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Tatas Pump Up E-commerce Foray; Cromaretail.com To Launch In May

Tata Group's retail arm Infiniti Retail is readying to launch an e-commerce enabled version of its website Cromaretail.com soon. This step by one of the biggest brands in India - the Tatas - is a validation of the rising interest in e-commerce by large Indian businesses.

The new website is scheduled to be up by end of May. Infiniti Retail operates Croma, the consumer electronics chain that sells 6,000 products and 180 brands in categories such as home entertainment, small appliances, white goods, computers, communication, music, imaging and gaming software.

"Our ambition is to be a benchmark for e-commerce sites. We will build a truly consumer engaging website," Sumit Sahay, Head-Marketing, Infiniti Retail Ltd, told Techcircle.in.

Cromaretail.com, when relaunched, will feature a better guided offering and how to make a purchase decision, Sahay said, while adding that it will not be just another deals site. "We will offer the same deals that are offered at Croma retail stores," he said. The company is also working on integrating Tata Cards loyalty program into the Croma website. It does not have any other e-commerce ventures in the pipeline.

On why the company did not set up an e-commerce front so far, Sahay said, "It's a question of focus. We were building our brand and now have the bandwidth and capability and support infrastructure to set up an online storefront." Croma has been expanding its presence over the past two years. Revenue from Croma stores rose from Rs 1,021 crore last year to Rs 1,530 crore in the current year. The company has 51 Croma retail stores in 11 cities today. The company targets a turnover of Rs 2,150 crores next year from Croma. However, the contribution of e-commerce to the revenues has not been factored in yet and there is no target for the online storefront.

Sahay told Techcircle.in that the primary challenges while taking this step were "understanding the field to be a differentiator, and once challenges are identified, learning more about the capabilities and features we could build and incorporate".

Currently, the website Cromaretail.com is little more than a placeholder and has not seen significant traction. The website offers a gallery of images and product information as well as a 'Help Me Buy' section, but no means to buy any items online. Whatever traffic the website has registered is incidental in nature and has been growing in tune with the expansion of the Croma brand, the company said.

Infiniti's sister company Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is the implementation partner for the project. The website development has been in progress for 6 months now. TCS also set up a deals microsite for its employees between October-December 2010 as a trial. The website design partner for the new site is Mumbai-based Interface Business Solutions.

Other retail chains have also stepped up their e-commerce focus this year. Shopper's Stop recently launched Crossword.in, an e-commerce enabled website for its book retail chain. Shoppersstop.com has been up for 2 years now. Future Group's FutureBazaar.com relaunched its website recently with massive discounts, and a focus on consumer electronics. Aditya Birla is also setting up an e-commerce website,according to industry sources.

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