Aashiyana 2.0: Tata Steel#39;s e-commerce portal to sell ACs, set top boxes, insurance policies


In line with Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran’s vision to push digital and bring synergy across group companies, Aashiyana will also house products from Voltas, Croma, Tata AIG and Tata Sky. Aashiyana 2.0, rides on the success of its first version, with turnover already surpassing pre-COVID-19 numbers

March 17, 2021 / 02:29 PM IST

The digital push makes sense when one also looks at the government's 'Housing for All' program

The digital push makes sense when one also looks at the government’s ‘Housing for All’ program

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In its first avatar, Tata Steel’s e-commerce platform Aashiyana ensured customers could buy a steel bar as conveniently as they buy phones online, with the click of a button.

This has helped Aashiyana to already surpass its pre-COVID-19 performance, with orders now coming from customers not just in India, but also from NRIs in South-East Asia, Middle-East and the US.

Now in Aashiyana 2.0, the platform allows customers, who are typically those who are building houses, to buy products from the stables of other Tata Group companies.

“Aashiyana is about home building. Now as you build a house, you need an air conditioner, a DTH connection, insurance, and other household items. These are home making products that are made by other Tata companies, with whom we are collaborating under Aashiyana 2.0,” Peeyush Gupta, Vice President, Marking & Sales, Tata Steel, told Moneycontrol.

This means that as a customer browses Aashiyana for different steel products, such as bars, wires and doors, he or she will come across Tata Basera, which houses various Tata brands under one umbrella. For loan there is Tata Capital, ACs from Voltas, electronic products from Croma, DTH connection from Tata Sky and insurance from Tata AIG.

These non-steel products will be showcased offline too, in retail shops run by Tata Steel dealers.

This digital synergy between Tata Steel and its peers in the salt to software conglomerate aligns with the vision that Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran had shared earlier in 2021.

“When you look at trends for the future, definitely there are clear signs you can pick up. Anything that is digital, we’re making a big bet on,” Chandrasekaran had said during a Reuters Next conference in January.

The digital push makes sense when one also looks at the government’s ‘Housing for All’ program, under which 3 million houses need to be built every year. Half of this will be in tier 2, 3 and 4 cities and towns where people prefer to build houses on a plot of land.

The execution will bank on the supply chain Tata Steel has created in the last 16 years.

Riding the pandemic

Tata Steel had first ventured into retailing in 2005, with the launch of steeljunction, claimed to be India’s first organised steel retail store. “Aashiyana wouldn’t have happened without the foundation that had been laid in 2005,” says Gupta.

Over the last 16 years, the retail venture has created a network of over 55 distributors and more than 5,000 dealers that now reach 650 of the country’s 718 districts, and 20,000 of the over 27,000 pincodes across India. Backing this network is the warehouse infrastructure. Tata Steel itself has 27 warehouses around the country, apart from the ones that its distributors have.

“For instance, in Uttar Pradesh we have a warehouse in Kanpur. Our distributors too have a warehouse in Kanpur, and also in Varanasi, Prayagraj and Agra,” said Gupta. This network has ensured the company promises delivery within 72 hours. “Till now we have a 95 percent accuracy,” added the senior executive.

With Aashiyana, the customer could not only order a steel product by piece and not weight – Gupta claims Tata Steel is the only player in the country who enables this, he or she can use a credit card to make the transaction. Also, the virtual platform has a network of architects, designers and contractors from whom a customer can choose to build the house.

Peeyush Gupta, Vice President, Market & Sales, Tata Steel Peeyush Gupta, Vice President, Marketing & Sales, Tata Steel

The model especially came handy during COVID-19, which brought economic activity, including construction, to a standstill. “We told customers that we will hold back their order and will deliver after lockdown. Price will remain the same. And if they want to cancel, they could,” said Gupta.

While this ensured that the inventory moved after lockdown was lifted, Tata Steel asked its dealers also to start keeping some stock. This especially helped as some warehouses and dealers came in ‘red zones,’ but customers could still be serviced from outlets in the ‘green zones.’

“Also, as work from home became normal and people started going back to native places, there was a need for that additional room, and we saw more people ordering online. Also, NRI started ordering from our portal for their parents. These are customers who would have never come to our offline stores,” says Gupta.

The push helped Tata Aashiyana surpass its pre-COVID-19 numbers by February 2021, when it had a monthly turnover of Rs 100 crore. A year earlier, it had done Rs 75 crore in February 2020. “We had a turnover of Rs 320 crore in FY20, and expect to cross Rs 700 crore in this financial year. We plan to achieve a turnover of over Rs 1, 200 crore in the next financial year, with a monthly run rate of Rs 100 crore,” added the senior Tata Steel executive.

Gupta and his team have already laid a vision that takes forward Aashiyana 2.0. “We want to bring in products, even those not produced by any Tata company, that will add value to our customers,” said Gupta. These products could include cement and tiles that are commonly in demand from customers building a house.