Tata Group firm Infiniti Retail Ltd, which runs one of the largest national retail chain of multi-brand electronics under the brand name Croma, has launched its an online Croma store. The company already had an official website, but earlier was just offering a catalogue of the products available in the offline retail stores.
This follows its key competitor in physical retail stores Vijay Sales, which has also quietly launched its online store. Let's have a look at how these offline competitors' fare against each other and with other electronics e-tailers.
Products & Categories
While Croma claims to be offering over 6,000 products across eight product categories, Vijay Sales is offering products in six categories, although the company hasn't disclosed the exact number of products on the site. But it should be a decent number considering the fact that the entire catalogue of products available in the offline stores are being offered online.
Croma is offering products including phones, cameras, computers, entertainment, home appliances, kitchen appliances, gaming and accessories. These categories are further divided into sub-categories like mobile phones and telephones (under phones); digital cameras, camcorders and binoculars, etc (for cameras); and Tablets, laptops and printers, etc (for computers) and so on.
Besides sub-categories, Croma is also offering the names of the various brands for the products (like Apple, LG, Sony, Samsung, Blackberry, etc), so users looking for specific products under a particular brand can directly view it from the home page. We noticed the company hasn't actually provided any special preference to its private label or 'Croma' brand of products, apart from mentioning them along with the other brands.
Vijay Sales on the other hand is offering products under six categories (that are further divided into sub- categories) that include entertainment (LCD, LED and home theatre etc), mobiles and cameras, computer & IT (desktop, laptop, printer etc), gaming, appliances (home and small) and accessories. So all the product sub categories are covered with some being clubbed together when we compare with Croma. But, unlike Croma, Vijay Sales has put the brand specific search bar within the sub categories.
The Look & Feel
The Croma website displays three prominent sections on its homepage that includes 'what's new', 'hard to find' and 'recently sold'. While the hard to find section contains products like vacuum cleaners, seat massagers and thermometers (aren't these available in every second neighbourhood pharmacy?), etc, the recently sold section contains just that- the recently sold items. But what we found funny was that unlike what its name suggests, there weren't any new products in the 'what's new' section. Instead it had products like the PS3 console and the Blackberry Playbook, among others.
The website has a search bar that enables users to search for products and a separate 'we help you buy' section that contains expert tips and buyer's guide for products like Android phones, cameras, laptops, Tablets, among others. Last we checked, Lava mobiles XOLO X900 (that has just been launched) and the iPad 2 (instead of the new iPad so the retailer is playing up the low-price carrot for consumers of the old product) were given special prominence on the site.
In comparison, Vijay Sales has kept it simple and its homepage only contains one section which is 'best sellers'- the section displays the best selling products across categories. Instead, the website has given prominence to individual products like Tablets, LED's, mobile phones, microwave and categories like gaming (probably there most in demand) via pictures at the top of the page.
Users can also search for individual products using the search bar.
Payment Options, Pricing & Differentiators
The regular payment options like credit cards, debit cards, net banking cash on delivery (COD) are available on both the sites and they offer free shipping on products and cash on delivery (COD) is available on Vijay Sales but not for Croma, where COD is not an option.
We compared the prices of a couple of products and found that while the Samsung Galaxy Note mobile phone was cheaper on Croma, the Samsung LED TV model UA32D5000 was cheaper on Vijay Sales. Then there were products like PS3 320GB model which was almost carried same price tag on both the sites. So basically the prices vary on a product to product basis.
Besides taking their on-ground competition to the online world, the two sites will also taking on online electronics retailers including Flipkart, LetsBuy, Snapdeal among others. While Croma and Vijay sales can leverage on their domain expertise dealing with electronics and also bank on existing warehouses for supporting the e-com channel, they would be up against e-tailers who understand the consumer who shops online much better.
The biggest differentiator could be the breadth of product catalogue and pre and after-sales service in terms of delivery management.
Do you think offline electronics retailers will emerge bigger than e-tailers in selling products online?