Till around this time, last year, my tech quotient could be described as strictly pre-historic! I mean, my phone was literally this:
But look at me this year. I have a phone that can do more things that I can, I don’t just use the computer to check Facebook (I write a blog!) and now I’ve even visited a technology store and am about to write a review about it.
When I received an invite from IndiBlogger to experience the UniverCell Sync store, I thought- why not! My interest chiefly rose from the fact that one of my clients at the previous advertising agency I worked for was India’s biggest technology retailer.
When writing for technology, the first thing you understand is that the word ‘technology’ pops up a million walls in the minds of most people. And they bring these ‘walls’ with them when they enter a store. So an electronics store needs to pack a ‘punch’ to break down those walls (wow, a pun- ha ha!). So after walking in for numerous ‘research’ visits to my then-client’s store, I wanted to now check out the ‘ex-competition’ 😉
UniverCell’s fairly recent Colaba store is not hard to find- its right next to Regal Cinema. They have around 9 stores across Mumbai + Pune and a lot more in Bengaluru and Chennai. Google says that they have around 500 outlets in India and plan to add a 1,000 more by 2015.
When I entered, I was introduced to Soumya Menon, the VP of brand strategy for UniverCell. While we got the grand tour of the store, it was clear to me that you don’t really need a guide. The store is easy to navigate (Its one room, so you’d have to be severely directionally challenged to be confused!) and follows a thoughtful, feature based layout. There are three major sections dedicated to the three main buying criterias for customers: Camera, Music and work and play. Tablets get their own special nook while a central table displays an assortment of phones that don’t particularly fit in a category. This store also has a separate procedures cum payment room furnished with a payment counter, and table and benches where store staff help customers do paperwork and set up their products.
The green and blue (brand colours) colour scheme is soothing. The clean and well compartmentalized style of layout goes a long way in putting customers at ease and make shopping for technology an easier experience.
UniverCell has obviously cracked the code for mobile and tablet retailing: Experience, experience, experience. Nothing brings down technology related ‘walls’ faster than getting the customer to actually experience the product. And at UniverCell, the store is your playground!
Each zone facilitates product experience based on the key feature that takes your experience from good to great!
Good: The camera zone has top camera phones on display.
Great: There’s a fun point and shoot zone with props (frames) so that you can take pictures with the cameras on display and judge the quality for yourself. It’s such a simple idea that take the store experience to the next level. Functional + fun = brilliant!
Good: Not just music phones but a wide range of accessories from headphones to speakers and docks. Like any other electronics store, you get to test out the phones and speakers, so all that is good.
Great: Unlike any other store, you actually get to test out the Bluetooth set too. Yup – fancy, huh! Another thoughtful thing was that every phone is loaded with the latest music of different genre. So you don’t just have to listen to the boring generic music that comes with the phone. It’s the little things that matter!
Red flag: (I just invented this tag for anything I didn’t like or would just like to point out about the store) Ya, so the red flag here was that maybe their range of products and accessories were a little on the smaller side. Yes, they have all the major brands and top selling products, but mobile accessories is such a huge category, that a little more choice would be nice.
Work & Play:
Good: They have a fairly good range of smartphones and tablets that are more about functionality.
Great: Nothing much, really. It was pretty standard.
The Tablet nook:
UniverCell has smartly recognised that kids today are making a huge impact on parent’s tablet buying decision. In a city with a dire lack of parks and recreational spaces for kids, handing a tablet loaded with games seems to be the ultimate resort for most parents 😉
Good: Three tablets were on display in a quaint nook in the store. The low seating is specifically designed for children.
Great: Soumya explained that the store has a ‘Let kids be kids’ policy. Which means that they actually let the children handle and play with tablets. And they don’t even loom over you ominously saying “you break it, you own it”. So plus points for humanity!
Red flag: Again, limited choice. I saw very few tablets displayed in the store.
New and Noteworthy section:
Good research has paid off once again. Soumya told us that their studies revealed that customers would always inquire about what is the latest. So they have set up a New and Noteworthy section right at the entrance which displays the latest products. Kind of like the Crosswords New/bestsellers list, na?
Other plus points:
- Tech savvy and well informed staff. This is such a huge plus point! It was obvious that the staff was well trained to handle any query and really be of assistance while shopping
- Self-help checklist. Every section has a placard with a set of product pointer you would need to check in order to make an informed buying decision.
- After sales service: This point actually deserves a section of its own. As I mentioned earlier, UniverCell doesn’t just stop at selling a product. They help the customer with installation, set up and even transfer of data from their old devices to the new one. Another nice feature is their warranty plans. For a very nominal cost, you can buy a 1 year warranty that covers the regular repairs and damages, and some additional pain points too. But the best part is that you just have to drop off you phone with them. UniverCell will then deal with the service centers themselves so that all you have to do is come back and pick your phone from here. In addition, they even offer you a temporary phone to use, so you don’t have to beg, borrow or steal another one.
A few minuses:
- They could definitely add to the choice of products- especially tablets.
- Offering a longer warrant plan would be nice. Every phone mostly comes with a one year warranty any way. And, nothing actually goes wrong with the phone till after that period- am I right!
- They don’t have prices mentioned anywhere. And I think in this category, buying decisions are very often price lead too. You could always depend on your store assistant, but it is always more comfortable to be able to know upfront if the phone you are eyeing fits in you budget na.
Well folks, overall it was quite an enjoyable experience. There is a lot of thought put into every aspect of the store. On any other day (without a bunch of bloggers crawling about the space) UniverCell may just be the perfect destination to shop for you next Phone.
The reluctant writer.