The retailing landscape is changing, and so is hardware retailing. More and more people are waking up to the idea of better displays, training, and providing comprehensive product information to the customer. There is a gradual shift towards a more informed and matured market. It makes sense to invest in displays and empolyee training in order to explain the installation of the products, the applications, as well as the technical specifications.
Our company-owned showroom, the Ozone Hub as we call it, is a display-cum-training centre. Ozone Hubs boast of live demonstrations of over two dozen glass and wooden doors of various types, using different hardware derivatives that work on sliding or swing mechanisms operated manually, automatically or with remote control. Besides the live demo, the centres offer solutions for multiple types of shower cubicles and accessories for achieving the dry bathroom concept. We have ensured that the display of products is done in a simplified manner, so that even an end-user is able to understand how a door or shower cubicle is made, and can instantly decide about the fitting and product matching his/her requirements.
These centres, while helping us connect with customers, showcase all our products under one roof and offer technical knowhow of application and usage. These hubs are the nerve centres of our organisation. They give architects, designers, builders and end users an in-depth view of hardware, its actual usage and impact on the aesthetics of a space.
We have five Ozone Hubs in various cities including Bengaluru, Chennai, Jaipur, New Delhi and Lucknow. Setting up a centre requires huge investment that includes fabrication, maintenance, rental and operations. At present we are not looking at setting up more; rather we are looking to make the most of the existing hubs.
The idea has never been to retail our products from the Ozone Hub. Our business is basically based on the dealer and distributor model. We have distributors in various areas who also act as our logistics partners, who stock and sell goods to a larger set of dealers. The dealers on their part are responsible for the sales story and customers. At the retailers’ end we ensure that our product range is visibly apparent to the customer visiting the store.
One way to bring about differentiation in hardware retailing is to have trained people at the store, who have adequate knowledge of the products and categories and are able to answer the queries put up by designers, installers, carpenters, etc. While one of the objectives of Ozone Hub is to showcase all our products, the other is to provide training to installers, fabricators, and dealers’ staff. For us, the hub serves as a knowledge sharing platform about correct installation method, technical details and avilable product range. We are getting our entire training programme more structured so that we can increase the frequency and efficiency of the training sessions. The workshop or sessions, conducted by Ozone’s technical team, are held on weekdays. It is usually a day-long session.
As for architects and interior designers, our technical team is available for demo sessions on a day’s notice. At present the session is as per the convenience of the architects and designers. However, we are in the process of streamlining a schedule to invite them to our hubs so that a structured session can be worked out.
At present we have 70 distributors and around 3,500 dealers associated with the distributors across India. We understand that installation is a key concern; the dealer’s staffs are given product specific technical as well as installation training, which is imparted at the respective Ozone Hub. We keep on introducing new products, and thus the training programme is an on-going process. n
The author is director, Ozone Overseas Pvt Ltd . He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org