Shop­pers Stop to Open 4-5 Stores Ev­ery Year: Ra­jiv Suri

The brand is in­vest­ing in IOT and lo­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy to bet­ter un­der­stand the cus­tomers’ path to pur­chase and dwell time through heat-maps. The man­age­ment will then use th­ese in­sights take business de­ci­sions on var­i­ous as­pects of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence…

Images Retail - - CONTENTS - – By Rup­katha Bhowmick

Launched in 1991, Shop­pers Stop, In­dia’s lead­ing fash­ion re­tailer, in­tro­duced the In­dian con­sumer to a world-class shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence from its flag­ship store in And­heri (Mum­bai). Since its in­cep­tion, Shop­pers Stop has rev­o­lu­tionised the way In­dia shops and has be­come the high­est bench­mark for the In­dian re­tail in­dus­try. The com­pany, which is plan­ning to in­vest ₹120 crore on ex­pan­sion and renovation in 2019, is plan­ning to open 12 beauty and five depart­ment stores and will be fo­cus­ing more on new brands, CEO & MD Shop­pers Stop, Ra­jiv Suri,

told IM­AGES Re­tail in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view…

Let’s start with a brief history and pro­file of Shop­pers Stop. How has the brand evolved?

Shop­pers Stop was launched as an ex­clu­sive men’s wear store in 1991. Soon there­after, in 1992 and 1993, we in­tro­duced ladies’ wear, kids’ wear and non-ap­parel cat­e­gories mak­ing us In­dia’s first ever multi-brand depart­ment store. In 1994, we launched a first-of-its-kind loy­alty pro­gram, ‘First Ci­ti­zen’ of­fer­ing the In­dian con­sumer a host of ex­clu­sive ben­e­fits and priv­i­leges. Today, the First Ci­ti­zen loy­alty pro­gram is one of the most suc­cess­ful pro­grams with over 5 mil­lion+ cus­tomers driv­ing 75 per­cent of sales.

Shop­pers Stop has over the years, 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. It is a one-stop shop for prod­ucts across mul­ti­ple cat­e­gories in­clud­ing ap­parel, cos­met­ics, fra­grances, ar­ti­fi­cial and fine jew­ellery, footwear, per­sonal ac­ces­sories such as watches, sun­glasses, hand­bags, wal­lets and belts, kids wear, toys, home decor and much more. We of­fer more than 400 of the finest in­ter­na­tional and na­tional brands across cat­e­gories and we’re the only In­dian mem­ber of IGDS (In­ter­con­ti­nen­tal Group of De­part­men­tal stores) along with other ex­pe­ri­enced re­tail­ers from all over the world.

Some of the driv­ing fac­tors be­hind our suc­cess are the strong loy­alty base, su­pe­rior brand as­sort­ment of nearly 400+ In­dian and in­ter­na­tional brands, ex­clu­sive brand part­ner­ships (De­sigual, Wrogn, RS By Rocky Star, Fem­ina Flaunt, Love Gen­ra­tion), un­par­al­leled cus­tomer ser­vice and strong fo­cus on build­ing iconic pri­vate brands (Stop, Life, Haute Curry, Kashish and Vet­to­rio Fra­tini).

Today, we have 83 stores spread across 38 cities in In­dia. Where phys­i­cal stores are not present, we cater to mil­lions of cus­tomers across the length and breadth of the coun­try through our newly re­vamped on­line store, www. shop­

Shop­pers Stop has al­ways been known for in­tro­duc­ing new tech­nol­ogy in the re­tail sec­tor in In­dia. What tech in­no­va­tions have you in­tro­duced in store over the last few years?

At Shop­pers Stop, it is our con­stant en­deav­our to ex­per­i­ment and de­ploy new tech­nol­ogy so­lu­tions to cre­ate bet­ter shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence for cus­tomers. Some of the re­cent ini­tia­tives that are of­fered to our cus­tomers are Click-n-col­lect and Ship from their near­est store brought the multi-chan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence into our stores. In or­der to pro­vide a more per­son­alised en­gage­ment, the Per­sonal Shop­per pro­gram is of­fered at the stores, wherein the as­so­ciates are em­pow­ered through mo­bile de­vices for cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tion. Also, the cus­tomers are en­cour­aged to use the in-store Wi-fi for browse and buy ex­pe­ri­ence.

How has tech­nol­ogy helped Shop­pers Stop in en­hanc­ing con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ence? Have you seen any growth in sales rev­enue and foot­falls due to in-store tech­nol­ogy? Please elab­o­rate with ex­am­ples / case stud­ies.

