May 2008 | Sujata Agrawal

Croma: electronic paradise

Infiniti Retail's brand Croma believes in building relationships and engaging with customers

A visit to a Croma store is like entering an electronic version of Alibaba’s cave. Croma sells nearly 6,000 electronic products and appliances of 180 brands and at prices to fit all budgets — cell phones start at Rs1,800 and go up to Rs38,000 for PDAs; microwaves are priced from Rs2,500 to Rs16,000.

Croma’s tagline — ‘we help you buy’ — underlines the design and customer experience of the store. With clean, open layouts and interactive displays, customers can easily find what they are looking for and compare features across brands — check programmes on TVs for colour, clarity and sound or try out features on laptops that are wi-fi connected. The sales staff is trained to answer queries and help customers make choices.

The store puts in a focused effort on building relationships and engaging with customers. A 52-week plan plots festivals and holidays during which attractive offers and special discounts are run to induce walk-ins. There are technical classes to inform people about product features and benefits. There is also a ‘gadget check’ facility where people can bring in any old appliance for free servicing, even those not bought at a Croma store.

"Indian consumers are very price and brand-conscious; they want good deals at a good price. They come to Croma because it is value for money and it’s a Tata enterprise, thinking that the brand may let them down, but the Tatas won’t," says Ajit Joshi, CEO, Infiniti Retail.

In keeping with the Tata credo of working with the local community, Croma believes in generating employment for the local people. Before each new store opens, a banner is put up inviting job applications from the locals. Recruits go through English language, yoga and dramatics classes as part of induction. Training is a continuous process to keep the staff ’s technical knowledge up-to-date.

Croma has ambitious expansion plans involving 35-40 new stores — a mix of standalone and mall stores — in the coming year. By March 2009, Croma hopes to have close to 60 stores across India in major metros, before moving on to build a presence in tier-II cities such as Amritsar, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, etc.

Fact file

The beginning: Launched in October 2006, Croma is India’s first country-wide chain of consumer electronics and durables. It is managed by Infiniti Retail, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Tata Sons. Croma receives technical and strategic sourcing support from Woolworths India, a subsidiary of Woolworths, the Australian retail giant.

The store: The large format stores offer products in eight categories — large appliances, home entertainment, small appliances, computers and peripherals, communication, music and movies, imaging and gaming software. Customers get to make choices from a large range and more brands in electronic products and appliances, and white goods.

The spread: Currently there are 21 stores in six cities (Ahmedabad, Bangalore,Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune and Surat).