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October 8, 2015

Delivering differentiated customer experience in Omni-channel apparel retail

Conventionally, apparel retailers have segregated their customers into those who shop in-store and those who shop online. However, these differences are blurring as the tech-savvy and personalized experience seeking customer expects a holistic retailing landscape. The shift from traditional apparel retailing approach of 'Brick against Byte' to 'Brick in favour of Byte' has to be rapid and disruptive, rather than gradual and conservative. Thus, the heart of Omni channel retailing lies in the holy matrimony of customer's expectation and retailer's capabilities. 

Continue reading "Delivering differentiated customer experience in Omni-channel apparel retail" »

January 9, 2015

Deciphering the right ecommerce model for India

ecommerce Models2.jpg

















Multiple ecommerce models have evolved in the market starting from Pure Inventory Model (capital intensive) on one extreme to Pure Market Place Model on the other (technology based agent model that is light weight on capital).  In US 3 models dominate the space, they include

-      Pure Inventory Model

-      Hybrid+ Model- ex: Amazon

-      Pure Market Place Model - ex: eBay

However in India, while the market initially started off with Inventory led ecommerce model the capital intensive nature of business, concerns from stakeholders on profitability and scale as well as threat from International bigges like Amazon has led to emergence of new class of ecommerce Model namely

  1. Hybrid Model
  2. Managed Market Place Model

Each model has come into existence for similar reasons but with different intentions. The Managed Market Place Model has been adopted by Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon to circumvent FDI Laws and bring foreign money to beef up capital. While there are debates on whether it is legal to bring FDI under the Managed Market place model, for the time being it is seen as a quick source of much needed capital for these companies.

On the other hand Myntra (in early 2014) also introduced (but did not switch completely) to a Market Place model while retaining the Inventory based ecommerce model. Per one of the earlier announcements from the company, Myntra will continue to operate both models (one needs to read this with caution as Myntra got acquired by Flipkart in mid 2014) - src: www.economictimes.com

       Sell premium and private label brands through inventory model

       Sell Local and Boutique Brands through Marketplace model

While managed market place model is one sure way to scale profitably without needing too much capital and providing right level of control towards customer experience, there are still multiple problems to deal with

       Limited or Lack of control over Product availability and quality  from third party sellers

       Humungous task of managing a large supplier base that is fragmented and Limited ability of 3rd party suppliers to scale and meet demand fluctuations

       Delays in shipment and marginally higher shipping costs as multiple products in an order needs to be fulfilled from multiple suppliers consolidated at a Fulfillment center and then and shipped to customer

       Loss of competitive advantage over the long run as the technology platform offering (for managed marketplace) can be replicated by other players leaving little or o differentiation between various players in the market

Managed MarketPlace.jpg











In my view the model followed by Myntra** in India (hybrid model) or the one followed by Amazon in US (hybrid+) has greater appeal over the managed marketplace model for the following reasons

       Provides leverage to sell premium and exclusive brands through their own inventory

       Focus on private labels and improve margins

       Provides an option to the company to scale and sell other products/categories (from their own inventory) when 3rd party sellers are not providing the right quality of product or service

       Utilize marketplace to derive trends and insights on new products and gaps in current offering and use the Inventory model to exploit those gaps.

       Strikes a fine balance between Capital Requirements vs control on product quality, inventory and fulfillment

hybrid model.jpg











To summarize, in the near term the market in India will move towards the Managed Market Place model for ecommerce for obvious reasons. However once the restrictions on FDI in online retail (B2C) are removed and when capital is available at acceptable rates most players will settle for a 'hybrid' model where Inventory and Market Place models will co-exist on their ecommerce platforms allowing players to exercise right amount of control on product quality, inventory, price, fulfillment and order tracking. Think about a hybrid model where high value-low volume and designer goods are sold through inventory model and categories that have high volume/low value and low margin goods are sold through marketplace model.

