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Mr. Pawan Kr Agarwal, CEO, Datamation Services, takes us through the inherent challenges faced by Retail Business with the big boom of E-commerce


Retailers in 2015 have witnessed a big test for survival with multi-layer competition from e-commerce. Large Format Retail and demanding customers. Today there is the biggest challenge of dropping traffic in the store as customers are spending more time in online shopping as they can buy at home 24×7 through mobile apps. Today customers are highly informed about products, they are enabled through new technologies which provide them unprecedented access to information of products, pricing, reviews and sourcing sites. Now it is the retailers challenge as to how to drive in more traffic to the stores and make it a profitable organization to compete with e-commerce and Large Format Retail.

My first suggestion for survival, a small retail store, should deploy a real-time retail module to enhance the customer experience. Inventory visibility and for availability to customers the store has to ensure that it is easily accessible for each one of us.

Technology & Innovation -The small shops have to update new technology to data management of customers. Today there is an increased customer base, so there has to be a better Customer Relation Management, which should be the priority.

Maintaining employee efficiency – We should hire effective manpower who can convert walk–in into a buyer, so finding, keeping and training skilled motivated employee, is most challenging. Front-line sales staff must be able to convert more customers and increase average sales. It is also important to use trade fairs, expos, events to increase customer visit to stores. They can do a better job than the competitor. They also should know who their regular, profitable customers are and how to increase sales and their visits. For this, the retailer has to study and understand their existing customer. We should create seamless customer experience across all customer engage points–sales, service, delivery, etc. The customer’s behavior is changing so fast that the retailer must always challenge the status quo and ask themselves that are we delivering a compelling value to the customer; this will differentiate us from our competitors.

Retailer should improve their supply chain, inventory management and sourcing like some people sourcing directly from China. Today’s retail industry’s success depends entirely on the range of products, how retailer reach to its customer, product delivery time period and after–sales services. It should be fully customer centric and all activities should be from pre-sales to post-sales.

With the use of Information Technology, we can solve various issues like-customer data base management, inventory management and different MIS reports including inventory, supply chain, revenue management, store operations and e–retailing solution. In retailing, one has to be aware of the ‘value’ one provides to the Customer. This is what brings the customer back for more. Supply chain probably helps in managing the logistics part of marketing. It is the value chain that is more important. Unless the value chain is not precisely created, consumers won’t fall in to buy your products.

Creating value involves lot of things, like proper display, roomy enough for them to stand and buy, environmental control pricing, the right products one is looking for, customer concepts well taken care off like their aspirations, needs and dreams, easy check out, good mannered sales people, return and replacement windows, credit purchase facility, well illuminated spaces, easy passage ways, multiple products and multiple brands etc. When we are buying anything on-line, we can only see its picture, read the specification and know its price. The advantage of a retail store is we can offer the customer which e-commerce cannot–like value, trust, service, availability, convenience, experience, support, product differentiation, personal attention and quality assurance. We have to develop the above mentioned skills in order to sustain our retail business.

Finally the 10 Commandments of Retail Sales:

  1. Thou shall not believe anyone is just looking.
  2. Never ignore the customer.
  3. Sell Aggressively.
  4. Never let a customer wait.
  5. Treat every buyer like they came to spend money.
  6. Have a greeter at the door.
  7. Management shall engage with every customer.
  8. Provide the best solution, not just lowest price.
  9. Attempt a second sale.
  10. Thou shall help customers spend beyond their budget.

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