“To­day’s time-poor cus­tomers are de­mand­ing a seam­less nav­i­ga­tion across chan­nels. We are work­ing proac­tively to­wards de­liv­er­ing an omni-chan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence to the cus­tomers. A level play­ing field that can be cre­ated by the gov­ern­ment through FDI pol­icy can

Shoes & Accessories - - Research -

Shop­pers Stop is one of In­dia’s largest re­tail chains of large for­mat depart­ment stores. It is a one-stop shop across mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories in­clud­ing ap­parel, cos­met­ics, fra­grances, ar­ti­fi­cial and fine jew­ellery, footwear, per­sonal ac­ces­sories such as watches, sun­glasses, hand­bags, wal­lets and belts, kidswear, toys, home decor and much more. Shop­pers Stop be­gan its op­er­a­tions in 1991 and the first store was con­verted from a the­atre; in the first year 5,000 sq ft of re­tail area was de­vel­oped, which grew up to 52,000 sq ft over the next five years. Since its in­cep­tion, Shop­pers Stop rev­o­lu­tionised the shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence for the cus­tomer, of­fer­ing an ar­ray of brands un­der one roof. Over the years, Shop­pers Stop has made many break­throughs in the In­dian re­tail in­dus­try, en­abling it to be­come one of the most cus­tomer-cen­tric, re­spected and prof­itable re­tail­ers in the coun­try. A num­ber of new brands have been launched in Shop­pers Stop, e.g. Gili, In­dian Ter­rain, US Polo, Gini and Jony. Shop­pers Stop of­fers its cus­tomers as ex­pe­ri­ence of more than 400 in­ter­na­tional and na­tional brands across cat­e­gories. To­day, Shop­pers Stop has 81 stores spread across 37 cities in In­dia. Where phys­i­cal stores are not present, Shop­pers Stop caters to mil­lions of cus­tomers across the length and breadth of the coun­try through its newly re­vamped on­line store. More­over, with the re­cent launch of the Shop­pers Stop mo­bile app, on IOS and An­droid, the com­pany con­tin­ues to in­no­vate by cre­at­ing a con­ve­nient and more per­son­alised way to shop. It is the only In­dian mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional Group of Depart­ment Stores (IGDS) along with 29 other ex­pe­ri­enced re­tail­ers from all over the world.

Shop­pers Stop has been al­ways ahead of its time and has been a pioneer in many dif­fer­ent ways, be it launch­ing a cus­tomer loyalty pro­gramme, call­ing their as­so­ciates as cus­tomer care as­so­ciates, or their pro­fes­sional ap­proach to re­tail­ing or start­ing the pre­view of sales. They were one of the first few re­tail­ers to adopt En­ter­prise Re­source Plan­ning (ERP) in the year 1999. It was a huge in­vest­ment and led to some losses; how­ever, the com­pany had a vi­sion for growth and it de­cided to take the hit keep­ing the fu­ture growth in mind. Shop­pers Stop has wit­nessed a big growth in terms of the num­ber of stores dur­ing the last two decades and has ex­panded across In­dia. Typ­i­cally, the store sizes in a Tier I city ranges be­tween 50,000–55,000 sq ft and in a Tier II city it ranges be­tween 30,000–40,000 sq ft. Man­ag­ing such large stores with mul­ti­ple brands was only pos­si­ble with a well-thought dis­tri­bu­tion strat­egy and ware­house man­age­ment sys­tem in place. Four dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres in Ban­ga­lore, Mum­bai, Delhi and Kolkata cater to all the stores across South, West, North, and East zone, re­spec­tively, within 24 hours. With in­creas­ing sales, all they had to do was in­crease the ca­pac­ity of th­ese dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tres. Fur­ther­more, they have been one of the few re­tail­ers who took up on­line re­tail­ing even be­fore it be­came a rev­o­lu­tion. They launched their dot com web­site in early 2000; how­ever, it was much ahead of its time. The tele­com in­fra­struc­ture did not sup­port on­line re­tail­ing, nor the cus­tomer reach was pos­si­ble and buy­ers did not have the de­vices to shop on­line. The late 2000s gave the cus­tomers an op­por­tu­nity to shop on­line; as the de­vices were eas­ily avail­able, new touch screen mo­bile phones changed the nav­i­ga­tion com­pletely. Cus­tomer pref­er­ences have also changed in the last few years, shop­ping has be­come more of a planned event, which pre­vi­ously used to be an im­pul­sive de­ci­sion. Ad­di­tion­ally, grow­ing city bound­aries and in­creas­ing traf­fic bot­tle­necks are a big chal­lenge for brick-and-mor­tar stores, whereas on­line shop­ping is time sav­ing. Con­sid­er­ing the shift in re­tail­ing, Shop­pers Stop also re-launched their on­line shop­ping por­tal in 2015 and cur­rently 1% of their rev­enue is con­trib­uted by on­line sales and is ex­pected to reach 10% in the next three years. All th­ese ini­tia­tives taken by the com­pany not only helped them to achieve their busi­ness mile­stones but also formed the foun­da­tion for the next wave of re­tail­ing.

