Panasonic to start direct online sale through its E-Store

Japanese consumer durables major Panasonic plans to start selling its products directly to its consumers through ‘E-Store’ after the government in the Budget allowed manufacturers to take up the online route. “Considering the increasing trend of online shopping, Panasonic will launch ‘Panasonic’s E-Store’, where the company will showcase its range of products, in July 2014,” Panasonic India Manging Director Manish Sharma told . The E-Store, which is scheduled to be launched this month, will showcase on the portal its products such as kitchen and home appliances, washing machines and air conditioners manufactured in India. The company will appoint a “re-seller” who is supposed to maintain the portal and take care of the distribution of products on behalf of Panasonic, he added. Welcoming Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s announcement in the Budget to allow manufacturers in India with foreign investments to sell directly to consumers online, Sharma said it would be beneficial for the manufacturing as well as the e-commerce industry.  “It will give manufacturers a different channel to reach out to its customers, significantly helping retail e-commerce to grow,” he added.

e-store“We plan to showcase our entire range of products such as kitchen and home appliances, Washing machines and Air Conditioners, which are manufactured at our plants located across India,” Sharma added. However, he declined to share expected sales projections which ‘Panasonic’s E-Store’ would contribute in the total earnings. Several factors such as large customer base, increasing penetration of Internet connectivity and growing popularity of online shopping across cities have fuelled the growth of online retailing in the country, he added. “…with the increased Internet penetration because of the use of PCs and smartphones in the country and growing popularity of the online shopping, Panasonic’s E-Store will definitely contribute to the company’s growth,” Sharma added.
On plans to sell products online, Sharma said: “It will definitely streamline the supply chain mechanism as it will allow the whole process to be automated, thus resulting in optimum utilisation of resources and cost efficiency.” He said it will also help the company expand its reach, speed and certainty of delivery to consumers. “Moreover, it will help us with new demand insights that can be mined and used for enhancing sales. Also, it will help us showcase our products which are manufactured in India,” Sharma said.

- ETRetail

+++

Share

Swatch to open stores in India

Swatch has applied to set up stores in India, a report said Saturday, as the Swiss-based watchmaker moves to tap a growing and increasingly accessory-conscious consumer class. Swatch, with $10 billion in annual sales, has made a formal proposal to the commerce ministry under which the company would have 100 percent control of its business, an Indian business daily said. The watchmaker would be the biggest international group to seek entry into India’s 100-per cent-owned single-brand retail segment after furniture-maker IKEA and fashion clothing firm H&M, both Swedish companies. Swatch watches, including Omega, Longines and Tissot, are currently are sold in India through dealers and third-party stores. Neither Swatch nor the Indian government could immediately be reached for comment. Experts say the move is a sign that Swatch wants to create a stronger Indian brand identity.
The Indian watch market is forecast to rise to $2.7 billion by 2020 from $898 million now, according to a recent industry report.

swatchIndia’s new right-wing government hopes foreign investors will start looking closely again at the country after turning away in the face of a sharp growth slowdown and corruption scandals under the previous left-leaning Congress government, ousted at the polls in May. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to improve India’s investment climate, ease bureaucratic red tape and create a more predictable regulatory and tax climate. But introducing free-market change is politically fraught with many politicians, unions and civil society groups favouring government spending and protectionism over economic liberalisation. The Modi government, despite its pro-business tone, has already said it opposes a law passed by the previous government allowing foreigners to own stores selling more than one brand of products because it wants to protect India’s many small shopkeepers from supermarket giants such as Wal-Mart, Tesco and others. Swatch’s reported application comes soon after French supermarket chain Carrefour’s announced its departure. Carrefour, which operates five wholesale stores in India, made the announcement after the government reiterated opposition to foreign investment in multi-brand retail. Wal-Mart last year ditched a plan to open retail stores to focus on wholesale activities and e-commerce. The Economic Times separately said the government was unlikely to formally reverse Congress’s decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail for fear of sending negative signals to the foreign investor community.

- ET

+++

Share

Flipkart launches sexual wellness business

Flipkart is all set to toy with sex. Prompted by the country’s growing appetite for sexual wellness products, the country’s largest e-tailer on Wednesday launched a new category, which will house products under different segments such as, pleasure enhancement, pleasure devices, sexual combos and kits, lubricants and condoms, among others. When asked about the scope of this segment in India, a Flipkart spokesperson said that sexual wellness is a Rs 1,000 crore category and is growing in double digits. “E-commerce as a channel fulfils a real need for consumers in terms of allowing them to shop for a selection of sexual wellness products from the privacy of their home. The market opportunity and the role Flipkart plays as a channel in the consumer’s life is what prompted us to launch this category,” the spokesperson said. Post launch, the Bengaluru-based e-tailer claimed that the category has been witnessing promising traction and it will launch more products soon. Flipkart said it would also pay special attention to the packaging of the products to maintain consumer privacy. “We recognize the need consumers have in terms of packaging and therefore we have ensured that the packaging is discreet. From a navigation/display point of view, consumers’ interests and sensitivities have been kept in mind. We have created an experience, which allows consumers to explore the products and order them from the privacy of their home, and ensured that they receive it discreetly as decided by them,” the spokesperson said.

