Retail Studies: Pearl Academy of Fashion, Indian Retail School, NMIM, Welingkar
Programmes: UG, PG and MBA in Retail
Retail Companies: Product-related: Future Group, HUL,LG Electronics, P&G, Nestle, IBM; Services-related: ABCTCL (Cafe Coffee Day)
MALLS, squeaky clean, glamorous and spacious, are the new face of Indian retail. No, actually a new form in the overall organised retail landscape, a glitzy booming US$28 billion sector. A far cry from the traditional lala shops which tied domestic shoppers for long; modern retail is changing the old shopping norms. Corporate India is embracing organised retail experience.
Here’s another notable thing. New-age retail is fast becoming an attractive career destination for most youngsters. Ask Chavvi Singh, 23, a Delhi-based area sales manager with Arvind Retail or Harish Nair, 25, a retail merchandiser with the Future Group. Or Tarini Chawla who is interning with Louis Vuitton, a luxury brand. For most of us, retail implies interaction with a well-groomed, smiling and helpful store assistant.
For most, retail only takes place on the store sales floor. But that image is a mere trailer because beyond the frontline, emerging retail is much more; a structured business with huge infrastructure, logistics and massive manpower force driving the splendid show at the back-end. A report from McKinsey & Company states that organised retail is expected to increase to 14-18 per cent from 5 percent in 2008. “It is likely to each US$450 billion by 2015,” indicates the report titled ‘The Great Indian Bazaar: Organised Retail Comes to Age in India’.
Who would have imagined in the ‘80s that young, bright females would take up a job at electronics gadget or even cosmetic shop or would serve you coffee and burger at Mc Donalds? Dapper college boys would jostle to get employed in Salvatore Ferragamo luxury shoe and bag boutiques instead of aiming for a probationary officer’s position in a nationalised bank? Changing retail landscape scripted a new trend in the job market. Formats like departmental stores, hypermarkets, supermarkets, speciality stores and western-style malls are all gifts of modern retail.
Let’s take a glance at a few recent news items: “Gitanjali Gems planning to open mega retail stores by August” , ”Ferrari opened first showroom in India” , “Multinational retailers Walmart, Carrefour and Tesco to open stores in India”. As new organisations debut, current ones expand, and foreign brands compete for local eyeballs, they all translate into increased manpower requirement. Bharti-Walmart, a wholesale B2B cash-and-carry stores (called Best Price Modern Wholesale), for instance, plans to open 8-10 new stores. “And employ approximately 4,000 people by December 2011,” says the Arti Singh, Senior VP, Corporate Affairs.
Arti Singh, Senior Vice President-Corporate Affairs, Bharti Walmart
“At Bharti Walmart, we expect the professional to uphold the company’s value stringently apart from delivering great quality and work”
Liberty Shoes plans to add 50-100 stores each year. “We would need six people per store, which means 600 more people each year,” says Anupam Bansal, director, Liberty Shoes. Purnendu Kumar, Associate VP, KSA Technopak, a retail focused research firm, says, “Around 60-80 lakhs new jobs will be created in the next five years, out of which almost 6-8 lakhs will be for graduates and above.” It is hard to believe that just two years back, the fledgling sector had to take a severe beating in the wake of global economic downturn. Well-known brands like Subhiksha and Vishal retail were swept away. The giants who managed to stay afloat halted their expansion plans and capped their job openings.
Deepti Goel, VP, Mall Strategy and Coordination, Ambience Malls, recalls, “The members of the retail ecosystem were only concentrating on strengthening the existing operations, consolidating and innovating.” Cut to 2011. The growth projection is sunnier. Let’s look at area earmarked for retail operations. According to a report titled ‘India Organised Retail Market 2010’, published by Knight Frank India, during 2010-12 around 55 million sq ft of retail space would be ready in national capital region (NCR) and other metros including Hyderabad and Pune.
Hop on the retail bandwagon
Retail offers career destinations, not just job options or stop-gaps. Tanu Gupta, who is with Timtara, an e-retail firm selling electronic gadgets, joined the company early February in 2010. A year-and-a-half later, she is a category manager. “Looking at the growth potential of the sector, I decided to join retail, says the BSc Home Science student, who went on to pursue MBA Retail in Supply Chain Management from College of AgriBusiness Management, Pantnagar
. A periodic promotion means a lot to this ambitious professional who is thrilled with the growth the sector is offering her.
