Essar makes foray into virtual retail

Essar makes foray into virtual retail
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First Published: Fri, Mar 23 2007. 12 30 AM IST
Updated: Fri, Mar 23 2007. 12 30 AM IST
Mumbai: As retail experiences go, this one is as new age as it gets. The $2.2billion (Rs9,680 crore) oil-to-steel conglomerate Essar venture—titled Aegis Direct—plans to go tele-marketing, armed with a database of 500,000 consumers.
Aegis Direct will be a division of the Essar group’s business process outsourcing (BPO) firm Aegis Communications. That won’t be a first for a BPO firm. Aegis will push notebook computers, cellphones and pension plans, for starters.
In keeping with its position as the division of a BPO firm, it plans to use a proprietary statistical tool developed by the parent to just target those people on its database who could be interested in the product. The database was built over the past year through promotional campaigns.
If the customer evinces interest in a product, a sale can be made over the phone itself; the company also says it can organize a demonstration of competing products for the customer. Essar’s move to launch a virtual retail business with a strong behavioural-analysis-engine at the back-end comes at a time when British catalogue-retailer Argos is entering the country in partnership with Raheja Corp.
Just like the products Argos sells through its catalogues can be seen in its stores, products sold by Aegis will also be present at the 70 retail outlets run by its associate The Mobile Store, a partnership of Essar Telecom with the UK’s Virgin group that hopes to open 2,500 stores across 600 Indian cities over the next three years.
Aegis has tied up with seven consumer-durable manufacturers and also some financial- services companies for retailing a range of products and is lining up others. “We will look at categories which are high-yield (high-value items),” said Aparup Sengupta, CEO of Aegis BPO Services. The company has also hired a team of 700 people across New Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Hyderabad and a few other cities to cater to customers.
Aegis Direct is creating a portal and an online registry to add numbers to the database.
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First Published: Fri, Mar 23 2007. 12 30 AM IST
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