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Survival of brick and mortar book chains

By Daya Kingston | March 12, 2013

Mital Sanghvi, President-Business Finance Sapna Infoway (P) Ltd., shares the success journey of Sapna Book House and his views on today's book retailing.

Can brick and mortar book stores sustain in this e- commerce era? The 45 year old Bangalore-based Sapna Book House proves how adapting to dynamicity and its consumer centric approach created a successful brand name. Point of Purchase chats with Mital Sanghvi, President-Business Finance Sapna Infoway (P) Ltd to find out more on how the brand still lures shoppers to the brick and mortar book store.

Q) How did it all began; the journey, dreams and achievements?

Suresh Shah (Founder Chairman), a Gujarati by native, started Sapna Book House in Majestic, Bangalore forty five years ago. Today, the bookstore is set up in a high rise building in Gandhinagar which is acclaimed to be India's largest book mall by Limca book of records. In 1967, Suresh Shah started "Sapna" which means" dreams", a concept visualized by his wife Bhanumati Shah. The first store was rented in Majestic around 100 square feet. Today Sapna has six bookstores in Bangalore, one in Mysore and one in Mangalore. With a strong vision to'educate the world' and mission to'provide right books at the right time at maximum proximity to the customers', the brand has expanded well beyond books today.

Q) Book shops face battle for survival, what is the success mantra of Sapna especially against Internet book retailing?

Who says'Quality' retail book chains are facing a battle for survival? Yes, the less competent ones will eventually die because they move out of focus and are not adaptive to dynamicity. Brick and mortar book chains that possess the passion to serve the consumers will never die. The best obsession about Sapna is that it is not'only' a bookstore. It is a multiple category store which has the amazing blend of books with varied other products. Our USP is the fact that we are extremely adaptive to the economics of the market. We were only into books, but today it has dynamically moved into various product categories, getting ready for the future, thus by pumping in a great deal of funds into its e-commerce store and also accelerating its publishing segment too.

Q) Any particular shopper trend you noticed in Bangalore?

Yes, we have been noticing a change in the shopping trend in Bangalore. Consumers are giving more value towards display of the products, which promotes impulsive buying. Sapna has keenly adapted to that and if one has to see across all Sapna stores, we have adhered to neat display system, which will give the consumer the choice to choose.
Q) Define your USP and value additions?

At Sapna, one will find the right combination of books and non-book items. More importantly, Sapna is looking at having a longer product vertical and will push on much larger retail store formats. We have diversified risk by accelerating its publishing channel. On an average, Sapna publishes 1 to 5 new titles on every single day of the calendar year which it is looking to grow at 100% augmented scale.

Q) How important is in-store activities such as displays, promos etc for Sapna Book House? How do you think these influences the shoppers?

It is a practice that we follow to have minimum one activity running in a month at all Sapna stores. And we always seem to cross that, as so far we have been conducting activities in a month at Sapna. We conduct activities across various genres. Book launches to quiz programs to painting competition to caricature day to women's day etc.

Q) Tell us something of Sapna Publishing House and its activity. How it has helped surviving tight competitions?

Sapna is a leading publisher with over 5000 titles published and counting. It has published over 3000 Kannada titles and over 1500 institutional text books pertaining to school, college and masters level of education titles. Apart from the above, Sapna has published over 500 fictions and non -fiction books for budding writers. We have diversified risk by accelerating its publishing channel. On an average, Sapna publishes 1.5 new titles on every single day of the calendar year which it is looking to grow at 100% augmented scale.

Q) Future expansion plans?

Sapna is opening its 9th and 10th stores in Hubli and Coimbatore respectively by May 2013. We also plan to enter central and western Indian market soon. Sapna's e-commerce front is also expanding its operations while Sapna Publishing is looking to enter the English fiction front too.
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