Vacancies are available from entry to senior management level, says the spokesperson, India, of global apparel brand Marks and Spencer. “Since organised retail is an emerging sector in India, there is not many executives with long and relevant experience,” she declares. There is a pronounced need for professionals in middle and senior level management level, she adds. Chhavi joined Arvind Retails, an apparel organisation as a management trainee for the Arrow brand. She now heads a team of over 125 employees. Growth in a typical retail organisation, (Eg: Apparel) goes thus: trainee, stores manager/category sales manager, regional manager, territory manager, national head. Requirement exists for large number of support staff, as well.
A store manager is like the CEO of a company, says Anupam, implying that he/she has to be apt in supervisory skills, HR management, leadership, financing and motivating skills. As one moves up the ladder, he/she switches to planning and strategizing. In 10 years, from a starter’s position one can move to be CEO, depending on performance, calibre and academic qualification. Visual merchandising forms an essential element. At the initial stages, one can move from store manager to just focus on visual merchandising and further specialise in the area.
Harish Nair, a visual merchandiser, who completed his PGDM in retail from FDDI
, currently employed with the Future Group, gives a peep of his profile. “I decide on quantity of stock to be allocated to each outlet depending upon an outlet’s potential.” Meaning, “a store’s ability to sell,” explains Harish, in-charge of “Converse”, a youth-oriented shoes, apparel and accessories brand. Purnendu says that a lot of jobs will crop up in speciality areas like merchandising, sourcing, product development, design, logistics, supply chain etc. Retail also employs HR and IT professionals, corporate trainers, logistics and supply chain executives.
Area Sales Manager, Arvind Retail, Arrow Brand
Chavi started out as a management trainee at Delhi’s South Extension Arrow store in 2006.
- In six months became the store manager, a post she held for 2 years.
- Her profile included being at the store one hour before its opening to supervise the store cleaning, merchandise layout and to take morning staff briefings. “We were given revenue targets”. The profile also involved monitoring the basket size per customer (per bag, per customer), average ticket value (value of goods bought per customer), up-selling (understanding the need of the customer and increasing his/ her basket size).
- Training is necessary to understand the company’s mission, ethos and its product offerings, she says. “As a part of the training, we are taught never to turn down a customer’s requirement but first and foremost receive them with a smile and excite them about brands.”
- Store manager gets revenue targets. Let’s say there is per day sales target of Rs. 15 lakh, it then gets divided among employees of the store.
- The store employee work performance is monitored closely by the company as a part of periodic performance assessment. There are surprise checks and mystery audits by the company. This can be done either by in-house agents or external hires.
- Chhavi is now Area Sales Manager, handling exclusive ‘Arrow’ outlets as well as key accounts (a section of ‘Arrow’ in a multi-brand outlet). The Delhi and NCR region is her responsibility.
- “Five days in a week, I visit 3 key accounts and 2 exclusive stores,” she says. She supervises a team of more than 125 people at present.
- Chavvi’s role switches from supervisor, to motivator, co-coordinator to an appraiser.
Find the right profile for you
“Are you comfortable removing old shoes of a customer and slipping on in a new pair?” asks Anupam of Liberty. He points out that the dynamics involved in shoe retail is different from that of food, apparel, electronic and others.“This is not a cool job”, he says, referring to front-end operations in particular. But the retailer is not a dissuader. He merely feels that the candidate and job should find a match in each other. Whether it is product retailing or service retailing like- airlines, travel or hospitality-the challenges are distinct. So find your pick and stick to the job for at least six months before even contemplating otherwise.
But when you make a selection, it is advisable to map your qualification and aptitude with the product/service you are going to serve. Let’s take an example of a coffee shop retailer who sells café lattes and mochas. A common beverage - coffee - transformed into a designer product caters to the habit of drinking rather than the product itself. In this type of retailing, the test lies in enhancing delightful customer experience. A pleasant smile and sophisticated communication skill are desired qualities here. Product knowledge is inconsequential in this case; quite contrary to the core requirement in electronic or FMCG shopping.
