Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lack of Ownership and Initiative

I have recently been conducting several training programs for store managers. A common theme that I like driving home is the point of ownership. This is a favorite topic of mine since chain stores constantly talk about this, but on a day to day basis, do absolutely nothing at all to ensure that the store staff have ownership.

A case to the point is my experience recently at two stores while doing Diwali shopping.

First is a chain of discount/ value apparel stores. The store was over merchandised with hardly any circulation space. The staff had left cardboard boxes of stock all over the store, including the stairs and one of the two elevators was blocked with these boxes. Bright spot lights with crowds and inadequate air conditioning was a sure fire-recipe for people to faint. Long lines outside the trial room led to shoppers using the wash room as a trial room and there was a line outside that too!!!

To cut a long story short, we were waiting to get billed and leave. The customer ahead of me was caught up in some complex promotion involving discount vouchers and all that. (That’s a different topic about why people have such complicated promotions).

Anyways, here I was standing in the line and sweating. Sweating - because the store had these nice bright spotlights as mentioned before and the air conditioning near the entrance where the cash tills were located was not working. When my turn for billing came, I asked the person who appeared to be in in-charge (who turned out to be the store manager) why something cannot be done to make this experience better. He was lost!

I suggested that he should get a fan at least near the cash till and he gave a half hearted reply. I can bet that if I went there after a few days later, there would be no fan and no change.

Because, the store manager and staff have no ownership! The guys at the head office grill them about sales and reports. But not about ownership! Sad. But true.

Compare this to a store down the road. A stand alone apparel store. The customer crowd was pretty much the same but one did not feel suffocated as the air conditioning worked, there were no boxes of stock lying around waiting to trip someone, staff were helpful, etc.

When I was billing, which was pretty fast given the crowd, my family members were not crowding around me increasing the tensions. They were enthralled by a magic show. Yes, a magic show being conducted near the billing counter.

I don’t know if this is a result of the owners having read my book, “The Indian reTALES” but I was thrilled that someone was directly implementing what I have written about billing and how to handle the same. It was great to experience ownership of the store where customers felt good after having made the purchases instead of feeling like prisoners who have escaped the Tihar Jail.

So, to my moot point - will the lack of ownership of store managers of chain stores be the death knell?

I think so. Wake up guys and change the way Indian Corporate Retail works.

Empower the store staff and make them own the customer experience.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The MRP Scam !!

I have been writing and speaking a lot about the irrelevance of MRP and also how most establishments flout this rule with impunity.

See the scanned picture of the bill which illustrates the point.

Recently we went to a restaurant for dinner and ended up paying Rs. 125/- for a can of Diet Pepsi!

Most restaurants get around the MRP rule by serving the soft drinks in a glass and billing it as soft drink. Whereas in this place they happily brought the can to the table and have blatantly charged Diet Pepsi at almost 4 times the MRP!

Adding insult to injury is the fact that this is printed on a tax invoice. This means that such bills are supposedly inspected by the sales tax officials once in a way. Does that mean that the sales tax department is not aware of the MRP rule or in true bureaucratic style one arm of the government is not bothered about a violation with regard to another!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why transactions are at the heart of all our living

The Retail Plus team wanted me to write on an interesting theme. All about transactions and how they are at the heart of all our living. The more I thought about the topic, the more fascinating it was. At the end, I was constrained by the word count and could only capture the essence of what I thought.

Transactions start at the moment we neogiate with our parents for something we desire and promise all kinds of goodness and saintly behavior in return. It goes on to the more common and recognizable retail transactions we indulge quite often.

The fact of the matter is that transactions can happen only when both parties have something perceived to be of value by the other. Is it any wonder that Retail in India has taken wings only as recently as two decades ago. After all if someone had to book a scooter and wait for a year or so, how many people will be able to have such transactions.

Please click on the link below to read why transactions are at the heart of everything.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What is weights and measures?

We are a nation of savvy shoppers who bargain hard to get good deals. However, are we smart shoppers? I don't think so.

We do not arm our self with information and knowledge that would help us assert our rights as a consumer and that's why I feel that we are a savvy bunch alright, but not smart shoppers.

Hence the next in the series of smart shoppers is an overview about the law pertaining to weights and measures, as also some inputs on how it helps us become smart shoppers. Click the link below to read on -

What is weights and measures?