From being a small segment targeted by a few companies, the retailing business of children’s products has turned into a big industry. Rajni Kaur, Director, Franchise Operations, ToonZ Retail India Pvt. Ltd shares the growth of the sector as well as her aspirations from the brand.
Abha Garyali (AG): What do you think of the child care product retailing in India? What are your expectations from ToonZ in 2012?
RK: One of the largest markets in India today is products and services related to kids. From being a small segment targeted by a few companies, the retailing business of children’s products has turned out to be complete industry. The market for kids' apparel alone in India exceeds Rs 20,000 crore, of which around Rs 3,000 crore is constituted by branded kids' wear. The kids' merchandise market is growing at the rate of 12 per cent per annum, which makes it one of the fastest growing markets. The children merchandise industry as a whole is about Rs 50,000 crore.
As far as ToonZ is concerned, the one stop shop for children clubbed with character merchandise advantage is expected to further add fuel to our efforts to make ToonZ, a brand to reckon with.
AG: According to you what factors have led to the enormous development in this niche segment of child care market?
RK: Children today are aware of their needs. Better education levels, media exposure, rising affluence levels and increasing interaction with technology are resulting in kids being more informed than parents in matters pertaining to them.
AG: In the past there were limited players in this sector. Why, according to you was such an important retail sector sidelined till now?
RK: The major reason for this can be the slow entry from organised players. Secondly, the retail scenario in India has opened up only during the last five years. In the days to come the industry will see the market shifting towards the branded stores as far as children segment is concerned.
AG: What was the inspiration behind starting ToonZ retail? How is it different from other brands of its segment?
RK: During our study of the burgeoning children merchandise retail industry; we identified this opportunity of huge gap present in the market with respect to the customer’s requirements. There was also a considerable delivery shortage with respect to the character merchandise in spite of being a fast growing market.
Moreover, the myth that high quality cannot be delivered at right prices still influences the educated Indian customer. In sharp contrast to this, the ‘ToonZ’ stores deliver the best quality of merchandise at surprisingly right prices. The surprised looks on the face of many visitors to our current shops on seeing the price is a clear indication, that we have been able to achieve this objective.
AG: Kindly elaborate on the kind of products that are available in the portfolio of ToonZ?
RK: ToonZ presents an exciting range of apparels, accessories and lifestyle products for children in the age group of 0 – 12 years. ToonZ has revolutionised retailing for children by understanding their needs and delivering the products as per the requirement in a fun-filled environment. Our product range spans across numerous categories like infant wear, baby basics, feeding accessories, bed & bath, infant furniture, apparel, sleep wear, winter wear, rain wear, inner wear, fashion accessories, gifts & novelties, publishing, stationery, school merchandize, puzzles & games, sports merchandize, electronic kits, activity kits, toys, footwear and many more.
Moreover kids today are very well aware and avidly follow both domestic and international cartoons. For these kids ‘ToonZ’ will be a true offline experience of their favorite characters, with the availability of all possible character merchandize in our stores.
AG: How many outlets do you presently have? What are your future expansion plans?
RK: In the first year of operation we have successfully launched 42 stores. We plan to increase the number to hundred before next winter season. We have seen the keenness of many people coming forward to take up the franchise of ToonZ.
AG: What is the investment criterion of taking your franchise? What kind of partners do you look for as franchisees?
RK: Refundable deposits may vary from Rs 25 to 30 lakh with the franchisee fee of Rs 2 to 3.5 lakh. Apart from the investment criteria, the franchisees need to be passionate for the industry. As our stores are managed and operated by the franchisees, they need to spend time at the stores at the front end. They are also accountable for the routine activities at the stores. Apart from managing the store front-end team, their major responsibility would be to understand and take care of the inventory control. As our direct customers are children, they need to have the understanding of their requirement as well should have a passion to deal with children and parents together.
AG: While operating, what challenges does a franchisee generally face? What strategic measures have been taken by you to overcome the situation?
RK: The major challenge generally faced by the franchisee will be updating the knowledge with respect to the merchandise, inventory control and knowledge of sales pattern. Particularly in case of ToonZ, the franchisee also will have to update their knowledge regarding various cartoon characters.
We provide them a regular training to overcome this challenge. Our software also equips them to have a better control on stocks, sales pattern and reordering / replenishment process. The software itself gives them alerts for reorders, aging of the stocks in the shelves etc.