“Thank you (phir se) bola kya?”

If you are in retail, you well know the importance of having an efficient front-line team to help strengthen your business. They play a critical role in building the brand and its experience. They are the critical last mile connect and play a crucial role in a customers decision on whether they should remain loyal to our brand or not. It is they who ultimately impact a happy versus an annoying shopping experience and therefore impact the business as well. But natural, it is imperative that they get their due importance. Recognizing and realizing the need for this, B.S.Nagesh’s Trust for Retailers and Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN) initiated an annual property – the Retail Employees Day in 2011. In its second edition, the day was celebrated with much more fun-fare and grandeur by retailers across the country. Sheetal Choksi, director, TRRAIN and Vidya Hariharan, director – strategy, Vidal Healthcare Pvt. Ltd. share with us highlights of the Retail Employees’ Day 2012.

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Retail Employees’ Day as a concept is aimed at paying homage to the efforts of front end retail staff in India. The theme was born from the need to recognize the fact that retail in India has boomed in the last 15 years to the efforts of the 3 million front line staff in retail – the shopfloor assistants, the customer care associates and the “Chottu’s” and “Thambi’s” and “Baccha’s”  who faithfully delivers when the customer calls.

Retail is the second largest employer in the country – with a labor force of 38 million. Front line associates perform yeoman service – “We act as fashion consultants to help you chose garments, comparators who can accurately describe technical specifications of competing brands of consumer durables, secretaries who remind you of items you have missed in your monthly grocery shopping, and life-savers when we deliver that one strip of a pain-killer, one loaf of bread or that one bottle of soda at 11 pm at night without complaint” – says one of the associates who took part in RETAIL EMPLOYEES’ DAY.

RETAIL EMPLOYEES’ DAY is the brain-child of one of the pioneers of the modern retail industry in India – B S Nagesh.

RETAIL EMPLOYEES’ DAY was introduced in 2011 and in its first year – 150,000 “thank you’s” were said.  Industry feedback was positive and retailers wanted the initiative to be formalized. In 2012, the industry associations partnered with TRRAIN to champion the cause of building awareness among customers and the lay public of the need to say a “thank you” to front line retail employees.

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As a result, the scale and size of RETAIL EMPLOYEES’ DAY has increased manifold – thanks to the efforts of the industry associations – Retailers Association of India (RAI), the Gems & Jewellers Association of India (GJAFI) and the Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) & National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI). Another dimension was the press and publicity generated for the initiative – from inserts in prominent business and mainstream dailies to spots on TV and radio.

Retailers chose to celebrate this day in their own unique and creative ways. What is interesting that the key thought behind all the celebrations was singular and a reflection of what the associates have always wanted.

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What does the future hold? RETAIL EMPLOYEES’ DAY is a concept which is unique globally – no other country has a day dedicated to saying “Thank you” for customer service. In future, the retail industry would like to see the idea grow in breadth and depth – by being adopted by the traditional kiranawala as well as by retailers in other countries.

Here’s what happened on December 12, 2012.

Pan India Rewards and Recognition programs:

  • Personalized  ‘Certificates of Appreciation’ from customers
  • Creating connect – between the corporate head office and the in-store, front line staff.
  • Celebrations which included the family and staff and customers of stores.
  • Creating development and training opportunities for staff who were nominated by customers / peers as being beacons of good service.

Special and Innovative ways of Greeting Employees:

  • A customized greeting card / badge / ribbon for each and every front-end associate.
  • Changing the desktop wall paper the previous night, in order to have a bright happy wish for their employees on Retail Employees’ Day.
  • A personal meet and greet (including in some cases with “Tilak” and garlands) for each staff by the store head / leadership team

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Encouraging the Consumer to say Thank You:
Stores put up posters encouraging customers to acknowledge the person who served them well with a ‘Signed Thank you’ card. Employees who got most cards would be recognized and rewarded by the Management.

Lucky Draws, Bumper Prizes and Contests:
Story writing competitions on “My happiest memory as a retail employee” lucky draws and bumper prizes enabled employees to take home TVs, cash and much more.

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RAI
Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI is a not for profit organization (registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956), works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. RAI is the body that encourages, develops, facilitates and supports retailers to become modern and adopt best practices that will delight customers. RAI has a three charter aim of Retail Development, Facilitation and Propagation.