India On and Off: Integrating Offline and Online Retail
Times of India reports that the Tata group will launch the country's first hybrid online retailing venture, a combination of a portal that will list brands and handle payment transactions and brick-and-mortar stores that will set prices, deliver products and provide customer support.
Group firm Tata Industrial Services, which changed its name to Tata Unistore Ltd, will spearhead the venture that's likely to be piloted before the Diwali shopping season. The venture's brand name is yet to be finalized.
The salt-to-software conglomerate is in advanced talks with top brands across categories to complete the integration with their offline stores, with major focus on smartphones, consumer electronics and fashion, which account for 80% of e-commerce sales in India, said five senior executives, two of whom are attached with the group. Even in rural areas, orders will be dispatched by designated offline stores.
"The Tata e-commerce venture will act as a frontline sales hook for offline stores and will play on customer experience, assured aftersales support and wide reach. It is expected to drive sales of high-ticket items whose online sales are still limited," one of the Tata group executives said.
Integrating offline and online retail in India as a business model may work as Tata has a good brand reputation and a lot of goodwill among consumers.