Sunil Sharoff, COO of Mumbai-based MBO Slash Boutique, is a fashion entrepreneur to the core. Armed with a BCOM degree from Mumbai University and a strong lineage in design, Sharoff launched Slash in 1990 along with his sibling Sanjay at the young age of 22 with a vision to make the store into a one-stop destination for all things fashionable.
As the COO of Slash, Sharoff currently defines the roadmap for all creative design strategies, operations and future trends. The company sources its merchandise locally as well as from abroad and offers all major fashion brands, though its forte is in casual wear.
“I enjoy being in Retail because interacting closely with clients on a daily basis helps me to understand their mindsets and this close observation is the basis to decode buyer preferences and emerging trends,” Sharoff says.
“It has also made my communication skills stronger, besides enabling me to acquire deep customer knowledge,” he adds. “This knowledge is not only useful for increasing sales but also to provide buyers with an excellent shopping experiences in the store. Besides, retail is replete with learnings; everyday you learn something new.”
Having said that, Sharoff does believe he faces challenges in terms of diverse customer preferences and the pace of change in India. “The rising competition in both offline as well as online channels is also challenging,” he notes.
“Within the store, sometimes I feel under pressure trying to convince some shoppers to shed their pre-fixed mindsets and experiment with new styles and trends.”
According to Sharoff, to achieve full potential, Indian retailers must evolve and embrace technology interfaces, including mobile devices, social networks, apps, etc to connect closely with shoppers in this digital world.
“Retailers must also be well stocked at all times and try and somehow set clear advertising budgets . Advertising helps in retaining brand image of the store as well as in attracting new clients,” he says.
“Although traditional retailers may not be able to offer as high discounts as EBOs during off-season periods, they should innovate to incentivise loyal shoppers either by way of small gifts / discount vouchers to compete effectively,” he asserts.
Slash is meanwhile looking to expand with more outlets in the near future, in addition to diversifying into other segments, including kidswear retail and fashion manufacturing, Sharoff informs.