Other interesting proposition to consider would be that of Brick and Mortar retailer like Reliance Retail or Tata*** to build or acquire one of the ecommerce platforms and provide a compelling business case. A player like Reliance Retail has the following advantages

       Established supplier network for multiple categories as they already operate various formats like Fresh, Hypermart, Digital and Fashion - helps scale the business faster

       Faster rollout into Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets by leveraging well established store network in these cities.

       Availability of capital from parent company which will help scale the business. Deep  pockets and easy access to capital ensures staying power in the low margin online business

       Omni channel support by leveraging stores as fulfillment centers ensuring faster deliveries and improved customer experience

Clearly these are exciting times for online retail in India. The extent to which any model succeeds will depend on positive policy changes, efficient usage of available capital, trust quotient, scale, optimal customer experience and supplier network management and tight control on operations (price, quality, availability, fulfillment and returns).

* Includes Control on Product Quality, Inventory, Price, Logistics, Fulfillment and Tracking

** Myntra got acquired by Flipkart in Mid 2014 and hence their business model might be subject to change

*** Tata has already made investments in Bluestone, UrbanLadder and Snapdeal in 2014

December 18, 2014

What can retailers learn from consumers' online behaviors in shaping the in-store shopping experience?

Jane is walking through her local market when she passes by the hair products aisle and she remembers that she's running low on hair gel.  She wants to try a new, higher-end product, but making the selection is daunting, and she is not sure which product to buy.  She wants to do some quick comparison research before she spends 30 dollars on a product, so she takes out her phone to read relevant product reviews.  It takes a while to locate all the products, and reading the many reviews for the various products are overwhelming.  After five minutes of frustrated searches, she decides to settle with her generic option.

For the average shopper today, Jane's experience is likely to be a common one.   Indeed, a recent consumer survey found that the majority of people prefer to begin their journeys online, with 88% of shoppers webrooming--or looking at products online first, before purchasing in-store.  Such practices are not relegated to just high value purchases like electronics alone; modern day digital shoppers are increasingly price and value conscious, and they are used to easy access to reviews during their online shopping experiences, hence they tend to be less impulsive while purchasing, than ever before. 

It is the job of retailers then to meet consumers' increasing demands for external sources of information during their in-store shopping experiences.  To do so, retailers must focus on enhancing capabilities on mobile devices.  For example, to help shoppers like Jane, retailers can attach QR codes to products which allow consumers to easily access reviews for the product by simply scanning it with their phone.  On the same page, there can be reviews for related products as well. Also included must be tools to help Jane locate a product she indicates interest in. 

Repeated surveys indicate that despite the usual habit of starting shopping journeys online, consumers still overwhelmingly prefer to make actual purchases in-store.  Leveraging mobile content to supplement the traditional in-store experience, can create a simpler and faster journey that caters to the consumer's demands and save him/ her time. 


1)     To know more about providing seamless and engaging in-store customer experience, meet our experts at Retail's Big show 2015. Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15


 

December 15, 2014

The new Avtaar of Transactions

When I hear "Digital Wallet", the first thought that comes to my mind is that it is the Digital version of my physical wallet, carrying the same things as my physical wallet (Money (Cash, Credit cards, Debit cards, etc.) & Proof of identity (Driver's license for example)), but in Digital format.

While there's nothing wrong with the physical wallet, there is only ONE big issue with it, that of SECURITY. It is very easy to lose it, it is very susceptible to theft, and the consequences could be scary:

·         Card Frauds: Worldwide losses due to such frauds are estimated to be around $11.27 billion in 2012a

·         Identity Theft: In US alone, Direct and indirect identity theft losses was close to $24.7 billion in 2012b

Now think of a digital wallet, which has all of your monetary & Identity information safely & securely guarded by a service provider (SP). All that you will need, to use your "Digital Wallet", is a unique PIN provided by the SP.

Safety & Security aside, the biggest benefit I see from a Digital Wallet, when the world is ready for it, is CONVENIENT & HASSLE-FREE transaction experience! And here's how:

·         You go to a coffee shop / bakery, visit their app on your smartphone, place order & pay for it, 'Digitally', and leave.

