” What People Want “, from their Work/Career: “Motivation” | by: Susan M. Heathfield | Human Resources

Every person has different motivations for working. The reasons for working are as individual as the person. But, we all work because we obtain something that we need from work. The something we obtain from work impacts our morale and motivation and the quality of our lives. Here is the most recent thinking about motivation, what people want from work.

” Some people work for love; others work for personal fulfillment. Others like to accomplish goals and feel as if they are contributing to something larger than themselves, something important. Some people have personal missions they accomplish through meaningful work. Others truly love what they do or the clients they serve. Some like the camaraderie and interaction with customers and coworkers. Other people like to fill their time with activity. Some workers like change, challenge, and diverse problems to solve”. 

” Motivation is individual and diverse !!!! ” 

Each Employee Has a Different Motivation

Whatever your personal reasons for working, the bottom line, however, is that almost everyone works for money. Whatever you call it: compensation, salary, bonuses, benefits or remuneration, money pays the bills. Money provides housing, gives children clothing and food, sends teens to college, and allows leisure activities, and eventually, retirement. To underplay the importance of money and benefits as motivation for people who work is a mistake.

Fair benefits and pay are the cornerstone of a successful company that recruits and retains committed workers. If you provide a living wage for your employees, you can then work on additional motivation issues. Without the fair, living wage, however, you risk losing your best people to a better-paying employer.

In fact, recent research from Watson Wyatt Worldwide in The Human Capital Edge recommends, that ” to attract the best employees, you need to pay more than your average-paying counterparts in the marketplace “….“Money provides basic motivation” !!! 

Ok. Got Money ? What’s Next for Motivation ? : 

I’ve read the surveys and studies dating back to the early 1980s that demonstrate people want more from work than money. An early study of thousands of workers and managers by the American Psychological Association clearly demonstrated this. While managers predicted the most important motivational aspect of work for people would be money, personal time and attention from the supervisor was cited by workers as most rewarding and motivational for them at work.

In a recent Workforce article, “The Ten Ironies of Motivation,” reward and recognition guru, Bob Nelson, says, “More than anything else, employees want to be valued for a job well done by those they hold in high esteem.” He adds that people want to be treated as if they are adult human beings.

While what people want from work is situational, depending on the person, his needs and the rewards that are meaningful to him, giving people what they want from work is really quite straight forward.

People want the following : 

  1. Control of their work inspires motivation: including such components as the ability to impact decisions; setting clear and measurable goals; clear responsibility for a complete, or at least defined, task; job enrichment; tasks performed in the work itself; and recognition for achievement. 
  2. To belong to the in-crowd creates motivation: including items such as receiving timely information and communication; understanding management’s formulas for decision making; team and meeting participation opportunities; and visual documentation and posting of work progress and accomplishments. 
  3. The opportunity for growth and development is motivational: and includes education and training; career paths; team participation; succession planning; cross-training; and field trips to successful workplaces. 
  4. Leadership is key in motivation. People want clear expectations that provide a picture of the outcomes desired with goal setting and feedback and an appropriate structure or framework. 

Recognition for Performance Creates Motivation : 

In The Human Capital Edge, authors Bruce Pfau and Ira Kay say that people want recognition for their individual performance with pay tied to their performance. Employees want people who don’t perform fired; in fact, failure to discipline and fire non-performers is one of the most demotivating actions an organization can take – or fail to take. It ranks on the top of the list next to paying poor performers the same wage as non-performers in deflating motivation.

Additionally, the authors found that a disconnect continues to exist between what employers think people want at work and what people say they want for motivation. “Employers far underrate the importance to employees of such things as flexible work schedules or opportunities for advancement in their decision to join or leave a company.

” That means that many companies are working very hard (and using scarce resources) on the wrong tools,” say Pfau and Kay. People want employers to pay them above market rates. They seek flexible work schedules. They want stock options, a chance to learn, and the increased sharing of rationale behind management decisions and direction.

What You Can Do for Motivation and Positive Morale ? : 

You have much information about what people want from work….

Key to creating a work environment that fosters motivation are the wants and needs of the individual. I recommend that you ask your employees what they want from work and whether they are getting it. With this information in hand, I predict you’ll be surprised at how many simple and inexpensive opportunities you have to create a motivational, desirable work environment.

Pay attention to what is important to the people you employ for high motivation and positive morale. You’ll achieve awesome business success.

“Great Employees” are “Not Replaceable” | by: Amy Rees Anderson | Forbes


One of the most important lessons I learned during my years as a CEO was that great employees are not replaceable. It isn’t the technology or the product that make a company great, it’s the people.

And companies who see their good employees as “replaceable” are wrong. Good employees are NOT replaceable. Let me clarify what I mean by “replaceable.”

Can a company hire someone to fill a position to replace someone else ? Of course they can. In today’s market, the world is ripe with candidates who are eager and willing to take the job. But putting a behind in a seat doesn’t replace a great employee. It simply puts a new behind in a seat.

Business leaders who adopt the attitude that anyone is replaceable, thinking they can simply hire someone with a greater skill-set or someone with a more prestigious pedigree, are fooling themselves. When a company has a truly great employee, that employee carries value that simply cannot be replaced.

They carry deep institutional knowledge of the organization. They have extensive product, systems, and process knowledge. They hold client relationships that have been built over many years. They carry tremendous experience on what has worked and what hasn’t worked for the company in the past.

And great employees have camaraderie and influence with their coworkers, which when lost, has an impact on the corporate culture.

When a company loses a great employee it causes the other employees to have reason for pause, thinking…“ Why would that person leave the organization, and why would the organization let them get away ?? Is there something wrong with this company that I should be worried about ??  Perhaps I should start looking elsewhere myself  ?? ” 

Not only will other employees question it, but clients often question it as well. When clients trust an employee and that employee leaves, the clients begin to ask themselves the very same questions that other employees have, “Is there something wrong that I am unaware of ? What would have caused that employee to leave ? Should we be out looking for a new vendor ? ” 

The ripple effect of losing a great employee is tremendous and it goes well beyond what is easily quantified..!! 

