Customer Centricity – Two Easy Steps to Excel in Retail

The Retail Leadership Summit (RLS), organized by the Retail Association of India (RAI), is one of the leading events for retailers in India. The central theme for this year’s event  was  “Customer Centricity: Redefining Values and Valuation” and an impressive group of speakers talked about the importance of putting the customer first.

I was particularly attracted to the parallel tracks, which  discussed millennial consumers and their behaviour and choices,  and how technology can boost customer centricity for retailers.  But I could not help feeling that somehow we are missing a point here.

For me, the missing link was most vividly described by Janne Einola, CEO of H&M India. The key to his company’s success in India and elsewhere across the world is H&M’s staff and how the culture of customer centricity percolates down from the CEO to the gatekeeper. Remember, customer centricity is a culture. You shouldn’t have to hesitate before offering customers help!

A country in which “Atithi Devo Bhava” (The guest is equivalent to God) is taught from early childhood should not find customer centricity difficult. While most pundits focus on the needs of this new millennial generation – a whopping 34% of Indian shoppers – and how  the shopping experience is going to change in the days to come, I feel we are missing the basic two points of customer centricity.  For every customer, these are the most important wishes that must be fullfilled when they shop:

  1. I want to be able to find what I want and buy it easily;
  2. I want to be able to return the product easily if I don’t like it.

The term which is crucial here is being able to do the above two things “easily”.

To manage the first expectation, retailers need to emphasis smart assortment and here technology obviosuly plays a key role. It is important for retailers to understand that you cannot satisfy every need of your customers. You need to inspire your customer and your assortment must support that inspiring story.

As to the second point,  good after-sale service and generous returns policies are critical in retail and, again,  you need technology if you want to offer stand-out after-sales service and build a long-lasting relationship with your customers.

I feel this topic of how well returns are handled is going to become of much greater importance in omnichannel retailing, particularly for the new generation of millennial shoppers.  A future blog post will look in more detail at this topic.

Is there anything more you want? Retail in this age is all about that unique experience. And giving such experience, you need a system to help you. Well apart from a system, you will also need some people, happy people. I consider that to be the most crucial investment for any retailers.  Smiling people with wisdom and vision backed by a seamlessly integrated system. You get it right, their smile is infectious and important. For everything else, you can work with Openbravo.

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