In 2011 and 2012, the RED celebration was just a round of ‘thank yous’. In subsequent years, the idea gathered momentum, it became widespread through social media, TV and print advertisements. The positive vibes spread, with more retailers – large and small – jumping on the bandwagon…
A simple idea can sometimes become very powerful. If the idea connects with the people, then it can turn itself into a movement. This is what retail industry stalwart, BS Nagesh, said when he launched one modest idea – Retail Employees’ Day (RED).
The idea was conceptualized in 2011, when BS Nagesh – Founder TRRAIN (Trust for Retailers & Retail Associates of India) met a few retailers and suggested they celebrate December 12 every year, saying a simple thank you to all those who worked for them, adding soul to their businesses.
From just a few stores celebrating in 2011 to now hundreds of brands and malls celebrating December 12 as RED in India, BS Nagesh’s idea has indeed become a movement.
In 2011 and 2012, the celebration was just a round of ‘thank yous’. In subsequent years, the idea gathered momentum, it became widespread through social media, TV and print advertisements. The positive vibes spread, with more retailers – large and small – jumping on the bandwagon.
In an exclusive interview, the initiator of this mega-retail program says that the success has only made him more determined to forward his efforts to make retail associates feel cared for…
Retail Employee’s Day is into its fifth year of success. How proud are you of what you have achieved today? What more can we look forward to?
If I look back at the last five years and the journey that we have had of just a few stores celebrating in 2011 to now hundreds of brands and malls celebrating in India, I feel very happy. Last year, a few local associations joined in the RED as well. The feather in our cap has been the Federation of Shopping Centers & Retailers (TAMPF) and UAE coming on board to celebrate the day with their retail partners. I’m extremely excited that this idea is on its way to becoming a global phenomenon.
And although I am very happy with where we have reached, our dream is to witness the entire world celebrating RED in the next 15-20 years. But yes, the needle has started moving and that is important for us.
Is RED meant for only front-end store personnel? Who else is a part of this celebration?
The whole objective of this day was to create a day for retail employees/associates. I believe, every employee who works for retail – whether he is the Managing Director or an associate – is still a retail employee at the end of the day.
However, over the years, since the celebrations are planned by the management to thank the retail front-end associate, the message that has filtered down is that the event is only for them. I on the other hand firmly believe that be it offline workers, delivery boys, warehouse staff, backend personnel, managers, associates, supervisors and or even managing directors, everyone should celebrate the day together.
My dream is to take the day global. Just as Turkey celebrates ‘Shopkeepers Day’, I want Dukaandar Diwas (Retail Employees’ Day) to be celebrated all over India one day. It is not just about the brand, but about spreading happiness amongst retailers and retail employees.
How many companies are associated with the RED celebration till now and how do you plan to get more on board?
As of last year, we have had over 350 brands and 80+ malls celebrating the day in India. Over 4 million retail employees have been part of the celebrations in India, Turkey and UAE.
I have just returned from France where many retailers were interested and are keen to celebrate in 2018. We are currently pursuing that. In my lifetime and in this journey, I will continue to talk about Retail Employees’ Day to everyone, every individual, every organization, every corporate, and every country that I visit.
If we look at the mission that we have set at TRRAIN for ourselves, we clearly believe we are a thought leader and a catalyst. Our job is to continuously encourage and motivate people to join hands such that the industry – from the lowest level to the highest level, where human beings are present – can be happy and content. We will continue to work towards achieving this.
Tell us about TRRAIN’s work in empowering grassroot-level retail staff.
When we started TRRAIN, we identified six areas of work. Each of these areas are directly connected to the way the retail employee has felt. We converted all six into a project that has moved into execution. Some of these areas are:
How can we create pride for all those in retail? For that we created Retail Employees’
How do we create respect? That was done through the TRRAIN Retail Awards.
How do we get inclusion in retail? We launched Pankh – Wings of Destiny through
which we create livelihood for persons with disabilities.
How do we upskill employees? Through the TRRAIN Aptech Retail Education Program
Can we help them to save and earn more? For that we have the TRRAIN Circle project
Our whole mission is to upgrade the lives of people in retail, both at work and at home.
What kinds of associations do you aim to build with retailers, industrialists, corporates and the government?
This is very simple. Whosoever is part of the value chain, and whoever has a heart that ticks, we would like them to be involved with TRRAIN so that they can excite and spread happiness for every associate he /she is involved with.
What are the key elements that are necessary for creating a good retail service environment? Explain from both the customer and the retailer point of view.
I think the most important element is that every employees’ individual purpose and organisational purpose need to be aligned. Secondly, every organisation must imbibe customer centricity as its core value. And lastly, the business as well as the processes must be simple so that everybody involved in the value chain is happy.
Which sector has been more receptive to your initiatives?
Till now, it has been fashion and food with electronics and jewellery playing a smaller role. For me, these four sectors along with automobiles, pharmacy and home improvement should be our target for the next three years.
What does the future of retail hold in the next 10 years?
Even if GDP grows by 7-8 percent, retail will grow because eventually, the consumption is going to grow both online and offline. We will find a shift in the roles and the skills required for the role and therefore the overall requirement of numbers will increase. For instance, the role of a backend merchandiser – which is currently a numerical skill – will get into a job that uses data analytics and Artificial Intelligence. However, the skills required to run a retail business will continue to remain the same. So, I foresee the future of retail as:
Consumption driven growth in economy.
Wide spread use of technology, mostly through the mobile.
Large number of Indians working for retail in different parts of the value chain.