Companies need to be very thoughtful when making decisions around compensation for their employees. To deny a reasonable increase to a top performer in the organization can be a very costly mistake. To try and hire a replacement for a great employee will inevitably cost the organization significantly more money when they take into account the starting wage required in their attempt to “hire up,” not including the cost in time and money to train a replacement and get them up to full production, as well as the opportunity cost of having created a gap in the institutional knowledge of the business.

Obviously, there will be some life events that take great employees away from a company, which cannot be stopped. But when companies have the option to retain great employees, they should do everything in their power to do so. 

Companies who want to retain their top talent need to be willing to show them appreciation, compensate them well, and treat them with the respect they deserve. ” At the end of the day, it won’t be a great product or service or technology that makes a company succeed – it is great people that make a great company”….

Appreciate those men and women who dedicate their time and talents each day to make your company a success, because those are the people who cannot be replaced..!!!!

“Staffers on Retail-Floor” dash “towards the Exit” | Indian Retail | Business-Standard

Indian retailers, big and small, are facing high personnel attrition across stores. Many are seeing almost all their staff getting replaced every year.

Fast growth in organised retail and opening of new malls and stores have raised attrition levels at the shop floor to alarming levels of eight per cent a month, or 96 per cent a year, say consultants. Just three to four years earlier, attrition was only two to three per cent a month.

The Indian retail sector grew eight per cent annually between 2007 and 2011, with the organised segment growing at more than three times the pace of the un-organised one. The share of organised retail is expected to touch 14 per cent of the total by 2016, says a recent report from consultancy firm Booz & Company. A number of corporate groups — Reliance, Birlas and Bharti, for instance —have entered the sector. Existing ones such as the Future group, Spencer’s and others have expanded, opening avenues for front-end staff.

“We are seeing an attrition of 50 to 60 per cent, lower than the industry. But that is because we do not ask for a high qualification. We are okay with 10th standard pass-outs, while others ask for 12th pass-outs. Those (10th pass) people tend to stay for a longer time,” says a senior executive from the Mumbai-based D Mart chain.

” High attrition pushes up hiring costs”…………. 

Adds Suresh J, managing director, Arvind Lifestyle Brands: “When retailers open new stores, they offer Rs 500 more and get people. For many sales staff, even a Rs 500 hike is big enough to move.”

In a recent survey (done July 2012 to Janaury 2013, with 34 retailers taking part) by Tata Consultancy Services and the Retailers Association of India (RAI), a third of the respondents said they had average attrition rates of more than eight per cent in a month, translating to almost 100 per cent a year.

While department stores exhibit the lowest levels of attrition, 55 per cent of value retailers have attrition levels of over eight per cent in a month, TCS-RAI said on the findings.

” Both large and small format retailers have been impacted by this phenomenon. In smaller format stores, especially in the fashion space, a change of key employees can impact sales by 15 to 20 per cent. Hence, retailers tend to keep a hawk-eye on store attrition levels and are taking a multi-pronged approach to address it,” the survey said.

Govind Shrikhande, managing director of Shoppers Stop, says employees are leaving for a combination of reasons.

“About 25-30 per cent leave for higher education, another 30 per cent leave for higher salaries and others for various other reasons.”

Consultants say the growth in organised retail is throwing up opportunities for front-end staff. “Employees are even shifting for a small hike, as they don’t get paid huge salaries,” said Prashant Agarwal, deputy managing director of Wazir Advisors, a retail consultancy.

E. Balaji, chief executive and managing director of human resources firm Randstad India, said: “It was a similar case seven to eight years ago, when call centres came to the country. Since the retail sector is new and talent is scarce, people tend to move frequently.”

Shoppers Stop has put career progression modules within the company. Any customer associate who completes 18 months with the company becomes eligible for a ‘Baby Kangaroo’ programme, wherein he will get a mentor and additional responsibilities. Once the associate clears assessment tests, he or she can become a department manager or store manager. Those who complete 24-36 months, can also get into different career growth tracks, based on their qualifications.

Indian “Retail-Operations”, “Bench-marking & Excellence” Survey 2013 | a RAI-TCS Study

The organized retail industry in India “turns 20 this year”. While the last two decades have been about high growth and pace, it’s time to take stock of the health of the industry as a whole. To provide a snapshot of key drivers of industry growth, profitability and operational excellence, the Retailers Association of India (RAI) and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) have commissioned the first ever – Retail Operations Bench-marking Excellence Survey (ROBES). 

The survey profiles 35 leading retail brands in the country to understand process maturity and current practices around the following : 

  • Customer Service 
  • Marketing & CRM 
  • People Management 
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Space Management
  • Inventory Management

Highlights of this first ever survey on retail operations bench-marking and excellence of Indian retailers reveal that the current sentiment among Indian retailers is to optimize their existing investment through a strong focus on operational efficiencies and process improvement, improving numbers all around. Retailers are expanding but cautiously – format expansion is fourth on their priority list for the coming year.

The new buzz phrase is about being “EBIDTA positive.” New stores are given a strict timeline to perform. And this time around, retailers are unapologetic about closing stores if found un-viable. Overall, there is a more clinical, hard-nosed approach to retail and store operations in particular. Retailers are looking closely at their own internal efficiencies and toward each other to understand what can be done better.

