Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Jul 15, 2002
Industry & Economy
Info-Tech - E-Commerce & E-Business
A learning experience for Fabmart
CHENNAI, July 14
"RAHU kalam, no payment on a Tuesday or after 7 p.m a part of every day Chennai life, no doubt, but can snowball into a logistic nightmare for an e-retailer," the Vice-President (Marketing) of Fabmart Pvt Ltd, Mr K.Vaitheeswaran, said about his company's latest venture.
The Bangalore based e-retailer embarked on a brand building exercise of delivering school books covered, labelled and home delivered and it turned out be real learning exercise.
Mr Vaitheeswaran said that one of the problems faced by most middle class and upper middle class customers was collecting the schoolbooks right in the middle of the school holidays.
Most people would have to cut their vacation short and come back for this.
The school had to be kept open, that meant that the teachers would also have to come back and sort the books into sets.
The parents then had to stand in long queues. In addition, there was the problem of getting all the books from suppliers in time.
Fabmart, which registered a turnover of Rs 9.5 crore for last fiscal, ran a small programme for a school in Bangalore last year.
The company undertook the procurement and delivery of schoolbooks to 650 students of Innisfree School.
This provided a new level of convenience for the parents.
This year, the company ran a similar programme on a larger scale for Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan in Chennai.
Mr Vaitheeswaran said though the company had approached a number of schools in Chennai, this was the first to respond.
The school agreed to try out the programme for the lower kindergarten, upper kindergarten and from classes 1 to 5 a total of 3,700 students.
The company hired 20 people, seven delivery vans equipped with wireless equipment and a call centre.
The company's initial investment of Rs 4 lakh would enable it to handle up to 10,000 students. Covering the books was done in two places Triplicane and Mylapore.
The brown paper was machine cut followed by an assembly line operation. Parents had to pay a service fee of Rs 50 apart from the cost of books. While most of the operation remains manual, the company has been able to automate the invoicing part.
With the telephone numbers supplied by the school, the company then called the parents to find when the books could be delivered.
It is here that the delivery boys ran into a problem, which was not anticipated.
Local sentiments about inauspicious time played havoc with the company delivery schedules.
Despite the small pinpricks, Mr Vaitheeswaran said, a dipstick survey revealed that most of the parents were happy and had come back as customers to their core retail business. The company was able to build value around the brand, he said.
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