experience stores: Unacademy leans into omnichannel retail and launches brick-and-mortar stores

Bengaluru: The Edtech Unacademy platform is now venturing into the hybrid retail model, with the launch of experience stores across the country.

Currently, Unacademy plans to launch four stores, which will serve as an experience zone for students and parents to understand its offerings and various subscription models. Stores will focus on new users who want to take Unacademy courses. Additionally, existing Unacademy users can also come and meet their teachers at these stores.

The Unacademy store will host an advice area for learners; an internal library for reading sources, as well as classrooms that will accommodate its best educators. However, the focus continues to be on omnichannel retail, not blended learning.

“We believe online education is the future. However, we think people need to know why online will work. It’s not so much about blended learning as it is about an omnichannel presence. We do not intend to enter a hybrid learning model yet,” said Gaurav Munjal, CEO and co-founder of Unacademy Group.

“The idea of ​​having high-level educators hosting sessions in these stores is to make sure the learners also get a connection. Usually, sessions of some of these top educators on Unacademy are attended by 10,000 students,” Munjal added.

Unacademy has already opened its first experience store in New Delhi. It plans to open three new stores in Kota, Jaipur and Lucknow, over the next six weeks.

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Arch rival, Byju’s also recently announced its aggressive plans to double its offline play through the launch of “Byju’s Tuition Center”. In the past year, the company launched 80 offline centers in 23 cities and plans to expand this year to 500 centers in 200 cities.

Unlike Unacademy, Byju’s offline foray is focused on blended learning. He conceptualized his foray offline last year after acquiring tutoring chain Aakash Education Services for an estimated $950 million cash and stock deal.

Munjal also said that Unacademy plans to file an initial public offering in the coming years and is currently focused on making its core test prep business profitable over the next 12 months.

He declined to comment on overall investments and additional plans the company will undertake to develop its game offline. Earlier in August last year, Unacademy was valued at $3.44 billion after the company raised $440 million in a round led by Temasek.

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Norma A. Roth