Key takeaways emerging from this study include the following:

  1. Overall process maturity – Still some way to go 
  2. Store profitability is paramount and patience is running thin 
  3. Customer service is the true differentiator  
  4. 88 percent retailers mystery shop at their own stores 
  5. Inventory management is a critical focus area 
  6. Shrinkage – Persistent efforts are helping keep the faith 
  7. Below the line (BTL) marketing is the way forward 
  8. Weakened store expansion and strong focus on optimization of existing investment 
  9. Employee engagement is key to sustained growth 
  10. Technology adoption is slow 
  11. Multi-channel – high interest but low on action 
  12. Customer Loyalty Program: Miles to go before we sleep 

Overall process maturity – Still some way to go: 

The overall process maturities based on fundamental, must-have processes across the following six segments reveal ample scope for improvement and sharing of best practices. People management in particular continues to be an area of intervention. In functions like space management and marketing, while retailers seem to be comfortable, they could get more out of their operations if they had the necessary tools and measurement practices like measuring promotion performance. Visual merchandising is one function that respondents seem comfortable with in terms of process maturity. However, this function is increasingly being viewed as a potential revenue driver rather than just a hygiene “store look” enabler.

Overall Process Maturity - Cross Segment

Store profitability is paramount and patience is running thin: 

Retailers are making no bones about the fact that store profitability is critical. Given the hard lessons learnt from the last economic downturn, retailers are looking at a mix of cautious expansion with a strong focus on store profitability. This has affected store location, size and assortment decisions more than ever before. Retailers are not shying away from store closures (where they are found to be unviable) and resizing exercises to make them EBIDTA positive as soon as possible. Store managers are increasingly being trained on the P&L and seen as being accountable for their store’s bottom-line.

Customer service is the true differentiator : 

The market is crowded with many similar brands. Retailers are coming around to the view that service is the true differentiator; customers will develop trust through right advice and exceptional service, which will reflect in increased loyalty.

This strategic focus on the customer has not yet translated into a full-blown operational and process focus on in-store experience metrics. For example, while value retailers state that the customer experience during billing is key; 33 percent do not measure the time taken to bill during peak hours; and 56 percent do not measure the average queue length during peak hours.

Billing Efficiency at Peak Times

88 percent Retailers Mystery Shop at their Own Stores: 

The survey shows that “mystery shopping” has emerged as an important tool for retailers to get an “outside-in” view of their stores with 88 percent respondents saying they conduct mystery shopping studies at least half-yearly. Most of those who have a program in place say that it helps them get an outsider’s perspective on their stores and ensure that store employees give their best at all times.

Frequency of Mystery Shopping Audits

Inventory Management is a critical focus area:

Processes around inventory management at the store are a key focus area for all retailers. The study indicates that inventory management as an area has become stronger. Better visibility through perpetual stock-take measures, increase in bar-code scanning of incoming and outgoing merchandise and higher control over shrinkage means that the industry has increased process maturity in this area.

There is increasing evidence of a partnership between the Operations and Finance functions – with both process and policy being attuned to inventory management. Perpetual stock takes are outsourced to specialist firms by an increasing number of retailers who seem to have reaped significant benefits from this move.

Shrinkage – Persistent efforts are helping keep the faith: 

The survey indicates that retailers who have a zero tolerance refer to shrinkage in rupee terms while others refer to it in percentage terms.

Also, smaller retailers view store staff as entrepreneurs who have to necessarily achieve zero shrinkage. No bonus is given to manage shrinkage as it is viewed as a hygiene factor. Retailers are also looking at decreasing shrinkage levels by focusing on process, policy and technology initiatives. Instant penalties for shrinkage at the store along with strict discipline in daily global counts, surprise and regular stock audits by external auditors has led to a culture of greater stock accountability.

There also seems to be a direct correlation between shrinkage levels and the retailer’s merchandise barcode scanning process maturity.

Below the line (BTL) marketing is the way forward: 

BTL is emerging as a strong focus area for retailers in the coming year. Catchment initiatives are seen as a “must do” across retail segments to arrest declining same-store footfalls. Store managers are increasingly being pushed to develop their catchments and bring in more customers.

However, efforts are still localized with only 37 percent of respondents having an integrated CRM program. Also, 70 percent of those interviewed do not use any tools to execute promotions other than spreadsheet and email.

Weakened store expansion and strong focus on optimization of existing investment: 

Market acquisition through new store launches has taken a back seat and store profitability has become the top of the mind objective for the coming year. While store managers are being trained and measured on store profitability, there is also a need to tighten up central functions. For a majority of respondents (56 percent), lease cost is more than 10 percent. However, most retailers surveyed do not see the need to use advanced space management techniques and continue to manage space allocation and efficiency using spreadsheets. Only half of those interviewed had visibility of their spaces at a department level. Not surprisingly, only 19 percent of respondents scored above par on overall process maturity in space management.

Space Management - Overall Process Maturity

Employee engagement is key to sustained growth:

Employee training has assumed importance given high attrition levels and ever-increasing customer expectations, especially as people management is the weakest among the surveyed respondents. There is a growing realization that happier employees create a better store atmosphere resulting in far more effective customer interaction and sales.

For example, some areas for improvement include the following – 

  • About 33 percent of the respondents had attrition rates of more than 8 percent per month – which means that they replaced their entire staff every year.
  • 22 percent of respondents do not provide insurance or medical benefits.
  • Only 26 percent of respondents make employee training a part of the store manager’s Key Result Area (KRA).
  • 27 percent of respondents do not have well-defined, documented career plans for their store employees.

Engaging with a younger, ever evolving and far more technology-savvy and informed set of customers has necessitated a constant upgrade of the store staff capabilities. Is there a clear people management strategy in place to cater to the changing shopping behavior of the savvy digital shopper ?

Technology adoption is slow: 

There is an overall laggard in terms of technology adoption (compared to banking, travel and hospitality). This is found to be so in areas like task management and scheduling, mobility, space management and in-store customer experience management.

Multi-channel – high interest but low on action: 

The advent of digital shopping is a significant change agent. And it is challenging the conventional ways of managing the stores on almost all the parameters :

  • Format definition / roll out plan / operating models in the light of multi-channel customers
  • Role of sales people
  • Store processes

There is high interest in E-commerce but low commitment and action; a “wait and watch” game is being played out. In our view, there is an opportunity to redefine the business model through digital channels.

