Jul 19, 2008

Business - Home videos at Retail

Bollywood is coporatised. The new buzzword is FMCG-isation. And here we are talking about the fastest growing sector in moviedom. Home videos. Pricing and supply and a growing hardware penetration have all fuelled this growth, so now to meet the demand, every retailer from grocer to bookstore, large format to multi format, wants to stock movies. But when was the last time you found the movie title you were looking for, without rummaging countless other titles? This is where retail is still to catch up with the rest of the buzzword industry of FMCG. And if it takes more time than necessary to run through the titles, the consumer may just lose interest. This loss of sale has one reason. Improper shelf management, and as thousands of titles get added daily it will become imperative for players, both retailers as well as content providers, to ensure adequate shelf/category management is taking place. LERNING CURVE
Gautam Sikhnis, MD, Palador, does not mince his words. “In the last two years, movie content has made a quantum jump. Earlier, it didn’t exceed 50-60 titles, today, it runs into thousands,” says Shiknis, adding that despite the flux, there’s no thought going on shelf management citing that video retailing has only to look at book retailing and learn how it has evolved over time. “There’s no science. It’s more stocking and stacking,” he adds.
Movies needs a skill beyond simple stocking, says Muslim Kapasi, CEO, Excel Home Videos. “Organized retail has plenty of gaps in merchandising skills and product knowledge. The systems aren’t robust enough to cross-talk with suppliers and swiftly procure and collectively display the right kind of products yet,” says Kapasi, adding that are a handful of stores who are definitely breaking out of this clutter and are seeing the benefit in higher consumer retention by doing so. Already on a high growth, retailers’ interest in making a special effort in movie retailing will come as a critical differentiator. “The need to create pull is not there now in large format stores as everything is selling. But once the market saturates and competition is strong, categories like movie retailing will be one of the magnet to woo footfalls,” says Kamal Gianchandani, COO, BIGFlix. One option, says Govind Shrikhande, CEO, Shoppers Stop is putting more thought on creating excitement. “The challenge is to market it with the lifestyle tag. Can every movie on the shelf add something different for customers to own it? Can the entire shopping for movies be made more enjoyable?” asks Shrikhande. RETAIL WOES
In their defence, retailers like Crosswords say they do what it takes to manage the movie shelves yet, “It can’t touch the level seen in the FMCG segment. The scale and falling prices don’t merit that kind of investment,” says Chandrashekhar Navalkar, CEO, Crosswords. A reason could be that, “Movie retailing has a lot of churn, making it difficult to create permanent shelf space,” explains Hiren Gada, director, Shemaroo.
Yet, not all are complaining. Harish Dayani, CEO, Moser Baer, says given the large number of units he can provide, large format retailers do provide exclusive space for Moser Baer to display its range. “The separate section allows us to display the range in terms of genres and even language,” says Dayani, adding that this exclusivity has seen a 20-25 % increase than the normal off take. TAKING STOCK :
Shelf management is not just about putting products on the shelf in order. It’s also about management of the shelf and conducting activities in and around to entice the customers.

With the number of units in movies increasing, the movie retailing business can definitely pick up some important lessons from the FMCG segment. One of is working in synergy on aspects like merchandising and sharing of learnings between retail and the content providers. “Experience brings people to shop and results in impulse buying,” states Subhanker Sarker, COO, Seventymm. “Innovative merchandising in key areas as well as the check out counters help create that experience,” he adds. Gada of Shemaroo says that it is working closely with retailers to create distinct categorisation of the titles it retails that works. “Depending on the titles, we provide huge cut-outs for premium stores and smaller standee displays for small formats,” he says. Even the space between two shelves is been utilised by Shemaroo through ‘shelf talkers’, giving movie information or running some promos.

“The challenge is not so much on latest movies, which move off the shelf quickly, but older or special titles, which requires the push,” Gada explains. Citing an example, Shemaroo came up with a Amitabh Bachchan pack which was displayed through special counter top displays near the cash counter. “That’s where collaboration with retailers comes to play.” Shemaroo, says Gada, who has studied the FMCG model in key outlets and has attempted to incorporate some of the learnings. For instance, it has ground staff who visits the retailers regularly to ensure that POPs merchandise and shelves are proper and take measures to immediately rectify any inconsistencies. PACK IT UP Similarly, Palador’s Shiknis says that packaging consistency on the shelves helps in catching the customers’ attention. “For example, packing 20 titles together with say vertical red bands is sure to catch your eye,” says Shiknis who has just done the same for his Trauffaut and Kurosawa collection. He however believes collaboration doesn’t end at just shelves or POP merchandise. “Movie sampling using video kiosks can be done depending on which movies needs a push. This can happen if customer data is used to proactively target the audience,” he adds. Last but least, shelf management also means manning shelves by people who know the category and are able to guide traffic accordingly. “What the stores miss out is largely the recommendation engine. Our retail staff and their product knowledge leaves a lot to be desired,” observes Sarker. There are some like Gianchandani who have entirely quit the retail scene and moved into an entirely rental space. No shelves in cyber space. That is a different story for another day. For now, it’s the end. To Market to Market
Harish Dayani, CEO of Moser Baer, may have opened up the home video market with his pricing strategy forcing competition to follow suit. Dayani’s game plan is one of pure volumes which requires width in terms of distribution. “Our business model is designed for a billion people. So we have to have a large distribution system to reach them,” explains Dayani. As a first step, Moser Baer started retailing at grocery outlets six months ago and now covers 50,000 grocers across India.

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