Home Retail In The Shopper’s Shoes: When retail bosses turn consumers

In The Shopper’s Shoes: When retail bosses turn consumers

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The principal goal of any business, primarily retail, is to attract and retain customers. A steady flow of new customers is always beneficial to grow the business. There are several factors which can help to improve the in-store traffic.

From the consumer’s perspective, design and store layout could be one reason to enter a new store, other consumers may prefer the products a store sells, while there are still others who choose a store for its service.

Th ere are visitors who prefer all three factors in a single store and if satisfi ed, rate the store as their favourite.

But what happens when retail CEOs turn consumers? What do they look for in stores they like to visit? IMAGES Retail spoke to the decision makers of the retail industry and bring you a look at the stores that attract the CEOs, the Managing Directors, the top bosses.

We also asked them to highlight the challenges and bottlenecks they faced while setting up their own brand, along with innovative ideas that they have employed so far to keep them ahead of the competition.

1Managing Director, Pepe Jeans India

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers

As far as Indian store is concerned, I really admire ‘Good Earth’ because it’s not just a place where you can buy furniture and other home essentials but a ‘concept store’ in itself. When entering the store, dim lights, the winding wooden staircase and rustic chandeliers put you in a mood which is unlike entering any other store. The interiors are simplistic with floral designs on walls and quirky chairs with bright colored cushions that are color blocked to perfection. A value-add is the fragrance lingering in the store. What impresses me the most is that everytime I visit the store there will always be something new on display.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

Being a big fan of Apple, I love the store in Fifth Avenue in New York. The larger than life glass cube on the store front makes for an impactful façade and also gives that futuristic vibe. Like the products, the store in itself is an experience. Something that always intrigues me about the store interiors is that they have a minimalist approach. White colored walls and bright white lights with simple brown furniture that is used for display in my opinion, brings the products alive. The tall ceiling and glass windows help in illuminating the store with natural light,which I feel is the best way to create an ambient atmosphere. Lastly, I think this engagement element from Apple would apply to customers of all age groups free Internet!

Role of Franchising as a way of expanding a brand’s retail footprint:

Franchising is a key component when a brand wants to extend its retail footprint and is one very important aspect of our business model. This is basically centered on appointing partners across regions that do distribution for the brand and who also open retail franchise stores.

The beauty of franchising is that it helps a brand tailor its target markets and have a focused approach. At Pepe Jeans, we regularly asses all our market; so for instance if the store in a particular area is not profitable we’re shutting it down or turning it into a big format store. Another factor that will help boost brand expansion is the ease in norms on Single Brand Retail, so we are now also opening our own stores with the focus on the top five cities which will have our big format retail stores.

Important points to be kept in mind in choosing the right franchiser/ franchise:

It is imperative for both parties to be on the same page, as mutual understanding and trust are very important in this partnership.

1. The right franchisee will give the brand market insights and a deeper understanding of what will and won’t work in that particular region.
2. Knowing the expenditure involved in setting up the store as well as maintaining a fi xed budget.
3. Research is crucial when fi nalizing on a retail partner, being aware of the history as well as aproven track-record will help on establishing the partnership.

Challenges/shifts in buying behavior in the retail industry:

There are myriad of factors that have led to changes in the retail landscape in the past few years. This can be industry led that is caused by marketplayers wherein they have similar introductions or one that is incurred by the customers themselves through rapidly changing buying behavior that can translate in form of trends. Being an industry leader in denim wear, we anticipate situations and keep abreast of potential changes that might cause a shift among customers. The key factor in this scenario is to understand that the market and the target audience are two interdependent elements. Through market research, we need to look at what the data is telling us and accordingly rely on our insights to determine the best course of action.

Different from the rest:

Pepe Jeans introduces collections that are on par with global trends and styles. Our inhouse designers work closely with the global teams to develop a design strategy in keeping with international fashion trends & a fast moving fashion culture; in order to stay ahead of the curve. Our target audience undoubtedly spends a majority of their time online & on social media – what better way to connect with them than through this very platform. Recognizing the reach that the digital medium brings to the brand, we have tailored our online strategy accordingly and work closely with influencers and bloggers to reach out to a newer audience.

Expansion plans:

We have a list of stores and target cities which we want to open in and now is the best time as the norms related to Single Brand Retail have been eased, we can open our big format stores. We are really focusing on having a strong presence in all key markets and at the same time we are also in process of identifying cities where we are revamping our stores; so for instance if the store in a particular area is not profitable we’re shutting it down or if it is performing well we are turning it into a big format store.

