Ar­den J. D’souza

Cus­tomer Care As­so­ciate & Head – Vis­ual Mer­chan­dis­ing Shop­per’s Stop Ltd


In Ret­ro­spect: 2012

Re­tail thrives in a grow­ing econ­omy, but when con­sumer sen­ti­ment turns neg­a­tive; spend­ing is ei­ther skipped or post­poned. When spend­ing is post­poned, re­tail is im­pacted, es­pe­cially the cloth­ing and ac­ces­sory cat­e­gories. This di­rectly re­sults in a drop in like-for­like sales, im­pact­ing prof­itabil­ity and growth. One of our chief learn­ing’s from a slow­down has been to never com­pro­mise on cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence. Cus­tomers should con­tinue to get your best ser­vice, mer­chan­dise, am­bi­ence and VM. Th­ese are not ne­go­tiable from a cus­tomer per­spec­tive. Only then will they con­tinue to shop with you.

Ar­rival of FDI

FDI will be a pow­er­ful cat­a­lyst of growth in the re­tail in­dus­try and, in the longterm, will prove ben­e­fi­cial to all the ma­jor stake­hold­ers; a big step to­wards strength­en­ing or­ga­nized re­tail. The new reg­u­la­tions are go­ing to change the re­tail land­scape in our coun­try pos­i­tively. It will give us an op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence big box re­tail­ing in a world class man­ner. The max­i­mum im­pact of FDI ac­cord­ing to me will be felt in the su­per mar­ket and hy­per mar­ket seg­ments and in new brands en­ter­ing the mar­ket. De­part­ment stores’ en­try may be lim­ited. None the less, it will ex­pose con­sumers to the lat­est in fash­ion and en­sure that In­dia is on par with the rest of the world. From lo­gis­tics, to back end ware­hous­ing and front end sys­tem im­ple­men­ta­tion, things will get bet­ter for re­tail­ers, sup­pli­ers and con­sumers. From a VM per­spec­tive it will en­sure bet­ter qual­ity and more job cre­ation within the field of vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing. Recog­ni­tion for VM's will in­crease and hopefully will re­sult in bet­ter pay pack­ages at all lev­els. Fi­nally, re­tail de­sign will im­prove with the in­flux of new re­tail­ers and new de­sign firms. In­ter­na­tional brands will of course bring new de­signs and along with them, world class de­sign­ers and store fit out agen­cies.

Look­ing Ahead: 2013

In­dian Re­tail­ers have al­ready be­gun to up­lift the look and feel of their stores. They need to con­cen­trate on en­sur­ing this is a con­tin­u­ous process and not a one-time plan. Vis­ual Mer­chan­dis­ing at its core is a cre­ative field, hence sus­te­nance of vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing teams, greater involvement of VM into store op­er­a­tions, B&M and de­sign re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties and en­sur­ing ad­e­quate bud­gets are al­ways avail­able for vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing will en­sure greater cre­ative free­dom for vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ers. Giv­ing VM a chance to co­ex­ist and if re­quired con­trol the look and feel of the store will only ben­e­fit the brand and con­sumer.

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