I visited the Mulund Reliance Digital Store on 22nd June, 2013 as part of the Reliance Digital Experience promotion that is happening on IndiBlogger. (Quick detour, but if you have a blog and you update even slightly frequently, you should join IndiBlogger. Go.)
This was my first visit to the store, although its been open for more than 6 months now. Partly because I haven't bought any new electronic stuff in that time. And partly because whenever I visit these large electronic retail stores, I get very, very tempted to buy electronic stuff that I might or might not use later on. Mostly might not.
As suggested, I flashed my IndiBlogger invite at the gate and even the security personnel seemed to know what was up. The first thing they told me was "Haan, aapke kaafi log aaye hain." And here I thought there might not be many people coming to the Mulund store. The first thing I noticed upon entering the store was how absolutely huge it was. I mean, I don't think I've seen a electronic retail store this huge. Or maybe its the fact that the store seemed spacious, you know, where there is enough space for more than one person to walk in between the aisles. It turned out that the entire store is around 9000-10,000 sq.feet huge and including the wall hangings etc. has more than 14,000 sq. feet of retail space. That's pretty cool if you're a gadget lover.
There was a sizable crowd in the store, although I'd thought that I would be doing the smart thing by visiting in the middle of Saturday afternoon. Turns out a lot of my IndiBlogger brethren had the same idea. Ah, well. The mobiles and laptops areas seemed to be pretty crowded.
|All the people want them mobiles!|
So I thought I'd visit the less-crowded section, which was the consumer durables. Turns out the 20-something crowd isn't really into washing machines and air-conditioners. Who knew!
|Mobile good, fridge bad :(|
Which was a shame really. They really did have a great collection of stuff. To be fair, I did see a couple walking in later who actually wanted all that stuff. I stood behind them and heard a sales executive patiently explain features of all the machines that they looked even slightly interested in. (I'll get to this part later.)
OK, before I write this next part, let me say that I have no clue how many ACs, refrigerators, hair straighteners they sell every day, but what do you think of this? As soon as we enter, let's first put this consumer durable section, and put the more 'popular' items near the back. Or where the TVs are there now. (You know where they are, Reliance people). So everyone who comes in has to look at your stuff like fridges and ACs and hair straighteners and fans and whatnot. You're a digital shop, everyone knows you have mobiles and laptops and cameras. Also, otherwise on a splendid weekend evening, when you must be getting a majority of your crowd, they must be mostly getting stuck in the first half of the shop, right? Why not disperse them to the back so that more people can come in? And if they see the crowd at the back, they just keep roaming around in your water-heater and washing machine area till that crowd is lessened and who knows, they might end up buying something? Otherwise, if they enter and see huge crowds near the mobiles, blocking the pathway to the inner sections, they might decide not to come in at all, yes? And that would be a damn shame, I tell you, because you have things like this:
An entire display section for coffee-makers! Now this isn't something you expect to find in a 'digital' shop, is it?
Or fantastic offers like these:
Now I have to admit, I was very perplexed when I saw this offer. Why would I base my purchase of AC on discounted shoes that might be available with it? And then the answer struck me. What Reliance was attempting to do here is to provoke the buyer into leading a healthier lifestyle. Don't get me? Let's say you buy the split AC along with the shoes. What do you think you're gonna think of every single time you put on the AC? That's right. Those shoes. And what do you think you're gonna do next? You're gonna put off your AC and go out for a run in your spankin' Reebok shoes. And what do you do after you come back home? You put on your sweet new AC and relax. So thanks Reliance, for trying to make my life healthier and more comfortable at the same time.
All jokes aside, I couldn't figure out what the hell this deal meant or why it was there in the first place.