Customer Loyalty Program: Miles to go before we sleep: 

The survey indicates that this is an area of evolution for department stores and fashion retailers. Retailers do not see this as a top priority and tellingly use the two phrases– “loyalty” and “rewards” – interchangeably not recognizing that they are a part of a continuum.

Those retailers who have invested in loyalty programs are starting to see the results. For fashion and departmental stores, 25 percent of the store sales accrue from “loyal” customers. At the same time, 44 percent of retailers in this category do not measure data around customer loyalty.

Not many have a rich customer database or leverage it to reach out to their individual customers. Only 40 percent of the respondents had an integrated loyalty program. This is another area that retailers have on their radar for the coming year.

” The Indian customer is younger, increasingly more tech-savvy, willing to experiment, demanding and short on patience. On the other hand, he/she willing to spend and frequent stores if treated well and given a good deal…..

Store operations in general have evolved significantly in the last five years – in terms of internal processes, systems and some technology usage. However, there is yet a long way to go in terms of managing customer experiences, streamlining internal processes and adopting technology”…..

Nielsen unviels “Consumer Rankings” across “Lifestyle-Categories” | Indian Retailer

Mobile messenger ‘WhatsApp’ emerges as the most engaging mobile app; while the site ‘ Flipkart ’ is the top e-tailing website for urban Indian consumers.

In the telecom sector, Nokia is the preferred brand of mobile handsets, while Vodafone ranks as the top mobile operator. These are the findings of the first round of Consumer Rankings for India launched earlier today, by Nielsen, a global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy.

Nielsen India Consumer Rankings : 

Rankings are based on popularity and consumer experience for 6 Lifestyle-Categories including ” Smartphone Apps, E-Tailing sites, Mobile Handsets, Mobile Operators, Books and International Travel”….. preferences of urban Indian consumers.

These findings will be released at an All India level for all 6 categories and select city rankings will be released for 4 categories (E-tailing, International Travel, Mobile Handsets and Mobile Operators) across Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad andPune. The rankings are arrived at using Nielsen proprietary tools, current panels, and in-depth surveys and studies where relevant across the country and are unique to each category.

“While we have always provided uncommon consumer insights for our clients, with this initiative we are taking insights from cities across the country, and giving  back to consumers” said Piyush Mathur, President , Nielsen India Region. “These rankings reflect the pulse of urban Indian consumers, and will provide a different lens to view the lifestyle choices that urban consumers are making every day. In sync with our view on innovation and complementing todays on-the-go lifestyle, the App created for these rankings is the right accompaniment  to the information on the website and allows access to consumers literally at the touch of a screen ”, he added.

“Nielsen has always been the curator of the consumer voice and these consumer rankings are a reflection of collective consumer intelligence, at the national level and for our top cities. These will enable the Indian consumer to validate choices and make empowered lifestyle decisions” said Ranjeet Laungani, Vice President , Nielsen India. “Nielsen consumer rankings acknowledge that the Indian consumers not only want to be heard but also be better informed. These rankings will provide the average urban Indian with a neutral, fact-based consumer view on everyday categories that are relevant to them” he added.

How to use “Customer-Data” to plan “Retail-Store layouts” | by: Graeme McVie | RetailCustomerExperience


You’ve already invested in customer data collection, data management and formulating insights. Now it’s time to start exploring the myriad ways to apply that valuable data to boost the bottom line. Tweaking store layout is one way to help earn maximum return on your investment.

Historically, retailers have relied on a variety of methods, including customer surveys, Geo-demographic information, sales dollars and sales velocity when it comes to determining the most efficient store layout. But those methods often fall short of their full potential.

By augmenting those traditional approaches with customer-specific basket data, retailers can get a deeper look at the behavior of priority customers, and adapt store layout accordingly.

How to use customer data to plan store layouts

Customer information helps provide a better understanding of the lifestyles and life stages of a particular store’s shoppers. It can be used to identify affinities between items or any types of patterns. Data can then be applied to a number of both promotional and physical re-merchandising scenarios that target a company’s best customers.

Adjusting shelf layout : 

An East Coast grocer noticed that sales of adult cereal were lower in some stores than others. When they looked at their pricing, promotion, assortment and planogram (visual product-placement planning) decisions, they couldn’t spot any clear pattern. However, when they analyzed customer data, they found an explanation — they were under-penetrated with their senior customer segment, but only in certain stores.

Organization of the cereal aisle with kids’ cereal on the bottom shelves, family cereal in the middle and adult cereal on top, created the greatest under-penetration. But when the aisles were organized into eight-foot sections, one each for kids, family and adult cereal, the sales were corrected. Making it easy for the senior customer segment to reach the adult cereal was a key driver to penetration.

The grocer reset the shelves, but only in stores with a high number of shoppers in the senior customer segment, thereby minimizing disruption and cost associated with the reset. As a result, for the senior customer segment, cereal penetration increased, basket sizes increased, sales increased and profits increased.

Cross-merchandising : 

An auto parts chain discovered two interesting insights when analyzing customer data: First, in certain stores, sales of motor oil were lower among commercial customers than among consumers. But replacement-part sales were in tune with expectations for both groups.

Further analysis on oil sales revealed that the retailer had a discount price plan for commercial customers that applied to parts but not to oil — even though more than half of motor oil sales were generated by commercial customers.

The second discovery was that in stores with more tenured sales associates, sales related to oil transactions were higher. Further study revealed that in these stores with tenured associates, salespeople would up-sell customers by suggesting that they purchase oil pans, rags and filters along with motor oil.

