Anec­dot: In­tro­duc­ing ‘Re­tail As A Ser­vice’

VM&RD - - Contents - 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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