2, CMD, Kurlon Enterprise Limited

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-storeTechnology & Engagement Drivers:

Well, I liked many Indian stores. Some are Regional Brands which addresses the regional taste perfectly such or Pothys.

Some are national brands with a difference say, for example I like Bose Stores for the detailing aspect along with Collective stores for the unique and trendy concept it off ers to the customers.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

I would say IKEA as they have mastered the art of Consumer interaction. I also like Burberry on how they have mixed Technology with Fashion.

Role of Franchising as a way of expanding a brand’s retail footprint:

Let’s live together, franchising is an opportunity to create job at grass root level, and Kurl-on firmly believes in the idea of franchising. Currently we have 1,000 franchisee stores and we are planning to have another 1000 in next 12 months time.

Important points to be kept in mind in choosing the right franchiser/ franchise:

The important points are:
– Pedigree of brand
– Proven Business model
– Growth of Sector
– Innovations

Challenges/shifts in buying behavior in the retail industry:

Each bottleneck is an opportunity to improve in itself. We don’t think Big. For us, ‘I think’ is the biggest bottleneck.

Different from the Rest:

We believe in selling the products at Fixed Price (MRP) and ensuring franchisee makes 2.5 X times profit and these two things differentiates us from other players.

Expansion plans:

We wish to have 5000 stores in next 3 years’ time, 2,000 stores in next 12 months’ time as we have 1000 stores as of now.

3Amit Jain, Managing Director, Shingora Textiles Limited

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

Shingora; the interactive approach in physical retail is what keep customer engaged in the world of, what I call, “short attention span” syndrome.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

Hermes, Paris. An experience that goes beyond just the product.

Challenges/shifts in buying behavior in the retail industry:

India is a country that both diverse and complicated when it comes to consumer expectations! But here in lies the opportunity too! Logistics – time to market is the other big challenge.

Different from the Rest:

Shingora is creating a true OMNI experience. The flagships; the pop-up stores, shop in shops and the website talk a common language and a seamless customer experience. Infact very recently Shingora won the IMAGES Most Admired Innovative Retail Concept of the Year at Images Retail Awards 2018.

Expansion plans:

100 locations by 2019.

4COO, -

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

The stores from the eclectic Indian brand Chumbak is my favourite. It has vibrancy and has inviting look. Their diverse visual experience is a treat, every store is unique and different from the other. They stand true to their philosophy – Make it a happy place! From the window display to the interior, the store provides an experience with kitsch designs, iconic props and eccentric visuals.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

It has to be Bergdorf Goodman, a luxury department store situated in New York City. It is known for its extravagant window displays especially during holiday seasons. Each display is thought through and has a theme. The intricacies of the design are astonishing! What really impresses me is that all the elements of the visuals fit so seamlessly. I am awed by the mannequins in stylish fashion poses.

Role of Franchising as a way of expanding a brand’s retail footprint:

Franchising enables to reach a varied set of audience enabling faster growth for the business. Lavie understands the importance of franchising from business point of view. The brand is positioned very strongly in the handbag sector in India and expansion is the next step to grow the business. We want to reach out to Tier II & III cities but running operations in these regions can be donebest by people who have the local expertise, this is where franchising comes in.

Important points to be kept in mind in choosing the right franchiser/ franchise:

For us, it has always been about relationship building than justbusiness. We defi nitely want to work on long term basis with the franchisers. It is a two way street, the franchiser needs to be as enthusiastic about the brand as we are.

We need to see that drive and passion along with great organizational skills.

Challenges/shifts in buying behavior in the retail industry:

One of the biggest challenges in the retail industry is finding the right staff , retaining them and ensuring they buy into the vision of the business. Human resource is an inevitable part of a business, it is important that they understand and positively work towards the growth of the organisation.

Thus, it becomes important to get the right people on board. Finding, owning and justifying the return on investment of a retail space is critical for all the retail brands. Another major challenge that we face is to find the right retail space and nurture it. Solving these dynamic problems is what separates those who excel from the companies who are closing the doors.

Different from the Rest:

One of the key factors that we had in our minds was to focus on the market trends and customer preferences. It has helped us introduce the products which imbibe great utility, comfort and style. We ensure that we create shopping experience to fit the psyche of our target market. We strive to adapt to the changing shopping experience and surprise our customers with customized promotional benefits. We are driven by the dynamics of the online market, focusing on the changing times and adapting our marketing strategy as per today’s time. We have collaborated with big celebrities like Sonakshi Sinha, Disha Patani, Nargis Fakhri, Neha Dhupia and so on as part of our influencer program. We also have a list of celebrities as our brand ambassadors like Kareena Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut and now Anushka Sharma. We are working very differently with our new brand ambassador, social media being the core medium of promotion.

