Ab­hishek So­many, MD, So­many Ce­ram­ics

So­many Ce­ram­ics opened its 8000-sq ft ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tre in Ban­ga­lore. An in­ter­ac­tive and en­gag­ing space, the cen­tre show­cases the en­tire range of tiles and bath­ware prod­ucts. De­signed by Ban­ga­lore-based Four Di­men­sions Re­tail De­sign, the ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tre

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Why are ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tres vi­tal for So­many’s re­tail ex­pan­sion strat­egy?

This is the 19th ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tre, with one in ev­ery ma­jor city and we are look­ing at scal­ing it up. Our ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tre in Indi­rana­gar was only 1500-2000 sq ft, but this is 8000 sq ft. Ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tres are more to do with show­ing the en­tire range. Ar­chi­tects, in­te­rior de­sign­ers, project heads, en­gi­neers, tech­ni­cians and home­mak­ers are all wel­come here.

See, we are not sell­ing here. So there is a larger range and also an un­bi­ased view which the con­sumer gets, as there is no sell­ing. Deal­ers gen­er­ally give you a view of those prod­ucts which they have a larger stock off. The prod­ucts are also dis­played from a demo point of view.

Tell us about the cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence at So­many’s ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tre.

You can vi­su­alise here and also ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent ar­eas where the tiles can be ap­plied. Our tile vi­su­aliser is also go­ing to all larger for­mat stores. But the big­gest take away is that you get in­sight into larger range of So­many prod­ucts, with trained store as­sis­tants to en­sure on-time and ef­fi­cient sale. Most deal­ers are multi brand, so one dealer will not have this ex­haus­tive range of one brand in one store.

How have the ex­pe­ri­ence cen­tres ben­e­fit­ted the brand?

I think it el­e­vates the brand in the city. The Ex­pe­ri­ence Cen­tre will pro­vide con­sumers an ex­ten­sive port­fo­lio across var­i­ous cat­e­gories in­clud­ing ceramic wall and floor tiles, pol­ished vit­ri­fied tiles, glazed vit­ri­fied tiles, dig­i­tal tiles and san­i­tary ware and bath fit­tings from the house of So­many Ce­ram­ics Lim­ited.

Our ex­pe­ri­ences cen­tres are get­ting bet­ter, and we learn from the pre­vi­ous ones. We will open one or two more and we would have cov­ered most of the big cities. An­other

ad­van­tage is that a lot of our deal­ers come and get in­spired to re­vamp their own show­room, for which we co-in­vest with them. We now have 30 show­rooms, where all of them are fran­chisee mode. Here they build show­rooms, while So­many in­vests in terms of sam­pling, point-of-pur­chase ma­te­rial, etc.

What was the brief given to the de­sign agency for this space?

The brief was to make it a smart show­room and an in­ter­ac­tive space. We have a lot of live dis­plays and in the front we have a panel where we see how a tile is made, the ma­te­ri­als which go into a tile, brand his­tory and growth and more. So, the idea was that a cus­tomer can browse through the store and ex­plore by them­selves for 15-20 min­utes, be­fore they ap­proach the store as­sis­tant for some­thing spe­cific. There are plenty of things to ex­plore by them­selves. For in­stance, the bath­ware dis­plays are live, while you can ex­plore tile mas­ter ta­ble to un­der­stand how a tile is cut. We have shown in dif­fer­ent lay­outs and one can also mix and match bath fit­tings to suit their needs.

So­many Ce­ram­ics has been on a ro­bust net­work ex­pan­sion drive pan In­dia and will con­tinue to ex­pand its con­sumer touch­points in FY2018-19 by open­ing 150+ Fran­chise show­rooms and com­pany-owned Ex­pe­ri­ence Cen­tres across In­dia.

Ab­hishek So­many, MD, So­many Ce­ram­ics

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