Retail expert, Cheng Fuller has stated that the winning formula for retail business especially retail chain stores are to adopt modern trade.
In a chat recently with journalists, he pointed out that modern trade had evolved past putting up fancy stalls outfitted with gadgets and items but actually becoming part and parcel of the lives of its customers.
Fuller who played a key role in the setup and roll out of Indigenous Retail Chain Store Hubmart Stores urged retail players to focus on creating experiences for customers that they would wear in their hearts as they would wear their clothes on their bodies.
He said “Nigerians are emotional shoppers and more often than not, their emotional affinity to a brand or product is engendered by their experience the first time they come in contact with the services rendered by these brands” He posited that ultimately the quality of service would be the defining factor that would determine the lifespan of retail brands in the future. He stated, “Quality of Service is directly interpreted by the customer based on the level of delight in the shopping experience enjoyed by the customer during the shopping trip. This is hinged on 6 pillars outlined from the customer perspective, Good prices, Courteous Staff, Fewer Queues, Easy and Enjoyable shopping experience, rewards for loyalty.
Speaking on the future of retail for the next 5 – 10 years, he opined that consistency was a key factor in ensuring sustainability for most retail stores. In his words, “About 5 years ago, we witnessed real Modern Trade explosion and new brands started to flourish and test their models i.e. Hubmart – Miniso, Jara, – (etc). Today, all brands are striving for aggressive expansion and the retail explosion has gained critical mass. I believe there is no turning back. It is inevitable that Modern Retail will find a way to increase penetration with many different innovative formats from hypermarkets to small discounters. Today, there are a couple of hundred stores across the nation and these account for about 5-6 percent of the retail space. In a couple of years, Modern retail will take up more substantial share annually. I predict that this share will be somewhere around 10-15% within the next 5 years. That means that existing brands will keep driving aggressive expansion and new players will hit the ground. Pick-n’ Pay is already knocking on the door as we speak.’
In conclusion, he stated, ”Consistency and ensuring sustainability, for me is the biggest challenge in ensuring continuity. Sustain your store, sustain your people, sustain your range, sustain even your payment system and sustain your stock. Sustainability is a key challenge. Maintaining the continuous flow of goods, service levels and even power is a problem.
A dearth of skilled experts and of trained personnel who understand the dynamics of the market and can perceive sense the trends is equally an issue. However, organisations that are able to wholly translate the brand promise in their services to customers and collaborate with vendors to give the best relevant offer to the customer will remain kings in this market for a long time to come.”
It will be recalled that Cheng Fuller has over 15 years of work experience managing multifaceted teams in various multinational and local businesses to deliver value in process, strategy, brand management, business development, retail, as well as business advisory in the emerging markets.