Ask the company top brass what „almost there‟ means. The answer: a premier Indian retail company
that has come to be known as a specialty chain of apparel and accessories. With 52 product categories
under one roof, Shoppers‟ Stop has a line-up of 350 brands. Set up and headed by former Corona
employee, B. S. Nagesh, Shoppers‟ Stop is India‟s answer to Selfridges and Printemps. As it proudly
announces, „We don‟t sell, we help you buy.‟ Back in 1991, there was the question of what to retail.
Should it be a supermarket or a departmental store? Even an electronics store was considered. Finally,
common sense and understanding won out. The safest bet, for the all-male team was to retail ...view middle of the document...
The biggest advantage for Shoppers‟ Stop is that it knows how
the Indian consumer thinks and feels while shopping. Yes, feeling – for in India, shopping remains an
outing. And how does it compare itself to foreign stores? While it is not modeled on any one foreign
retailer, the „basic construct‟ is taken from the experience of a number of successfully managed retail
companies. It has leveraged expertise for a critical component like technology from all over the
world, going as far as hiring expatriates from Littlewoods and using state-of-the-art ERP models.
Shoppers‟ Stop went a step further by even integrating its financial system with the ERP model.
Expertise was imported wherever it felt that expertise available in-house was inadequate. But the
store felt there was one acute problem. A shortage of the most important resource of them all was
trained humans. Since Indian business institutes did not have professional courses in retail
management, people were hired from different walks of life and the training programme was
internalized. By 1994, the senior executives at Shoppers‟ Stop were taking lectures at management
institutes in Mumbai. The Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) even
restructured its course to include retail management as a subject. Getting the company access to the
latest global retail trends and exchange of information with business greats was an exclusive
membership to the Intercontinental Group of Department Stores (IGDS). It allows membership by
invitation to one company from a country and Shoppers‟ Stop rubs shoulders with 29 of the hottest
names in retailing – Selfridges from the UK, C.K. Tang from Singapore, Lamcy Plaza from Dubai
and the like. With logistics I in place, the accent moved to the customer. Shoppers‟ Stop conducted
surveys with ORG-MARG and Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) and undertook in-house
wardrobe audits. The studies confirmed what it already knew. The Indian customer is still evolving
and is very different from, say, a European customer, who knows exactly what he wants to purchase,
walks up to a shelf, picks up the merchandise, pays and walks out. In India, customers like to touch
and feel the merchandise, and scout for options. Also, the majority of Indian shoppers still prefer to
pay in cash. So, transactions must be in cash as against plastic money used the world over.
Additionally, the Indian customer likes being served – whether it is food, or otherwise. The
company‟s customer profile includes people who want the same salesperson each time they came to
the store to walk them through the shop floors and assist in the purchase. Others came with families,
kids and maids in tow and expected to be suitably attended to. Still others wanted someone to carry
the bags. So, the shops have self-help counters, with an assistant at hand for queries or help. The inhouse
wardrobe audit also helped with another facet of the business. It enabled Shoppers‟...