Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Fake Act

Usually, I intend to keep this space free of my professional life but this particular episode of a blatant fake-act needs to be documented here.

A few weeks ago I had gone for a summit called ‘A Strategic approach to retailing for brand profitability’, as one of our important clients in Sri Lanka is in the business of Retailing. It was held in one of the 5 star hotels of Colombo and there were two retail masters (as the e-mailer had indicated) from India, doing the talk. R Kannan, President of RAMMS India (a retail solutions company) and Gopi Krishnaswamy, CEO of Insight Instore Research (another company doing the same kind of stuff with offices in India & Singapore) were the retail masters.

Though Mr. Kannan’s session was good but had nothing really revealing on the subject. But it was Mr. Krishnaswamy, the CEO of the Insight Instore Research, who had some really revealing insights.

Through a series of examples from his company’s experiences on various clients across the world, he started making some brilliant points. Examples like once his company, Insight Instore Research, tracked a shopper with a cartful of items, who abandoned the idea of purchasing them because of the waiting time of half an hour at the payment counter’. The point being made is that shoppers hate waiting in the queue.

A bell rang in my mind. Paco Underhill’s ‘Why We Buy’??? But then, I thought, it sounds like a common occurrence at retail stores and Insight Instore research would have perhaps tracked it.

For those who are not aware of Paco Underhill and his extremely interesting book called, ‘Why We Buy – The Science of Shopping’, it’s a very interesting book on the subject indicated by the title of the book. Mr Underhill is the CEO of Envirosell, Inc., a company dedicated to retail research. His clients include Gap, Hallmark, the U.S. Postal Service, Wal-Mart and Starbucks. You can know more about the man and his work over here. Now, thanks to a project for this retail client of ours, I had finished reading this book a week before this retail summit.

But all the subsequent examples put across by Mr. Krishnaswamy kept ringing the same ‘Paco bell’ until it turned into a loud cacophony of many bells (like the prelude to the song ‘Time’ by Pink Floyd) with the final example. It’s the famous example of a lingerie area in a clothes store not doing well because they had kept benches for the bored and waiting husbands, right next to it. (The point here being, the layout of the store is very crucial.)

Once again from Paco Underhill’s study (and mentioned in his book) being passed off as something found out by Mr Krishnaswamy and his Insight Instore research. Minutes later, I was out of the hall where this was happening.

Why? The gentleman could have easily mentioned the correct source of the examples while making the same point. Nothing would have got lost. While now, his image and credibility is lost in my eyes and the eyes of all those who will read this.