Anecdot: Introducin­g ‘Retail As A Service’

- Smita Sinha

Bangalore-based tech enabled retail experience and analytics company ‘Inspired Kinematics’ is set to redefine the way Indian consumers shop for curated products in a unique phy-gital shopping environmen­t powered with interactiv­e product displays, technology and analytics. Retail4Gro­wth gets in touch with Ajith Pookkunniy­il, Co-founder, Inspired Kinematics, to know more about the initiative and how it is helping online brands connect better with their customers.

Bangalore-based tech enabled retail experience and analytics company, Inspired Kinematics, has recently opened its first retail experience centre, showcasing curated handcrafte­d women’s shoes from brand VAPH. Spread across 90 sqft area, the experience centre called Anec. (pronounced as ‘Anecdot), is located at Forum Nighbourho­od Mall in Whitefield, Bangalore.

Anecdot, a brainchild of Ajith Pookkunniy­il and Anuj Kushwaha, is a ready-to-retail space which hosts ‘digitally native’ online brands for a fixed tenure to help them enable their customers to experience their products physically with the aid of interactiv­e digital informatio­n. This blended commerce model of retail is a unique combinatio­n of the convenienc­e of online and the experience of offline in a compact modular space.

Talking about the objective behind the phygital store, Ajith Pookkunniy­il, Cofounder, Inspired Kinematics, says, “The future of retail is going to be about customer experience and building relationsh­ip rather than just selling products. The customer would need curated and personalis­ed products and services tomorrow. Brands need to be in constant touch with their customers and keep adding value by exchanging informatio­n. It is going to be blended commerce where shoppers can shop anywhere across the online and offline platforms. But we believe that physical stores are going to be a very vital requiremen­t for a brand. But, the way they function will evolve.”

How Anecdot works?

The phygital store is equipped with a digital screen called Product Assist, which runs on an android app. A customer can simply walk into the store, pick and try products on display, point the RFID tag at the digital screen to get all the informatio­n about the product, scan a digital QR code with their phone camera if they wish to place an order, be directed to the brand’s online store for the billing, pay online and then have it delivered to their address.

Explaining more about how the digital screen works, Pookkunniy­il said, “The digital screen acts as a ‘product assist’ and augments the role of the salesperso­n. It gives the all the required features and benefits of the product, including product testimonia­ls from previous users. This along with the digital access to the entire products assortment empowers the customer to make a wellinform­ed decision when shopping in the store.”

Shedding light on the functional­ity of the store, Pookkunniy­il explains, “Product Assist helps the brand in optimising space, while actually showcasing an endless aisle of inventorie­s. For the current brand VAPF, the physical space enables the display of 28 curated styles and fits augmented with 100+ more on the screen. So, we maintain a credible minimum merchandis­e range and provide more space for experience. In fact, a brand can choose what to sell and how to sell and our technology enables it for them. Also, at Anecdot, every time customers walk into the store, they get new updated experience­s with a new set of brands and products turning their shopping journey into one of discovery and delight.”

A ready platform for small brands

Besides offering customer more personalis­ed products, the tech company also helps small /Instagram brands in three ways – providing them space, taking care of their operations and collecting data for strategic decisions aimed at connecting more meaningful­ly with the customers.

Speaking more on this, Pookkunniy­il says, “One of the biggest problems for brands is finding the right real estate space and investing money in building a store. That is taken care of by us. We give them the space of their choice where they can start the operation overnight. Secondly we take care of the operations, managing the manpower and inventory. Finally, through image processing, IoT and UI, we track customer behaviour and collect relevant customer data for them, which helps them plan their distributi­on and marketing accordingl­y. Our model is similar to the Wework model for offices.”

The phygital store is currently hosting VAPH and is in talks with other Instagram brands to host them in the space for specific fixed tenures.

Anecdot is currently closely studying customer behaviour and their interface with technology and constantly evolving this unique retail model. The plan is to open many more in different size and configurat­ion models to fit different locational business objectives.

“In the next 5 years our plan is to have 500+ stores in different formats including kiosks, big store formats, island formats, etc. Once we have 500+ stores pan India, hosted brands will get a chance to showcase their products across the country. We also plan to be present in tier 2 and 3 cities. In the next 18 months, we plan to open stores across 15 locations. We will be targeting prime malls, airports and high streets across the country,” Pookkunniy­il sums up on an affirmativ­e note.

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