·         You go to your favorite Grocery store / Supermarket and pick up your items. You will simply make a 'Digital' payment on the store's app for what you picked up, and leave.

·         You go to your favorite electronics / apparel store in the holiday season, but you no longer have to feel intimidated by the check-out queue. You will simply pay 'Digitally' on the store's app for what you picked up, and done!

Digital Wallet, in the presence of supporting infrastructure at the Retailers, will certainly reverse the impact of long queues on Sales & Customer Retention:

1.     Sales

·  Long queues have had detrimental effect on sales for the retailers.

                       i.    In the US, back-to-school retailers end up losing around $21 billion of  $55 billion due to long queues & slow check-outs c

                       ii.    British Retailers lose over £ 1 Billion every year due to long queues d

2.     Customer Retention

·  Long queues create a negative impression in Customer's mind, about the retailer.

                       i.    Poor customer service due to long queues cause UK businesses to lose 21 million customers a year e

                       ii.    Customers in the US leave the store without making a purchase after waiting for more than 8 minutes f

1.     77% of such customers would avoid visiting the store in the future g

                       iii.    The patience is lesser in UK customers, who will leave the store after 6 minutes of waiting time.

1.     56% of such customers would avoid visiting the store in the future h

What other things do YOU think digital wallet can impact & simplify?

To know more about Digital wallets and how you can leverage various innovative technologies to provide seamless and engaging customer experience, meet our experts at Retail's Big Show 2015. Schedule a meeting now. Visit www.infy.com/NRF15

 

References

a: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130819005953/en/Global-Credit-Debit-Prepaid-Card-Fraud-Losses#.VIlsx9KUe_Q

b: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/vit12.pdf

c: http://www.shmula.com/back-to-school-revenue-loss-waiting-line-frustration/4752/

d: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10702831/Long-queues-cost-British-retailers-1bn-a-year.html

e; http://customerthink.com/21_million_customers_lost_due_to_long_queues/

f: http://www.fierceretail.com/story/report-after-8-minutes-line-shoppers-walk-out/2014-02-27

g: http://www.bizreport.com/2013/08/british-shoppers-patience-runs-out-after-six-minutes-of-queu.html

h: http://www.essentialretail.com/news/article/tech-evolution-reducing-queuing-patience

April 30, 2014

Empowering the Store Associate

Today's hyper connected digital consumers are modeling their own shopping experience. They are discerning, demanding and have more access to information than ever before. Enabled with mobile and ubiquitous connectivity, they can compare products, access price and product information, check availability, get reviews from friends, whether online or inside the store.  While retailers continue to engage consumers across channels, it has become imperative for retailers to invigorate the in-store experience to meet today's consumer demands and leverage their front line--store associate to effectively impact sales.

 

Enabling store associates to become brand advocates can go a long way in personalizing consumer engagement in stores and differentiating on service. But the reality is that consumers have access to more information than store associates, adversely impacting their ability to be effective. Also, Omni channel initiatives like ship from store, buy online pick in stores requires retailers to use store employees for a range of new tasks such as picking, packing, while ensuring they continue to deliver superior consumer services.

 

To address these challenges, retailers can adopt a 3 pronged strategy to unleash the potential of store associates

 

  • Begin with institutionalizing in-store business processes, to assure consistent experience across product categories, departments and associates with varying skill sets. Secondly, store associates need be given access to critical information like 360 degree Omni channel consumer profile (including preferences, purchase and browse history, wish list, social media interactions etc.,), rich product data (including ratings, reviews, comparison charts etc.,) , new trends, enterprise wide product availability to be able to add value to consumer's buying process. This will not only enable a more meaningful dialog but also enable associates to provide personalized suggestions / recommendations based on consumer preferences, likes/ dislikes, purchase & browsing history  and drive upsell cross sell based on what is being purchased today. Also, retailers can come up with a comprehensive communication strategy ensuring that the in store interaction with associate continues post visit through emails on new product launches or invitation to store events. 


