MUMBAI: The last couple of months have been an exciting one for the blooming e-commerce sector. As more and more investors fund the e-commerce sites, the sector’s purple patch is here to stay for a long time.
However, the niche e-commerce sector, FirstCry.com, which was launched in 2010 to solve Indian parents’ problem of not having access to the best brands and products for their kids, is planning to take the offline route as well.
The company feels that e-commerce’s future is looking promising in the country as more and more people come online and continues to be a big focus for us. “But what we see as a larger vision is to build an ecosystem of solutions for parents. Since, parents exhibit hybrid behaviour of shopping online and offline, we decided right at our inception that it was important to have offline stores as well. Today with a footprint in over 20 states with more than 70 stores, we are in a great position to offer the right variety of brands and products to parents,” says Firstcry.com founder and CEO Supam Maheshwari.
With more than 95 per cent sales happening offline, there is still a large part of baby products market to be tapped, it has a vision of reaching 400 stores offline by December 2017. Currently, FirstCry stores have their presence in many Tier I, II and III cities in 45 cities.
However, by entering into the untapped markets, where offline presence of baby products is low, it is highly optimistic about the company’s growth.
On the marketing front, one of the key aspects of its strategy is to keep online and offline integrated. A parent who shops with FirstCry.com should be able to get the same experience online and offline. “We have a strong e-mailing program through which we are able to send personalised mailers making parents aware of store openings, promotions etc. In addition, we have introduced a highly innovative concept of a 32 inch digital Kiosk installed in each store – since a store is limited by physical space, we have used the Kiosk to allow parents to browse the large online variety and order what they like and the order will be delivered at the store. We also have a FirstCry Box program wherein we reach over 60,000 new parents each month with a complimentary gift box. Through this box, we make new parents aware of stores in their area and also offer a gift coupon which can be redeemed online or offline. Through a lot of such initiatives, we are able to ensure that we scale up our marketing plans with the highest ROI metrics,” says Maheshwari.
Franchisee investment of about Rs 3,000 per square feet is required for setting up a store, which ranges anywhere from 1000 square feet to 2000 square feet. The stores act as experience centers, successfully tackling the touch-and-feel challenges faced in purchasing online.
Overall, Firstcry keeps its model robust and scalable by controlling the franchisee’s investments, giving high return on investment and faster payback that has been instrumental in a break-even since inception. Firstcry.com along with its stakeholders looks forward to growing in terms of business and loyalty both.