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Since Akbarallys is now a men's store, what have you learnt about the male customers?
Men are real quick shoppers. They come, browse, buy and leave in 15-20 minutes. They know what they want and stick to the same brands. But when they come with their wives they seem a little bit confused and take longer. We built 15 trial rooms but they are barely used. So we are thinking of knocking down a few and converting them into shop-in shops. We also realise that South Bombay is far more sober than the rest of the city. So we might have to tweak our selection for the next season. We see mainly 35-40 year old men shop with us and would like to change that. We are now also targeting the younger crowd.
Is e-commerce a threat to your business? How do you plan to combat it?
Yes, our main competition today is e-commerce. All the brands are now available online. Talking to the brands makes no sense as its beneficial for them to be available everywhere. Why just online? Men can buy these brands from multibrand outlets or exclusive brand outlets. I have been reading up a lot on how to combat this problem. It seems the only way to deal with it is to create a great shopping experience based on service. So we have good music, serve barley water, tea and coffee to our customers. Our endeavour is to style him rather than just help him shop. In the near future we are looking at hiring an in-house stylist who will help and advice men on how to put a look together.
In this highly competitive retail environment what's going to set Akbarallys apart from the rest?
Akbarallys has the first Planet Fashion shop-in-shop in the country. They usually have their own EBOs. The barber shop is also quite unique. I saw the concept in a store in Europe and quite liked it. Moreover there is no barber shop in the area. We find a lot of men who have to rush to meetings and need a quick shave or haircut. It serves as a lunch hour service. The idea is to not just help men style themselves but even groom themselves. Initially we toyed with the idea of a cafe but found it too cliched. Everyone's doing it and Starbucks is right opposite.
We will evolve our brand selection as we go along. Future plans include introducing designers in the ethnicwear section. But they have to fit into our price points. We have plans to expand the store count through franchisees. We are looking to add a few more stores by early next year in Mumbai and tier two cities. We are currently working on our online store and it should be up and ready by next season. We are also in the process of creating a mobile application- Akbarallys men app.
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