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Omni-channel is through which a retailer can give the customer a seamless experience: Huzefa Merchant

In conversation with Huzefa Merchant, Founder and Head Research & Development, INSYNC, who spoke about the transformation from brick-and-mortar to click-and-mortar.

Tags: INSYNC, Indian Retail Industry, space planning, digital advancements, store fixtures, Digitization, Shop Fittings, Shoppers Stop, Pantaloons, Hypercity, PwC, Capgemini consulting

BY Tanya Krishna  |  November 10, 2017  |  comments ( 0 )  | 

Huzefa Merchant

Stores are no more just meant to be a place to buy and sell products, it has over time come to be known for the experience it offers to its customers. And store planning or store layout plays a phenomenal role in imparting that experience and in enhancing a brand by creating that memorable customer experience. Promotional features like use of technology, displays and in-store designs, personalization along with service and operational excellence have been adopted and implemented by brands to attract footfall at retail store. And INSYNC Shop Fittings, from the house of Safe Enterprises, is one of the nation’s fastest growing retail shop fitting solutions company, which has been providing display and fixtures solutions to retail stores since years now. We talk to Huzefa Merchant, Founder and Head Research & Development, INSYNC, about importance of space planning, digital advancements in store fixtures and on how INSYNC will transform brick-and-mortar to click-and-mortar. Excerpts from the interview…

Firstly, tell us in detail about INSYNC, its inception and USP.
INSYNC was set up as a research and development wing for Safe Enterprises which has been a pioneer in the field of retail display solutions since 1991. The company was the first shop fitting company in the country and had already completed close to 35,000 projects by 2010 with retailers like Shoppers Stop, Pantaloons, Hypercity, etc. INSYNC understand the requirements of the customers as well as the retailers and designers. By 2015, we developed the powered shop fittings which have lightings integrated within the racks itself. After that, we created a system where we can power up tablets and touch screens in the stores. Other than that, INSYNC prides in having its 7 display centres or experience centres in Mumbai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Indore, Coimbatore, Dubai and Doha.

Tell us about various services INSYNC provides to its clients.
INSYNC provides services from layout to fit-out. While dealing with a designer who has already created a concept, we take the concept and help in engineering it, in selecting various product lines that would suit within the design scheme and we essentially act as the engineering arm of the design agencies. Secondly, INSYNC also offers to its customers the complete layout which includes delivering the desired quantity of products, calculation, ensuring that the products delivered are assembled on sight. We also have own wing called ‘on-sight’. So, we specialize in on-sight implementation of shop fittings. We offer shop fitting solutions from the cash desk to the trial room; we offer everything which can be produced in a factory and assembled on sight. Thus, the retailer has to deal with only one company for his/ her entire modular requirement.

Tell us about your manufacturing units and design team.
Our design team comprises of 6 people. Currently, we have two manufacturing units – one in Mumbai and the other in Pune. The Mumbai unit does fabrication to metal craftsmanship and wood craftsmanship. And the Pune factory is an assembly line where products which are made in moulds are assembled. The INSYNC products are generally made from moulds and fixtures so that we have consistency and high production rate.

With your latest product launch, you want to transform brick-and-mortar into click-and-mortar. Why do you think this is necessary in the Indian context?
On a global stage, with the advent of online shopping, people have developed a different kind of shopping behaviour. When a consumer walks into a showroom, he looks at the product and then locates the same product online at a better price and then buys it from there. One of the reasons youth today tend to do that is because of better prices and also because of a psychological thing, that is, addiction to smartphones and that is why youth today look at anything which is digital.

As per a recent study by PwC and Capgemini consulting, the top three things that matter to shoppers today are – product information, the ability to view a brand’s complete portfolio at once and easier check outs. All the three are hallmarks of online retailers. The sensory stimuli provided by brick-and-mortar when complimented by the convenience, practicality and efficiency of digital retail, is a potent formula for retail success. So, click-and-mortar is relevant for retailers today.

What all is INSYNC doing to promote adoption of technological advancements in shop fittings?
INSYNC is doing a lot of things in this area. We are driving innovation, collaborating with design agencies, talking to them and educating their people on how to use and where to use advanced shop fittings. On the second level, I am personally lecturing design colleges like NID, Raffles etc., and I am taking this technology to the youth, literally, who are going to be the designers of tomorrow. Thirdly, in order to make it more accessible to the market even globally, INSYNC exhibited at the EuroShop in Dusseldorf Germany in March 2017, doing roadshows and held a round table conference with India’s top 12 retail giants including people from Shoppers Stop, Neeru’s, Amazon, Mufti, Benetton, Raymond, Trent in 2016, where we discussed on the need for smart shops, on what retailers are doing and what they can do in this regard. In November 2017, we held another Round Table Meet in Bengaluru, with participants from Madura Fashion and Lifestyle, Central, Arvind, Unlimited, Titan and Restore Designs and 4Dimensions from the design fraternity, which focused specifically on retail fixtures. Besides these, we will also be showcasing at In-Store Asia in 2018.

How will digitization of shop fittings influence the growth of omni-channel retail in India?
Omni-channel is through which a retailer can give the customer a seamless experience – whether he buys online, from store or from mobile. It is the integration of all these channels together. In order to integrate online and mobile channels in the physical store, we are bringing the digital interface on the racks itself. We are also working on solutions where a person can even pay at the shelf itself instead of going to the cash desk.

Tell us about the current situation of shop fittings market in India?
The shop fittings market in India is fragmented at the moment. Currently, people look at shop fittings from a very functional perspective. And our agenda is to make people understand that the right shop fitting used can have a strong effect not only on aesthetics but also on operational functions of the store. For example, if you talk about powered shop fittings, which provides 1500- 1800 luminants per shelf, that is enough for any customer to see the product on display because the lights are right above the merchandise and every product is well lit. Secondly, if I can bring my digital store into my physical store, I am offering more products in that store, which are not even physically present there but are in my warehouse. Thirdly, people also make emotional decisions while shopping and if we can create an ad campaign or an activity shown on a digital screen in the store, which appeals to the emotions of the people, we are helping in creating brand loyalty, in increasing sales revenue and also conversion ratio. So, while the fixtures market in India is big, it still is not at the same level as in other European markets and that’s what we are trying to do through various roadshows and exhibitions.

How is the future going to be for this industry?
I believe that retail has started to convert into omni-channel world. It’s only a matter of time before physical and digital retail do not have boundaries between them. Every digital retailer will have to come in the physical space and every physical retailer will have to know how to adopt to online retail.

Give insights on some of the hacks when it comes to colour and lighting of a store.
As said earlier, when there is proper lighting on the racks, it provides a very dramatic look and feel to the product. One should use colours in white and lighter and wooden tones for the stores as these look absolutely beautiful under lights. When we need to choose lights for stores which are selling shoes and leathers, we tend to use warmer lights (3000 kelvin); for fashion, we use natural lights (4000 kelvin); and for jewellery, watches or sunglasses store, we look at using colder lights (6000 kelvin). Talking about the colour schemes, generally with warmer lights, wooden tones look better; with natural lights, both wooden tones and white colour look good; and with colder lights, we can use colours like blues or use white to make the whole environment look more appealing. And, for more about shop fitting solutions and how innovation and technology in shop fittings is taking the retail scenario by storm, why not have a look at our blogs at blog.insyncshopfittings.com.

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