The retailer implemented a two-part initiative that resulted in increased sales and revenues. First, it sent commercial customers direct-mail offers for oil discounts. Second, it conducted up-sell training for less-tenured associates. Additionally, it approached store layout by establishing a special oil-change section that cross-merchandised oil, filters, pans and rags, and shoppers received a $5 discount if they purchased all four items. Signage that suggested cross-purchases was also employed. Every month, the section was updated to feature a different oil, filter, pan or rag supplier, creating partnership opportunities for the retailer.

Changing physical layout : 

A grocery retailer identified some smaller sales that were occurring mid-week in late afternoon and early evening. It determined that these shopping trips were being made by two-income families with young children.These families wanted to prepare convenient, healthy meals during the week. The retailer subsequently altered the layout of certain suburban stores to create a convenient, one-stop shopping area at the front of the store for these high-value customers.

The new store sections included rotisserie chicken, fresh-prepared cut produce, bread, salad, a beverage cooler and a dessert section.The retailer installed these sections in store locations that over-indexed in the young-family customer segment.

In addition to physical store changes, the grocery increased staff and self-checkout counters during the important weeknight hours of 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. Then, a targeted direct-mail campaign was sent to the customer segment. It explained the change and offered a $5 off coupon for the next transaction conducted during this special three-hour period, if the customer purchased at least three items from the new section. Signage was also hung at the store entrance to draw shopper attention.

Today, retailers that have applied customer analytics to new areas are seeing tangible results in the form of higher transactions, bigger margins and larger orders in re-merchandised areas of select stores. By using customer data for more than staging targeted promotions, these retailers are reaping a true return on an investment that ultimately affects their bottom line.

India’s E-Commerce ‘Gold Rush’ Fraught With Risks | By: Rajeshni Naidu | CNBC

India was home to the fastest growing online market among the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) nations last year, growth that is fueling a booming e-commerce market.

The number of unique online visitors in India grew 50 percent in the 12 months to November 2012, according to internet analytics firm comScore, outpacing the likes of China and Brazil, which grew just 2 to 3 percent each.

And with an estimated three out of five Indians online visiting retail websites during that period, analysts say India is well on its way to becoming one of the world’s biggest online retail markets.

But there are also some major challenges ahead. Low internet penetration, the lack of profitability among online retailers, means it could be up to another five years before online retail truly takes off and commands a larger slice of the country’s $450 billion retail market, experts say.

” 110 million people who have access to the internet of any sort, and not all of them are keen on participating in e-commerce – so the space that you’re playing in is still very, very small,” said Dheeraj Sinha, author of the book “Consumer India: Inside the Indian Mind and Wallet.” “The population that you have online has built up over a period of five years.”

According to Mumbai-based Sinha, the “big jump” among India’s billion-plus consumers, from surfing the internet to becoming keen online shoppers, will take time, and retailers considering entering the online market should have at least a five-year horizon in mind.

Right now, online retail makes up less than 1 percent of India’s retail market, according to Euromonitor, but it is expected to reach up to 8 percent by 2020.

Some of the big players in India’s online retail market include the U.S’s Amazon.com, which also runs Indian website Junglee.com, book-seller Flipkart.com, online marketplace Snapdeal.com and apparel retailer Jabong.com.

“The number of (online) transactions have increased, the number of people who are more comfortable shopping online has increased, but in terms of the businesses which are in e-commerce – there has been a slowdown overall from earlier growth”.

Biggest Challenge: Profitability –

The cost of attracting consumers to shop online in India has come at a very high price for online retailers, according to Nangia, who says developing the country’s e-commerce ecosystem is impacting their bottom line.

“E-commerce companies have spent a lot of money, so they have ended up with a very high activation cost and the cost of acquisition at times is much higher than the average purchase or business that is generated from that customer,” Nangia said. “The first few years have been good to develop the base for the industry, but it’s increasingly becoming important that companies look at the profitability of the business as well.”

Manu Jain, co-founder of Jabong.com, a leading Indian online apparel retailer that entered the market just over a year ago says that while he expects year-on-year growth for his business to be on track with industry estimates of a 300-350 percent rise in revenue, the company is not making profits yet.

“I think we’re moving in the right direction towards the path to profitability and we hope that we should be able to achieve it faster than anybody else in India. We still require investor money, but we hope to become profitable soon,” Jain said.

Snapdeal.com, India’s leading business-to-consumer or B2C website, which has over 20 million registered users is also yet to make a profit despite seeing the cost of purchases more than triple over the past year.

“Our cost base is very, very low given that we don’t hold any inventory, we don’t have any warehouses, we don’t own delivery vans and all those things,” Kunal Bahl, co-founder and CEO of Snapdeal.com said, when asked about profitability. “We’re still in the early days, investments have to be made in driving consumers and brands to digital commerce.”

Unique Shoppers – 

To attract consumers to online shopping, retailers have used tactics such as payment by cash or credit card on delivery and no-questions-asked return policies.

Technopak’s Nangia expects retailers to increasingly pull back on these offers as they try to rationalize costs in 2013. “We should see much emphasis on profitability-per-shipment than we have seen till now,” she said.

Shabori Das, research analyst at Euromonitor in Bangalore, however, says that if online retailers take back offers like cash on delivery (COD), they’ll lose out on big segment of the Indian consumer base: those who do not have bank accounts or debit and credit cards.

“India is an extremely price-sensitive market and if someone is taking back the offer and the other one is still offering, it’s bound to happen that the one who’s offering COD will get more sales,” Das said.

Bahl of Snapdeal.com said he has no plans to change options like COD, because India is an 85 percent cash economy and people will not make a “significant behavioral change overnight.”

“While cash on delivery may create 3 percent more returns, I see it as a small price given the market expansion that it facilitates,” he said. Mumbai resident Surova Kar opts more for COD than paying directly online when she’s not sure of the fit of items like shoes or clothing or even the reputation of the retailer.

