Thursday, September 23, 2010

Smart Shopper Series

One of the key feedbacks about “The INDIAN reTALEs” was that it was so informative to the shopper/ consumer. The inside workings and what Retail was all about seemed to help people become better shoppers. As mentioned in the book, we are all not equipped/ educated or taught to shop or make purchases. So, inputs that teach us how Retail works also help us become better shoppers and indirectly make Retailers improve as expectations go up.

In that context I have started a series of articles titled as Smart Shopper Series for The Hindu Retail Plus. These articles would help educate people about becoming smarter shoppers.

The first two articles came out over the past few weeks and the links are as follows –

I was held up in many things including addressing a Youth Leadership Camp and could not share these links before. Shall share the future links promptly.

Please do forward these links to all your contacts and help them become Smarter Shoppers.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It all comes back to you!

In my life as a Retailer the most common feedback/ complaint has been about bad service.
  • The staff are not helpful.
  • They don’t know anything
  • They are rude.
Etc. Etc.

However no one pauses to thing how rude, insensitive and demoralizing we are as customers. Today, while shopping there was a pregnant lady who insisted on barging in to ask questions when the staff were attending to me. Subsequently, even while billing, she landed up again and bombarded the cashier with questions although the cashier was billing my purchase. Finally the cashier turned and asked her to please wait at which point the lady turned around in a huff and walked away.

Before someone justifies this behavior to the hormonal issues and stress related to pregnancy, let me ask : how often does one behave this way - man or woman?

Very often is the answer.

Is it any wonder that service levels are dropping?

At the end of the day it all comes back to you. Be a boorish, insensitive and rude customer - you get bad service. Watch this funny video which captures the essence of what I say.

Next time you shop, try smiling, wishing the staff, put back things that you dropped from the shelf and you will see a whole new level of customer service unfold before you.
Video courtesy – Neo Naem, Facebook.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Are Chain Stores promoting Cherry Picking?

Increasingly I read about promotions which make no sense. Some even border on the ridiculous. For example, many apparel stores offer promotions like buy 3 and get 5 Free or get 50% off and then 40% off.

Either the merchandiser is completely lost and is drowning in inventory and therefore desperate to liquidate stocks or someone forgot to tell them that promotions are very powerful tools and each type of promotion has a specific purpose. For example a bill value based offer is supposed to increase the overall average bill value and needs some thought and date to fix the optimum slabs. Recently I was reading about a promotion where there was an offer on a particular category’s purchase value coupled with an overall bill value and then additional discount for a specific credit card and so on. Does this make sense?

Absolutely not!

Promotions are tools to drive walk ins and also build loyalty through repeat purchase. One of the cardinal rules for promotion planning is that a single SKU cannot have multiple offers.

The other cardinal rule is the selection of SKU itself, especially for advertisements and other public communication. Today, I saw an advertisement for a leading supermarket chain. The communication highlights refilling the groceries and home needs. In other words it is trying to capture the monthly shopping of the household.

In such a case the core products and KVI is mandatory because that is what the customer will relate to immediately and it will also deliver the message of a better price.

Consider this advertisement, which does not feature Rice, Toor Dal or Sugar - some very important KVIs. Oil is featured but a 5 litre jar whereas the average consumption of oil in Chennai Households is 3 litres. What it does feature is Basmati rice, Slice and 7 Up. It does have a sweeping statement about groceries being available at prices expected by the shopper. Such statements rarely have any impact and I shall detail why in a subsequent post.

To be fair, I have seen other such bright advertisements which ignore core SKUs and highlight offers on SKUs which might not influence the monthly shopping decision.

In this context I wonder what the objective of the merchandising and marketing team is. Do they wish to have people looking to buy only Slice and 7 Up come searching for the offers on such SKUs or do they wish to increase the share of monthly shopping baskets in the catchment?

Something does not seem right.