The Haja Sheriff Blog

Buying your PC in Retail?

Posted by in Retail

In a recent article, I had spoken about the Retail experience and what I thought a Store Owner should do, to ensure that the customer walk in & buy the products the store is selling.

In parallel, I put up a quick query on LinkedIn to check on what some of my contacts (there are a few), thought about buying in Retail and what they looked for.

Here is a quick summary- and frankly, this feedback to me was slightly different from my perspective. But here it is anyways-


1. It appears that Feature & Configuration play a key part. My reading is that most customers who buy in a Retail Store- already do their ground work & plan on the feature sets & the configuration that they will go with.

2. The 2nd important criteria is Price!

Other factors like Brand, Sales People knowledge, Store reputation were highlighted, but not the primary criteria.

In my personal opinion, the customers who buy in Retail, would look have decided on a configuration that they want to buy, and then scout around for the best offers that come closest to their requirement. If you have a good ecosystem, to get the customer in- and offer him the product he requires, he will buy. If you are a little more expensive than the shop next door- then you better have an option that helps to build that premium – great support, visibility in the market and great sales people who sell value.

Interesting learning this!


Apple iPad vs. Netbooks- Round 1

Posted by in Netbook, Technology

Yet another debate out in the market!




Click below for the launch speech from Steve Jobs.

Of course, typical of his launches, this one too, was intense & driven brilliantly. Add to it the aura that Apple builds for these type of Launches, people were already expecting to see something out of the world, and they get what they are asking for. (check out the look in the faces of the audience).

However, in this case, did they get the product that they were hoping for?

Content, in my opinion is key. Having a sexy product, but without the right content/ features, does not make the product automatically successful. It could get people fired up, and get them to go and buy it- but the proof of the success comes from the sustained growth it can generate.

Unlike the iPods & the iPhones, which touched a chord, and offered something, that was VERY different from what the market was seeing, the iPad is offering something similar to what people already get today. Agreed, the marketing may not be as snazzy as the Apple Launch (but then, whose is?)- But the features a customer gets are far superior to what the current version of the iPad offers.

Changing the game, the paradigm, is difficult, and Apple, to their credit, has proven its critics wrong many times over. So, one respects the company for doing things totally OUT of the box, and making a success of it. However, some products need more than just a “look” differentiation.

iPad, in my opinion, is not it.


Because the stuff it lets people do, people already have devices that they can already do with- in many cases cheaper- and without having to worry about buying extra gear separately.

If reading eBooks is the criteria, I think a Kindle does it very well – and provides much better value for money for that. If browning the net etc, then the Netbook (however Jobs maligns it) still offers the bang for the buck and value that the customer can appreciate.

Maybe it is ver. 2.0 or later of the iPad that will take into account the customer requirements- would be the game-changer that Steve Jobs is looking for. Till then, my expectation – this will sell well, it will taper off- and Apple will launch the second version of this product- which will do slightly better.

Here is a quick take on the comparison between a Apple iPad and a Netbook.


Apple iPad


Toss up



2.5” HDD – Upto 320GB

Most users have pictures, video and other stuff, that unfortunately occupies ‘space’. A bigger disk space definitely works.


Apple 1GHz A4 (not tried)

Intel Atom 1.6GHz

Intel Atom is tested and has proven itself. Apple will have to do this. No position as yet- though will side with the Intel Atom.


iPhone OS 3.2

Either XP Home or Win 7

No question – Win 7 or a xP home vs. a Phone platform! Not withstanding, the pedigree, I prefer the staid platform that I can use for multitasking and the works.


9.7” display


Options available with the netbooks.


No USB. Dock connector


No buying options that cause more spend of money!




Touch works! Apple wins here.

To me, the way things look; Netbooks is still the way to go.

But Apple being what they are – expect a major improvement in the works that will throw the current concepts out of the door. Intel & the other Hardware vendors have a short window- and should maximize the time to create as much as gap as possible.

And while at it – also start differentiating- not all Netbooks need be equal! Take a page out of Sony’s strategy – and create positioning that is unique – and not based only on price!


Smartphones Share

Posted by in Microsoft


Saw this graph with a startling view of the share of Smartphones & how Microsoft has been sliding down since middle of 2008.  (need to check if this is indeed the truth, or some other way of “selectively” reading data).

However, with the announcement of the Windows Phone 7 Platform, which has generated RAVE REVIEWS, I am looking forward to this slide turning the other way round. 

It will be back on top- Soon.

It is rare to see critics give Microsoft any points for innovation, notwithstanding all the unique work that has been done by Microsoft. But with Windows 7 Mobile – it seems to be unanimous.

Way to go, Microsoft.

Now- this is definitely worth my while to wait & buy when it hits the market.

Here is a good link to read up on Windows Phone 7-


Retail 101

Posted by in India, Retail

IT Retail is in its infancy in India. Though over the last few years, it has made rapid strides, it still offers an immense opportunity to the players (and potential ones too). In the same way, the IT industry sales to consumers is rapidly gaining ground, and with the potential that is India, it is a goldmine for those retailers who are able to provide the right building blocks for the customers.

The Million dollar question however- what does a customer really want? Many of our retailers believe in getting the customer through the door and hold on to them and make a sale – most often than not, using the price discussion. The Indian customer also seems to be price driven- but lately, branding, and some other elements are beginning to be reasons that are considered by them before making the all-important sale.

What are these other “elements”?


I am sure there are more, but these come to my mind now.

For an IT retailer to be successful (especially in India or emerging markets), it important to identify the areas they want to focus on.

1. Identify which primary factor you want to be known for: Price Leader, Best Support Centre, Most brand options, etc.

2. Who are your customers- be very clear of the target audience (at least the primary ones). If near a college or a mall, the trendy, young, college going or yuppies could be your target audience. It helps you to decide the kind of “look and feel” you want to provide to your primary target audience.

3. Create the “Right Awareness” – Think of marketing tools to drive the right audience to the shop- be it advertising, focused advertising through Colleges, schools or the papers – anything that works to help give a perspective of your offerings –will create awareness & over a period of time will improve the footfalls to your shop.

4. Set the right “Ambience” for the store- so that when a customer walks in- he sees the “overall message” you want to share than just brochures/posters & PC’s everywhere.

5. Understand their requirement- this can be done ONLY if you have great sales people in your store- who are willing to question the customer and then “LISTEN” to their wants.

6. Help the customer make the RIGHT choice – This is SUPER important. Don’t sell what you have- but sell what the customer needs. In the long run the customer will come back to you- and more importantly, the word of mouth it will generate will drive more customers to your shop.

7. Focus on “educating” the customer- be it hardware, software, etc. Educate the customer, and he will be thankful for the knowledge- and will buy something definitely.

8. Avoid “Hard Sales”- though it may be required at times. Drive “value” to your customers- let them walk around and make their choice. Be honest with your inputs- and they will come back to you. Don’t try to “hold” them to your shop- and desell other brands.

These are just some thoughts on building the right retail messaging- which though logical, is not exactly common in most malls.

The ones that get it, will be those who will survive and thrive in the next few years.


Thought for the day!

Posted by in Thought for the Day!

"There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm."  — Willa Cather, author

Right now, it is like being in the eye of the storm! The learning is tremendous, and one waits for the next wave.

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