In our series Retailer Talk, we speak to Mr.Muhmmad Madani, Chairman, ABC Group. Dealing in high-quality tiles, sanitary wares, bathroom fitting, kitchen solutions, and allied building materials, Mr.Madani’s enterprise has come a long way since it began operations in December 1998 from Taliparamba, Kerala. ABC Group owns various formats of retail stores, including its flagship ABC Emporios across Kerala.
About ABC Emporio
We have built our brand in building materials distribution and retailing over the last 23 years. ABC Group also has a presence in Africa and Gulf. Within Kerala from where we started, we have 14 showrooms across the state. The showroom sizes across different locations vary between 8000 sq. ft. to 41,000 sq. ft. We deal in brands ranging from Armani to Parryware.
Since we are fairly widespread with our showrooms, we are able to serve our customers ranging from Mangalore, Kanyakumari to Coimbatore. I would like to add that for the project’s business, which involves volumes, we are also reaching places like Ooty and Kodaikanal. We work very closely with Architects and Interior Designers for our projects business.
Yes. We have a presence in African countries like Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania. We are also present in GCC countries including Oman, Qatar, and UAE.
Though some brands are common to the Indian and the international markets that we are present in, still there are differences in the customer preferences. So, we deal with brands according to the market we are in. We may have some international brands that we are dealing with in India but not in the other markets and vice-versa. I give you an example. In the tiles business, though there are some commonalities in the products, still in our stores outside India, about 80% of the brands are different from the ones we retail in India.
We need to look at any segment from the perspective of influencers and retailers. In the premium market, products move with the joint push of influencers and retailers. As far as the influencers are concerned, it makes a big difference if there is brand awareness of brands concerned. So, the premium brand custodians need to focus on the specifier community quite aggressively.
From the retailer’s perspective, flexibility in processes and the trust factor between brands and retailers is the most important factor.
At ABC Group, we look for the brands’ trust, availability of good designs, and value for money (as seen by the customer). For example, we have recently started to sell Stiebel Eltron – the German HVAC brand based on these criteria.
Customer purchase behaviour for bathroom fitting, kitchen solutions, & more
Customers are smart these days. They do their research well and carry information on products at their fingertips. In my opinion, brands that offer more value-addition over their competition stand to gain in the market.
Technology in retail
Technology is a big enabler and is the need of the hour. In our business, we use CRM Salesforce. Through this software, we are able to map our entire sales process. For the back-end, we use SAP.
Technology in building materials – the customer perspective
In India, the building materials market is a very interesting one. For customers in India, the purchase of building materials, bathroom fitting, and kitchen solutions are a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. While the sales processes, both at the brand and retail level are technology-driven, still customers want a touch-and-feel for their final purchase decision. So, I would say that the building materials market is based on both technology and touch-and-feel experience.