Posts Tagged ‘retail’

So did you guys notice this ad today?

I had to read it twice to understand that it was all serious.

And it was asking us, the paying retail consumers, to say thank you to the retail employees, when we go to shop.

Now I am all for dignity of labour and have nothing in particular against retail employees, but at this rate, next they will have a “PSU Bank Karmachari Diwas” and an “Excise Department Staff Day”, and we’ll have to say thank you and give gifts to them too.

I mean, it is a different thing to have a Doctor’s Day or something like that, but a Retail Employees’ Day, where we, the consumers, need to give them more respect and thank them, is a bit far fetched.. !

I appreciate the few examples given there – a Chotu who delivers tea with a smile, or the Tambi giving you nice steamed idli.


a. These are the equivalent of kirana retailers, who perhaps have a stronger sense of customer service,

b. Also examples are often from the hospitality end of retail, rather than the product stores, and


c. The real association behind this, is of organized retail. The last place in India that you’d associate with good, friendly service!!

Because we do not have a Nordstrom in India just yet. And until then, without much exception amongst the other retailer brands, what we get is indifference, incompetence, gossipy check out counter clerks who are least interested in you, the customer, and the like.

Yes, I am generalizing to a large extent, but that is because, this is the general experience we have at stores in India!!

I appreciate the motives of TRRAIN, which I hope, include providing better training and getting retail employees to a better level, overall. But that process may have just started. As the process starts, you cannot jump in and demand that respect, on day one!! There’s a long way to go.

I am not clear what the objectives of this campaign are. If these are to show the employees, that TRRAIN is doing something for them, and letting the world know that as employers, they care, that is fine. Then, it is an internal HR exercise, and the outside customers don’t really matter.

If however, it was actually meant for the outside customers to feel like they have been enjoying favors for which they need to be grateful, then they’ve got it all wrong!


Improve the service levels. Get the real smile on the retail employees’ faces. Let them be really helpful to the customer – not by exception, but by rule. It’s a long way to go. DO all that, and THEN come back to the consumer. And ask for our respect. We will be happy to say ‘Thank you’ and a lot more!


I had spent the whole day at IIT Mumbai, at the Entrepreneurship Summit (more on that, in a separate post later). I had heard entrepreneurs talking about the recession and the tough times, and survival and cost cutting and what not.

And then, in the evening, I went to Phoenix Mills, to see a movie a the new PVR Cinemas 7-screen multiplex there. And being there, it felt like a different world! You’d wonder what those guys were talking in the day?? Recession? Where’s the recession?!

It was full of people. People who were shopping. People eating at the various food joints there. Having their ice creams and the expensive coffees. The new very large parking lot was full. I had to drive up to the 4th level before I could find a spot. The PVR cinma screens with 225/- a ticket and 70/- for popcorn (just to give an idea) was doing roaring business. As was the large extremely well located, well lit, attractive Croma store, selling all kind of electroncs.

The whole Phoenix Mills complex holds a special fascination for me. We moved in to our first office in Lower Parel, for (my first startup venture) in 1999. This office was bang opposite of Phonenix Mills. And during those days for Web 1.0 in India, there were plenty occasions for us to cross the road and go to the Phoenix Mills, for food or for bowling or just for a change. At that time, the only places that were worth going to, were the CO Bowling Co, with its Sports Bar (and where they served a good lunch) and Soul Curry, a quaint little restaurant there.

And then, as we spent from 1999 to 2007 in Lower Parel (we changed offices once, but it was right there too), we kept going across to the Phoenix Mills, at least once a week, on an average.

And we saw the transformation happen before our very eyes. Big Bazaar came, and Barista, and Planet M, and McDonalds, and Bombay Blues, and Noodle Bar, and Spaghetti Kitches, and Natural Ice Cream, etc. etc. etc. The traffic increased. There were “events” in the quadrangle in the central open area. Suddenly people were all over the place. It started taking more and more time to cross the road!! In between there were a couple of ‘incidents’ – some accidents, with workers dying too. Work slowed down, but then the Ruias managed to get things under control and work resumed. And more changes happened.

All in all, if was very fascinating to see the transformation of an old textile mill into a thriving consumer hub.

Now, there is just SO MUCH happening there, that you could pretty much get LOST!

And lost I almost was yesterday, trying to find my car back in the parking lot.

But not before seeing a society that was apparently not aware of the recession, or was not affected by it, or was living in complete denial!!