Spice Mobility has launched India’s first multi-brand Android experience stores in Noida and Bangalore. The stores that will retail Android smartphones, tablets and related accessories will emphasize on product experience and educating first-time Android users about what they can do with an Android device. Apart from featuring the latest gadgets, these stores will have trained staff that will help users answer their smartphone related queries and also give demos of the latest apps and games.
Spice has collaborated with Google to launch the stores, which are similar to the ones that have been launched in Australia and recently in Indonesia. While Google has not invested financially in the stores, it is providing analytics data, helping train staff and provide regular updates on the latest apps. Google has also assisted Spice in designing the stores, which will have devices from global brands like Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG and Lenovo as well as local brands like Micromax, Xolo, Karbonn and Spice. The stores will have Wi-Fi access for people to come and check out the devices.
Spice also has its own multi-brand retail chain under the HotSpot brand and those will continue to exist. “We have a chain of 450 retail stores across the country that will continue to exist. We hope to learn from the first two stores and would look at converting some of our HotSpot stores into AndroidLand in the future,” Dilip Modi, co-founder and group CEO, Spice Global told.
Modi also envisions AndroidLand to become a destination where developers can come and showcase their apps and even host learning sessions for existing as well as potential Android users – a concept that sounds inspired from Apple Stores.
One of the biggest challenges for Spice, however, would be to convert footfalls to sales. While such experience stores see good footfalls from people who come and experience the products, a high percentage of those footfalls do not buy from such stores and go hunting for the best deal possible either online or from their friendly neighborhood retailer who gives them a “regular customer” discount from his margin.
Modi acknowledges the trend but maintains that AndroidLands are definitely not a cost centre and they will eventually have to make money. He believes that these are still early days for a concept that has not existed before in India and the company will learn and keep evolving. Apart from retailing hardware, Spice is also looking at tie-ups with carriers to provide special data plans for its customers.
The 900 square feet store in Noida is at the Great India Place Mall whereas the flagship 2,300 square feet store in Bangalore is in Koramangala.