Shop­pers Stop with their well-thought strate­gic ini­tia­tives had the base ready for in­cor­po­rat­ing omni-chan­nel re­tail­ing. In 2015, Shop­pers Stop made a strate­gic shift in this di­rec­tion with its omni-chan­nel foray that aims to rede­fine the cus­tomer shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. Shop­pers Stop in­tends to pro­vide a seam­less and uni­fied shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence across its mul­ti­ple chan­nels, i.e. phys­i­cal stores, web, so­cial, TV and mar­ket­places. Their plan is to go com­pletely live and fully omni chan­nel by the end of 2017. They will be one of the first In­dian re­tail­ers to adopt the omni-chan­nel ap­proach, which is still at a very nascent stage in In­dia. Cur­rently, it’s a work in progress with a num­ber of strate­gies to achieve the kind of in­te­gra­tion re­quired for an omni-chan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence, two of the most im­por­tant steps in this di­rec­tion are ex­plained be­low:

Other than procur­ing the right kind of tech­nol­ogy to in­te­grate cus­tomer man­age­ment, or­der man­age­ment and in­ven­tory man­age­ment, they also re­designed and launched a new web­site, which is com­pat­i­ble across all de­vices in­clud­ing lap­tops, mo­biles, ipads and tablets. Another ini­tia­tive to­wards in­cor­po­rat­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy within the brick-and-mor­tar store was the Magic Mir­ror. It was a first-of-its-kind in a depart­ment store in In­dia; it en­abled cus­tomers to swipe through var­i­ous prod­ucts with­out hav­ing phys­i­cally to ‘try on’ the de­sired prod­ucts. To en­hance its cus­tomer out­reach, Shop­pers Stop has also en­tered into strate­gic al­liances with a num­ber of on­line mar­ket places like Snapdeal, Ama­zon, Jabong and Flip­kart. Another ini­tia­tive in the omni-chan­nel di­rec­tion is cap­tur­ing the cus­tomer pref­er­ences based on the past shop­ping his­tory. They also of­fer mul­ti­ple pay­ment op­tions, e.g. us­ing the freecharge wal­let in all its stores. Their in­ten­tion is to of­fer the same ex­pe­ri­ence to the cus­tomer be it on­line or in the store.

Since they are a multi-brand re­tailer, their chal­lenges for in­te­gra­tion are much more. A num­ber of brands present in their stores are also avail­able on­line or on other mar­ket­place web­sites heavy dis­count­ing on th­ese web­sites is one of the big­gest chal­lenges. How­ever, they fore­see a change in the buyer’s per­spec­tive in the com­ing years, where more and more con­sumers will fo­cus on qual­ity and con­ve­nience rather than discounts. Another chal­lenge is the lim­ited avail­abil­ity of qual­ity re­tail spa­ces for fu­ture growth of brick-and-mor­tar stores. Ac­cord­ing to Shop­pers Stop, there is scope for ex­pan­sion in Tier I cities; how­ever, a lack of op­tions is re­strict­ing the ex­pan­sion, es­pe­cially in cities like Mum­bai and Bengaluru. Lastly the FDI reg­u­la­tion in multi brand re­tail must adopt a level play­ing field to sup­port the lo­cal play­ers.•••

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