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Thursday, 30 June 2016

Knowing the New Age Consumer

The New Consumer is a values-aspirational, practical purchaser. He or she aspire to purchase with a purpose but is unwilling to make practical trade-offs, especially in a tough economy. By and large the New Consumer represents a younger, female, educated demographic.

ETP Blog - The New Age Consumer

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Helping retail associates sell better

Retail store staff that have the right customer facing skills can prove to be an important asset for the retail business as they are the ones dealing with the customers’ directly, Hence, they need to be the face of the retail business as well as brand ambassadors of the retail brand so that they are able to influence the customers and drive them to making purchases, thus generating sales for the business.

At the end of the day, the aim for a retail store staff is to achieve high sales. However, selling does not mean they have to be ‘salesy’ and pushy. Effective selling is all about their ability to help the customers with the necessary information which they may be seeking, helping them find the desired product, and ensuring that the customers are genuinely happy with their purchase. 

To achieve this, retail businesses need to ensure that their store staff are equipped with 2 important aspects – knowledge and technology:

•    Knowledge – Retail store staff need to be armed with thorough and complete information regarding the products. In fact, it would be of additional value if they possess the information about the competition as well. Importantly, every store staff should know their customers so that they can tackle them accordingly. Hence, it is necessary to have recent and relevant customer data. The store staff also need to be trained and groomed in order to imbibe the values of the business so that the brand attitude may be reflected through the interactions they have with the customers. Also, providing proper training for obvious factors like communication skills and other soft skills will go a long way in the overall grooming of the staff. Having substantial knowledge of the business, its products, customers and also, the competition will allow the store staff to face the customers confidently and deliver the service effectively.

•    Technology – Along with knowledge, it is also essential to equip the store staff with the right softwares and tools. Having the right technology at their disposal will allow them to go about their daily chores efficiently. For example, a POS software at the check-out counter that is able to not only capture customer data but also reflect it during billing will allow the staff to provide the customer with the right offers at the time of purchase. Also, providing store staff with mobile POS devices will help them assist customers during peak hours, thus negating the chances of a walk-out. Having a powerful order management tool that can manage inventory real time will enable the staff to handle situations accordingly, if the desired products are not available at the store.

Certainly, the utilization of a good retail solution will ensure that the retail business as a whole, can reap the benefits through improved performance and profitability. To sum up, the right knowledge and the right technology will help retailers and their store staff to get it right in retail.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Retail is Dead. Long Live Retail!

- Naresh Ahuja

The Retail industry is suffering. Most retailers are struggling to maintain any growth; profitability is compromised, and the future looks gloomy. As I travel across the many countries we work in, I hear the same story. And I also hear the same questions: Is this because of eCommerce? Is this because of the economy? Is this because of geo-political strife?

So let’s break it down. In Asia Pacific, India and The Middle East (we call it the AIM market), eCommerce has between 2 % and 10 % market share. Is this enough to cause the stress in the retail industry? Maybe, and we can do something about it.

Are the economies really doing so badly? Yes, some of the more developed ones like Japan, Singapore, HK, etc. are finding growth difficult. China is slowing down. But some economies like Thailand, Indonesia, India, Philippines, etc. are coming through.  Is the geo-political tension between the powers that be, hurting customer sentiment? Maybe. But what can private enterprise do about it?

The key question to ask is which brands are performing and which are not and why? We have many customers and friends in the retail industry who carry scores of brands. And they would do well to examine their brand portfolio. Customer tastes have shifted; all the above factors have driven a changed customer who is willing to spend a lot of money on holidays and mobile phones but will look for value while buying lifestyle items. Value being defined as a great price for a good quality product that is a trend setter. Gone are the days of such products demanding a premium, today that’s the baseline for the customer.

The king is dead, long live the new king, the customer! Sounds obvious? It’s not, with the retailers’ primary focus being location and brand, there has not been much focus on the individual customer. The recognition and acceptance of this will be the change that will drive success and growth in retail and eCommerce. Though I must admit, eCommerce companies have done a better job at personalizing their relationship with customers in a short time.

In the new omni-channel commerce paradigm, the customer is planted firmly in the center of the lens, serviced by any channel that she chooses to interact with, when she chooses, and where she chooses and at the best value. The customer wants hassle free experiences interacting with the brand, recognition, rewards, and superior post sales service.

At ETP, as we work with retailers across 22 countries and over 25,000 stores and 500 brands, here’s what we’ve observed: a tremendous depth in their skills in Merchandising, Brand Management, Sales and Supply Chain Management, their understanding of diverse customers and employees, their ability to manage cycles and seasons and still produce a profit, their infrastructure management, their cash management, among other things.

In the last one year, we are now seeing these giants waking up to the need to focus on the individual customer both in retail and in the eCommerce space. With all their powerful management and execution capability they could be the game changers of this new “Omni-channel” retail world. Like all large organisations with a legacy and systems & processes in place, they may not be as nimble as the pure play eCommerce players, however they seem to have got it now, and are ramping up their organization’s technology, culture and capability to play the eCommerce game. At the same time the eCommerce players have grown and are struggling with the lack of the same competencies that the larger retailers have. You will see many of them opening stores, to better service their customers.

It’s a fascinating new battle front and the next couple of years will tell all. My guess is that the winners will be the ones who leverage the core competencies of retail and deploy the technology savviness of eCommerce companies. Somewhere in the middle, focused on customer service, the successful companies will emerge, after all, isn’t retail a service industry?

ETP blog - Retail is Dead, Long Live Retail

This article has been written by:

Naresh Ahuja, Chairman and CEO, ETP Group

Naresh as the Founder, Chairman and CEO of the ETP Group leads the company with a clear focus on bringing enduring value to customers through best practices mirrored in software applications. Spanning 25 years of focus on retail domain expertise and IP development, ETP today, has a strong customer base of market leaders in more than 20 countries across Asia Pacific, India and the Middle East, and is on its way to becoming a global leader in Retail Software Solutions.