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    Sohum Shoppe: Transforming the Northeast Fashion

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    Indian fashion retail market is very fragmented and the role of the regional retailers cannot be undermined as they have complete knowledge of the local market and its customers. One such players is Sohum Shoppe that pioneered the concept of mega stores in the country’s Northeast region.

    Sohum (meaning “That’s Me!”) began its journey in 2000 by opening its first store at Guwahati. Currently it has five outlets (three in Guwahati and one each in Dibrugarh and Jorhat) and plans to add one more in Shillong soon.

    “Northeast has always been a fashion hub. With rapid growth and rising urbanisation, it has seen an overwhelming outburst where the thirst for fashion has sky-rocketed among the consumers. This ensures a faster then ever changing retail market in this part of the country,” says ML Jalan, Director, Sohum Shoppe.

    Consumers have lately shifted their attention to internationally known brands and hence retailing in the Northeast is expected to see some very similar shifts like in metros and big-tier cities. “Well-known international brands have already started their businesses here and we expect them to flourish in a better manner,” Jalan adds.

    Positioning Right in Customer’s Mind

    Market positioning plays a vital role when it comes to retailing. Retailers  need to be amply cautious in creating an image of a certain product based on the customer profile and requirements. This will help in getting the “first impression” right in the minds of the target audience.

    “We achieve marketing positioning by knowing our target audience well, identifying product qualities and its USP, analysing competitors and promoting and henceforth maintaining that position of the brand,” informs Jalan.

    Blend of National and International Brands

    Sohum deals with leading national and international brands including , , Gas, Gant, Swarovski, Mont Blanc, IZod, Global Desi, And, , Only, and Jack n Jones. “Our focus has always been to give an international shopping ambience to our customers. This has been made possible by using the Indian brands and catering to foreign labels where gap exists in the retail market,” states Jalan. The price band most popular with the customers is Rs 1,500 to Rs 4,000.

    “We have a wide range of products catering to the needs of every individual. Our stores are house to a large number of products, comprising something very basic to something very unique. Thus, we are everyone’s store!”

    The company generates maximum sales in April, May and September to December. However, March and July are the weak months in terms of sales To maximise the revenues during these months, the company comes out with various promotional activities and fests to attract the masses and boost up the sales.

    Location Strategy

    The company prefers high street to open stores. “Centralised areas are the ones we have always looked for and we hope to continue targeting them Such locations are shopper’s paradise and thus help attract attention,” says Jalan. The average store size of Sohum Shoppe is 26,400 sq.ft.

    Customer Experience

    We, at Sohum, believe in providing quality products along with service Giving away a sense of satisfaction among our cherished customers is what we have always desired for and keeping that promise is all we need That’s our sole strategy and we believe in it.

    To make shopping a rewarding experience, the company has introduced loyalty programme “My Own Club” which is designed to build strong relationships with customers and to ensure repeated visits to the stores. The programme has an ever escalating member base with its roster exceeding the 40,000 mark.

    Way Forward

    Sohum is all set to have a store in Shillong and as of now the company is sticking to it. “Shillong does not have any prominent players but needs such kind of stores. With a store in Shillong, we will step our foot outside the territory of Assam.” The company believes in company-owned stores and does not plan to expand through franchise route. “Our upcoming stores will be company-owned We are not looking for franchise stores as of now.”