From peaks to valleys, Uninor has witnessed it all. In two years, Uninor stands tall with 800+ franchise outlets. It has been a roller coaster ride for the telecom company, but it has stood the testing times to emerge a winner. Sharad Mehrotra, Head – Branding, Distribution and Retail, Uninor shares how the brand made it big!
Gina Arora (GA): How will you describe Uninors’s journey in India so far?
Sharad Mehrotra (SM): In one word ‘successful’. Uninor will be completing two years in the world’s most fiercely competitive telecom market. It has grown from a new entrant to strengthen its position in certain markets. Uninor today stands for its innovative yet simple products that put the value proposition upfront and enable subscribers to make a right choice.
This coupled with the three pillars - best in basic services, mass market distribution and cost management - has enabled Uninor to capture the consumers’ mind share, which is translating into market share.
GA: What makes India so important for Uninor?
SM: No company can claim to be present in Asia without being present in the world’s largest democracy. The business base in India was always strong and thus Telenor decided to invest and stay committed to its Indian venture.
GA: How important has franchising been for the brand?
SM: Telecommunications has evolved from a service to a commodity. However, consumers still need and expect to be served. There is no better way of establishing a personal contact with customers than having exclusive outlets that are profitable and yet address customer needs.
Presently, Uninor has close to more than 800 franchise outlets that are profitable and are enhancing customer experience, which leads to higher voice and data traffic. A Uninor Express store is a scaled down version of a fully-loaded large format store that engages with customers at all levels. The company is focusing to add to its retail density through this low-cost model in small towns and cities.
GA: How much do you plan to invest via franchise in small towns?
SM: Our current retail mapping focuses on towns, which have a population of around one lakh. All new stores are coming up in C and D class towns. Presently, we have 400 small format stores in these cities. By 2011 end, we will have around 550 such small format stores and by 2012 end it will be around 800.
GA: How much investment and area is required by aspirants for taking the franchise for Uninor?
SM: We have a minimal investment of less than Rs One lakh. Area required is 80 -100 sq.ft.
GA: What kind of training and support do you offer to your franchisees?
SM: Our franchisees are exposed to various trainings that range from sales and customer management to financial accounting. A franchisee is given training once in six weeks. The training is imparted in a classroom style, on line module-based or on–the-job.
Besides usual earnings on activations and recharge, a nominal support is extended to franchisee to ensure that service levels are maintained and there is uniformity of delivery.
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