Mr. Jalan had this vision of bringing the best of retail to the region’s household- a revelation of a thought if we go back 17 years in time
But the journey hasn’t been a cake-walk. He wasn’t the grandson of any founder to take over the throne to the successful empire, rather he was himself the founder…A Recap of the Founding…
India’s first modern department store, Shopper’s Stop at Andheri happens to be the inspiration of the founder Mr. M. L. Jalan. It was in the year 1996 when he was visiting Mumbai that he came across the Shopper’s Stop outlet. He spent 5 hours in that store and the concept itself mesmerized him—so deep that in that short span of time he had decided to open one such shop in Guwahati, the place where he belonged! He didn’t buy anything, only thing he got from there was the idea, the Idea to revolutionize the shopping experience of the people of Guwahati and Assam in general.
Coming up with the setting up of such a Shop in Guwahati was another horrendous task as a lot of things were involved which caused constraint- the Location, the investment, & the insurgency issue.
The only high street in the city back then was Fancy Bazaar. A “shop” of 10,000 square feet was available for `3.00 crores. Jalan calculated that the interiors would cost him another `50.00 lakhs and he would have to stock at least `1.50 crores of merchandise. So, the total investment required was a little over `5.00 crores. He figured that, with such a high investment, it would take 5-6 years to break even – so the business was not viable. Instead, he bought a 12,000 square feet “shop” on the fourth floor of the building for just `72 lakhs, saving himself more than `2.20 crores.
But after countering with the original issue with his positive attitude and strong intellect, he didn’t had the faintest idea that moral support would be of so much importance as this was something everyone around him had vastly disappointed in. People were skeptic about the concept being introduced in Guwahati and didn’t back him well. He still got off with the initial hindrance and launched with the first such of many that came in the years ahead!
However with the absence of a strong Brand bouquet, the business kept bleeding for couple of years. Major players of the industry hadn’t come forward initially. The supply chain and logistics issue also concerned a few of them. But as it is said,” Variety is the spice of life”, things did come into terms and by the year 2004-05 the business had took off; the retail industry had seen a glimpse of the rising sun of the east…
When Mr. Jalan selected the site for his second store – today the flagship – he did not compromise on the location. The 28,000 square foot store on G.S. Road opened in 2005. By then, his older son Sandeep (then 24) had joined the business. Sohum Shoppe had truly arrived. Mr. Jalan closes on the recap saying,”It is the strong will power, the dynamic think-tank of Sandeep(elder son), Siddharth(younger son), and Swastika(daughter); and the “Grace of the Almighty”, that Sohum Shoppe is what it is today. It’s the hard work and belief of the Employees; and the love of the Customers which has ultimately given us the success.”The Mantra…
The most important motto that has always been followed to bring success has been to satisfy the needs and listen to the customer’s requirement. Being a service industry it becomes very obvious to be at the best in providing with service that is the best for the consumer. You always want them to keep coming back after all!The Years’ so far…
The idea behind coming up with a retail store back in the year 2000 was to provide the city of Guwahati with a place to shop which would furnish all their requirement. A one-stop-shop was the need of the hour and unfortunately the same was being possibly overlooked; or rather say unseen to those who were into any small bit of retailing! The straight reason behind the same was the lack of a powerful vision which was not to spring up in any common mind because of the insurgency and various political issues which had toppled the entire region.
It was seriously brave to have come up with something like the Shopper’s Stop of the East.
But it took time and patience- both the golden words of long term success- for Sohum Shoppe to finally come up with the 2nd store at Christian Basti in Guwahati. Sohum Shoppe- The Family Mega Store was opened to the beloved customers on the 30th of June 2005. And this happens to be the flagship store for the Retail giant today.
With the 2nd store in Guwahati, Sohum Shoppe had played just the right chord. It has been 5 years since the first door had opened and with optimum market study and experience gained so far, the Jalan brothers created a product mix so powerful that this brand of Sohum got an applauding exposure in the retail map. Sohum believes the phrase, “Goods well brought are half sold!” and hence the product mix is maintained with very precise selection.
The success of this store led to 4 more stores in the coming- 1 each in Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Guwahati, & the 6th once coming in Naharlagun, Arunachal Pradesh!Perfect Product & Service mix—Being a Retailer…
Perfect product mix can only be achieved if we completely understand our customer base—their needs and requirement. The more we are emotionally close to the regional consumers, the better mix can be furnished.
A customer thrives for better service. Unless the same is provided, a retailer or brand doesn’t stand a chance in creating the fan base it desires.
