Sunday, November 28, 2010

An unexplored idea – Mobile Retail

As mentioned in my book and a few earlier articles, the vast majority of street hawkers is a massive and undiscovered Retail opportunity. Their network and relationships are strong foundations upon which corporate Retailers as also manufacturers can build sustainable distribution networks. I wonder why no one wants to do this.

Have written about this wonderful potential yet again for The Hindu Retail Plus and the URL for that is as follows –

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ownership of the Customer starts with ownership of the store

During a series of recent training programs for Retail Operations people, I was highlighting the importance of taking ownership of the store and hence the customer. In that context the standard question to the audience would be how many of you take ownership of the store and hence the customers.
Predictably almost everyone’s hand would go up. Great; everyone is taking ownership of the store and hence the customer.
End of the story? Hardly, it is the beginning.
The next question would relate to old, slow moving or dead stocks. Regardless of the format the fact of the matter is that any store has a certain percentage of stocks which are non-moving. These are dead investments and only block up the working capital.
So, next I would ask how many have such stocks in their respective stores. Be it 1% or 5% or 10%, etc. There would be an enthusiastic response that, yes there are such stocks.
Now my next question; If this was your OWN store and your working capital was tied up would you allow this to happen or would you return the stocks or sell it off at a discount and clear the same.
At this point, the crux of the ownership issue will come out.
  • I don’t have approval from HO to do this. If it was my own store, I don’t need that.
  • I informed the merchandising team and they have done nothing.
So on and so forth.
Beneath these excuses lies a sad story of helplessness. Under the pretext of control and standardization the Corporate Retail of India today has depowered the store. But, on the other hand they are told that they are the face of the Retailer and they need to own the store and customer. What a dichotomy!
Having said that, I am also aware of store managers who had the freedom to act and therefore misused it by putting products on discount to reduce stock, at prices below the cost price.
The point is that a happy medium is needed and needed soon. The operations team needs to know their boundaries of the game while the boundaries should be large enough to motivate them to take ownership of the store or customers.
Otherwise, ownership of the store and customers will increasingly become empty words spouted during meetings and training programs where participants will enthusiastically raise hands to claim ownership, enjoy some good food and then go back to status quo.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pop-up Retail

An emerging retail trend is that of Pop-up Retail or Pop-up stores. These are temporary stores that pop-up at any location, draws in crowds, generate sales and shut down. These could be used by any category of products but is largely used by apparel to create interest in the new lines and showcase the same.
It is a great idea and can be used in a variety of ways.

  • Showcase a service which is difficult to communicate like how Singapore Airlines did last month.
  • Demonstrate usage of a new product like how Nokia did for OVI services or Canon did for their products.
  • Open a pop-up store in a new catchment or city where the regular store is expected to open soon to give the shoppers a feel of that store.
  • Leverage seasonal events and festivals to reduce shopper overcrowding at the regular outlets.
I saw a great pop-up store initiative by Sri Krishna Sweets which is a chain of sweet shops as also is into restaurants. We all know the crowds that throng stores, especially apparel, sweet and firework stores during Diwali. This initiative must have been to reduce the crowd at the regular outlets as also increase penetrations by getting new customers to purchase the sweets as also get a taste of the dishes at their restaurants. Some interesting innovations, which I think will make this a sure fire hit are as follows –

  • Centrally located at the heart of Chennai in a large wedding hall, ensures ease of access.
  • It is positioned as a 48 hour event starting at 8 am on 3rd Nov. When most shops anyways are open till almost mid night during this season, this has upped the ante.
  • 10% discount between 11 pm and 5 am ensures some amount of shoppers during the most lean period. Especially with Diwali being on 5th morning. I would not be surprised if customers actually went there on 5th early morning to make purchases.
  • Apart from sweets being sold, there are food counters of various cuisines
  • Plus, some of the sweets are being made fresh and hot for sales, which might again prompt people to go there on 5th morning.
  • A thought to keep children entertained was evident from the clowns, a stilt walker, etc.
  • Lastly to bring a festive flavor and also interest the adults there were traditional Tamil Nadu folk dancers and even one of those roadside parrot astrologer.
Needless to say, it was advertised and there was a sizable crowd by 4 pm on the 4th. Well planned and more importantly well executed. Check out the pictures and videos to get a feel of this pop-up store, which I took after taking the permission of the person in charge who seemed quite happy to have this initiative being noticed with interest.
Best wishes to all the readers of "An Indian and A Retailer" for a Very Happy and Propserous Diwali.