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Oct, 01 2007

A vision with a mission

Similar to the lens of human eyes, the camera lens assists in observing objects clearly and sharply. With a mission to make images seen through lens as authentic as those seen by the naked eye, Canon has used state-of-the-art technology to excel in imagin

Similar to the lens of human eyes, the camera lens assists in observing objects clearly and sharply. With a mission to make images seen through lens as authentic as those seen by the naked eye, Canon has used state-of-the-art technology to excel in imaging and printing. Spreading its business further, the company today boasts of 281 channel partners, 397 retail stores, 32 Canon Care Centres, over 100 authorised service centres and more than 2,700 IT resellers across 300 towns in India.

In a candid discourse on Canon’s vision and mission and its retail strategy in India, Parveen Sahni, Assistant Director, Image Communication Products Division, Canon, shares his views with Ritu Marya and Suranjana Basu.

The Franchising World: What retail formats of Canon are in operation in India?

Parveen Sahni (PS): Canon has launched IXUS Zone, which is a shop-in-shop for its premium IXUS brand of digital cameras. It may take a shelf or a stand where a customer can go and pick up any model of this brand and can experience all the features that the model offers since the models showcased over there are not dummies. The zone is designed to give a customer a unique opportunity of touch-and-feel experience. There are 200 such zones across the country. To guide a customer, every zone has skilled salesperson, Canon Champ. The company is planning to open 200 such zones across India.

Canon X’perience Stores are the company’s exclusive brand outlets showcasing the entire range of products, including printers and copiers. These stores are stand-alone stores, usually covering an area of 1,000 sq.ft – 3,000 sq.ft. The company follows franchise model to set up these stores. Like IXUS Zone, Canon Champs are present here also to extend help to customers, for picking up the right product that suits their purpose best.

Canon Digiclick Zone a shop-in-shop is the flagship retail outlet of the company, and the shop, though being a MBO, appears from outside an exclusive brand outlet of Canon for the predominant presence of the brand.

TFW: What is the initiative for after-sale services?

PS: We have launched Canon Care Centres, which are the company’s exclusive service centres. These centres ensure faster response and enhanced personalised services, and are equipped with trained service engineers to handle the repairs and queries. In Delhi and Mumbai Canon has the Level 4 (highest order of excellence) Master Service Centre of international standard. These centres are managed by Canon; rest follow the franchise model. Apart from this, there is Mobile on Site Support Van which is available on call and offers pick-and drop servicing of the product.

TFW: On what criterion does Canon evaluates potential franchisee and dealer?

PS: While selecting a MBO for setting up a shop-in-shop like IXUS zone, the recognition of the store, the shop owner’s connection with the customer and his personal involvement in the business becomes the primary factors for the scrutiny. We evaluate the entrepreneur’s capability, his resources, popularity of his shop, and location and size of the shop. On the other hand, for setting up an exclusive brand outlet like a Canon X’perience Store, we primarily give emphasis to premium locations which assure of high footfalls. Hence we prefer malls and high street markets.

TFW: What is the gestation period for a Canon exclusive brand outlet and its other retail formats?

PS: In case of IXUS Zone in an MBO, the break even point would come relatively early, usually seen within 2-3 months. Whereas, to reach the break even point in the store format of a Canon exclusive brand outlet, it will usually take 5-6 months, since the location of the X’perience Store is very premium and today’s escalating rental in India

Tends to delay the timeframe of the store’s viability. However, Canon provides its partners complete support right from the time of the inception by providing fixtures and doing up interiors .Canon takes care of all kinds of promotional activities including ATL and BTL advertising techniques. There is a separate training department for imparting necessary training to the channel partners. As a support to the interest of channel partner’s sphere of business activity, Canon undertakes several regional and national promotional campaigns.

TFW: What is your take on India’s current Retail scenario?

PS: Like any developing country of the world, India is experiencing a surge of organised retail boosted by consumer’s preference for branded products and growth of retail real estate infrastructure in terms of malls. However, India is a unique country with diverse culture. While malls and large format retail chains would develop, the mom-and-pop stores will also continue to exist and thrive in the current economic scenario but would require store upgradation or brand association to compete with them.

TFW: What is the spread of the brand in India today and what are your future plans?

PS: The company today has its presence in over 500 visible outlets covering both EBOs and MBOs and we have aggressive plans to build up exclusive stores in 20 cities in India over the coming years.

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