Some of our re­cent tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment have been in the ar­eas to im­prove on­line pres­ence, CRM, lo­gis­tics and ful­fil­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties, which are es­sen­tial for de­liv­er­ing an im­proved shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence to cus­tomers. For stores, we are presently fo­cused on the Per­sonal Shop­per pro­gram and al­ready see a sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion in sales through this pro­gram. While the drop-in foot­fall re­mains as a chal­lenge, ini­tia­tives such as Per­sonal Shop­per have helped us im­prove the store con­ver­sion con­sid­er­ably through bet­ter in-store en­gage­ment. We con­tinue to build and in­vest in so­lu­tions around this to drive per­son­al­i­sa­tion.

Re­cently we up­graded our IT sys­tems with im­ple­men­ta­tion of IWAN so­lu­tions across its stores that im­proves op­er­a­tions for seam­less cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, saves billing time by up to 25 per­cent for cus­tomers, in­creases ap­pli­ca­tion avail­abil­ity, re­duces costs, en­hanced em­ployee pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency and cre­ate re­al­time en­gage­ment op­por­tu­nity with our cus­tomers by of­fer­ing them cus­tomised deals based on their pref­er­ences.

What new tech­nol­ogy are you plan­ning to in­tro­duce in the next few years?

We feel there is a lot of scope to im­prove in-store shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence for our cus­tomers with the in­tro­duc­tion of dig­i­tal in­flu­ence. We are ex­per­i­ment­ing the AR based smart mir­rors and in­ter­ac­tive kiosk so­lu­tions for cus­tomer convenience. We are re­vamp­ing the key in-store touch­points for cus­tomers to in­tro­duce lat­est POS so­lu­tion. There are also ini­tia­tives to­wards de­liv­er­ing real-time and con­tex­tual pro­mo­tions while the cus­tomer is in­side the store. We are also in­vest­ing in IOT and lo­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy to help us bet­ter un­der­stand the cus­tomers path to pur­chase and dwell time through heat-maps. Th­ese in­sights should help us take business de­ci­sions on var­i­ous as­pects of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence.

Please walk us through your cus­tomer loy­alty pro­gramme.

The First Ci­ti­zen Loy­alty Pro­gram since its in­cep­tion in 1994, has grown to more than 5 mil­lion+ loyal mem­bers as on date who con­trib­ute to over 75 per­cent of sales for us. Today, it is one of the most suc­cess­ful cus­tomer re­la­tion­ship and loy­alty pro­grams in the in­dus­try. Apart from be­ing a Tiered


pro­gram (Classic Mo­ments, Sil­ver Edge & Golden Glow), we also have a Co-branded Credit/debit card pro­gramme with Citibank which gives our First Cit­i­zens an op­tion to add on a credit card to their ex­ist­ing loy­alty cards, giv­ing our First Cit­i­zens a credit line ad­van­tage.

The ob­jec­tive of the First Ci­ti­zen Loy­alty Pro­gram is to en­sure cus­tomer de­light and en­hance cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion. With an in-house, ro­bust an­a­lyt­ics team we en­sure that the en­gage­ment with our First Cit­i­zens are con­stantly driven by in­sights mak­ing them rel­e­vant and there­fore well re­ceived. Some of our key ar­eas of im­pact be­ing:

Cus­tomer level an­a­lyt­ics to man­age cus­tomer life cy­cle Prod­uct level an­a­lyt­ics Trans­ac­tion level an­a­lyt­ics - Data in­sights and pro­mo­tions.

Store level an­a­lyt­ics

How big is the mar­ket for prod­ucts of Shop­pers Stop in In­dia and what is the y-o-y growth rate?

Or­gan­ised re­tail mar­ket in In­dia today is about $60 bil­lion. Shop­pers Stop plans to achieve 10 per­cent mar­ket share in the catch­ments where it has its pres­ence and through the prod­uct cat­e­gories it re­tails in its depart­ment stores. Growth rate of the mar­ket is about 10 per­cent per an­num.

How many pri­vate la­bels do you have cur­rently? How much do they con­trib­ute to your over­all rev­enue? Do you have plans to in­tro­duce more any­time soon?

We cur­rently have six pri­vate brands and they con­trib­ute about 11 per­cent of our rev­enue. Th­ese six brands cater to con­sumer re­quire­ments across all cat­e­gories sold at Shop­pers Stop, leav­ing a few like watches and cos­met­ics. The de­ci­sion of adding more pri­vate brands in fu­ture will be de­riv­a­tive of mar­ket con­di­tions and cus­tomer re­quire­ment for niche prod­ucts.