In the modern age of globalisation, every individual has a desire to get comfy and known to the Global arena. But the local touch can never shed off. Thus the store mix should be “Glo-Cal”, i.e., Global + Local. This works as a magnetic pull as there is newness with the local touch.
People are becoming brand savvy—and at times they enter at a store considering the store as a brand itself; the in-house elements are trust based solely on the store. Dealing in a wide range of categories-- from being a lifestyle store, to a Departmental store, to a Luxury store and also providing Home Furniture and Furnishings solutions; Sohum has been very successful in furnishing the best possible mix for the people in the region.The “Major Players under one roof” Concept…
Sohum Shoppe launched its 4th store in Guwahati in November 2011 by the name “Sohum Emporia – The new face of Luxury” giving the North-Easterners a completely different shopping experience by bringing renowned National & International Brands under one roof. With a dedicated retail space of 45000 sq.ft.(approx) spread over 3 floors, the store is a large format one with brands carrying the highest of honours in the retail arena such as Tommy Hilfiger, Veromoda, Only, Jack & Jones, Nautica, Gas, Gant, CKJ, Superdry, Forever New, Cover Story, Bvlgari, Emporio Armani, Catwalk, Swarovski, The Body Shop, and many many more!
“One of a kind store, the brand and product mix available at Sohum Emporia is unmatchable and that being provided to the consumers of North East is a commendable achievement for us. Proud to be the concept roller which ends the pursuit of happiness for an aspirational shopper at a single go!” says Mr. Sandeep Jalan.
Talking about the Brand mix, Sohum Emporia has been very successful in introducing brands of international label which were only a dream for the people here. Mr. Jalan further shares his own experience which is not from that long, “We used to ourselves plan our shopping once we got our feet down to a Delhi or a Mumbai! And had to regret that you find such premium and fashionable products here in the metros, but nothing near to that in our own town- a sorry plight it was!”
The VM of the store is the highlight. With a much planned layout of brand positioning, the store gives great ambience for shopping. The respective brand VM’s are kept in regular touch to update with the changes if any. Proper display, hence becomes a quintessential part of the store which drives sales!
The store, Sohum Emporia is also all set to launch the first Hamleys store of the North East by Dec’16.Customers, Customers, Customers…
Consumers are our foremost priority and we have pertained this since our inception itself. It is also ensured that Customers at Sohum be treated with the highest honor. The entire floor staff takes immense pleasure in setting a benchmark so humble and sweet that the customer tends to form a strong bond with them. To add to that, the owners themselves have a strong connection with many of the customers and keep interacting all the time they are on floors.
This interaction also helps in enhancing our idea of what and how the customer feels about the shopping experience in the store as a whole. This is a powerful tool in analyzing growth areas and planning for them.
We also have special promotions for our beloved customers- something we definitely hit upon. Our CRM is hugely based on the “My Own Club” whereby we offer special points to the loyalty members. We had a review of the concept and incorporated some positive changes—introduction of Gold and Platinum tiers whereby an amount of 3% and 5% of the total purchase against a single bill is accumulated in the account of the respective memebr. Also Anniversary/Birthday vouchers given to the privileged ones, thus marketing for the greater good. The customers are given a call on their Birthday’s & Anniversary and wished with a big heart. Your friend or closed one may miss out in doing so, we won’t…never!
The database is close to 80,000 enthusiastic members who are spread across the entire North East.Beloved Employees…
Maintaining a healthy relation with the employees is a pre-requisite for an all round Organizational success. We feel proud of the well experienced and trained staff body our organization- majority of whom are an active part of the sourcing and planning process.
Interacting with them on a frequent basis has strengthened the relationship. Mr. Sandeep and Mr. Siddharth themselves preside in the Monthly meeting and an interaction with each staff- discussing his/her positives and negatives is done. The monthly meeting is a key day for the store as the entire staff strength is together and resolutions of better interest are taken into consideration.
The CEO’s are also on floors most of the time and at times themselves evaluate the employee by visiting and getting in touch with him at his section.
This region being less exposed to professional retailing, the pre-requisites of joining a retail industry is least found in the candidates here. The hiring is done on basic merit and those joinees are given the best of the retail world in the initial days and then are made a part of the Ground staff. And in the years along we have come across potential staffs who are currently servicing us as Sr. Managers of different departments. A few also getting chance to utilize the gain of knowledge in other places where they had moved. The metal of Sohum Shoppe shines along!The Path Ahead…
Sohum Shoppe is set to come up with 2 more stores in the year 2017-18 Calendar-- One each in Guwahati and Tezpur.