E-commerce marketplace Snapdeal has launched an omni-channel platform that allows customers to order products online and pick those up at offline hyper-local stores.
"This platform will blur the lines between offline and online retail, demonstrating that both channels can act as gateways to each other," said Kunal Bahl, co-founder and CEO of Snapdeal.
Snapdeal has named the platform 'Janus', referring to the Roman God of beginnings, transitions and doors.
The company will join hands with leading brands, large format retailers, small businesses and technology start-ups to help users find products in physical stores around their locality. It has already tied up with The Mobile Store for mobile phones, Michelin for tyres, Luminous for invertors and batteries, and Shoppers Stop for fashion products.
These brick-and-mortar stores will also allow provide customers value-added services. For example, phone buyers on Snapdeal will get help from agents of The Mobile Store to set up the device and avail services such as data transfer and screen guard installation. These services will be available across 70 cities in India.
Snapdeal follows larger rival Flipkart in offering such a service. Flipkart launched a service in July this year whereby it allowed its customers to pick up their orders from 20 offline collection centres. These centres also offer value-added services such as assisted buying, spot trials and instant returns. In the first phase, Flipkart opened such centres across 10 cities including Delhi and Bangalore. It plans to open 100 such stores by March 2016.
Globally, many e-commerce companies allow customers to pick up their orders. US e-tailer Amazon, for instance, had launched Amazon Locker in 2011 that allowed customers to retrieve their packages at a local locker location using a personal code.