Consumer • Digital • Growth

Missing in modern retail shops: Convenience

Better parking, faster check-outs and smart floor managers are an imperative

Call it good fortune or coincidence, but almost every brand is represented in my neighbourhood — Food Bazaar, Spencer’s, More, Reliance Fresh and Subhiksha. So I decided to hop across to each one and check out the ground reality.

And here is what I found could be changed. Parking. It is the first touch point, and I found it addressed very poorly everywhere. There are no signboards to guide customers on parking.

Next, one would expect trolleys to be conveniently located and neatly stacked. Instead, I found untidy, littered baskets and dirty trolleys. It makes one wonder, ‘if the trolleys look so, under what conditions are they packing their dals?’

Most shoppers were on a weekly or monthly shopping visit, with a companion to push the trolley. Women were actively exploring the shelves and picking up items.
Occasionally, an item not on her list would catch her fancy and this would lead to a discussion with the companion before it was either selected or kept back.

I also found that when shoppers needed help on the product, price or promotion, the staff was of no help — a big enthusiasm dampener. Often, retailers fail to deliver on this crucial aspect.

The store staff must be trained and motivated to help shoppers locating items they ask for.

They must clarify doubts on the products and promotions.

Most of the shoppers I quizzed raised this as their key service requirements.

Finally, the check out— During my association of more than 14 years with Indian retail — both as a vendor and as a customer — I have not once seen any retailer operating all billing terminals at any one point of time.

I wonder, “If they weren’t planning to use them all, then why on earth have they wasted all this expensive space?”

No shopper wants to wait for more than a couple of minutes. Globally, retailers designate billing counters for different basket sizes and payment modes.

Why has no Indian retailer adopted this simple practice yet?

Even the undemanding Indian consumers don’t like to wait in a long queue. The shoppers I spoke to uniformly rated shopping convenience higher than discounts for festival shopping. Clearly, they do not want to spend their festival only in the aisles.

The success of a store also depends on the skills and aptitude of the store manager. But not many store managers in Indian modern retail are seen on the floor.

A store manager must operate like the captain of a ship, manoeuvring resources, people, inventories and practices, based on the consumer flow and movement in the store.

From a series of articles commissioned by DNA (Money) dated 9 October 2008.


More Posts