Update: As one of our readers informs, Spice has added the ‘compare’ functionality to compare phone specs. in the ‘Research’ list column.
Spice Group has recently launched an online mobile phone store, dubbed as Saholic.com. In addition to mobile handsets, the portal also offers mobile accessories including batteries, Bluetooth headsets, and memory cards, among others. Spice already operates a chain of mobile retail stores, which it re-branded last year as Spice Hotspots from Hotspots, to give more visibility to the brand.
The website categorizes handsets on the basis of brands and between cost segments such as high-end, low-end, basic and business phones. They can be further filtered on the basis of features and price. The site promises next day delivery for most destinations in India. This, it says is due to the fact that it manages inventory on its own. Infact, it can inform about the delivery time before a customer places an order, by his area pin-code. When we tried to short-list a Samsung Galaxy S phone, the site informed us that the delivery takes 4 days for the Central Delhi Pin-code 110001.
These days, there has been a lot of talk about users coming online to research about products, rather than buying them. Spice, which also runs offline stores has tried to leverage on this aspect and has dedicated a twin-frame page for each product to enable customers to browse through its features in detail. Although, it says that the page gives a complete experience of the product, we found it limited to a few images and text details. Suggestion: We would have loved a 360 degree product view and an embedded product demonstration video to get a real look and feel of the product.
The site also lets users select phone models and add it to a ‘Research’ list. We did not get the motive behind this list, since its just a ‘wish list’, without any additional functionality. Suggestion: Spice could have added a ‘Compare’ button to compare specs, after one selects phones and puts them in the ‘Research’ list. Also, the site does not offer user reviews and experiences.
Its also time, e-commerce web sites stop abusing the term ‘best deal’. Saholic has a section with this name, which promises lower prices. When we checked other e-commerce websites, we found their ‘best deal’ prices to be on the expensive side. For example, a Samsung Nexus S phone retails at Rs 26,900 on Saholic, while Flipkart offers it at Rs 25,499, with a Cash On delivery payment option and an in-transit insurance. P.S – Note that we don’t endorse any e-commerce venture and this is just a comparative survey.
Saholic does not offer a Cash on Delivery, net banking and cheques as payment options. Neither does it offer an in-transit insurance a.k.a Flipkart. This, when Spice has a network of offline stores which could have been leveraged for deliveries.
The venture comes at a time when Spice Group is in the process of repositioning Spice Mobility and bringing its handset, retail and VAS operations under one umbrella. The company also has plans to dominate the Indian mobile retail, with a seven cluster distribution model. However, it needs to do some serious work on Saholic, for the site to take off.