  • Build a scalable, flexible, integrated consumer engagement platform to house business processes, powered by a common data model and services to render sales and service information to any device / form factor. Equipped with mobile or tablet device, store associate should be able to tap into this platform and engage with consumers helping them select products, provide custom promotions, instantly order leveraging global inventory while allowing the consumer to pay and checkout in the aisle. Store mobility initiatives which enable back office supply chain functions such as receiving shipments can positively impact their operational effectiveness.


  • Last but not the least, adequate provision should be made to train store manager and associates on the best practices, business process , workflows and tools to  increase adoption and deliver higher value to consumers . Whether it is process of inviting consumers for store events, balancing in-store customer service with fulfilling orders or aligning store processes to meet pick up SLA's for online order fulfilled from store, providing training assistance goes a long way in improving sales efficiency and effectiveness.


Investing in empowering store associate to provide truly personalized service can yield higher conversions, improve store traffic and increase average order value while bolstering brand loyalty. I'd love to hear your experiences, challenges faced, impact on business and IT while deploying solutions to enable store associates




Continue reading "Empowering the Store Associate" »

April 24, 2014

Omni Channel Retailing -Are you prepared to win?


I wanted to buy a new smartphone and my brand engagement began with a Facebook recommendation from a friend who kept raving about his new possession, Galaxy S5. Interested, I googled the phone on my tablet, went to the product site to understand new features and also watched its video on You Tube. After reading expert and user reviews on CNET and exhaustive price search, I ended up buying it online from Best Buy, and picking up the same day at a store next to my home.

Today's empowered digital consumer has dynamic, non-linear shopping journeys.   They are demanding and have more power and choice than ever before. With rapid evolution in consumer buying behavior, emergence of new technologies and constantly changing competitive landscape, retailers need to rethink their business and operating model to stay relevant. As retailers transform, they will need to focus on 4 key dimensions to successfully convert an anonymous buyer to an engaged consumer.

  • Delivering consistent Consumer experience: Consumers expect the retailers to know and inspire them at every touch point, make shopping easy and convenient while valuing them for their loyalty, influence and life time value. For this, retailers need to know their consumers and their interactions across channels, engaging them early with inspirational content and easily searchable rich product information, providing access to enterprise wide inventory alongside personalized offers and flexible payment, shipping, and return options. Retailer will need to understand different paths to purchase and be there at every touch point to optimize the buying process.
  • Flawless Execution to match consumer expectation of product assortment, location, price, delivery and service. Retailers are taking on several measures to bring in agility in their supply chain. For example, leading retailers are now shipping products for online orders from stores closer to consumer to not only improve delivery time but also reduce shipping costs Retailers are also accessing social network data to refine demand forecasts and localize assortments. Retailers are leveraging predictive analytics to ensure inventory availability at the right place and time to minimize stock outs and reduce mark down.
  • Retailers also need an integrated, flexible and scalable digital platform powered by a common data set and technology services hub, ready to be tapped into from anywhere and any device. Such a platform will enable integration of business functions often spread across different departments and enable a single view of the customer, order, product information, inventory and price across channels. This foundation is crucial in driving consistent experience as consumers suspend and resume transactions across channels. This will also bring in increased agility to add new capabilities and onboard newer markets.
  • Last but not least, organization structure needs to align to reduce channel silos. Several leading retailers have created roles like 'Head/VP of Omni channel' as a step towards eliminating channel boundaries. Other retailers have reorganized by brands in order to deliver a unified customer experience across channels. Changes in the operating model also ushers in new processes, system, and shift in roles and responsibilities which needs to be managed deftly.

Omni channel transformation has a profound impact on an organization's value chain. Hence, it is imperative to have a clear vision and a multi-pronged strategy focused on consumer, operations, technology and change management to be successful. What strategies have you focused on to enable Omni channel? I'd love to hear your thoughts, especially challenges faced in transforming your organization.













 




    1. Continue reading "Omni Channel Retailing -Are you prepared to win?" »

      October 22, 2012

      Are you Game?

