In a large country like India, the retail sector so far has been the largest employer and provider of goods and services. And offline retail stores have seen a steady expansion over the years. With the increase in customer’s choice of products and hunt for affordable prices, offline retail stores have been creating history in the retail industry.
But the scenario is changing fast, the performance of retail stores are slumping now. Rising incomes, greater purchasing powers and increased accessibility and availability of products have sparked competition in the market and the offline retail industry is surely lagging behind.
The market is changing fast with organized retail ways, retailers are realizing that superior customer experience is the key differentiator that will increase conversions and bring the customer back for repeat purchases.
But ironically, established stores like Croma, Vijay Sales, Reliance Digital and Sargam are paying very little attention to enhance the skill and engagement levels of store staff. These brands seem to consider the store staff as the undifferentiated and low skilled workforce.
The adverse impact of these factors has highly effected customer experience and productivity at the stores. Another focus area that affects consumer relations is the skill and knowledge of the store staff.
In India, demographically most of the buyers are youngsters, and they have the tendency to ‘touch and feel’ and then buy the product, also want all the information related to the products of their interest. Hence, customer experience and conversion at the store are highly important and lack of this factor primarily impacted by the skill and engagement levels of frontline store staff. But who should be blamed for this?
With a slump in giving satisfaction to the customers, most companies are stepping up efforts to woo consumers with discounts and offers. However, such measures are seen to be doing nothing as there is a massive visible slowdown for the offline retail chains.
The companies are often seen complaining about the downfall in customer footfall, but some of the reviews from customers show us otherwise:
Kuldeep Sharma is a customer of Vijay Sales in New Delhi; he bought a Daikin AC 1 Ton in July 2019, when he was asked to share his reviews over his purchase from Vijay Sales, he said, “I am very unsatisfied with the after-sale service, in fact, the behavior of the staff was not at all up to the mark. They are not at all approachable and they had no idea about their products and services.”
This is not something new; a lot of customers have the same issue from offline retailers. Many big offline retail chains lack in their after service, it’s like they almost forget after selling an appliance that customers can need an after service. This complaint has been there in the market from quite a sometime, which results in bad mouth publicity and degrading of the brand name.
Aradhna Patil is a customer of Croma in New Delhi; last month she bought a Philips air purifier, and when asked for the reviews, she said, “Staff had no information about the product while they were showcasing it, and couldn’t answer any query. I asked the attendee to describe the procedure of the product, and he just knew how to on-off it, nothing else.”
This is another big factor why customers are not repeating their buys from offline shops, almost every big retail shop lack informative staff. The staff wanders around you and pesters you to make a purchase but they will not be able to help you a lot with any information. This can have big repercussions so dealing with customers correctly and having all the information about the products should be in top priority for the staff and retail chains.
Mahir Kapoor, is a customer of Reliance Digital, he bought an LCD TV sometime back and when asked for his reviews, he said, “Horrible experience at Reliance Digital, I bought an LCD TV and I was promised the delivery next day but I got my product in 3 days, after which I released that it was not working properly and called the customer care and asked them to replace it, which they denied and I had to spend 3000 to get it fixed, Pathetic!”
This festive season was seen to be a massive failure of the business in the market, despite giving so many exclusive offers customers were seen nowhere. Apart from the economic deprivation in the country, the lack of commitment and bad consumer relations holds the big blame.
But the question is how these brands save themselves from this downfall? is it just the economic situation of the country or there is something else to blame upon. According to some media reports, this festive year has seen 60 percent of downfall in footfall and 40 percent in business. So is it because of the lack of interest or commitment of the offline retail chains that have given them such an outcome?
All the findings state that customers are not satisfied with the offline retail chains at all. The market is down and there is a massive drop in footfall. As the consumers are now choosing to invest in experiences rather than products, retailers need to respond to meet the needs of their customers. Customers do not want to just walk into the shop, buy the product and leave because they could do this in the comfort of their own home.