Some of the skills sought by retailers are fundamental: friendliness, honesty, work ethics, malleability and a good personality. Employers value creativity and initiative-taking traits in an employee. The acid test, however, is how good is the communication skill that one possesses, especially the front liners. The second significant feature is product knowledge. This skill separates men from boys. “When I was the store manager, I found that most of our salespeople won’t engage with customers much,” says Chavvi. Upon further probe she discovered that the salespeople didn’t engage with potential buyers much because they feared customers could ask more product-related questions. Buyers these days have easy access to information. Sellers have to be a notch above their information levels. Period.
All competitive companies invest in training of their employees. Many skills can be learned and developed with education and experience. The truth is, with the entry of transnational companies, high level of management programmes will be needed to help bridge the demand and supply gap at managerial levels, says Goel of Ambience. There are some aspects that even a four–year degree programme can’t teach you, says Anupam. For instance, “passion”. A lot of sales tactics and marketing spiel can be taught, but not passion. Even the coolest dude feels ashamed changing the shoes of a customer. The educated ones settle for back-end operations at Liberty, he says, whereas other MBAs venture out for glamorous jobs.
Take your retail pick
Director, Liberty Shoes
“Frontline shoe retail is not for everyone. Even the coolest dude shies away and prefers to take back-end operations or switches to other glamorous products’ retail
Popular retail caters to masses and luxury retail is slave to classes. Luxury retail is one emerging segment in retail. The other being e-retail. The luxury retail, an estimated $500 million market, is yet to open up in India. Brands like Gucci Fendi, Chanel, Hermes, TAG Heuer, Maybach fall in luxury retail category. Luxury retail thrives on aspirations of individuals. You can buy a watch of Rs 300 or of Rs 3 crore and above. Tarini Chawla, an alumnus of Pearl Academy of Fashion, who obtained her degree from Pearl Academy, is now with Louis Vuitton. “Luxury retail is client-focused, customer-centric,” explains the 23-year who is now undergoing training in marketing and merchandising. A notch lower is premium retail segment.
E-retail doesn’t render conventional buyer-seller interface but trading happens in virtual space. As per Internet and Mobile Association of India (IMAI), the e-commerce market which was worth Rs. 19,688 crore in 2009 is likely to grow to Rs. 46,520 crore by 2011 year end. “E-retailing is growing 30 percent y-o-y,” says Arindam Bose, MD and Chief Customer Officer, Timtara. It offers distinct advantages over traditional retail method. Since the cost of real estate and inventory stocking is subtracted, the buys are a tad cheaper, at least in the initial stages when e-retailers don’t stock or stock less. Then there is ease of browsing at one’s convenient time, and less parking hassles,” says Arindam.
In e-retail one can choose a career under one of many verticals: Merchandising, Operations & Logistics, Sourcing, Marketing, and Customer Service, Finance or IT. “There can also be movements between verticals like Merchandising and Operations,” Arindam talks about the lateral shift. Qualities of creativity and innovation kick in. How can the web space be utilised and optimised to attract a buyer’s attention? How can they linger on the page? Here, customer relationship is built on different parameters with high-quality customer-service skills taking centre stage. For instance on-time delivery, damage-free delivery etc.
Avail of a bright future
The scramble for focused talent, high on calibre and creativity will increase. Capable managers from disparate industries like FMCG, BPO, telecom, and Hospitality quick to adapt to the needs of customers will be in demand. And the requirement for more educated, knowledgeable, and motivated people will arise. “Who are able to develop strategies for creating, attracting, nurturing and retaining customers,” says a Marks and Spencer spokesperson. As the market grows, the competition gets stiffer, the wages will also get better. For an intern working with a premium brand, the salaries start at Rs. 15,000 on an average. For a store manager, it is Rs. 30, 000 per month. A step higher, the CTC increases to Rs. 50, 000 per month. A national head’s CTC will be Rs. 1.5 lakh per month or above. These are average wages. Depending on a company and an individual’s capability it can fluctuate 10-30 percent, either side. So, join the sector and become a star brand of your company.