Since its inception, the Retail industry has been dedicated fully ‘to and for’ customers. The ultimate agenda of the industry revolves around its customers. The sole focus is to bring in more consumers and generate more profit. In its initial days, retail used to be a one-man-business. Slowly as the business grew, this one man – usually the owner – started looking for helpers and associates on temporary, and then permanent, basis. As the business became more organised, owners looked for managers and executives. The business grew in size and gradually took the form of a big chain. The concept of retail staff thus came into existence.
Undoubtedly, the customer is king, but the retail staff is the army that keeps the king satisfied. If the army is not happy and working properly, the king cannot be happy. The retail business involves huge amounts of investment and it is very important to value every pillar of the business. As retailers invest to inform an understand customers better, some tend to forget to inform and understand the employees.
Retailers need to realise that their workforce is as central to brand success as their customers. They must ensure that the staff plays an active and positive role in building brand relationships with customers. They need to acknowledge that the demand for competitive differentiation, profitability and need to deliver faster and more flexibly to customers totally depends on the retail staff. To keep the motive of the business intact, retailers need to engage and build a great relationship with their employees.
Happy Employees = Profitable Brand
Reputation: A happy employee contributes to the reputation of the brand. Whether a brand has hundreds/ thousands of employees, each one is in direct touch with the family and friends about their employment experience from time to time. A bad day at work or a cathartic sounding-off about a bad boss can quickly be shared with hundreds of social friends – with an ever present risk of going viral. An unhappy employee is a brand ambassador that retailers neglect at their peril.
ROI: Retail staff is the first point of interaction with the customers. S/he is the one who creates the first impression and also is directly involved with the sales. He is the first person to read and judge the mind of the customer, therefore making the customer convince to buy the product. So it is very important for the retailers that their employees work for the brand with full dedication and energy.
Reactions: The employment experience is transmitted to your customers by staff through the look on their face, their speed of response, the tone of their voice and the service they provide. It doesn’t matter if they are customer-facing. Sluggish warehouse teams and slow, disinterested administrators directly affect your fulfillment speed and whether you keep brand promises.
Employee Success Formula
In today’s retail business, maintaining brilliant brand experience for customers depends on every interaction being easy and effortless. Again, a satisfied employee will help in forwarding the brand’s reputation a lot.
Building/ Innovative Relationship: No employees work for free and they all get paid their dues every month, but there are employees who also want better management/staff relationships apart from a salary. They want a job which gives them essence and respect, not just money. Engagement, relationship building, and trusted community are the key to happy retail associates. Employees also expect their employers’ attention, timeliness, responsiveness and flexibility in the same manner as they do to the consumers.
Internal Communication in Retail is Hard but Important: Communication in big chains typically travels top-down. Decisions are taken by the top officials but communicating them towards the lower end has to be done in a persuasive way. Bad internal communication has a butterfly effect in retail. All it takes is for one detail to be mis-communicated and consequently, stores around the world lose employees resulting in clients and business. This effect is even more harmful in large companies with great diversity and a global presence. Different languages, time-zones, and hierarchies make spreading information even more difficult and complicated. And with frontline employees spending most of their time on the ales floor, opportunities for training and briefings are rare, if not completely neglected.
As per a survey by Deloitte and Facebook, 77 percent of companies believe that an email is no longer a viable tool for effective communication. With that in mind, retailers must be more conscious of the communications channels they are using to interact with shoppers, especially when it comes to manager-to-employee interactions or scheduling.
Empowering Employees through Knowledge: Employees need to understand customers at a deep level: they need rich and up-to-date customer information at points of interaction such as in the call center or on the shop floor. They must be knowledgeable about their company too: a culture of greater transparency helps sustain a positive employee experience. It can range from ensuring regularity of management communications to making information more available on demand through apps that workers can access via mobile devices.
Celebrating Retail Employees’ Day
There are retailers and companies that treat their employees well. In a way to raise their brand value and profitability, they also make their customers know about it. Retailers provide timely benefits to their employees in form of higher salary, bonus and perks, planned tours and packages for the employees and their employees, by providing them insurance and solid cover in different areas, such health, education, house etc.
Retail Employees’ Day (RED) is one such accomplishment as far as employees’ contribution is concerned. An initiative conceptualized by TRRAIN (Trust for Retailers & Retail Associates of India) and supported by RAI (Retailers Association of India) in India, since 2011, every year December 12 is celebrated as Retail Employees’ Day (RED), to bring the retail employees into focus and thank them for their untiring efforts. It is an attempt to encourage employers as well as customers to recognize the efforts of retail associates across the country. The day aims at creating awareness and empathy for their jobs and lives and the significant role they play in the lives of the customer.
Every year, on this day, around 500 retailers and 80 shopping centres across India join hands and come together to thank their employees. And there are many retailers and companies who are on their way to start this initiative. Over two million people are celebrating RED today and all credit of this movement goes to TRRAIN. The full day is dedicated to the employee’s dedication and contribution towards the brand and the industry.
Different companies and retailers have their unique way to celebrate this day. Some celebrate it on grand and large scale, where as others keep it small but fully focused on the motive. There is no discrimination between the employees and all level of staff get the same treatment.
RED has found widespread acceptance across retailers and brands of all sizes across geographies. Retailers plan the event now well in advance so that the buzz is at the prime when the day approaches. It has become an occasion for employees from HQs and stores of different brands to celebrate together.
Retail Employees’ Day got an international flavor in 2013, when Boyner Group in Turkey got inspired from the movement and celebrated the day with its 12000 employees. A year later, RED became a regular event for number of retail companies in the entire country.
The buzz around Retail Employees’ Day reached newer heights in 2015, when it recognition from the Government of India, including the Prime Minister and other ministers. A letter from PMO, congratulating TRRAIN & the Indian retail industry on this joyous occasion added tremendous momentum to the occasion and now it is widely supported by the state governments as well. The event is also receiving support from brand ambassadors across multiple brands. Top celebrities from the Indian film Industry & the Indian cricket team took to social media to thank all the retail associates on RED.
Multiple employee engagement activities include red carpet musical welcome for the employees (inviting their families as well) along with games like musical chairs, talent hunt, fashion show and other activities are conducted. This is followed by cake cutting ceremony and lunch mostly. The big retailers/brand who has a national presence also conducts cricket and football tournaments for their employees in different city and zone.
The retail industry in India as come forth as one of the most dynamic and fast paced industries with several players entering the market. Therefore it is very important for retailers to respect and treat their employee base well, valuing and acknowledging them as the face of their brand, their true brand ambassadors who make a powerful difference in business growth.