Tuesday, July 26, 2011

India Retail Story: Analysing Innovation

The geographies, the sectors, the services, the business models could vary from business to business, but one thing is common for every business and that is the Customer Loyalty. There are obvious reasons for having Loyal customers. The cost of acquiring new customer is more, the loyal customers does marketing of the business through the most effective way of marketing called "Word of Mouth".


There are various means and methods devised by business to gain customer loyalty. Offering discounts is a very basic and very common method employed and I feel actually this is the trick which at times kills the business and blogged in this article of this Indian Retail Story series.
India is on the radar of every business and one of the hottest sector is the Retail business. The walk-in of customers into stores is growing, the competition is growing and so are the methods and techniques to gain new customers and to convert them into loyal customers.


Apart from the typical way of offering discounts, businesses came up with the concept of reward points to gain loyalty. Its quite an innovative idea. Right from credit card to mobile service providers, from banks to retail stores everybody is offering some or other way of earning reward points. As analysed in Life Span of Innovation, everybody deployed this technique and so it was no longer the thing which made the customer to be loyal.


Then comes a breather from this most successful retailer of India. Its the Future Group led by Kishore BiyaniHigh five


Future Group has always been innovative in extracting that extra buck from customers pocket through its various business models like BigBazaar, Pantaloons, Brand Factory etc.
The latest ( not really, its there for quite sometime now) is the Reward program in the form of Mobile Usage. Future Group has tied up with the Telco TataDoCoMo to offer Mobile Services known as T24. Customers get free talk time based on the purchase made at various outlets like Bigbazaar, Pantaloons, Ezone, HomeTown, Brand Factory.


Isn't it an awesome innovative idea to make customers loyal, to generate that stickinessThumbs up. Others offer reward points that can be redeemed for gifts which are generally not essential to customer and here Future group offer reward points for something which nobody in a booming telecom market like India can live without i.e Mobile Usage.


A customer is for sure bound to make purchases from the participating stores whenever possible so as to accumulate more talk time. Moreover, there would be quite a few customers who would go for paid recharge( apart from the free talk time). This will generate extra revenue for the Retailer. Future group expects to generate quite a considerable revenue from this Mobile services as stated in this article.


That’s what I call is innovation. Doesn’t this testify the saying that Innovation doesn’t mean doing different things, it simply means doing things differently. Isn't it sync with the old India Saying “Aam ke aam gutlio ke daam” which means Reaping double benefits. In this case, customer loyalty and extra bucks Hot smile.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Healthy HR Initiative for a Healthy Workforce

Thanks to the fast paced, stressful life, fitness has become a major concern for everybody these days. Right from individuals to organizations. Its really important for organization to ensure its employees are in the best of their fitness to ensure projects do not fall prey to sick leaves. The responsibility is on the Human Resource team to ensure the fitness of the workforce is at its peak.
Typically, every organizations Human Resource team has formulated some kind of Medical Bills Reimbursement and Medical Insurance policy for its employees. In some places, there is visiting doctor also in the office. Certain multinationals have gone one step forward by having safety guidelines which every employee has to adhere to. Failure to adherence results in disciplinary action.

The reason for the birth of this article
I feel, these are quite good HR initiatives but to some extent all these efforts and initiatives are reactive in nature and mostly remain on papers filling the store room.
The HR initiative should be such that it provokes the sense of being fit and healthy in employees from within, the initiative should be innovative enough to catch the amusement of employees and thus trigger them to be fit, the initiative need not be circulated in papers to every employee, rather it should be engraved in their minds and their routines. So is there something which can cater to this requirements? Yes, I feel I have an idea of one such initiative and is explained in the following paragraphs..

The Fit Employee Recognition Program
The idea is based on simple and known fact that Efforts should be recognized and rewarded. I suggest starting a “Employee Fitness Recognition program”. The aim of the program would be to recognize the fit employee(s) and call them Mr/Ms.OrganiazationName or whatever you like.
A visiting doctor would examine the employees and certify their fitness level. The rewarded employees are asked to share their secret of fitness. A dashboard at suitable areas frequently visited by employees like Canteen will have photographs of the rewarded employees, thus creating the visual triggers. Live examples and that too of peers will have much deeper impact on the work force I feel.  The core idea is to have a HR program which is psychologically relevant and impacting, a HR initiative which will instil the fitness mantra in the employees.

Program customized to meet Specific goals
The program should be flavoured based on the goals of the initiative. For example, the program could be used to target the senior employees who are more prone to illness by having a Band/Grade wise reward program. Another flavour of the program could be based on categorization of employees into age group to ensure people at different levels of ages are fit and are suitably recognized and rewarded. The permutation and combinations are end less.

Benefits of the Programs
This particular HR initiative will have following benefits
  • The program is more engaging then having simple policies.
  • It will instil a sense of competition and inspiration in employees to be fit.
  • The rewarded employees will feel inspired to keep going with their fitness routine.
  • Quantum of  work hampered due to sick leaves is reduced
  • Increase in efficiency of people as they are more fit and healthy.
What happens to existing stuff
This program should be run along with the traditional health related policies.

What say guys…Have I got a fit and healthy Idea?

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Indian Retail Story : Loyalty on Sale

Shopping malls in India are mushrooming virtually at every corner.The other cities are also not very far in the race. Each shopping mall has one or the other Retail store to the likes of Big bazaar, Reliance retail, More for you, Spencer's, Dmart and others. Everybody is offering discounts on literally everything to get more and more customers drawn to the store. I am also one of the many customers mesmerized by this magic of discounts. But I always had a fear of this business model falling. Offering discount is like making the tiger taste human blood. It will not like anything but human blood than. My fear came true when I read this new article about closure of More Stores in Gujarat. Check this article.
LoyaltyonSale
Discounts are not bad but if they are not bundled with other innovative offers like I feel Big bazaar has, they can be disastrous. No business can run on a USP of cheaper price or discounted price.
And not only for the Business house offering the discounts but for the entire industry. A similar example is the price-war in the Telecom sector. One Telco slashes the tariff and everybody else has to follow or lose the customer.
All in all, blind discounts are putting the customer loyalty for sale.


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