“It feels like the product comes faster for cash of delivery – delivery is very fast, within 24 hours sometimes,” Kar, 34, said. The stay-at-home mom says she orders everything from diapers to clothing up to twice a month for her 15-month old baby online and is now very comfortable with the retailer she uses.

“Since I use this one website, they are extremely good, and now I can order completely blindly with them – that’s the level of trust I have got now,” Kar said. And ” Building-Trust” is a big part of how India’s online retailers plan to keep their businesses growing.

“The overall acceptability and willingness to buy online has increased tremendously and we see a huge amount of orders coming from not only bigger metros, but also from smaller cities,” said Jabong.com’s Jain. Consumers are buying more now, because there’s more trust in the system, Bahl of Snapdeal.com added.

“We’re making sure he’s [the customer’s] giving you a dollar very quickly then coming back again and again to give you more dollars,” Bahl said.

Most Companies “Don’t see Strategic-Threats Coming” until it is too Late | by: Joe Evans | ExecutiveStreet


Organizations are gradually adapting to increasingly effective Strategic planning & Strategy execution methods that allow them flexibility to quickly adjust tactics in today’s more challenging and fast-changing business environment.

Gone are the days when strategic plans where meant to be static guides for a 3-5 year period. Simply put, strategic planning is about maximizing our opportunities to be successful, and that changes some of the requirements for strategy implementation in our current business climate. One factor is that strategic threats are emerging more quickly and in increased numbers. Now, more than any time in history, there is a need for more frequent “attention” to be paid to both strategy and execution.

This article provides some valuable guidance to business leaders for more agilely managing Strategy & Execution in a business climate filled with ” hidden strategic threats “….

The True Purpose of Strategic Planning Hasn’t Changed: 

As the vestiges of the Great Recession continue to dissipate, corporate strategy has been affected. Having passed through the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression, businesses across the board have adapted their behaviors and strategies. Today’s strategic planning has transitioned from a process of trying to predict the future to one of looking backward at what we “know” as well as examining the current-state realities of our business and markets. These combined actions help build far more effective transformation strategies for the future by leveraging lessons learned from the past with a “stepped-up” enterprise threat surveillance element of strategic planning.

–  What Has Remained The Same: 

The underlying purpose of strategic planning, all the way back to its beginnings, has not dramatically changed. As always, strategic goals setup guidance for organizational activity. Goals still serve as the rocket thrusters that propel motion and guide direction. The strategy, as in the past, applies to all areas of the organization and the strategic goals define the major thrusts the business will pursue to achieve the vision of the strategy.

–  What Has Changed: 

What has changed is the approach taken to effective strategic planning. Corporate strategy management is now a day-to-day and week-by-week activity. The long-held belief that strategic plans are to be addressed once a year serves to obfuscate the ever-green nature of what plans really represent. Such perspectives are outdated now and executives are switching their mindset away from treating strategic planning as if it were a project.  Instead, strategy and execution is gaining respect as an ongoing journey that requires us to re-check our position against the map frequently to avoid getting lost.

Additionally, Today’s Strategic-Planning, is more balanced between TWO major factors: 

1) the current-day business needs and issues facing the business 

2) the the long-range future vision of the organization and how to get there

A strategic plan that seeks to impose strategy and execution tactics for a period of 3 to 5 years into the future without adjustments along the way is not realistic any longer. Guessing on what the future holds in-store a year in advance is much harder to predict than it was even a decade ago. Forget about predicting FIVE years out with any accuracy or security..!!

As a result, strategic planning time-frames are adjusting to shorter horizons, with the most ambitious organizations adopting a system of rolling 12-month adjustments to attenuate operational dimensions of the plan to the overall business strategy.

Trouble Comes In All Shapes and Sizes: 

The point of having a strategy and a plan to enact it is based on wanting success and trying to avoid trouble. The problem is, the traditional approaches to strategic planning did not always produce those outcomes. A more modern approach was needed. Organizations need all the help they can muster to maintain a slim second and a half lead over the competition and navigate around or through the unprecedented number of environmental threats that loom in the business world. We’re not talking about environmental threats such as natural disasters. Instead, threats as devastating to a business’s ” bottom-line” can be more subtle than an earthquake and still shake a business to its core. 

Staying a second and a half ahead of trouble requires businesses to continuously survey the landscape – both inside the organization and out. Businesses must be thoroughly familiar with their market’s terrain in order to detect changing consumer behaviors, regulatory threats or the actions of competitors. Each can quickly reverse a business’s fortunes.

..” That burden falls squarely on the shoulders of today’s CEOs “….. Leadership is ultimately accountable for instilling the processes and rigor needed to maintain a system of environmental surveillance and a method of devising strategies and tactics to leverage the information it yields.

The trends this surveillance detects, when juxtaposed against the business’s bedrock desired key outcomes (as defined in the strategic plan), serves to correctly guide decision making and promote the right strategic initiatives needed to protect the business’s interest.

Done well, the very process of strategic planning helps identify many threats, while operational measures serve as additional protection to the organization – via governance that tracks and monitors the key metrics of the business that signal trouble as it approaches.

“Overcoming a Failed Plan” | by:Tyler Montgomery | Club Solutions

Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Although we plan for things to operate perfectly, many times we find snafus in our plans as they are being executed. In my mind, what makes a great person isn’t how well you lead your team each day, but how you overcome hiccups as they arise.

In business we execute with deadlines and measure ourselves through quarterly goals. How we meet those goals is how we determine the success and efficiency of our team. At Club Solutions, we have revenue goals for advertising sales, but we also have editorial goals and deadlines. On a 12-month plan, we rarely have any hiccups in hitting deadlines or issues within our plan.


However, it would be naïve of me to believe that on a 12-month plan, we would never have any issues arise. When an issue arises, my immediate instinct is to think back to the plan. I reevaluate the plan as if we hadn’t begun to execute. If I knew, when initially working through the plan that I’d have a road block, if I went one direction, then what would I do differently?