Expansion Plans:

Our plan is to grow retail footprints (includes our EBOs and Franchisees) to 75 points from existing 30 in a years’ time. We are focused to strengthen the distribution business to cover the smaller cities in India.

5Chairperson, Nalli Group

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers: Nalli – for it’s consistency in look and feel (very retro), especially the flagship Chennai store.
Everything is oriented toward serving the customer and making them feel welcomed.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

MUJI – Very consistent branding right from VM to each and every product.

Role of Franchising as a way of expanding a brand’s retail footprint:

It enables a brand to scale rapidly

Important points to be kept in mind in choosing the right franchiser/ franchise:

Integrity and past experience (track record)

Challenges/shifts in buying behavior in the retail industry:

Dynamic competitive environment, relatively limited real estate options

Different from the Rest: Focus on product, operational excellence and Omnichannel

Expansion plans:

Double the footprint in 3-5 years

6Rajesh Jain, Managing Director and CEO, Sports And Leisure Apparel Limited – Lacoste Licensee in India

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

While all our Boutiques are engaging, I would like to mention two stores here as my favourites – Linking Road, Mumbai & Mall of India, Noida.

Mall of India: The best part of this store is that it has a beautiful wide façade. Our standard premium concept furniture with brown fixtures helps the customers to have clear visibility of our wide range of products. The Boutique provides easy navigation to the customers.
Linking Road: This high street Boutique has a lovely façade with a lawn in the front that gives a leisurely yet luxurious feel to this destination store. Built on our Agora concept furniture, this store is spread across two floors and is also great from visual merchandising perspective.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

My favourite global Lacoste store is “Champs Elysees” Boutique in Paris. With an area of 400 sqm spread across three levels this store was designed by Christophe Pillet, the famous French designer. One highlight of this store is the Polo wall and Polo Bar that display a wide range of Lacoste Classic Polo.

The entire range of Lacoste can be seen in the store with beautifully designed space for all categories for men. Women and kids.

Role of Franchising as a way of expanding a brand’s retail footprint:

In today’s fast changing retail ecosystem, one has to be present at the right place to tap the target audience. One of the major benefits of running a franchise model is that Franchisees bring an extensive knowledge of their local markets that can help a brand to understand the audience behaviour faster. Second, the Franchisees have a better control in terms of handling the local operations.

Therefore, with the help of a Franchisee, a brand can experience ease of operations in day-to-day life while operating in different regions. Third, a brand can speed up its expansion through Franchisee business model.

Important points to be kept in mind in choosing the right franchiser/ franchise:

Working on a mix of Company Owned and Franchisee distribution model can really help in the long run if franchisee partners are selected carefully. One should be extra cautious in choosing the right Franchise partner. While there could be many brand specific parameters, a brand should invest time and energy in prescreening of the prospective Franchisee. In addition, the brand should scrutinise the Franchisee upon the following parameters:
– Financial Health
– Existing Portfolio
– Industry experience & knowledge

Above all, it is extremely important to have a like-minded Franchisee partner, who can understand Brand parameters ad brand DNA and can implement the guidelines without any compromise.

Challenges/shifts in buying behavior in the retail industry:

One of the biggest challenges for the fashion retail industry in India continues to be the non-availability of the premium retail development at the right cost and right terms.

While per square meter cost of occupation in India is almost at par with most other matured markets, per square meter sales and sell through are not as high. The second challenge in the Indian retail sector that has cropped up in the last 3-4 years is perpetual discounting/ promotions.

In my view, discounting could be a short-term tactic to attract the customers but long-term strategy is to deliver customer delight through great product at the right prices in the right environment with great customer service.

Different from the Rest:

We are known for our strict clean-cut design codes and aesthetic. We continue to work towards creating a luxurious shopping environment, allowing the quality of product and design to take centerstage. While developing the new products, we innovate for style & freedom of movement. The end customer should get an iconic wardrobe, contemporary & urban, inspired by sport & French elegance. We believe in innovation from the word go.

The first innovation that we do is on our products. We start working on our launches more than one year in advance. Every time, a lot of extensive research & effort is put in to developing the new collection.