      I was intrigued when my son walked up to me with a request to order a pizza he had made on ipad game app from Dominos. The fun and excitement of playing the game coupled with pride of self-accomplishment was inescapable in his eyes...we did order the pizza and it was clear that Dominos now had a new Gen Y consumer.

      Continue reading "Are you Game?" »

      September 30, 2012

      "Mobile Apps For Faster Shopping Sprees"

       "Google Indoor Maps" has opened a whole new opportunity to retailers whereby they can enable their customers in getting easy and quick access to the products that they're looking for. In brief, "Google Indoor Maps" allows a person walking inside a store to navigate his travel within this indoor location just like what she(/he) would have done while driving a car using a GPS

      Integrating these maps with Retailer's own mobile application (app) and tagging a store's aisles by "Product Categories" on these Google Indoor Maps for a large format store, going down to category of products available by Brands may be just the beginning of the thought as to how Retailers allow their patrons to directly reach out for the product that they are looking for rather than wandering through store departments or searching for a store associate which for some shoppers may be time consuming or even frustrating.

      One of the best supporting feature on Google floor maps, is the ability to guide the user by individual floor's plans, whereby a large multi-level retail stores can also be covered easily and therefore we feel that some of the immediate exploits can be in the large scale Store or say Super Store

      Let us try to understand how one such Retailer app may make the life a Retailer's clientele much simpler and the shopping experience much better. Assume the scenario that our loyal Customer "Louise" is entering such a Large Super Store for her weekly purchases which runs across several departments of the store like fresh produce, dry grocery, apparel, cleaning supplies, bath-ware, electronics, sports goods and the list goes on. Soon after she has parked at the store, Louise logs-in to the Retailer's own native Mobile app on her smart phone. The Retailer's app upon invocation on her smart phone, detects her geographical location and the store that she is visiting today via Location Based Services (LBS) wherein this specific store's latest tagged maps can be pulled and displayed on Louise's phone's screen

      To make the whole shopping trip faster, Louise has keyed in the shopping-list beforehand in the app and a route map is prepared for her upon her check-in into the store via this app. This route map is based on the latest movement of shelves/racks in the store.  Such a guided walk cuts down the Louise's walk through the aisles a short, easy and a confortable one

      Louise was looking for a shirt for her son, but the size small does not appear on the shelf today... does the store have it? No problem... the check would be a quick one by Louise quickly getting to know this via her mobile app. Moreover, if it is not available in store right now, the app prompts her with an easy and quick site to store order which she can pick up during her trip next week 

      Another use for this app+google maps eco-system can be to integrate with the floor maps and publish current vacancies/next available time slots/expected wait times in Large Store's sub stores like ophthalmologist shops, saloons etc.

       

      This Large Super Store's sub stores are very frequently publishing a status of a vacant customer spots/seat available or unavailability of the same on the floor map which when viewed by Louise, will give her an idea whether she needs to do the shopping first or go to the sub store for a quick visit to the hair salon

      While these are just some of the initial thoughts, when pursued actively this specific technology can be utilized in umpteen ways to boost the store sales and to guarantee customer satisfaction. Overall, sky is the limit when one starts documenting the concept of such a solution/product. Customer purchase/return history and loyalty points can be utilized to highlight offers/deals when customer is approaching a specific aisle or when she has been looking for a specific product for some time

      This article has been contributed by Ashutosh Kaushal - Senior Consultant (Sterling Commerce - Infosys Ltd). You can reach Ashutosh at Ashutosh_Kaushal@infosys.com.

       

      Cashing in on "Order to Cash" through BPO shared services

       The Order to Cash process is at the heart of every business and I have often been tasked with asking clients and prospects to consider moving their Order to Cash processes into a Shared services delivery model with a third party service provider.  Over the years this attempt of mine has evinced myriad expressions from clients ranging from the "Have you lost it?" look to the "You just showed me business process nirvana" look. The industry where I experienced the most contrasting reactions was the CPG industry and I wanted to share some interesting learning from the experience of working with a few clients in walking the talk and sharing in their Order to Cash transformation journey over the years.