Dwelling and complaining about a plan falling through doesn’t help me solve the problem. Instead, it merely takes up time and gives me something to do outside of resolving the issue.

Recently, as I ran into a situation, I quickly reevaluated the plan in this way. I realized that I had leaned on a solution without worry that it might fall through. With every execution, there is always the possibility for something to go wrong, regardless of how many times it has gone right.

This doesn’t mean that you should become so jaded that you don’t trust. But, you must be aware that things, from time to time, can go wrong. How do you solve that problem?

Every problem will have a different solution. Although, by working back to the original plan, identifying the end goal and then working through problem again — this time identifying what issues arose and working around them — you can reach a solution.

Hopefully you will be able to identify an issue within your plan before you are close to reaching your deadline. But, sometimes you have to be nimble on your feet and able to fix problems with minimal time.

Being able to work through problems without creating more problems for your team is one characteristic of a good leader. What type of problems have you had to work through recently, and how did you resolve those problems? Tell me how you’re a great problem solver in the comment section below.

“Resource Management” as a “Competitive Edge” | BCG Analysis


What are the key elements of an internally driven focus on sustainability and growth ? Through a series of interviews and deep-dive analyses, we have distilled seven core principles that guide the new sustainability champions’ focus on total return on resources. (See Exhibit 9.).

These principles may seem familiar management dictates for any major initiative, yet they take on special significance in the context of resource management.

The Seven Principles of Total Return on Resources :  

Monetize Resource Management: 

Even in emerging economies, resource management can take on the aura of a feel-good initiative designed to please stakeholders. If employees see it this way, they will never integrate it into core activities and planning. Instead, the organization has to adopt resource management as a strategic differentiator that will drive growth and profitability. People have to believe that they can monetize it.

Monetizing can work by increasing resource efficiency along the existing value chain and adding new products that improve resource management either internally or for suppliers or customers. The monetary gains have to exceed the costs within a manageable time horizon, and these gains must accrue to the company itself, not just to the industry or the wider society.

Shree Cement is explicit about optimizing cost as part of its commitment to sustainability. The company is constantly scrutinizing its operations to identify process or material innovations that could reduce costs. For example, in 2011, Shree estimated that it generated savings amounting to 8 percent of its aftertax profits for that year through measures such as installing rotary screens on fly ash silos and increasing direct deliveries to customers to reduce the use of secondary freight.

Embed Resource Management: 

Exhorting employees to monetize sustainability is not enough. Companies also need to embed the key concepts of resource management within the organization. They must go beyond strategy and into corporate structure, governance, and the organization’s mission.

Focusing on resource management will be a major shift for many organizations and therefore may require some persuasion. Industry leaders will have few immediate tangible benefits to offer, especially for resources that have experienced only mild pricing pressures. They will need the vision and understanding to communicate the growing importance of total return on resources. Only then will the organization be ready to embrace projects with uncertain outcomes—and to adapt when roadblocks emerge. Resource management can’t have a project-of-the-month strategy; it has to be accepted as a standard part of how the company works.

Some organizations already have a culture built around sustainability. Jain Irrigation was started by an entrepreneur from an Indian village that was suffering from water shortages. He saw farmers sinking into terrible poverty, with many forced to let their farms fall into disrepair or to abandon their fields and move to the city. That motivated him to create a business around making agriculture sustainable through drip irrigation. This single-minded goal pervaded the organization as it grew, and the founder’s son continued to spread the word to employees when he took over.

Most organizations may not make a moral commitment to resource management the way Jain Irrigation has. But there is no reason they can’t appeal to higher motives. Equity Bank had no special commitment when it looked into the problem of reaching remote villages. But it soon realized that small farmers would never become substantial customers until they improved their productivity. And the bank would never be able to finance those improvements unless it could deliver services without physical branches. Those realizations led the bank’s executives to adopt sustainability as a deep-seated organizational value, one with the important side benefit of motivating employees who wanted their work to be more than just a job. Those motivated employees, in turn, not only figured out how to make mobile banking profitable sooner than board skeptics assumed but also how to reduce resource use in other areas. Their enthusiasm helped speed up Equity’s transition to paperless banking.

The Broad Group takes an even more holistic approach to embedding a culture of sustainability. Most of its operations take place on a “green campus” with energy-efficient buildings. Employees eat in a cafeteria supplied by the company’s own organic farm. They see examples of effective resource management all around them.

Measure, Measure, Measure : 

While some industries have managed their resources for decades, most are only now starting to make the effort. They are often still in the exploratory stages, when it is tempting to set vague goals and just learn along the way. But as executives realized long ago, what gets measured gets managed—and everything else falls off the radar when people get busy. Measurement is fundamental for the companies we researched, and they measure relentlessly.

As soon as the organization has developed objectives or projects, it can define and communicate a set of indicators that show progress. These must be concrete and quantifiable enough so that managers can track results. Some initiatives will fail, while others will succeed faster than expected. The sooner the company can shift investments from one to the other, the more it will accomplish.

Transparency is essential here, not just for the layers of management but also for the full organization. The best way to demonstrate the importance of an initiative is to broadcast the metrics and post frequent updates—and to celebrate milestones. And while the company must demonstrate the seriousness of these measures, executives should also be ready to adjust them as the projects and their environments evolve.

Partly for those reasons, it is better to go with a few, easily understood “magic metrics” than with an exhaustive list of all the indicators around a process. Magic metrics can act as symbols of commitment and, hence, galvanize the organization and drive cultural change while giving the company something manageable to focus on.

Florida Ice adopted a limited number of indicators as part of its effort to produce no solid waste and to be water neutral and eventually carbon neutral. It installed permanent monitoring of these resources, and it now reports progress regularly to the broader organization. A single scorecard for sustainability, bringing all the metrics together, allows employees to see in a snapshot how the company is doing. The company combines metrics with education, and its employees have gotten caught up in the drive for improvement. More than 95 percent have gone on to volunteer on company-sponsored projects to restore local watersheds, educate consumers, and support suppliers and customers working to reduce their environmental footprints.