Every 1-2 months, we launch new products to keep the points of sale looking fresh. We also believe in trying out new things; therefore, we keep on collaborating with illustrious designers on a global level to give the best to our customers. Above all, elegance requires clothes that are adapted to the situation or circumstances. Taking customer delight as our top priority, we take our Customer Service and Visual Merchandising very seriously.A very important part of our overall scheme of things is to ensure consistency. Whether a customer shops in India or Paris or China or US, he gets exactly the same environment and the same merchandise. This helps us in maintaining similar customer experience across the world.

Expansion Plans:

Whether we go in for a high-street or a mall, our locations are chosen very carefully. It has to be a premium environment; even our adjacencies have to bepremium. At the same time, we also look at the customer profi le in that territory, so that we don’t keep on opening too many doors. We are very selective. Delhiand Mumbai being the most important markets, the brandhas much deeper penetration in these markets and intends to expand further.

We are keenly watching the premium developments in Tier-I & II cities both in terms of consumer demographics and psychographics and also relevant retail developments. We started entering cities near metros a couple of years back and have received a good consumer response in those cities as well. We are open to exploring store opening at any location in India where like-minded brands are present and quality infrastructure is available.

7CEO, Deal Global Fashions Pvt. Ltd.

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

The store that I always get drawn towards is Deal Jeans located atInfiniti Mall, Mumbai and this likeliness isn’t because of me being the CEO but as aconsumer who is onlook for a pleasant shopping experience.

We are in the era where the store itself is the window & the mannequins displayed act as show window of the store. We have moved from closed windows to open facades to give an inviting experience. Lighting at the store are placed strategically on the merchandise that gives an enticing feel to the shoppers at the store. As we are in this fast-paced tech world, we would want to enhance the buying pattern of the consumer with retail being technology drive, we have introduced Omnichannel in our stores which will provide our customers a better way of shopping with higher viability towards merchandise availability within the brand.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

Zara flagship store at Westfield Startford, London is pioneering features designed to transform the customer experience & integrate online & in-store shopping. First Zara globally to feature four distinct sections, with dedicated online area joining women’s, men’s and kid’s sections. The store has been designed to stand out as a unique shopping destination for Zara customers. It has a two-storey façade without shop windows on the first floor, providing a transparent view of the store’s interior architectural features and collections. Many of the display tables have been removed, creating a more spacious look and feel. White walls and a white reflective ceiling also add to the bright, airy feeling. The store has a dedicated area for the purchase and collection of online orders on the first floor. This online area features two automated online order collection points, serviced by a concealed area that can handle 2,400 orders simultaneously. Shoppers scan QR or PIN codes they receive when they place orders online. Behind the pick-up point, a robotic arm collects trays and organises the packages optimally according to their size, and delivers orders in seconds. The store features interactive mirrors equipped with RFID (radio frequency identification) that can detect a garment you’re holding and make outfit suggestions in the mirror.

Role of Franchising as a way of expanding a brand’s retail footprint:

In an ever-changing and increasingly demanding global marketplace, franchising has showed great resilience and sustained continued growth despite the economic and political challenges presented over the past decades. Franchising has historically proven to be a rather efficient way of expanding the market penetration and consumer basis of retail brands, both locally and internationally.

This is so because it allows the brand owner, the franchisor, to expand its business faster and with less financial and human-resource investments, while at the same time ensuring the maintenance of the quality and operational standards of the brand, especially when compared to other structures such as trademark licensing, agency and setting up a local legal entity or joint venture with a local partner.

Important points to be kept in mind in choosing the right franchiser/ franchise:

Choosing the right franchise is about matching your personality, skills, experience and motivation to a particular franchise. It’s about getting a good fit between you and the business. Below are a few recommended pointers to be kept in mind while screening prospective franchisees-

– Having an interest in entrepreneurship
– Being able to work independently
– Being well organised and proud of one’s personal presentation.
– Being able to organize and motivate others to get things done.
– Working effectively as part of a group.
– Being attracted to continuous improvement.
– Being trustworthy in giving accurate information.
– Having a realistic understanding of the franchise relationship and background in retail business

Challenges/shifts in buying behavior in the retail industry:

There is no recipe to becoming a great CEO, the basic ingredients of a great CEO are intelligence, high level of energy, persistence, courage & great communication skills which helps others see your vision. In a fast-paced retail world; unpredictable, ever-changing consumer behavior and an unrelenting demand for innovation are the major challenges faced by CEO’s today.

Different from the Rest:

Bringing latest fashion at affordable price in India & international market is what makes us mark our footprints in retail industry in India.

Expansion plans:

We at Deal Jeans consider ourselves as one of the leading fashion apparel brand with an exclusive positioning in the high fashion space. Presently the brand operates 23 EBO’s in India & 2 EBO’s overseas, further this count would increase to 15 stores in India & 5 stores overseas. Also, brand expansion towards online space in international market is been explored.