What are your same store sales growth num­bers?

Cur­rently, we are grow­ing at 3 per­cent for like-to-like stores for year 2018-19.

What is your reach in terms of the to­tal num­ber of out­lets and cities?

Shop­pers Stop cur­rently has 83 stores in 38 cities across the coun­try

What is the lo­ca­tion strat­egy for Shop­pers Stop – malls or high street and why?

We def­i­nitely pre­fer malls over high street, be­cause: Malls of­fer a more fam­ily ex­pe­ri­ence while a high street is more con­ve­nient for in­di­vid­ual shop­ping. With cin­e­mas, entertainment ac­tiv­i­ties, F&B, events etc., malls have also be­come a place for fam­ily out­ing apart from shop­ping.

Malls of­fer you the convenience of park­ing com­pared to High Street Im­pulse buy­ing is higher in mall than in High Street

How fo­cused are you on e-com­merce and what is your e-com­merce strat­egy? What per­cent­age of Shop­per Stop’s rev­enues comes from e-com­merce cur­rently, and what rev­enue tar­gets do you have from e-com­merce over the next few years?

Shop­pers Stop was the first de­part­men­tal store to in­tro­duce e-com­merce, and the in­creas­ing adop­tion of on­line shop­ping has al­lowed this chan­nel to grow to the size of an aver­age Shop­pers Stop store for us. Our on­line pres­ence now has more cus­tomer vis­its than all our stores com­bined. Over the last year, we have up­graded our dig­i­tal ca­pa­bil­i­ties sig­nif­i­cantly through var­i­ous tech­nol­ogy and team in­vest­ments and have in­tro­duced a host of cus­tomer friendly om­nichan­nel fea­tures such as

Ship from Store and Ex­press Store Pickup. Our An­droid & IOS mo­bile Apps con­tinue to gain in pop­u­lar­ity with over a Mil­lion down­loads and now con­trib­ute to a third of our on­line sales.

We have adopted our­selves to the chang­ing con­sumer buy­ing be­hav­ior and are work­ing to­gether with the lead­ing in­ter­net com­pa­nies such as Google, Ama­zon & Face­book to en­sure that cus­tomers dis­cover Shop­pers Stop at an early stage of their buy­ing jour­ney. We have started track­ing the im­pact of our on­line pres­ence in driv­ing cus­tomer store vis­its and sales, and the ini­tial re­sults are very en­cour­ag­ing.

Go­ing for­ward, our dig­i­tal strat­egy aims to unify our cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence across their on­line and in-store en­gage­ments, thus bring­ing alive the ro­mance of shop­ping in ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion. The Per­sonal Shop­pers in our stores are equipped with dig­i­tal tools that al­low them to cre­ate per­son­alised ex­pe­ri­ences for each cus­tomer, while help­ing cus­tomers pur­chase prod­ucts that may not be avail­able in that par­tic­u­lar store through our web­site. In fact, this con­cept of un­lim­ited se­lec­tion in stores (com­monly re­ferred to as End­less Aisle) is be­ing fur­ther en­abled through the in­tro­duc­tion of many brands and prod­ucts on our web­site that have not tra­di­tion­ally been avail­able in our stores. We in­tend to in­tro­duce cus­tomers to many new dig­i­tally en­abled ex­pe­ri­ences and have al­ready made First Ci­ti­zen a card-less loy­alty pro­gram, by en­abling it through the web­site and mo­bile Apps.


We be­lieve that over the next few years, Om­nichan­nel ini­tia­tives will con­trib­ute in dou­ble digit of our rev­enues.

What are some of the Om­nichan­nel trends you have been wit­ness­ing in your in­dus­try in In­dia over the past few years?

