‘I am Ex­cited that RED is on its Way to Be­com­ing a Global Phe­nom­e­non’: BS Nagesh

In 2011 and 2012, the Re­tail Em­ploy­ees’ Day (RED) cel­e­bra­tion was just a round of ‘Thank Yous’. In sub­se­quent years, the idea gath­ered mo­men­tum; it be­came wide­spread through so­cial me­dia, TV and print ad­ver­tise­ments. The pos­i­tive vibes spread, with more r

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In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view, the ini­tia­tor of RED, talks about the pop­u­lar­ity and suc­cess of the oc­ca­sion.

Asim­ple idea can some­times be­come very pow­er­ful. If the idea con­nects with the peo­ple, then it can turn it­self into a move­ment. This is what re­tail in­dus­try stal­wart, BS Nagesh, Founder, TRRAIN (Trust for Re­tail­ers & Re­tail As­so­ci­ates of In­dia), said when he launched one mod­est idea – Re­tail Em­ploy­ees’ Day (RED). The idea was con­cep­tu­alised in 2011, when Nagesh met a few re­tail­ers and sug­gested they spend one day ev­ery year just say­ing a sim­ple ‘Thank You’ to all those who worked for them, ad­ding soul to their busi­nesses. It started with just a few stores cel­e­brat­ing RED on De­cem­ber 12 ev­ery year. To­day, hun­dreds of brands and malls are cel­e­brat­ing the day as RED in In­dia, and Nagesh’s idea has in­deed be­came a move­ment.

In 2011 and 2012, the Re­tail Em­ploy­ees’ Day (RED) cel­e­bra­tion was just a round of ‘Thank Yous.’ In sub­se­quent years, the idea gath­ered mo­men­tum; it be­came wide­spread through so­cial me­dia, TV and print ad­ver­tise­ments. The pos­i­tive vibes spread, with more re­tail­ers- large and small jump­ing on the band­wagon.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view, the ini­tia­tor of this mega-re­tail pro­gram says that the suc­cess has only made him more de­ter­mined to for­ward his ef­forts to make re­tail as­so­ci­ates feel cared for.

Re­tail Em­ployee’s Day is into its sev­enth year of suc­cess. How do you see this achieve­ment?

If I look back at the last six years and the jour­ney that we have had of just a few stores cel­e­brat­ing in 2011 to now hun­dreds of brands and malls cel­e­brat­ing in In­dia, I think we feel very happy. Last year, a few local as­so­ci­a­tions joined in as well. The feather in the cap has been the Fed­er­a­tion of Shop­ping Cen­ters & Re­tail­ers (TAMPF) & UAE com­ing on board to cel­e­brate the day with their re­tail part­ners. A sim­ple idea is on its way to be­com­ing a global phe­nom­e­non.

I am very happy with where we have reached but our dream is to wit­ness the en­tire world cel­e­brat­ing Re­tail Em­ploy­ees’ Day in the next 15-20 years. But yes, the nee­dle has started mov­ing and that is im­por­tant for us.

Is Re­tail Em­ployee’s Day meant for only front-end store per­son­nel?

The whole ob­jec­tive of this day was to cre­ate a day for re­tail em­ploy­ees. I be­lieve, ev­ery em­ployee who works for re­tail whether he is the Manag­ing Di­rec­tor or an as­so­ciate, is still a re­tail em­ployee at the end of the day.

How­ever, over the years, since the cel­e­bra­tions are planned by the man­age­ment team to thank the re­tail front end as­so­ciate, the mes­sage had got per­co­lated that the event is only for them. Whether it is off­line, de­liv­ery, ware­house, back­end, man­agers, as­so­ciate, su­per­vi­sors & even the Manag­ing Di­rec­tor, I be­lieve all of us should cel­e­brate the day to­gether.

My dream is to take the day global. Just as

Turkey cel­e­brates this as ‘Shop­keep­ers Day,’ I want

Dukaan­dar Di­was (Re­tail Em­ploy­ees’ Day) to be cel­e­brated all over In­dia one day. It is not just about the brand but is about spread­ing hap­pi­ness amongst re­tail­ers & re­tail em­ploy­ees.

How many com­pa­nies are as­so­ci­ated with the RED cel­e­bra­tion till now and how do you ini­ti­ate to get more on board?