      To provide some context, the concept of Business process outsourcing in the CPG industry is not a new one. This industry was one of the earliest adopters of outsourcing transactional and back office business processes such as Accounts Payables, Accounts Receivables, Payroll processing and Procurement. The primary driver for outsourcing across all these processes was labor cost arbitrage followed by process efficiencies from consolidation; harmonization and continuous improvement. These drivers have become the cornerstone of all business process outsourcing relationships and have for long settled into becoming the marketing tagline for the BPO industry.

      With this legacy of perceived value from BPO relationships, when one has to go down the same journey with Order to Cash processes, the value equation does not necessary stack up. The most obvious reason for this skew in the case of O2C processes is Risk. To cite an instance provided by one of my clients - The entire annual cost savings delivered by a BPO relationship can potentially be eroded by one order from a large retailer being inadvertently dropped or shipped to the wrong address due to the contractual penalties involved. And one defect out of a million is acceptable even by "Six Sigma" standards!

      So two questions come up, the "Why" and the "How"? The "Why" is easy. Given that the Order to Cash process impacts not just the G&A metric but also the Cost of Goods Sold, Working capital efficiency, Days Sales of Inventory and Gross Revenue metrics, a successful shared services strategy undertaken by engaging the right partner could catalyze business transformation impacting the highest levels of the organization.

      The tough question however is the "How"? I often relate that to converting an "Art" into a "Science". The "Art" here refers to the finesse and proficiency that Customer service representatives have honed on their jobs for a number of years. The "Science" here refers to replicating that same level of service or sometimes even improving it but with a completely new team that's located thousands of miles away in a global delivery model.  Sounds like mission impossible right? Not really. It's been done before and involves the following best practices:

      ·         Create the right operating model: The tried and tested Front Office-Back Office model is a great starting point. It allows for a risk mitigated approach to the end state sourcing mix given the need to balance risk and value in a customer centric setup for the CPG industry.

      ·         Create the right performance measurement methodology: The days of adopting operational metrics such as cycle time, average handling time, Abandonment rate, First Contact Resolution etc to govern outsourcing relationships are a thing of the past. These metrics are now considered Business As Usual (BAU). Consider including business metrics and supply chain performance metrics such as cost per order/invoice, Case Fill Rates (CFRs), On Time Delivery (OTD), Truckload capacity utilization, Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) into the performance measurement framework

      ·         Create a segmented service framework: Most CPG businesses operate in the 80:20 model where 20% of customers account for 80% of revenues. Given this mix, a one size fits all shared services model will fail to deliver differentiated service experience to top tier customers. Consider a three tier service framework involving Transactional shared services, Business support services and Enterprise support services layers

      ·         Choose the right global delivery model: Most top tier BPO providers today have global presence with established Centers of Excellence. Adopt a hub and spoke global delivery model preferably aligned to customer tiers as well as the segmented service framework

      ·         Adopt a phased transition approach: A prudent transition plan is the foundation to successful Order to Cash shared services adoption. Consider creating a phased transition plan where phasing is based on customer tiers, markets, process complexity or a combination of these parameters

      While there are several other design considerations, the above five are what I could call the essential ingredients of Order to Cash BPO solutions for the CPG industry. With these best practices implemented, companies can start to cash in on their Order to Cash processes through BPO shared services led transformation.

      This article has been authored by Sushanth Ananth (Manager, Client Services - Retail, CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys Ltd). You can reach Sushanth at Sushanth_ananth@infosys.com.

       

       

       

      July 31, 2012

      Paradigm Shift in Loyalty Card Programmes: Win-win for Retailers, CPG Brands and Customers

      Guest Post by

      Srinivasan Nithyanandam, Manager, Client Services for Retail,  CPG and Logistics - Europe , Infosys

       

      Battling slow economic growth and high costs in a difficult market, retailers are competing aggressively to increase their customer's wallet share and mindshare. The new breed of digital consumers, who want convenience, personalization, and promotion-based pricing, has made winning in this environment even more challenging. Operating within the tight confines of single-digit-percentage operating margins, retailers must continuously innovate to increase consumer foot falls and clicks. In such an environment, personalised offers, rewards, targeted communications and promotions can help heighten customer interest and encourage repeat shopping.

