What they need to do

Karanvir Gupta
WE, as in Indians, have never been an organised market. We rather like dwelling in our randomness. That is what defines us, picking up Brand A this time and Brand B, the next time. We see the value for money and the convenience of purchase rather than just a perception. Probably the fact that we are majorly a business class, we see everything in that perspective. One bad experience with your product and we shall not buy your product or idea again. On whole, we as a consumer are very tough nut to crack. You just can’t come and sell us your commodity. We will just not buy! I guess that is the sole reason why big names too play in the dirt on their arrival in India. Something that works all over the globe fails to take off here and needs revamping.
Out of all the purchase we make, the one that has occupied a major share in our bills is that of clothing. The market is growing leaps and bounds. A part is the effect of increasing awareness due to globalisation, a part of our increasing tendency to try new things and a part of our increasing paying capacity. We don’t mind putting on something that just didn’t sound “my types” a few years back. With unisex dressing taking a forefront, the whole itinerary of things to be bought from has expanded. Choices have increased both in terms of quality and price. With such a panorama, the scenario in the market changed accordingly and we saw umpteen shops selling clothes out of which mushroomed the concept of retail clothing.
From shops that used to sell only male or female garments or being kids shops alone, the need was felt to bring all under one umbrella and it happened. Who can understand this better than people of Jammu. Gole Market in Gandhi Nagar is LIVE example of this change. We saw it all happening. But the question is, does providing everything under one roof solves all the problems and guarantees you ever rushing in customers, walking out with their both hands full? The answer is emphatic NO.
Next, you might ask me the reasons that make me being so outright against the conviction and dedication of these retail stores in selling their products. The fact is shopping has never been a sole pay and buy activity. It is a kind of experience people love to enjoy. That’s the only reason the term ‘window shopping’ has been coined. You visit a particular place not only because you want to buy but also at times to have an insight of the market.
With e-stores becoming popular among the youth who are also the prospective future customers, a major share of current retail stores is being drifted away from the conventional ways of shopping. The e-stores like jabong, myntra, yepme and now flipkart also making foray into clothing, the entrants into this arena is increasing with every day. And the fact is we are loving it. The ease of choosing stuff from a wide range of products with variants in price and brands is wonderful. It not only avoids the hassle of criss-crossing the traffic logjams on the roads but also gives the luxury of time chillaxing at homes. Over and above home delivery comes for free.  So with time if retail stores intend to keep hold of their market share, they need to be dynamic and vigilant enough than before.
The first and foremost factor is ‘Authenticity’ which is shrouded in mystery when you buy stuff from these one stop retail stores. We all are quite aware of many a incident when products of duplicity have been found which are just the local garments stamped with the tags of international brands and logos. And the quality of the fibre and the durability being substandard. The fact is the person shelling out his/her pocket doesn’t want to be fooled. And that’s the only reason why these brands have decided to go solo and open their exclusive retail stores. With single brand retail stores such as mom&me, Adidas, Puma, etc. making a foray into the inroads of Jammu which gives a leverage to the consumer can be a potential threat to the already existing one shop stores (you know which stores I am referring to). So, trust, as in any other business, is the first thing to build up if these multi brand retail stores want to keep going.
Second but important thing is the shopping experience as a whole. Though there are people who come with luxury of time yet no one wants to be treated unwanted at shopping centres. Many attendants at the counter are so unwelcoming and intolerant that they would give expression of exasperation and irritation. Not only the owner looses the sale for that day but a potential clientele. And the owner remains oblivion of the fact. It’s quite imperative for these multi brand retail stores to create an amicable atmosphere and train their employees to deal with the clients. No harm spending some extra bucks to get this done, it will finally yield fruitful returns!
Reiterating the fact that shopping is an experience, nobody wants to walk down the store that is cramped and haphazard in its layout. An ostentatious display of the products and open space to stand and good comforted plush to sit adds on big time. They might seem an extra expenditure yet they are like premiums promising hefty returns. Apart from the ubiquitous stuff, new and fresh designer labels is always a plus. It not only invites customer over and again but also gives him/her the confidence of buying from a store that is upbeat and at the forefront in the market.
It goes unnoticed but there are considerable cases when the customer drops the idea of buying at the queue for billing. Well, that’s worth to be taken care of. A fast and simpler billing software is a must. And an adequate number of people at the billing counter too. All would be of no use if you do not make use of current platform of advertising that is the social networking sites. Make your presence felt there. Start offering special discount, engage the people on your page. Nothing like giving your consumer a feel that s/he owns it. An active consumer is profitable business and even if not, a positive sentiment. And market is all about sentiments!
Last but not the least, never forget to add the personal touch. Offer customised offers on the special days of your customer to make them realise that you care for them. After so many years in business you after all know which customer needs to be taken care of in which style. All said and done, an Indian consumer’s randomness is powerful decisive tool. One bad experience at your store and you might lose the customer for ever. So never forget the power of customer. It can beat you then and there!
And why I am so sure of all this is because of personal incidents at “your” store. The fact I come back to you again and again is the bond I share with you since the time I was born. And you definitely have such leverage over so many customers of yours. The question at place is “Why this becomes alarming today?” With brands opening their individual stores, establishing a direct connect with customers and having the know-how of keeping customers engaged and happy, it becomes imperative for our local multi-brand retail stores to upgrade their services and customer involvement. Festive Season is ahead, make full use of it!
(The writer is a Management Student at Indian Institute of Management, Shillong.)