As of last year, we have had over 400 brands and 80 + malls cel­e­brat­ing the day in In­dia. Over 4 mil­lion re­tail em­ploy­ees have been part of the cel­e­bra­tions in In­dia, Turkey and UAE.

If we look at our mis­sion that we have set at TRRAIN, we clearly be­lieve we are a thought leader and a cat­a­lyst. Our job is to con­tin­u­ously en­cour­age and mo­ti­vate peo­ple to join hands such that the in­dus­try at the low­est level to the high­est level, where hu­man be­ings are present, can be very happy. So, we will con­tinue to work on this.

On my visit to France last year, I met sev­eral re­tail­ers who were in­ter­ested and are keen to cel­e­brate RED and I am hop­ing that they will cel­e­brate the oc­ca­sion and cher­ish the mo­ment in 2018. We are ea­gerly wait­ing to pur­sue them as well. In my life­time & in this jour­ney, I will con­tinue to talk about Re­tail Em­ploy­ees’ Day to ev­ery­one, ev­ery in­di­vid­ual, ev­ery or­gan­i­sa­tion, ev­ery cor­po­rate, ev­ery coun­try that I visit.

TRRAIN has al­ways been into em­pow­er­ing grass­root­slevel re­tail staff? Tell us how you do it?

When we started TRRAIN, we iden­ti­fied 6 ar­eas of work and each of these 6 ar­eas aredi­rectly con­nected to the way the re­tail em­ployee has felt. And each area is con­verted into a project that has moved into ex­e­cu­tion.

For in­stance, how can we cre­ate pride for all those in re­tail. We cre­ated Re­tail Em­ploy­ees’ Day.

How do we cre­ate re­spect? That was done through the TRRAIN Re­tail Awards.

How do we get in­clu­sion in re­tail- We launched Pankhwings of Des­tiny which we cre­ate liveli­hood for per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties?

How do we up­skill the em­ploy­ees - Through the TRRAIN Aptech Re­tail Ed­u­ca­tion Pro­gram.

Can we help them to save and earn more? This is hap­pen­ing through our lat­est project- TRRAIN Cir­cle.

And thus, our whole mis­sion is to upgrade the lives of peo­ple in re­tail, both at work and at home.

What does the fu­ture of re­tail hold in com­ing five-ten years?

Even if GDP grows by 7-8 per­cent, re­tail will grow be­cause even­tu­ally, the con­sump­tion is go­ing to grow both on­line & off­line. We will find a shift in the roles and the skills re­quired for the role & there­fore the over­all re­quire­ment of num­bers will in­crease. For in­stance, the role of a back­end mer­chan­diser which is cur­rently a numer­i­cal skill will get into a skill that will use data an­a­lyt­ics & ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. How­ever, the skills re­quired to run a re­tail busi­ness will con­tinue to remain the same. So, I fore­see the fu­ture of re­tail as: Con­sump­tion driven growth in econ­omy

Wide spread use of tech­nol­ogy, mostly through the mo­bile.

Large num­ber of In­di­ans work­ing for re­tail in dif­fer­ent parts of the value chain.

What kinds of as­so­ci­a­tion do you aim to build with re­tail­ers, cor­po­rate and the gov­ern­ment?

We have a sim­ple the­ory. ‘Whoso­ever is part of the value chain, and who­ever has a heart that ticks, we would like them to be in­volved with TRRAIN so that they can ex­cite& spread hap­pi­ness for ev­ery as­so­ciate he /she is in­volved with.’

What are the key el­e­ments that are nec­es­sary for cre­at­ing a good re­tail ser­vice en­vi­ron­ment? Ex­plain from both the cus­tomer and the re­tailer point of view.

I think the most im­por­tant el­e­ment is that ev­ery em­ploy­ees’ in­di­vid­ual pur­pose &the or­gan­i­sa­tion pur­pose have to get aligned. Se­condly, the or­gan­i­sa­tion must im­bibe cus­tomer cen­tric­ity as their core value. And lastly, the busi­ness as well as the pro­cesses must be sim­ple so that ev­ery­body in­volved in the value chain is happy.

Which sec­tor has been more re­cep­tive to your ini­tia­tives? Till now, it has been fash­ion and food with elec­tron­ics and jew­ellery play­ing a smaller role. For me, these four sec­tors along with au­to­mo­biles, phar­macy and home im­prove­ment should be our tar­get for the next 1-3 years.

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