Monday, July 23, 2007

Electronics get sexy

Move over Vijay Sales, Croma is here. The new electronics megastore from the Tata group is doing to electronics what hypermarts did to vegetables. Taking the buying experience several notches higher.

How? Well,to begin with the showroom is huge. And thank God, because on a Sunday evening at an obscure location like Sector 15, Palm Beach Road, Belapur (a km or so down from Seawood estate), the place was packed.

Mostly gawkers (like myself), but a fair number of shoppers as well. And yet, you did not feel claustrophobic.

The store is really well planned, well lit and well labelled. And the single most important difference: all that cool stuff is not locked away inside a glass case. With a stern / disinterested/ harried salesmen holding the key.

At Croma, it's what you might call 'auto display'. The gadgets are mounted on a stand of sorts. They can't be yanked off but you can touch and feel them, even operate the piece (except for the low end mobile phonee, which are dummies).

But digital cameras, mp3 players, PDAs - all have batteries. Can be switched on and 'experienced'.

There is, of course, a Croma guy standing there, if you need help. And the amazing thing is the store actually lives up to its slogan: "We don't sell, we help you buy". The staff is friendly and knowledgable but not pushy. Which is a difficult mix to achieve!

We took a full download of the Dopod PR 818 and walked away saying 'sochenge.' No dirty looks or sighs from the sales guy. The 'khareedna nahin tha to itna inquiry kyun kiya' scowl you'll encounter at Vijay Sales.

Of course I don't know for sure how good the deals are. Certainly the extreme value conscious types will only browse at Croma and then go buy their stuff at say, an Alfa. The Sony Ericsson P990i was retailing at Rs 19800 at Croma - you can get it for Rs 14000 odd at Alfa. But for many products like LCD TVs I am sure Croma prices are very competitive.

The other thing is they don't have a 'full range' in products like digital cameras or laptops. But they have adequate choice.

Lastly, here some cool accessories on sale. Again, some may be cheaper in the grey market but if you're buying a digital camera which does not come with a case you may as well pick one up from here. Cause by the time you get to doing that from elsewhere your LCD screen would already be scratched.

Croma is definitely international in look, feel and its approach towards selling. The store treats the Indian customer like a responsible adult, not a kid in a candy store who needs to be supervised and eyed suspiciously all the time.

At the end of the day, when the Tatas enter any new business, they do it with class. Where they sometimes lack is speed of expansion. If they take care of that - it's a winning proposition.


  1. Like you say, this place is more about appreciating and experiencing something before buying. Unlike at Alfa where one can't even stand and it's more like a fihmarket for electronics, at Croma (I've been to the one at Malad), you can truly experience something. As for the deals, compared with MRP (which is what it should be compared with and not grey market stuff at Alfa), it is a massive saving. I was asking the salesperson at Malad how they are offering it so cheap and was it because of volumes, and he just said no, we're cutting our margins to minimal. So the drive is volume. Let's hope they expand quickly.

  2. I like the concept introduced by them in India which was much required considering the retail boom.

    I have visited their store in Ahmedabad and was much delighted by the ease of discovering and using all the gadgets.

    However, they dont really allow one to use the gadgets all that much, the staff isn't trained. We had to tell them about what they had in their store and never knew they did! Secondly, the billing staff is extremely lethargic.

    I think they need to do a little more spending on their staff training to make it a truely wonderful experience for the customer!

  3. An Electronic Goods chain Tirumala Music Center has launched an exclusive new store for High Definition Televisions and high-end electronic products like sleek phones and ipods.

    Looks like Electronics retail is here!

  4. Pantloon group also has stores of similar format called "Electronic Bazaar". One the plus, they offer good bargain. But the downside is limited choice.

    The crux is, will these stores replace/affect the single-brand stores?

  5. NOpe rashmi- look deeper and investigate bit more before u say they live up to their slogan- we help u buy :)(Ur opinion matters )insiders from the industry will tell u that the focus is on display and not on enlightining the customers about features- beyond doubt this is a welcome change form pushy sales man- but one grouse people do have is that they dont have trained sales guy.
    so they would not be able to get u a best product/feature/price buy :)

  6. Yeah, totally agree with you... Croma rocks! I wasn't so sure of going into a fancy store for a mobile phone that was long overdue. Decided to see Croma in Juhu just like that and even though the phone I wanted was out of stock, ended up buying another phone and speakers for my computer. And I'm happy. I'd rather pay a little extra for peace of mind over a genuine product.

  7. My experience at the one in Juhu, Mumbai was mixed. Picked up a desktop, but did not have the mix and match options that a Lamington Road assembler would have given me. The price was good and they threw in a printer free!

    However, like an earlier commenter mentioned, billing was horribly slow - the guy at the sales counter was clueless about the components, the brands, spellings, model numbers etc. Since all the pieces of the PC were not in stock at the same time, they said they would deliver ... and not prizes for guessing the delivery times - precisely the hours when nobody who has a real job will be at home.

    Even more irritatingly, you have to co-ordinate with the hardware provider independently to do simple things like add extra RAM and attach a TV tuner card. So a guy from HCL - again only during work hours - came home to add some stuff. Luckily I could set the thing up myself before he came and start using it ... many can't.

    I think stuff like Laptops which you can just buy and scoot will be easier but they HAVE to have an in-house workshop to do simple things like add RAM on the spot. Nehru Place aint going out of business anytime soon!

  8. I particularly loved the digital camera section!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. nice writeup..good update ;)

  11. Nice to hear abt such a store...They seem to have copied the model of "Best Buy", "Circuit City" stores in US, which have similar experience....Will definitely visit one...

  12. if it's somthing tht u told thn it shd b lookd it seems 2b western culture is now entering in our ntn the good way...2 ease out d way of life of humans(2b prcs...way of human shopping!)

  13. Good review. I want to buy a digital camera. I will go to the Belapur show room before deciding on it.

    All your blogs are interesting.

  14. wekl rashmi it was great knowledge to read your para.i wish you may prosper very well

  15. well the cost of electronics item at croma is also very cheap than others

  16. electronic get sexy is very good para and the cost are also at minimal

  17. Are you sure about the Tatas? i thought they were pretty super too, until now. Indicom Broadband was one of the worst jokes in the name of Service providers i've seen. They had crazy tariffs, clearly unresearched and unrealistic and their execution styles were even bizarre.
    One might say that introducing prepaid broadband facilities was a novelty but who does it with a three-day delay? they offer to come home and 'deliver' packs but hell, wouldn't it be easier if they were quicker and more accessible? Only brains that were frozen between 1996-2006 might offer "internet content" as a part of the broadband connection and worse, charge for it. What a joke! technically too, their lines and servers were terrible and broke down everyday. within weeks, their reputation had been flushed down the popularity loo. They have made a few hasty changes but find no takers. WE're all busy queing up for Airtel.

  18. Good to hear we are getting some mature electronic malls(I dont if it is big enough to be called a mall).

    But we do need some electronic malls with in house competition which would result into choice and good deals both.

  19. hey!!
    nice blog friends...

  20. Its a lil late to comment.but couldnot resist...after seeing this statement
    "when the Tatas enter any new business, they do it with class"

    do you have any views on the following blog....


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