LOTS Wholesale Solutions to Open 12 New Stores in India in Next Two Years: Sameer Singh, Director – Operations Business Development & Expansion
BW Hotelier spoke to Sameer Singh, Director – Operations Business Development & Expansion, LOTS Wholesale Solutions, to learn about the brand’s way forward in the Indian market with special reference to HoReCa industry.
LOTS WHOLESALE Solutions, a subsidiary of Thailand based Siam Makro PCL started operating in the Indian shores since July 2018. Since its entry in the Indian market, the wholesale cash & carry solutions providing brand has already set up three stores with the completion of six months of operations here. Considering the quick-paced expansion here, BW Hotelier spoke to Sameer Singh, Director – Operations Business Development & Expansion, LOTS Wholesale Solutions, to learn about the brand’s way forward in the Indian market with special reference to HoReCa industry.
Being membership-based B2B cash and carry solutions provider, what gap did you see that existed in the Indian market for wholesale solutions to B2B players, especially the HoReCa industry at large?
Sameer Singh: We saw a gap in the wholesale B2B market. After a deep research, we realised there is huge potential and are lots of opportunities to grow in the sector. Understanding the importance and the need for accessibility for small businesses, we try and be close to our customers. Therefore, our business model is designed to launch stores centrally in the catchment areas, so that members can reach us conveniently and quickly.
Horeca segment in India is growing by 25%, which is the fastest but local unorganised players dominate the market and have an upper hand. This segment requires fresh produce and meat products on daily basis, it becomes very important to be situated in their vicinity and be available to deliver products on the go. Along with accessibility, we also offer locally sourced fresh produce, meats and even bakery products as part of our offering. LOTS Wholesale Solutions wants to grab the opportunity and offers the best to its Horeca customers with high-quality products, a wide range of assortment, etc.
Entering the Indian market in January last year and quickly setting up 2 stores in the H1 FY2018-19 itself, how has the year served for LOTS in terms of visitor footfall, customer response, etc., especially in the hospitality segment?
SS: India is a very price sensitive market and it has been kept in mind during tailoring of the business model and expansion in India. It is important to see from a customer’s perspective, to make the business process easy for them. The assortment of products need prediction through technology and specialised services have helped us gain favourable mindshare with our customers. Launching three stores within six months of operations has been a big achievement for us.
The stores have seen a positive response from customers beyond the team’s expectations, having already over-achieved the internal targets. Each store is witnessing a footfall of 500-1,400 customers per day. Cumulatively, we already have over 1,40,000 registered customers, which include kiranas, HORECA and other institutions. There is a constant rise in walk-ins’ and new member registrations at our stores and a healthy growth in sales, with over 60% repeat customers.
What are the various products and solutions (SKUs) on offer at these LOTS stores? Are you considering updating the existing inventory with any new SKUs?
SS: LOTS Wholesale Solutions’ brings specially curated assortments, categorised into food and beverages, kitchenware, household appliances, home decorative items, furniture, bedding, textiles, sport equipment, office equipment, stationery and office supplies, automotive equipment, lighting, maintenance tools, electronic products, and others; making LOTS Wholesale Solutions’ outlets, a complete one-stop-shop. Our product offerings also depend on the demand from the catchment, leading to customisation of the offering as per the area needs.
We believe in promoting regional brands, therefore, a customer will find a huge selection of products that are produced locally, along with the leading national and international products. The objective is to grow together by providing these businesses with a platform to reach out to a larger base of customers through LOTS Wholesale Solutions’ stores. Furthermore, technology helps us to constantly track the change in demands and update SKUs accordingly.
The company has recently introduced two own brands - Basic Plus and PlusMo in home cleaning and bakery category respectively. We will also be introducing personal care, confectionaries, biscuits, snacks and apparel segments under own brands.
Since you have plans to further invest INR 1000 Cr in setting up over 15 LOTS stores in India, what would be the business model for the expansion and which cities are you targeting to open them in?
SS: Having pan India ambition, we started the business in Delhi NCR owing to better real estate opportunities. Going forward, the plan is to develop our network in northern India first so that customers can take advantage of an efficient supply chain. This is also in-line with the company’s international approach of developing clusters and achieving excellence in the assortment, distribution, and delivery. We have already entered Uttar Pradesh and will eventually expand to surrounding states such as Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab. Once these stores are up and running, we will look at expanding in other regions of the country as well.
What is your vision ahead for FY2019-20 in India in terms of increase in the number of stores, expansion in inventory, and promotional events and channels for the LOTS brand in India?
SS: LOTS Wholesale Solutions has already opened three stores in the span of six months of operations and are planning to open 12 new stores in the next two years. The company’s focus is to expand in North India first, commencing operations with Delhi NCR, we are looking to enter Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan in coming years.
We have launched the e-commerce portal which is currently in beta phase and will soon be introduced for the entire member base. The idea is to harness world-class online capabilities that offer tremendous ease of purchasing from LOTS Wholesale Solutions. The company wants to partner with members and help them in achieving their business goals by reducing their time to source. Customers ordering from e-commerce will also be able to avail the same benefits which are available at the stores. We also strive to be an effective Omnichannel business- that delivers convenience to every customer segment.
To provide more offerings to our customers, we are undertaking various campaigns regularly to pass on extra benefits to them. January 2019 had “EXTRA” theme where the members were provided with extra discounts, extra savings and extra packs. Similarly, February will be focused on Kiranas through “KIRANA KARNIVAL” campaign. We will be customising various campaigns for each month to provide special offerings to our members.
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