the visit into an experience
Next time I want to buy something electronic, I am sure to visit the Reliance Digital store but if the staff response is as cold as it was this time around … then I am not going to visit them again. There are other players in the market who have been in the large format stores and I would readily go to them.

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