Gautam Sinha, founder and creative director of Nappa Dori, the luxurious handmade leather products brand, is a frequent international traveller. About three years ago, during one of his travels to Berlin, Sinha came across an interesting trend. “I was visiting the local indie stores and discovered that almost every store had a café inside it. Here, people could not just sip on coffee, but also soak in the experience and spend more time at the store. I loved that concept and thought it would be great to replicate it at our stores in India,” he recalls.
Over the next two years, Sinha and his team worked meticulously on designing the look and feel of the café at Nappa Dori, curating the menu and fixing prices. Café Dori was formally launched at Nappa Dori’s Mumbai store in 2017, taking up 2,000 sq ft of the 7,000 sq ft store. Since then, Sinha states that there has been a significant increase in footfalls at the store. “Almost 50% people come to the store for the café. So, along with providing customers a great experience, it has also made for a great business decision,” he says.
Sinha is not the only one who sees merit in having a café inside a retail store. Globally, ‘experiential stores’ or ‘concept stores’ are a huge trend. These offer a variety of services that go beyond just ‘shopping’. A customer can lounge around at the café, get a haircut at a salon or even a quick massage at the spa, all of which are a part of the larger store. Big fashion houses such as Gucci and Ralph Lauren, and even smaller stores have already taken to this trend in a big way, and Indian retailers aren’t far behind. Although at a nascent stage, brands have slowly begun experimenting with cafés in their stores, and food is gaining ground as an important ancillary business.
“Making brands experiential is about influencing buying decisions of consumers by tactfully immersing them into spaces where all or most of their senses are as deeply engaged as possible. This is why a brand like Ikea offers its customers not just their own international cuisine, but even regional favourites such as biryani in Hyderabad, so as to efficiently connect with their consumers at an emotional level,” says Ravi Wazir, hospitality and food business consultan