      Continue reading "Paradigm Shift in Loyalty Card Programmes: Win-win for Retailers, CPG Brands and Customers" »

      July 12, 2012

      Mantras for creating store Layouts and Displays

      Hey Guys..!! It's a weekend ahead..! Planning for some shopping..??

      And you might be looking for some good stores with nicest displays, are you?

      Have you ever wondered how easy it is for retailers to create a store on your expectations?

      Well, let me tell you the very fact about it, there is a hell lot of planning which goes on before giving you something which you find as "SIMPLE".

      It's not that easy for retailers to conceptualize their store for maximum footfalls and conversions, rather it's like an iceberg where you hardly see 20% of its size on surface, and 80% still lies below the visibility layer.

      Have you ever wondered, what lies in the remaining 80% part that you can't see..??

      As far as I can understand it there are various key 'Mantras' that retailers follow to ensure the best store layouts and displays:

      1. Human psychographics: human psychographic factors give an important touch to the store because the subconscious mind of the human being many a times plays more important role than the conscious mind. There are certain factors which greatly influence the footfalls and sales of the stores such as: people see at their right hand side first and move toward that most of the times, this factor may be used to boost up the store sales for a particular category and if a right attraction factor is arranged in such a way, it could enhance the overall sales of the store to a greater extent.

      2. Category flow: sensible and easily understandable by the customers. Display should tell story about the product usage so it becomes easier for the customers to relate and understand. It should be enabling customers to move throughout the store without him knowing the same.

      3.  Adjacency plan: within the category, the products should be kept maintaining a flow of understanding, based on a particular criterion. This makes it easy for the customers to choose products faster without the products being left out of sight.

      4. Appropriate use of fixtures and textures with great ergonomic planning is what make the shopping experience even more pleasant.

      5. Use of the focal walls: should be given to a product that appeals to the customers the most and is able to make them stay longer in the store.

      6. Use of color combinations and proper lighting improves the touch and feel of the store, attracts customers, and meanwhile increase their curiosity about the products. Especially Spotlighting in case of window display has a great significance. Using the concepts from color wheel definitely holds eyes towards the merchandise for longer.

      7. Signage: play very important role for enhancing customer understanding in different terms like directions, product usage, promotion and many more.

      8. Activation zone: the space where the promotional campaigns actually work. Mostly these are easiest approachable places in the store and receive a lot of customer attention.

      9. Neither empty shelves nor the over flooded shelves are going to help; customers don't like both of the situations knowingly or unknowingly.

      10.  Washrooms/trial rooms etc. needs to be maintained as per the need of the retail format. And should be clean & clear, appropriately ventilated and separated from the store yet properly accessible.

      11.  Hot Spot Planning: Hot spots in a store are the most significant places for promotions as maximum traffic engagement is found at these places, might these be at the entrance, in the center, or on the end caps of the aisles depending upon the area and structure of the store-floor.

      12.  Window Displays: The story that's hidden in the windows of the store is something which pulls crowd from the visibility zone and facilitate high footfalls.

      13.  The consistency factor: Finally a consistent combination of all the factors in the store is what creates an overall impact.

      Have you ever given a thought, how different it is from what you thought earlier..!!

      It takes more than a few days, weeks or months to generate this entire plan which helps you buy at the stores. There is probably even more than what I have mentioned above. If you know a few of the other things, please hit the comment button and let everybody else know about it.

      June 2, 2011

      Don't be fooled, it isn't thunder. Staying put would be a blunder

      Continue reading "Don't be fooled, it isn't thunder. Staying put would be a blunder" »

      January 20, 2011

      Promoting Health and Wellness for Indian Consumers

      India is now a rapidly growing retail market with organized retail at 6- 7 % of the annual $ 400 bn pie and growing significantly every year. While the Indian Government grapples with the idea of allowing large global retailers to set up shop and sell directly to end consumers, Indian Retailers should focus on offering benefits beyond price and convenience to retain leadership and the loyalty of the growing consumer base.

