(The customer is) Not Always Right

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, August 25, 2008

Came across a great hilarious site today, Not Always Right. From the About Page of the site:

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of working in retail, service or other public-facing jobs, you’ve inevitably come across that occasional customer that either makes your blood boil, tickles your funny bone or leaves you totally confused. We all need a place to vent, so Not Always Right is a collection of quotes from these particularly memorable customers.

We believe that while customers deserve to be treated right, so do the employees and the other folks that serve them. Not Always Right is about leveling the playing field for those of us who toil and sweat every day trying to juggle demanding customers and often unreasonable corporate expectations. At the end of the day, it’s about remembering that whether we’re a customer or an employee, we’re all human, foibles and all.

Check out the stories from people working in Retail here, http://notalwaysright.com/tag/retail. Highly recommended if you want a good laugh. More so if you are from Retail or Service Industry.

Retailers 'Sell' to Young Virtually

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, August 24, 2008

Kohl's, Sears Build Brands As Children Clothe Their Avatars Online [WSJ, Registration required]

Retailer Kohl's Corp. this month launched a new line of apparel, but the plaid skirts and printed T-shirts won't be sold in its 957 stores. Instead, it's selling them on Stardoll.com, a virtual community for teens and tweens where kids can fork over "Stardollars" -- purchased online at a nominal sum -- to buy apparel for their online characters.

Retailspeak - Retail Magazine from Microsoft

by Deepak Sharma on Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Just came across an Retail Magazine from Microsoft called Retaispeak. The magazine has some very good articles and provides a good view in what other retailers are up to when it comes to Retail Technology.

From restaurants to department stores, retailers face pressure to increase productivity, grow profits and justify every technology investment. Retailspeak, Microsoft’s customer publication for the retail industry, provides retail technology and business executives with a digest of the key challenges in the industry, and the technology solutions that can address them.
Featured topics range from store systems and managing the supply chain through to business intelligence and enterprise collaboration. Retailspeak also provides a round-up of industry news, case studies, commentary, interviews and analysis. In addition to our team of in-house journalists, experts from all areas of the industry provide their insight on the retail industry.
The magazine is published every quarter. Subscribe to Retailspeak to start receiving the definitive word on retail technology.

You can subscribe to the same free at the following URL:

Subscribe to Retailspeak or Download the current issue

Motorola Sparrow

by Deepak Sharma on Monday, August 18, 2008

Who won't go to a store which has such Mobile Point of Sale (MPOS) gadget.


The Motorola Sparrow was conceived to provide retail stores with a mobile point of sale device to solve increased service demands from consumers while decentralizing the check out point, i.e. pay for it and get out as fast as you can. It combines a scanner, point of sale (POS) system, RFID, communication and credit card reading capabilities into one mobile device.

There are a few devices that offer MPOS (mobile point of sale) in the marketplace but none are consumer facing nor appropriate for front-end retail environments. Existing products are often rugged and obtrusive. If you’ve ever been to an Apple store, you know what I’m talking about. They often take away from the environment and make the entire retail experience unpleasant.

Both the front and back of the Sparrow are equipped with touch sensitive areas, supposedly making it easier to navigate and use. The entire unit can hang from a lanyard.

This isn’t a new idea but definitely a huge improvement. Many high-tech electronic stores now equip their employees with mobile point of sale devices but design studio Aruliden definitely has an eye for form and function. I’d love to see it integrated into retail environments.

More here:



Wincanton to manage Reliance Retail's Supply Chain

by Deepak Sharma on Friday, August 15, 2008

The European supply chain specialist Wincanton will run the Supply Chain for food and grocery and hypermarket businesses of Reliance Retail. Reliance Retail which has scaled to 600 stores across India in the last two years have been feeling the heat managing the supply chain efficiently.

Industry observers believe that the company has expanded very fast and has managed to set up over 600 stores across various retail formats in less than two years, but its supply chain is in a mess. “How to get the right merchandise to the stores on time has been its biggest problem. You’d often not find the goods you want in Reliance’s food and grocery outlets,” said a source.


