SPAR Hypermarket, part of the Dubai based Landmark Group, has introduced innovation-led experiential shopping at its new store in Vega City Mall, Bengaluru.
The latest store spans across 55,000 sq. ft. and has on offer over 50,000 products with 25 billing counters. It has been designed to offer value in an engaging and interactive environment. The brand has used technology and product in new ways to deliver a truly amazing experience.
SPAR seeks to deliver on its four pillars – Fresh, Value, Choice and Service. The new store offers all these along with providing the consumer with an exhilarating experience. The store includes differentiated sections such as Wonder Years for kids, Beauty, Grandma’s Corner, Taste of India, Taste the World, Freshly, SPAR Natural to name just a few. The store uses technology in an innovative manner with self-assist kiosks, an interactive digital SPAR Studio and the SPAR play pad to deliver this.
In an exclusive interview with Indiaretailing.com, Managing Director and CEO, SPAR Hypermarkets, Rajeev Krishnan, spoke about how the retail chain is at the forefront of introducing various innovations and technological enhancements with a view to delivering a fulfilling shopping experience across demographics and age groups.
What was the need for introducing a new format (need for the intervention of innovative and interactive technology in the Retail /FMCG space) and how is it different from the previous stores?
At SPAR, innovation is in our DNA. Our endeavour is to enrich the shopping experience of our customers. The new SPAR store at Vega City Mall is a big step in this journey. It has been designed to offer value in an engaging and interactive environment. We have used technology and product in new ways to deliver a truly amazing experience.
What does experiential shopping mean to you?
The larger and more organized we have grown in the industry, we have forgotten the basics of connecting one-to-one with our customers. Therefore, we have decided that it is time to innovate beyond transactional operations to create customer experiences that are shaped by both the intelligence and emotional quotient (IQ and EQ). SPAR Stores aim to offer an experience that each family member would look forward to.
What has been the response of the customers to the new format?
The reaction from the customers has been wonderful. The customers who have been flocking to the stores have expressed their happiness about the new way of shopping. This has also reflected in the footfalls to store. The store has been designed to appeal to everyone from the eldest member of the family with sections like’ grandma’s corner’ to the youngest member with the ‘wonder years’ section and we see the positive reaction of different groups of customers in these sections.
Do you see it adding more to the revenue? If yes, how much increase are you anticipating this fiscal?
It is understood that better the shopping experience, better the revenue. And experience today includes friendly staff, wide range of products, great value and finally and helpful and thoughtful technology like a self-assist or self-checkout aiding the shopping.
Is there any difference between the size of the new and old format stores?
We think that while size does matter, in today’s context – we (as retailers) need to find new ways to deal with constraints. We need to find new ways to offer the experience of large assortments and spaces within limited ones. There is added emphasis in making spaces more productive keeping in mind that we need to deliver outstanding customer experiences which appeal to both the emotional as well as the logical needs.
Highlight the innovation and technology collaborations at the store.
The Experience Sections are a distinctive addition to the new format and are designed uniquely for customers, depending on the role they play in their family. Some of the sections like `Home Sweet Home’, `Beauty’, `Little Wonders’, `Grandma’s Corner’ ‘Taste of India’, ‘Taste of World’, ‘SPAR Natural’ and `Freshly’ offer unique shopping experience.
Home Sweet Home: One can explore our range of outstanding home furnishings and décor to give home a perfect makeover. Customers can use the drag and drop feature at the 3D digital touch screen studio to try the look of the products.
Wonder Years: This section is all about the kids and the inner kids in adults. One can explore the kid’s section designed to cater to needs of little angels and their entertainment.
Grandma’s Corner: This section has all that and much more to remind customers, the taste of childhood.
Taste the World: One can enjoy the cuisines from all over the world at taste the world.
Taste of India: Here one can taste the desi tadka of local flavour and relish the dishes from India.
Some of the innovative and interactive technologies at store which have come about as collaborations with different technology partners –
SPAR Self Assist Kiosks: This touch screen platform helps the customer navigate the hypermarket at the click of a button without the hassle of strolling through multiple aisles. This also sends intimation to five different store attendants to attend to this customer who is seeking help. This innovative development has come about as a partnership with BOSCH.
SPAR Studio: This enables customers to avail 3D experience of products that they purchase, especially in the home furnishing section. This will help customers to look at colour/fabric options within home furnishings before making their final choice. The SPAR Studio has been developed in collaboration with Textronics.
Self-Check-Out Kiosk: For the first time, the Vega City store opens with Cash counters where customers can check out themselves and pay their own bills. This really helps customers who would like to check out faster and independently. This new counter has come about as a joint action between SPAR and perpule.
The store also features collaborations with NEC on the Food App which allows customers to choose their products and order by themselves at the SPAR Refresh Counter & the electronic visual SEL developed in collaboration with perpule. There is also a SPAR Play which offers infotainment content for kids at their section along with providing scope to play around with their creativity.
Elaborate on Omnichannel strategy of the brand.
We look at Omnichannel as truly what is it supposed to be – c-commerce (collaborative commerce) or commerce that we can see anywhere. We are excited to have rolled out www.sparindia.com and are tremendously excited about the current growth and traction we are getting. While still in its early stage, we see a huge opportunity for this vertical to be a strategic driver of our SPAR stores overall growth. We do also see white spaces which are currently not being addressed.
We believe that India needs both brick and clicks to co-exist. With the brand connect and loyalty at our SPAR stores being our differentiator, we intend to use merchandising and technology as the strategic pillars to continuously offer omniretailing opportunities as never seen before through strong and innovative partnerships across the different retail verticals.
One of the ways in which we are making this happen are by bringing the SPAR brand closer to customers.
- A touch screen digital kiosk where customers can place their orders and get deliveries at home
- The SPAR on wheels concept where a truck laden with the freshest fruits, vegetables and more visits apartment complexes and residential areas.
Give us insight into your loyalty program.
Landmark Rewards is the Landmark Group’s loyalty program which allows you to earn valuable rewards points on your purchases and spend them for instant savings. It is also one of the largest retail loyalty programs in India.
Customers can enroll to Landmark Rewards when they shop at SPAR or any of the Landmark Group stores in India. The program reflects Landmark Group’s commitment and passion towards enhancing its relationship with customers across diverse brands. Landmark Rewards covers a total of nine brands and opens a world of privileges to over 10 million members. Currently over 72 per cent of SPAR sales comes from Loyalty Programme members and the programme has been awarded as one of the best loyalty programmes by the Indian Retail Federation.
Tell us about your future plans and expansion plans.
We have just celebrated our first decade of having opened the first store in Bangalore in 2007, and currently operate 19 stores across Bengaluru, Mangalore, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Delhi, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, and Chennai. The average store size being around 40,000 sq.ft and looks at offering a wholesome assortment covering Fresh Produce, Fish & Meat, Staples, Consumer Packaged Goods, Home and Living products and more.
Our growth is clearly driven both by our customer understanding of the markets we are in and the customer’s loyalty and love for us. We will continue to grow and expand in and around those markets so that we continue to deliver a better experience to our customers. We already have over a million sq. ft. and plan to keep growing at 30 per cent or more each year. We are exploring and innovating specifically around different formats, Omnichannel and technology to see how we can grow smarter and faster.
What is your vision? Is the discount retailing model something you intend to chase in the future? What is your path to profitability?
We have a simple customer led vision – To be the most engaging and innovative hypermarket in India. Making a difference in the lives of teams, customers, communities, and shareholders, every day. We care.
We are always in a process of evolution and we will respond to the market based on what customer needs are. We will continue to focus on offering our customers value on both food and non-food and build loyalty and share of wallet.