Is Luxury Retail Employee in distress or confused in India?

Over the past few years it’s a common turmoil around why well foreign/top Indian fashion institutes educated and well versed polished front end staff is unable to generate sales versus the less educated and groomed working for his bread & butter is able to engender more. It has been recorded extensively that well qualified retail staff from popular renowned global brands fail to deliver after joining a fresh brand or less popular challenging brands. The reason allegedly being behind that most of these people are devouring eminent skill mismatches as they failed in obtaining the obligatory practical skills at the universities. Most of them get carried away with glamour of luxury industry.

Basically the hands-on and proactive skills that employers are seeking from their apprentice in this current scenario has been hugely found missing. This has led to people wondering incessantly about what their futures and distressing about it even after joining hands with the sense of security. So much so that luxury brands have been facing instances where it has been observed that young boys & girls from affluent rich educated back ground have been found thieving in stores or having integrity issues. Surprisingly, custodians of these luxury brands did not take any detectable measures to even correct it further.

There have been occasions where employee of the store selling his own sourced merchandise to the brand customers. The brands tend to provide MTM service to their clients as a part of their privileged service scheme which is being imitated by the employee of the brand at 1/4th price which is done locally. This entire modus operandi is not only hampering the brand value but also making the complete time & effort go in pure vain.

One such incident that I noted not so long before was a renowned luxury brand that was found to be selling fake replicas of their own brand inside the store. This was then conducted with the help of entire store team. At times the employee also tends to get carried away with the brand they associated themselves with. Consequently it’s good to aspire for those luxury products but aiming to achieve them with short cut is unacceptable and also impossible.

There are actual big retail companies in the market holding 20% of salaries every month to retain the employees and money is released at the end of the year as a bonus. On the contrary, few companies are giving International trips to lure & retain the staff as part of their training programs. Many of these big companies have failed to retain the employees despite offering various schemes and strategies. Many of these brands have dared to change the entire team twice in a single year in desperation to achieve puzzling targets. Most of these companies treating their employees as just a mere number or an ID is what has made the personal touch & concern totally missing. The Top level /CEO/ Brand Head /Business Head of these organisations are also facing some parallel issues so same is communicated down the lines as well. The front end retail staff is so exasperated to gain position at any cost without willing to understand the importance of accomplishing in-depth knowledge & experienced operational skills; that have made the switching of jobs & blackmailing of employers a common practice. Apparently, this has resulted as a big proof of acquiring shallow knowledge of each field (Jack of all trades & master of none).

Few years back, job stability was considered something to look forward while heading towards the job market but now the good work is no longer guarantee for assuring stability. Most of the front end retail staff has a shelf life of six months to year on average in spite of having the best of retail formats. The attrition rates are primarily very high in retail which has started promoting the hiring & firing as a distinctive work culture in a prestigious organisation. All these actualities eventually make one question about whether the top managements really incapable of setting long term examples down the line.

These award winning recruitment agencies are repeatedly pervading untrained and unverified staff having integrity issues into retail formats where employees are actually allured with superior positions and improved packages. This has trapped the employees briskly towards the entity of good to be taken over by the greed.They are poached & hired on obnoxious packages by theses recruitment companies which is not justified against the business plan.

There is an urgent need that Indian Luxury retail employees stop being so dependent on stock boys & support staff to serve a client and follow the International level of work mechanism where services are catered to clients irrespective of the designation. Besides, staff disputes are becoming major contributor in hampering the smooth functioning of numerous luxury retail formats. All such major drawbacks are working against plunging of the brand profitability and its success.

We need to think judiciously over few vital endeavours where we need to customise & build up HR policies to improve their livelihood. Along with it we also need to fix the mismatch between the skills already acquired and the requirements of employers. The Indian luxury landscape is clearly experiencing strong evolutionary undercurrents where more innovative solutions need to be investigated and put in the right place. In order to ensure persistence of the full benefits of an initiative over a long span, changes must be reinforced continually and consistently until they are no longer considered to be changes at all but are simply part of the company culture.

And the better one change is managed, the better the chance the next one will have of succeeding.

Prem Dewan

DLF Emporio Mall, Delhi