HomeShop18, a venture of Network 18 Group, has revolutionised the concept of shopping from home, using various media like the internet and television, by launching a 24-hour home shopping TV channel in 2008. Talking with IndiaRetailing, Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, HomeShop18, exchanges his views on tele-shopping and why HomeShop18 is a cut above the cliched.
What is the driving philosophy of retail operations at HomeShop18?
The key drivers of our philosophy are building credibility, gaining consumer trust and confidence and building India’s honest alternate distribution platform.
We have always been focused on providing an exciting and convenient shopping experience to customers by offering them outstanding value on each purchase. We offer entertaining and informative content on TV, have a high-quality customer contact centre, run by around 500 people trained in seven different languages and an efficient nationwide logistics footprint across India. HomeShop18 can proudly claim to have initiated a habit-changing format from the “touch and feel” to “look and buy”. With a view to redefine the way India shops, we have endeavoured to usher in an era of “intelligent armchair shopping”. Our “more for consumer” philosophy has given us the edge to entertain families through innovative TV content translating into sensible buying decisions.
While taking your retail operation forward in the Indian context, what is the biggest learning from the slowdown?
Being the first and only 24-hour home shopping channel in the country, the learning till now has been enormous. We learnt that the Indian consumer is not metro-centric and is willing to make choices from anywhere in the country, resides in every length and breadth of the country and is willing and capable of fulfilling his needs.
Clearly, there is huge potential in each and every category, provided the customer is offered quality. People preferred shopping with us as we offered quality products at excellent price points. We focused on products driven by value, customer-orientation and confidence, convenience, variety and innovation.
Your personal vision when it comes to leading your retail team…
My vision has been to establish virtual retail as a mainstream choice for the customer by lending credibility and authenticity to the entire home shopping experience. Step by step, we endeavoured to remove the skepticism attached to this domain and make shopping fun and easy. As the success of retail business depends on customers coming back to us again and again, our emphasis has always been on offering great value on quality products and backing them up with excellent after-sale support, so that once a customer buys from us, the experience brings him back.
Of the two schools of thought dominating the Indian retail industry, ‘aggressive expansion’ versus ‘slow but steady expansion’, which has attracted you?
Recession has given us many lessons. Profitable growth is better than growth at any cost. Going by the strides we have made in the last two years, we have followed ‘measured, realistic growth plans’ synchronised with customer preferences. We have identified profitable opportunities and executed the same impeccably.
We have embarked upon an accelerated growth path through the launch of new value-driven shows, bringing in a variety of products, brands and services, and the launch of a host of customer-oriented programmes and initiatives. For example, we recently forayed into the services sector by tying up with Bajaj Allianz to make life insurance available through television. Many more opportunities are available in the service industry apart from getting in new products in the existing categories and forming new categories.
There is great opportunity, the need is to be innovative, customer-oriented and value driven to see unparalleled growth.
Your comment on the expression ‘powerful retailer’. Who, according to you, are the world’s three “most powerful” retailers and why?
A powerful retailer is one that’s regarded as a destination of choice by the consumer. This could be in the case of Wal-Mart, which provides a remarkable experience that attracts one to visit again, or in the case of Amazon or even in the case of QVC, which has a base of more than 50 per cent of repeat customers.
They are the pioneers with exacting standards, enormous consumer pull, great vendor relations and tremendous vision.