True to its form, Reliance built scale fairly rapidly, spreading from one city to another. The growth was achieved through a team of professionals poached from existing Indian retailers, but the pace of execution dwarfed rivals’ achievements.
Reliance, however, realised it needed to do a lot more on the back-end to continue the pace of expansion and return early profits, which its shareholders usually expect.
“It didn’t take Reliance long to realise that retail was a different ballgame altogether. It’s not just about some long-term government policy or certain business competency, which it’s known to manage well. The variables in retail business are far too many. There could be a number of factors such as general economic downturn, terror scare, shorter wedding season, cricket season like an IPL or a political protest, which can affect store sales. You need to be able to manage that,” said a source close to Reliance.

With Wincanton, Reliance wants to fix the problem.

Wincanton, the UK-based $4-billion supply chain solution provider, has been roped in precisely to tackle this problem. It is expected to completely take over the supply chain, find the right warehouses for goods and transport them in time and in the right quantity to Reliance Retail stores.
Supply chain solution providers, Wincanton, for example, have IT systems in place to update them with regular data on inventory level in stores.
So, even without a store manager calling up, the warehouse manager would know the stores’ requirements. Wincanton serves several companies across industries, from FMCG to retail, automotive and oil. Its client list includes retail giants Tesco and Woolworths, auto companies Ford and DaimlerChrysler, and consumer goods firms P&G, Nestle, SAB Miller and GSK.

More and more we are seeing that Indian retail companies are not hesitating to go for alliances to bring the best of retail technology and processes to manage the operations.

Indian retail realty prices cooling

by Deepak Sharma on Wednesday, August 13, 2008

High time...

Indian retail realty prices cooling, says Reliance

Indian retail real estate prices are softening and availability is rising as high interest rates crimp access to funds, slowing demand and forcing builders to sell, a senior Reliance Retail official said on Tuesday.

Retail firms are scaling back their expansion plans, and builders who had planned to hold on to properties, are selling space to tide over the cash crunch, Bijou Kurien, chief executive of Reliance Retail's Lifestyle unit, told Reuters.

Aberdeen Research: Lifetime Customer Value Identified as a Key Motivator for Customer Loyalty in Retail

by Deepak Sharma on Sunday, August 10, 2008

From http://www.aberdeen.com/press/releases/press_release.asp?rid=341

Aberdeen data reveals that the top business pressure impacting loyalty-related decisions of 58% of Best-in-Class companies in retail is the need to develop lifetime customer value, which is defined as the present value of future cash flows through long-term customer relationships.
“In times of stagnant growth, retailers need to develop lifetime customer value through improved customer retention, re-activation, and acquisition strategies. This will improve long-term stakeholder value and ensure an assured revenue stream for the retailer through customers who are expected to spend for several years,” says Sahir Anand, senior analyst and chief author of the customer loyalty benchmark report.
Aberdeen data reveals that 93% of retailers execute loyalty programs as a standard offering for their web, store, or catalog channel customers. Such campaigns include, but are not limited to, point perks, rewards, coalition marketing, frequent buyer offers, or private label credit cards. The reports also indicated that lifetime customer value in retail is being overshadowed by the tactical nature of loyalty campaigns that target short-term demand. “Loyalty campaigns are executed without due consideration to ideal customer segments, tools, coordinated cross-channel marketing needs, and long-term customer relationships,” says Anand.
The measurement of ROI on customer loyalty programs is a continuous action at retail headquarters. Moreover, determining such an ROI is a much simpler process compared to other retail solutions such as POS, merchandising or pricing. There are substantial and recurring cost factors associated with loyalty in retail. Survey results show that cost-benefit issues surrounding loyalty scenarios are top-of-mind for retail marketers. Repeat visit (61%), incremental sales (58%), and overall satisfaction (57%) have emerged as the three most significant factors used by retailers for justifying spend on loyalty elements, operational costs, and upgrade / deployment of loyalty software applications. All three ROI criteria can lead to sales uplift, retention improvement, and reduced attrition for retailers.