I figured as I was in no way going to buy an AC or a washing machine, I should get out of this section and go back to things I actually do like to find out about. And on the way back, I fell right into the big pool of temptation that I had been so afraid of. To get from the home appliances to the TVs, mobiles and laptops, you have to pass the camera (and camera accessories) section. And I decided to have a look. And nearly ended up spending a big bundle of money. How did that happen? Seeing me looking at the cameras, and decidedly not having a clue, a very helpful store attendant came up to me. He enquired what cameras I was looking at, what I was interested in, what kind of budget I might be looking at etc. etc. and proceeded to show me all the features of the camera, what they kinda meant and which one would be the best value for money gadget I could buy. He also let me know of the kind of offers that were available and at one point I remember wondering if he was giving me the entire shop in return for buying a camera! Tripods, memory cards, bags etc. etc. all free. And all with EMIs I could (maybe) afford! And at zero processing fees! And zero interest! I really, really don't know how I got out of there without immediately buying the camera, but I'm damn sure I'm going back there to have a look when I do buy one.
I guess this is as good a place as any to talk about the store staff. These guys knew stuff. About the gadgets they were selling. I think each section had dedicated salesmen who had pretty good knowledge about the stuff they were selling. And they were obviously trained to sell. I mean that in a complimentary way. Like my camera guy. Not too pushy. I also enjoyed making small talk with them. That way, I found out that people in Mulund are more likely to just come in, look around and leave without buying than people in Thane, who come in with more definite intentions to buy. (I also found out some gossippy stuff about competitors, but I'll let that lie for now.) Also, am I the only one who thought the place was over-staffed? Don't know if it was only for the weekend, but there seemed to be so many staff members all over the store. I'm still trying to figure out if that's a good thing or bad.
I then wandered over to the Home Theatre Experience centre, which is like a small room within the store where they've set up a Home Theatre system so that people can experience it. A fellow dutifully followed me inside and walked me through the various systems. But nice concept, I guess.
I played around with a few mobiles. HTC One is gorgeous. Not nearly gorgeous enough to make me switch from my iPhone, but definitely enough to warrant a second and third glance. These guys have actual phones lying around and not just the plastic mock-ups, so that's a definite win. But really, I didn't spend much time there. Why, you ask? Because, this.
That's an entire wall of accessories. Cases, chargers, earphones, headphones and what not... I tell you, this is Mecca for me. iPhone chargers too!
That was another thing I noticed here. Where do you see stands for cables and wall mounting systems? I'll tell you. Here.
|Wall Mounting Systems, I tell you!|
This shop has the most eclectic collection of items I've seen in an electronic shop. That could either mean this place is damn good, or it means I need to go around to more places.
Another thing I noticed was this brand, Reconnect, in all kinds of items. Laptops, accessories, TVs, household items etc. etc. So I asked around and its Reliance's own brand. Did not know Reliance manufactures laptops and electronics as well! Boy, they really are into everything, aren't they?
One thing that I found missing in this particular store was the store did not keep Macs. I thought that would be one of the major sells, given that Reliance Digital runs all the iStores in India. I hope they do add that soon because I was looking forward to playing on one for a bit in some peace and quiet. I was told they need some kind of special set-up etc. for displaying, that's usually done in consultation with Apple guys. Knowing Apple, I wouldn't be a bit surprised. So look forward to that coming here too!
Pretty soon, I'd wandered all through the shop, and pretty much sated my tech appetite. I kind of went back to the cameras, trying to convince myself into building a scenario where I could afford the DSLR, but it just proved too out of reach for the time being. No worries, its time will come.
As I was leaving, I was asked to speak a few words about my experience at the store by this charming Reliance Digital representative, Ms. Nidhi (IIRC). I also met up some other IndiBloggers who had come over for the experience. I think I must go to one of the meets soon, because I seemed to be the only guy there without an IndiBlogger t-shirt.
All in all, it was a good afternoon. And I do mean that. I don't know if I'd have spent nearly two hours (I did, really) in an electronics shop going through everything if I hadn't been forced to by circumstances. But now that I have, I know precisely what to pick up and from where at the Mulund Reliance Digital store!