      India’s middle class market is estimated to be over 300 Mn strong and incomes and lifestyle of young Indians are changing. Indians are becoming more health conscious in the larger cities evidenced by the mushrooming of gyms and fitness centers. Indian retailers can seize this trend and promote health and wellness by guiding consumers to choose and shop for healthier products or substitutes among the plethora of competing brands and items. This not only positions the retailer as a sensitive and responsible entity in the eyes of the consumer but also promotes overall well-being of the population.

      Packaged food items that are present on retail shelves carry ingredients information as well as nutrients information. Most Indian consumers do not have the knowledge to interpret this information and apply them in their daily diets. While a large number of food brands might be packaged and priced attractively they may not be scoring well in nutrition. Retailers can interpret the ingredients and nutrients information effectively and suitably advise consumers on their purchase decisions.

      One case example where this has been successfully introduced is at Hannaford Bros, a large retail chain in the US. The retailer developed a scoring methodology and attributed star ratings to their different food items by interpreting the ingredients and nutrients information present on the case packs. This was seen as a great value addition by the consumers and general population alike.

      It’s also obvious that such endeavors have to actively use technology as an enabler to operationalize and successfully implement. Retailers should use such case examples as a guiding engine to effectively compete in what I perceive would be a highly competitive war for the share of the Indian consumer wallet in the next decade.

      December 31, 2010

      Ever wondered why one size fits too many?

      Variations in actual physical dimensions across diverse apparel brands for the same labeled size is nothing new. That's the case more often than not! There is rarely uniformity in actual physical dimensions for the same labeled size apparel across brands. However, what have become more often, are variations in fit and actual physical sizes for a given tagged size even for the same brand. And here I am not talking about local or lesser known brands but leading apparel and sportswear brands.

       

      One reason for such a discrepancy can be that the merchandise may be ticketed incorrectly, for instance a ticket for smaller size may be attached to bigger sized merchandise or vice versa. This can be easily remedied by making necessary corrections to the ticketing and labeling processes. However, another reason for this size inconsistency, which is faulty production, is far more troublesome. Unlike other product types, consistent fit and size are essential for apparel items. In fact these very aspects can differentiate a particular apparel brand from another. With varying actual sizes even for the same brand merchandise, consumers can't rely on the size labels alone and have to take many trails every time they buy apparel items, even when they are of same make and kind! This doesn't present a nice shopping experience to in-store shoppers. Also, given the focus of apparel companies to grow online this issue presents a serious challenge to the industry. Unlike in stores, where you can take trials and select the merchandise which fits you well, online shopping doesn't offer you such a convenience. If consumers are not sure that a particular size will have the same fixed physical dimensions then it's going to discourage them from making a purchase online and offset retailers' online expansion plans.

       

      Shortened apparel life cycle and reduced time to market can lead to product inconsistencies and production related issues. Adoption of IT can help in providing big enough window for merchandise production by correctly reading the right demand and market signals. However, this too, may not always suffice given how fast trends and market dynamics change in fashion and apparel industry. More important is to invest further in skills and training of shop floor workers and to strengthen the quality control processes of manufacturers. It appears that maintaining consistency in sizes, an unquestioning expectation in apparel industry, can also become a differentiating factor in today's marketplace.

      December 18, 2009

      Enhance Customer Loyalty at the Final moment of truth

      In this age of discerning and value chasing shoppers, Customer Loyalties can change in a single moment and gaining or retaining loyalty is a marketing warfare. Store is the final frontier where products are given equal opportunities to see, evaluate and choose the brand. Brands can be made or broken in these last few minutes of life span a shopper will give to your brand. It is then highly imperative for the brands to make best use of these last few minutes and ensure that the customers stay loyal. Here are 3 basic strategies, Retailers and CPG companies can look at to enhance customer loyalty.

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