5 May 2021, 12:17 — 7 min read
The retail industry in India is one of the most dynamic and fast paced industries. Customer experience has always been the centre of focus for the Retail Industry. Over the years, the Great Place to Work® research has proved that organisations with Great Workplace Cultures provide a superior experience to employees, who in turn deliver a superior experience to customers.
The last year has been incredibly tough for this industry to continue to grow amidst the challenges posed by COVID. When the COVID crisis hit India, the retail industry was among the most hard-hit sectors. Due to the social distancing norms and lockdown, the retail brands lost touch with their customers. Over a few weeks, the buying preferences and behaviour of the customers also changed. While some organisations pivoted their business models, others had to wait and watch for the situation to normalise.
India’s Best Workplaces in Retail have been the trailblazers of thriving even in times of crisis by prioritising their employees’ safety and health and staying relevant for their customers by persistently building TRUST with these two critical stakeholders. These organisations live by the mantra that Great Place to Work® calls Employee = Customer. This is what they did different from the rest.
The Best Workplaces in Retail prioritised the health and safety of their employees. Many organisations announced voluntary Work from Home even before the nation-wide lockdown. To ensure their employees’ well-being, organisations extended insurance benefits, counselling facilities and implemented stringent health checks for staff that had to work on the ground.
India’s Best Workplaces in Retail have been the trailblazers of thriving even in times of crisis by prioritising their employees’ safety and health and staying relevant for their customers by persistently building TRUST with these two critical stakeholders.
TATA Starbucks offered a Two-Wheeler Mobility Program to support partners (employees) to buy their personal vehicle for safe travel. This benefit involves a corporate tie-up with a relevant financial institution to offer a loan at an attractive interest rate and support from TATA Starbucks with down payment support and interest subsidy. They also began to pay salaries to employees in two cycles a month in response to the employees’ financial need.
Communication gained a great deal of significance in COVID times. Best Workplaces kept their employees updated about the situation and how it impacts the business through multiple town hall meetings, webinars, posters, etc.
These workplaces also emphasise listening to their employees. Through surveys, chatbots and townhalls, organisations gained the pulse of their employees and supported them accordingly. Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Ltd., on observing the social stigma around COVID-19 infections, proactively initiated the COVID-19 success stories. These were shared to welcome employees back as well as to celebrate their grit against the disease.
Also read: Leading in the new reality
While the Customer had moved away physically, Best Workplaces continued to build Trust with them Digitally. At Titan, for example, “Empathy Calls” were done to lakhs of customers by the store staff enquiring about their health and safety, which was widely appreciated as a goodwill gesture. The change in the overall situation due to COVID-19 also impacted customer needs and preferences. Brands started reaching out to the customers in a way that they now preferred. Lite Bite Foods, for example, forayed into Cloud Kitchens and home delivery so that the customers can enjoy their favourite food in the comfort of their homes.
The Best Workplaces have consistently focused on building Trust with their employees. When the times were tough, employees who have been the recipients of this Trust have demonstrated behaviours to support the businesses endure the challenges they faced during the last few quarters. For the very first time, 10,000 corporate employees of Flipkart came together virtually as a team to make 50 Million worth of deliveries possible and their Big Billion Days sales a huge success.
This manifested in two ways: Digitisation of internal and external processes and innovation in business practices. COVID-19 became a catalyst for the digital transformation of organisations. Brand owned websites, and eCommerce platforms saw a never seen before traffic. Croma started Store@home - a virtual Demo of home appliances through their website. The pandemic did not dampen the campus hiring plans at Myntra, as they went 100% digital and virtual without breaking a sweat. Retail organisations became adapted to the work from home style of working. Newer and innovative business lines were opened to reach the customer and stay relevant. Puma went to customers by setting up temporary pop-up stores at their housing societies and taking orders through Whatsapp while exhibiting the highest customer service level. Such efforts helped retail organisations not just sustain but also thrive in the COVID situation.
These are some things that set aside the Best Workplaces in the retail industry. These workplaces’ stories of handling the crisis demonstrate clearly that the best organisations are agile, resilient and continue to keep trust-building at the top of their agenda.
Also read: The road ahead for retail businesses
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Article source: STOrai Magazine. Adapted from the report Employee = Customer by Great Place to Work Institute and Retailers Association of India
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