sexual wellnessIndia’s conservative social norms discourage many marketers from making a hue and cry about adult products but the demand for a range of sexual-wellness products such as, handcuffs, edible G-strings, massagers, and pleasure enhancing devices, has been rising ever since various entrepreneurs across the country decided to set up online shops in the country’s $13.5 billion eCommerce space.
Flipkart will pay special attention to the packaging of the products to maintain consumer privacy. “The domestic market for adult sexual products is expected to touch Rs 8,700 crore by 2020. We have been witnessing 40% month-on-month growth. A lot of Indians are still shy to go to a brick and mortar shop and pick up something as simple as a packet of condoms or lubricants. Therein lies the potential for e-tailers,” said Vinodh Reddy, founder of adult shopping website ohmysecrets.com However, most sellers are careful about what they call their products since there is a stigma attached to selling sex toys in the country that it is illegal. According to Reddy, there is no clear legal classification in India about sex toys. “You can import and sell them provided you make sure that the packaging and marketing material related to them is not vulgar or obscene. For instance, a dildo is termed obscene because it resembles a human organ, while the ones that don’t, can be sold here without any issues. It’s all about how you classify them. Unless we help people become aware of the category, these ambiguities will remain,” he said.

- ET

+++

Share

Home delivered food gives stiff competition to instant food

The convenience packaged foods instant food business is facing stiff competition from an unlikely rival-home-delivered food. With the valuation of home deliveries in the organized food services market crossing Rs 1,000 crore and thus grabbing a larger share of the consumer’s mind space, convenience foods are feeling the heat. Convenience food, which includes ready-to-eat, instant or ready-to-cook varieties, by its very definition leverages on the opportunity of converting consumers who are strapped for time to opt for easier food options. But with restaurants, both big and small, increasingly resorting to home deliveries, consumers have yet another convenient option to satiate their appetite. Quite naturally, convenience food makers aren’t too happy about that. “Every single restaurant does home delivery today. A consumer can get a lot of things at home much faster than anywhere else in the world. The convenience factor in packaged foods comes when people don’t want to order and want something quick and hygienic. But the fact is that home deliveries are growing at a faster pace than convenience foods. There’s no hard data, but estimates suggest that the number of people ordering in has probably doubled in the last few years,” said Kurush Grant, executive director (FMCG business), ITC, which competes with Gits Food Products and MTR in the convenience packaged foods industry. According to Ranjit Paliath, VP (business operations), Hardcastle Restaurants-McDonald’s India West & South operations, the home delivery segment is expected to grow 30-40% over the next five years to over Rs 6,000 crore. “This reflects the need for convenience, especially in larger cities where distance is a prime issue,” said Paliath, quoting Tata Strategic numbers.

instant foodThe trend is reflected in the rapidly changing consumer preferences. Socio-economic trends such as rising discretionary incomes, urbanization, increasing number of working women and people on the move are some of the key factors that have changed the way customers dine today. “The challenge now is how can we make a person when he or she is hungry pick our ready meals pack from the other options available from nearby restaurants, or QSRs (quick-service restaurants), which deliver food,” said Sahil Gilani, director (sales & marketing), Gits Food Products, which is revamping its strategy to see how its products can appeal to the younger generation who may prefer risotto over biryani. The two key factors convenience food makers believe would bring them up to speed with home-delivered foods are pricing and quality. “We are looking at giving convenience to consumers at a value that is cheaper than the nearby restaurant. So if a 300gm (serves two-three persons) ‘dal makhani’ costs around Rs 120 in a roadside dhaba and Rs 800 in a five-star hotel, we are looking at offering a five-star quality packaged ‘dal makhani’ that costs less than the dhaba price. This is achieved by gaining economies of scale and lower costs compared to a typical restaurant,” said Gilani. The roughly Rs 700-800 crore convenience packaged foods market is said to be growing at 15-20% per annum. Although home deliveries from QSRs and other restaurants are said to have gone up, Vikran Sabherwal, VP (marketing), MTR Foods, said the bigger revolution which is taking place at a faster pace is home makers moving to packaged convenience foods. “Households are increasingly looking at outsourcing menial tasks such as making masala or idli batter. So they are taking on packaged products, which brings them convenience and reduces their effort for non-value added work in the kitchen,” said Sabherwal, while adding that consumers may order in food, say, twice a week, but the rest of the five days they are eating home-made or convenience packaged food.

Jubilant Foodworks, which operates the Domino’s Pizza brand in India, does 40-50% of its business over the weekends (Friday-Sunday). Online and mobile ordering of its pizzas has been a big driver of delivery growth over the last two years, and now accounts for 20% of total delivery sales. “People like to order in food for the sake of convenience and to avoid hassles of travelling to a restaurant, traffic jams and parking,” said Harneet Singh, VP (marketing), Domino’s India, which has an over 70% share in the pizza home delivery category. While the home-delivered food segment is gaining ground, the last word is yet to be written on the slugfest between the two for a larger portion of the consumer’s palate.

- ET

+++

Share

Global brands now account for 80% of the overall beer market

beerGlobal brands are inching ahead in the race for the Indian beer belly. Well travelled Indians, armed with rising disposable incomes and a will to spend, are rapidly developing a taste for international beer brands even as most of them are brewed in India. And to be a hit in their drinks menu, global brands that were historically considered too mild for Indian taste, are aggressively launching stronger variants that account for nearly 80% of the overall beer market.

- ETRetail

+++

Share