‘Retail requires people with a service attitude’
Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO -- Retailers Association of India shares his take with Point of Purchase on training. Read on…
1) What do you think is the thrust on staff selection and training process in retail today?
The retail sector is expanding and modernizing rapidly in line with India’s economic growth. It offers significant employment opportunities to a cross section of people across urban and semi urban cities and towns. The business employs around 85 % of its workforce at the retail store level. This ensures that it creates employment for people with low education levels too. The success of retailers relies on the quality of its employees, such as its store managers and its sales staff. To attract the right applicants the company must have an effective recruitment process. Retailers conduct recruitment drives to target two groups: dropouts from education places, and newly qualified under graduates /graduates. They often rely on retail training institutes who skill these candidates through short term courses. With these programmes retailers recruit these candidates who are passionate about a career in retailing and could become future leaders in the business. The recruited candidates must also be trained effectively. Much of the post employment training in the retail store is on-the-job and occurs within the stores.
2) How important do you think is staff training in the success of a retail group?
Recruiting the right people does not guarantee performance. Retail requires people with a service attitude. Much of the training is on-the-job and occurs within the stores. Off-the-jobtraining is used for general retailing selling & management skills. The training is linked closely to developing the competencies that the company looks for in its recruits. These competencies are enterprise and format related. They are essential for anyone wanting to be a successful retail sales associate. While entry into the industry is easy for most people, development and promotions only happen when people learn the art and science of retail.
3) What do you think ought to be the parameters for store staff selection and also training in retail?
The selection process for the Retail Store Staff has two stages: a) An online application (Shoppers Stop, Relaince, Future Group are some of the retailers who have an aptitude test) b) Assessment center to analyze various competencies. The online application form involves a number of questions. These focus on the competencies required by Retail Store Staff. Candidates who do well in their answers are invited to an assessment centre. The selection process at the assessment centre takes place over one day. It involves structured interviews and team activities. Group exercises allow a close analysis of how well someone works with other people. This is a key aspect of retailing. Candidates who are successful at the assessment centre are offered Sales Associates & Management Trainee positions. Considering retail requires a keen sense of service standard coupled with an ability to continuously learn about products, the skills are not easy to come by and various companies use continuous on the job training methods to get people to upgrade their skills. Retailers Association of India has created a subsidiary called Retailers Association’s Skill Council of India (RASCI) to create occupation standards for various levels of retail jobs. RASCI will then get a labour market information system (LMIS) created for retail . These would be used to certify various retail training companies across the country to ensure that skill development is based on standards. This initiative has been created under the aegis of National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
4) It is possible to share some figures on the average spend in India on staff training in retail today ?
Retailers spend about 7% of their turnover on staff costs. Training costs however are not benchmarked yet since various companies are at various levels of maturity and expansion and as such this is a nascent industry.
5) What is the kind of attrition rate in the retail industry today? And what are the other challenges that the retail sector is facing in India today in terms of manpower ?
Attrition is a challenge for most retailers at store levels as well as at mid management levels. The store level attrition is as much as 70% Per annum. While attrition is inevitable in high growth businesses retailers have to concentrate on creating a sense of respect and personal development to encourage more unemployed people to join the retail industry.
6)What in your opinion ought to be the career growth opportunities and performance incentives programmes for retail staff?
Retailing offers a variety of career paths such as buying, store management, merchandise management, sales promotion and advertising, personnel, operations/distribution, loss prevention, and finance in several different corporate forms such as department stores, specialty stores, food stores, and discount stores and e-commerce companies. Functions like merchandise designers, store maintenance services can also be requirements. In addition, retailing offers almost immediate accountability for talented young men and women to reach key management positions within a decade. Starting salaries are competitive, and the compensation of top management ranks with the highest in business and in any industry. Retail sector is witnessing exponential growth in Indian market hence promising the employment for larger population of India in every geographical sector. Indian retail sector is rapidly growing, the companies are doing their expansion & entering into new market. The increased competition & potential of semi urban & rural market is leading companies to enter in the new semi urban market, which in result generating huge number of employment in this sector. Companies are giving good packages for the employees to get good talent & to retain best talent. It is the great opportunity for the youngsters of India to get good job. But at the same time if they want a good career in this sector they need to develop their skills, qualification & need to do quality hard work.