Specialty IT stores a value-added concept

Not only do a variety of information and technology product brands give customers more choice, but this phenomenon has led to an increase in specialty stores, which focus on selling a particular brand.

eStore2In addition to giving more choices in particular products, most people will agree that shopping for IT products at specialty brand stores guarantees the genuineness of the products themselves.

Furthermore, some will argue that after-sales service from a store that sells a variety of brands is not as satisfactory as that of a specialty store.

Today’s fast technological developments demand more sophisticated support and service in addition to the quality of the product itself. Customers should not have to worry about where to buy a product. In general, what matters are the quality of the purchased product and how the manufacture’s service center takes care of customers.

However, this is not the case with customers who are willing to pay a higher price when shopping at a specialty store. Product security is their main concern.

Arif, a customer at a Dell store in South Jakarta business district area, said he was satisfied with the notebook he bought even though it cost him more than it would have at a general computer store. “Most importantly, the product is genuine. You know there are many fake products out there.”

Gunawan Nugroho, chief of marketing representative at PT Aneka Infokom Tekindo, the authorized distributor of Toshiba products in Indonesia, said that despite many reliable general stores carrying genuine IT products, “We cannot deny the fact that bogus products do exist on the market. Thus, it is understandable that many people prefer to buy IT products, particularly notebooks, at specialty stores.”

Nugroho continued that the growing number of specialty computer stores had created not only competition between different brands, but had resulted in a price war between specialty and general stores.

DellRatuPlaza2 by AuliaPrice is not a problem for some customers, particularly the upper-class. Indeed, total satisfaction in both quality and service is what they are looking for.

Customers can benefit when shopping for particular products at specialty stores. The “Toshiba concept store” collaborates with other specialty stores to mutually support each other in stocking products. Nugroho said, “There are currently 21 Toshiba concept stores across the archipelago such as in Bandung, Surabaya, Medan, Bandar Lampung and Palembang. Out of this number, 12 are in Jakarta.”

Under the supervision of PT Aneka Infokom Tekindo, all Toshiba concept stores showcase an extensive range of the brand’s most innovative mobile computing devices and accessories.

Likewise, Apple has also come up with a distinctively sophisticated concept in its specialty stores. Unlike Toshiba where every one of its store is uniformly operated under one name, Apple stores have different names such as EMAX, i-Box and eStore.

At the eStore at Ratu Plaza, South Jakarta, an array of Apple products are neatly showcased — from small devices like iPods to big computers.

eStore has established six branches in Jakarta and two in Bandung and Jogja.

Unlike Apple Authorized Reseller stores where they are limited to retail activities, “The Ratu Plaza’s eStore is an Apple Premium Reseller store. It means that we don’t only conduct business-to-customer activities, but also business-to-business activities. Most importantly, our business clients can get prices directly from Apple South Asia, our business principal,” Bibin Herdinal, the store’s general manager, said.

eStore3Notwithstanding the benefits of a specialty store, there are many retail computer stores that sell many brands but also act as dealers of particular brands.

Media Komputindo is one such store. Located in Puri Indah mall, the store is a main dealer for Acer in West Jakarta. “But we have long carried other brands as well. You see, we have an array of different brands of PCs, notebooks, LCD monitors, printers and accessories,” Julius Martono, one of the store’s owners, said.

“One of the reasons we are a main dealer is that the demand for Acer in this area is very good. However, we would not be able to gain maximize profit if we did not carry other brands since there are a significant number of customers wanting brands other than Acer. It’s all about business. It really depends on the product’s demand.”

Nani Winarni is a customers who has no preference in brand or store. To her, where to buy IT products is not a big deal, but where to get top quality equipment makes a difference.

“My Sony Vaio really suits my needs, but if another brand had better features and suited my needs, well, I would change mine regardless of the brand name. Similarly, I wouldn’t mind buying from a general store as long as the store had good after-sales service, the latest products and of course the product itself would have to be genuine,” Nani, who works for the Education Ministry, said.

Text and photos: Aulia Rachmat, published in The Jakarta Post, December 11, 2007.

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