Look Widely at Resource Management : 

Most companies tend to focus on the direct financial benefits of resource management. The best companies, however, have a much broader sense of the concept. They take a holistic perspective on their resource use, looking at all inputs and outputs.

Consider again Florida Ice, which could have been content to make its factories highly efficient in their consumption of water. Instead, the company also focused on the sustainability of local water supplies as a whole. So its factories worked with local communities to preserve the watershed that served everyone. In 2011, the company invested 7.1 percent of after-tax profits in environmental and social projects in alliance with local NGOs and community leaders.

This holistic approach can go a long way to reducing operational risks for a company. By working broadly with stakeholders, companies can promote better management of the resources they depend on. When companies are able to identify their operational risks and better mitigate and prevent them, they create competitive advantages. Shree began using a “scavenging” approach when it adapted its kiln to act as an incinerator. It disposed of solid waste from local communities while reducing its fuel bill.

Be Innovative with the Business Model :

Resource leaders will work to be innovative with the overall business model, not just to make changes within it. Just like products, business models have a limited lifespan and must evolve over time. The change can be as ambitious as a new value proposition for the main business. Or it can yield a complementary offering that strengthens the main one.

Jain started with irrigation units but eventually realized its growth would be limited as long as farmers couldn’t qualify for bank loans. One way farmers could qualify was to get sales contracts with commodities dealers. Finding no such dealers in many of its markets, Jain branched out into commodities wholesaling. As the company gained expertise, it was able to guarantee minimum prices for its customers, which in turn encouraged banks to lend to them.

This type of innovation often requires investments in research and development, either to bring out entirely new products or to adapt technology from elsewhere. The Broad Group wasn’t content with improving the energy conservation of their air conditioners. The need to improve building insulation was everywhere. So it retrofitted nearly a dozen of its buildings by incorporating thick thermal insulation and four-paned windows.

Shape the Business Ecosystem : 

While they focus on improving their own operations, leaders in resource management will also want to look over their entire value chain. That means going beyond their own or their customers’ resource demands, as Jain and Broad have done from the start, and addressing the demands of suppliers and distributors, too.

In this way, companies can go beyond merely communicating priorities to suppliers or teaching customers about the efficient use of their products. Choices they make about product specifications can determine how the constituent materials get made or shipped. Smart companies will consider the full ramifications of these decisions. As long as the company monetizes the benefits, it may make sense to sacrifice some efficiency internally in order to reduce resource consumption elsewhere in the value chain.

Companies will even look to change mindsets in the society at large. The Broad Group applies its metrics to the public by measuring levels of air pollution in target communities. People who see regular reminders of pollution levels will be more inclined to buy a gas-powered air conditioner that won’t draw on coal-burning generating plants.

Going a step further, leading companies can gain a powerful competitive advantage by setting standards that most or all players in the category will have to follow. By partnering with or lobbying regulators, these pioneers can persuade governments to turn their practices into the regulatory standard. Even when governments aren’t involved, market leaders can convince suppliers and customers of the need to support those practices as industry norms—norms that match the company’s strengths. Rival companies will have to catch up or even reconfigure their own practices in order to meet the standard, giving the pioneer an advantage for years to come.

Equity Bank gained this edge when it innovated in mobile banking in Kenya. The government didn’t set standards, and other banks quickly jumped in. But Equity’s approach proved so popular that the new entrants had to imitate its agency structure and its interface with Safaricom’s technology, rather than adopt an approach customized for their own capabilities. They have yet to match Equity’s success.

Florida Ice was a model of effective lobbying when it worked with regulators. The government had initially implemented penalty-based rules on resource usage that threatened to add substantial costs as the company grew. Instead, Florida Ice persuaded regulators to move toward a positive system that offered credits for reductions in resource use in any part of a company’s business. That means that Florida Ice now gets full credit for the water conservation it promotes in communities beyond its plants.

Florida Ice also freely shares its practices with rivals. While that might not be advisable in every industry, it makes sense here because, as the market leader, Florida Ice is also trying to raise the reputation of the industry as a whole. That is important at a time when beer and soda bottlers are under attack for contributing to excessive alcohol consumption and obesity. This sharing also helps to ensure that Florida’s approach will guide the industry’s development as a whole.

Constantly Explore and Improve : 

Finally, as more companies recognize the growing resource constraints, pioneers in resource management will have to keep moving. Their advantages will be temporary, so they will need to improve relentlessly in order to maintain an edge. They will want to readjust their targets on an ongoing basis—using those metrics that they have already invested in and finding new relevant ones to stay ahead of the curve.

Business intelligence is vital here—not just to know where the company stands with its rivals but also to see if others have had success with processes or materials that are under consideration. Looking out to the wider world is helpful also in setting benchmarks and grasping what is possible, after factoring in the different conditions at hand.

Even if rivals haven’t caught up, organizations will benefit from raising their expectations at frequent intervals. That way, employees can continue to feel the energy and satisfaction of reaching new peaks and avoid the complacency that comes from success.

To drive constant improvements in its operations, Florida Ice has relied heavily on its widely publicized goals to be water, waste, and carbon neutral. Pressure from those ambitious objectives drove its managers to look broadly for models to imitate and benchmarks to set. But in some areas the company is already doing so well that it has to work on its own. In 2007, it bought a local bottling plant that was already quite efficient. Two years later, Florida Ice had fine-tuned it so that it has now become the most water efficient in the world, requiring only 2.3 liters per liter of finished product.

The Broad Group focuses more on individual improvement. It starts with extensive employee training and development. As people advance professionally, they can accomplish more and reach higher targets. Constant improvement on the individual level helps the company push for gains on the company level.