Home Retail “The telecom market in India is about Rs. 14,000 crore per month...

    “The telecom market in India is about Rs. 14,000 crore per month with a subscriber base of over 890 million.”

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    Tata Services Limited (TTL) is one of India’s leading mobile telecommunications service providers delivering mobile connectivity, content and services to over 70 million business and retail consumers across the country.

    Operating under the unified flagship brand name , the company is focused on innovation and technology, playing an enabling role in simplifying consumer lives and expanding digital inclusion.

    About TTL

    Limited (TTL) has a pan India presence across all of India’s 19 telecom circles. The company offers integrated telecom solutions to its customers under the unified brand name Tata Docomo and operates its wireless networks on GSM, CDMA and 3G technology platforms. TTL, along with (Maharashtra) Limited, operates in more than 450,000 towns and villages across the country. The company has established a strong brand connect for Tata Docomo in India and has been at the forefront of redefining the telecom experience in India, launching innovative products and services that have impacted Indian consumer lifestyles. TTL is the clear market leader in the enterprise space as well, and has market leadership in many product lines, such as mobile broadband with the Photon family of wireless access devices. TTL’s bouquet of telephony services includes mobile services, wireless desktop phones, public booth telephony, and wire-line and Wi-Fi services.

    Market potential

    The telecom market in India is estimated about Rs. 14,000 crore per month with a subscriber base of over 890 million. The market is growing at a rate of 10 per cent per annum. This growth is being driven by increasing data usage in urban areas and penetration increase in rural areas where tele-density is low. Data consumption has seen phenomenal growth in recent times with about 155 million customers accessing the Internet through their mobile devices, on a monthly basis. This is a growth of approximately 85 per cent over last year. This is being further driven by increased availability of smart phones and 3G network.

    Retail dynamics

    “We have nearly 1,000 stores in over 100 towns with a combined retail space of approximately 500,000 sq.ft. Every month we cater to approximately 2 million customers across our various brand stores. About 40 per cent of our retail footprint is franchisee stores,” says Sandeep Singhal, Head – Branded Retail & Strategic Distribution, TTL.

    He further adds: “In retail we look for franchisees, which have stores in high footfall areas and excellent locations, such as destinations which can enable customers to access the brand easily. In these locations we look for entrepreneurs who have the drive and the ability to provide a high degree of customer experience.”

    Tata Docomo brand stores are exclusive company stores selling all products and services, available under the brand. The stores are fully equipped to sell and service all kinds of telecom needs of the customer.

    Data devices such as Photon Max Wi-Fi, 3G devices, Photon Max and Photon Plus are very popular and have a very high off-take.

    “Our stores also witness very heavy footfall for enabling data on the smart phone and sale of data packs. Evolving telecom consumers in India who are taking to smart phones in a big way are preferring Tata Docomo store as a destination for all their needs,” says Singhal.

    The average size of the stores is 300–400 sq.ft. and requires an investment of Rs. 8–10 lakh. While the size of a store might differ, the target customer group and the product assortment remain the same for every store.

    The store format, design, layout, look and feel across all locations in the country is the same. This gives the customer a level of comfort while they shop irrespective of whichever store location they are at. “They should have the expectation of the same high quality of ambience and experience,” says Singhal.

    The stores are laid out in a scientific manner, which has been derived by keen observation of telecom shoppers’ behaviour and customer flow-lines, that is customer traffic movement.

    The layout of the store is divided into 4 main zones:

    • Solution area, which is dedicated to the demonstration of data products.
    • Retail wall, where they showcase and display their products and services.
    • Advice desk, where the customers can have a dedicated one-on-one discussion with the sales advisors.
    • Payment area, which is the billing desk and is equipped to handle bill payments as well.

    “We make sure that our employees at the stores undergo very rigorous training to best serve the customers and understand what they are looking for. We leverage technology in a big way in our training effort,” elaborates Singhal.

    “On an average, it takes about 7–8 months for the store to break even. Approximately 75 per cent plus of our stores are profitable. Typically, we wait for about a year or so for the slow stores to start performing full throttle and during this time period, the marketing initiatives are increased. Post this, we look at the option of relocating in case the off-takes are low. However, over a period of time, we are perfecting the art of getting the location right,” he says.

    Location strategy

    “Our stores are located close to our target audience. Most of the stores are present in high street locations and high footfall destinations. Some of them are also present in a few prominent malls. Primarily, we look for locations that are convenient for customer access and areas that are natural aggregation points for our intended customer base,” explains Singhal.

    He adds: “We have experimented with the shop-in-shop (SIS) concept in a few places. We believe the model still has to be perfected, in terms of the right locations. Ideally, the SIS has to be present in a parent store, which stocks product assortment that is harmonious and complementary to the telecom category.”

    TTL has systems and processes in place to do any course correction that may be required at the store level if any particular store is found not to be performing. It also takes corrective measures to boost the sales. “We have learned that location is the key driver of the business and customer engagement for us. We now use a very diligent and detailed process of store selection. Like in other retail businesses, the mantra of location … location … location is very much true for us as well,” Singhal says.

    Market positioning and customer profile

    Tata Docomo brand stores are primarily present in all the urban markets of the country. They cater to the high net worth individual (HNI) telecom users of the top 100+ cities.

    According to Singhal: “Our primary audience is the evolved telecom user who needs data for both their smart phone and other mobility devices. Our customer is highly mobile and uses their smart devices ‘on the go’ to address both their personal and professional needs for connectivity. The customers are very well exposed to and aware of their telecom requirements and have a need for connectivity at all times. They are seeking intelligent conversations at the stores and want solutions, rather than simple ‘plan-pushing’.”

    Further adding, he says: “Keeping the evolution of customers in mind, we have taken various initiatives to ensure that we deliver the smart customer experience in very comfortable ambience, in well-designed stores. Trained, courteous store staff who are up to date with all the products and services of the company and are skilled to explore the requirements of the customers, in a non-intrusive manner, is one of the many initiatives that we have taken.”

    Human resource

    “We have around 2,000 employees manning the stores. Our employees are trained very rigorously and we leverage technology in a big way in our training effort. We are now also introducing certification programmes to understand and leverage the skill-sets of our human resources better. As an example, we run a town hall every month where the business head engages with all the staff once a month and shares his vision and plans for the month. Events like these done frequently keep our staff fully engaged and motivated,” explains Singhal.

    The marketing strategy at TTL can be summed up in the phrase ‘Go Local’. The entire efforts of the team are to make the store highly visible in the neighbourhood and ensure that it is in the consideration set of the telecom customers in the locality.

    “We invest catchment initiatives like RWA activities, local festivities, etc. to draw the relevant crowd to our stores. This is aided by interesting and exciting customer promotions. Every new store is launched with much fanfare and a mini-mela is organised around the store with drums, human banners, motorbikes placards, etc. Some of our prominent promotions have been around Diwali celebrations with assured gifts, participation in Puja grounds, Onam, , etc. Specific brand events like launch of new products are yet another platform to promote the store in consumer neighbourhood,” shares Singhal.

    Expansion strategy

    “We opened around 90 stores last year and have plans to open another 50 stores in this financial year as well. Franchisees are an integral part of our strategy and we seek partners with right-sized stores at good locations,” concludes Singhal.