From a con­sumer’s per­spec­tive, life has never been bet­ter. Re­tail­ers (both on­line and off­line) are vy­ing to get her at­ten­tion, and to­wards this end, are putting in sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts in un­der­stand­ing the cus­tomer bet­ter, in cre­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and jour­neys that meet & ex­ceed the cus­tomer’s ex­pec­ta­tions and in go­ing the ex­tra mile in pre­dict­ing fu­ture trends and needs to bet­ter serve the cus­tomer. To make this hap­pen, ev­ery sig­nif­i­cant re­tailer is now work­ing to­wards an Om­nichan­nel ca­pa­bil­ity. Tra­di­tional brick & mor­tar re­tail­ers have been mak­ing in­vest­ments in cre­at­ing dig­i­tal touch-points in or­der to at­tract younger cus­tomers and to widen their reach to ge­ogra­phies be­yond their store pres­ence. On­line play­ers have em­ployed var­i­ous ap­proaches to ex­tend them­selves into or to lever­age the phys­i­cal stores. Most large multi-cat­e­gory mar­ket places are typ­i­cally achiev­ing this through tie-ups and part­ner­ships with the store chains, while cat­e­gory spe­cial­ist on­line re­tail­ers have started rolling out their own re­tail stores. Re­gard­less of the route cho­sen, the need for and ef­forts to­wards cre­at­ing an in­te­grated cross-chan­nel ex­pe­ri­ence has never been more ev­i­dent. We ex­pect this fo­cus to con­tinue over the next few years.

This Om­nichan­nel growth will bring in its own set of trends such as en­hanced cus­tomer an­a­lyt­ics to un­der­stand cross-chan­nel cus­tomer be­hav­iour, sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments in the abil­ity to at­tribute the im­pact of each touch point on the fi­nal sale, greater cus­tomer convenience such as voice and im­age-based searches, more per­son­alised in­ter­ac­tions through the use of Ma­chine Learn­ing and AI tools, and im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ences en­abled by the cre­ative but sys­tem­atic use of Aug­mented and Vir­tual Re­al­ity.

What are your ex­pan­sion plans for Shop­pers Stop?

We plan to open 4-5 stores ev­ery year in key cities with mil­lion plus pop­u­la­tion and pen­e­trat­ing more in the cities we are al­ready present. In ad­di­tion, we will open 10-12 beauty stores.

What are the fac­tors pro­pel­ling the growth of In­dian fash­ion in­dus­try as per you?

Fash­ion re­tail in In­dia is es­ti­mated to be a ₹3 lakh crore in­dus­try today and is pro­jected to grow to 2.5X this size by 2026. This growth is be­ing made pos­si­ble by the vir­tu­ous cy­cle of in­creased de­mand, caused by im­proved aware­ness and avail­abil­ity of modern fash­ion trends and as­pi­ra­tional brands.

Amongst women’s ap­parel, we are see­ing a shift from sa­rees to sal­war kameez and western wear in the met­ros and Tier I & II cities and even amongst younger women in ru­ral In­dia. This is driven by an in­crease in the ra­tio of work­ing women, avail­abil­ity of modern styles in smaller cities and shift­ing age pro­file of the pop­u­la­tion to­wards youth.

Sim­i­larly, the kids wear seg­ment is be­ing favourably im­pacted by the in­tro­duc­tion of many na­tional and in­ter­na­tional fash­ion brands over the last few years. The in­creased aware­ness about lat­est kids wear through the in­creased per­co­la­tion of the elec­tronic me­dia has cou­pled with the In­dian trait of par­ents liv­ing their dreams through the lives of their chil­dren, mak­ing this the fastest grow­ing in the ap­parel cat­e­gories.

Men’s wear is the largest cat­e­gory in In­dian ap­parel, ac­count­ing for more than 40 per­cent. Chang­ing trends in the work­place, with ac­cep­tance of smart-ca­su­als as part of the dress code, has al­lowed the young pro­fes­sional Indians to up­grade their wardrobe with the lat­est t-shirts and den­ims, to add to the al­ready ro­bust growth of for­mal shirts and trousers.

The rise of the In­dian youth has been an un­der­ly­ing fac­tor for many of the re­cent evo­lu­tions in the In­dian fash­ion in­dus­try. The in­creased adop­tion of so­cial me­dia and democrati­sa­tion of ac­cess to In­dian & in­ter­na­tional celebri­ties through dig­i­tal me­dia now re­sults in a much greater aware­ness amongst th­ese con­sumers. In­dian youth is also much more con­scious of health and fit­ness, cre­at­ing a de­mand for ac­tive wear and ath­leisure.

Beauty, skincare, lin­gerie and per­sonal fash­ion ac­ces­sories are other seg­ments that have ben­e­fit­ted from the cre­ation of new choices for In­dian con­sumers and the avail­abil­ity of a com­fort­able and con­ve­nient en­vi­ron­ment by de­part­men­tal stores such as Shop­pers

Stop al­low­ing cus­tomers to ex­pe­ri­ence th­ese prod­ucts with­out the hus­tle of the neigh­bour­hood shops and yet pro­vid­ing all the brands that the con­sumer could look for un­der one roof.

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