We are further exploring South African markets along with middle east towards international expansion during the fiscal 18-19. In India, the brand is further expanding its footprints in Tier III & IV cities as we foresee immense potential which could be capitalized considering the consumer acceptance towards brand’s offering in these cities.

8Chief Consultant, Biswa Bangla

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

Shoppers Stop, has a soothing feel, Easy to identify products, has an element of simplicity that makes it easy to shop, the display looks attractive due to right usage of in-store lighting.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

Harrods, it has an old-world Charm, where I can get all the brands and all kinds of product under one roof, I love the area on the top floor that displays antiques. The clothing area has all my favorite brands; The display has a business-like feel without compromising on the elements of luxury. The store is well marked for visitors to identify their departments. It has very creative window displays that attract customers. Considering the huge footfalls, it has a clean & sparkling interior including the washrooms. The Sales Staff is well trained and knowledgeable of the products they sell.

9Pulkit Baid, Director, Great Eastern Retail Pvt Ltd

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

Over the time, Ritu Kumar has envisaged to be a successful Indian label. The brand which started as a niche boutique store today has stores in Tier 2 cities carrying the same aura and grandeur. The brand continues to retain its core Indian roots in the stores look and feel yet the show window gives you a grand feeling of an extremely high end brand. A niche product in mass market is extremely difficult to market and create and I feel this brand has got this right.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

Abercrombie and Fitch. The brand creates a mystery unique to itself through its stores and its designing. Dark dimly lit stores welcome customers to lightly stacked racks of casual wear with a very strong perfume inside the store. The whole ambiance of the store creates an adrenaline rush compelling the visitor ( not customer) to take the plunge. Moreover the super styled model like sales assistants makes the store feel like a real life fashion store.

VP, Quest Properties India Limited

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

The best store for me in the country is Tarun Tahiliani store in Delhi. Tarun Tahiliani is such an inspiration as one can see showcased of all his work and the finishing of the store is exquisite. I have pointed out to him that the quality of each and everything was great. Fora person involved in retail the most important thing is will the customer spend his money, he has created something where the oomph is there, and I want to spend my money. To me that is the Trigger.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

My favourite global store is Harrods by a milestone. I could hang out there the whole blooming day. The foodhall of Harrods is to die for. I have never seen a spread like that ever. I always wished to replicate it in my lifetime. It has everything, and its presentation is sublime. It is a benchmark of how one must do everything.

10Managing Director,

“I like Sephora worldwide because it has an assortment of goods that are not available everywhere. Ginza Itoya – Stationery store in Japan which spreads across 12 floors and it is fantastic. ABC in New York. Good Earth in Delhi, Cinnamon in Bengaluru and Muji.”

11Nikhil Kothari, Proprietor, Saakshi

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

Manyavar. Started from 1,000 sq ft office in Kolkata and now have presence in 6 countries, 160 cities and around 400+ stores in 8 years. Manyavar stores have attractive visual merchandising and awesome interior design. Most of their store has been designed with an open plan, they have different section for different types of clothes which can be easily visible from the central atrium. Interior design of their store gives classic & royal look and give customer high end retail experience.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

ZARA. They practice fast fashion trends move from the runway to stores within weeks. They use effective & efficient technology for quick supply chain. They have excellent interior of the store and their merchandised are placed in such a way that colour scheme compliments each other. Retail is about location and Zara always opt for best to best location whether on high street or in malls.

12Arun Biyani, Director, Mobel India Pvt. Ltd

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

Nike Store at Brigade Road, Bengaluru. I like the way they have different sections for different sports, treadmills for checking shoe comfort and they have very impressive collection as well as store front.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

My favorite global store is Cartier. I like the lighting of their store very much.

13Namit Bajoria, Managing Director, Kutchina Kitchen Appliances

Favorite Indian store on the parameters of Visual Merchandising, Interior Design, Windows Display, Lighting, In-store Technology & Engagement Drivers:

Studio Pepperfry is one of the most tempting stores in the current scenario, It’s just not the store it’s a story which can be discussed whole day. Walking down the store has given me the feeling like walking on the aisle, the entire checklist to work upon before opening the new store is what they have fantastically.

Favorite global store on the same parameters:

Massimo Dutti, my one stop clothing solution, “I just don’t buy the luxury I feel that too”. The aura and the atmosphere of every store is quiet alluring, which actually entice to come again & again.

(With inputs from Charu Lamba)