Exploring the Retailer`s Perspective: Interview 01Madiha Syedain
Retailer plays an important role in maintaining sustainable consumption and production. They act as a ‘gatekeeper’ between production and consumers. They are in direct communication with a huge network of suppliers, giving them the opportunity to trigger the manufacturing and development of more sustainable products. Through their interaction with consumers, they can impact the kind of products that are introduced and how they are given away.
In recent years the retail industry of Pakistan has experienced a boom and record-breaking growth. Now they are competing with the larger foreign brands. However, they have to go a long way to meet the future challenges facing the retailing industry in Pakistan.
The team of PakRetailers.com meets up with an experienced retailer Mr. Abrar ul Haq of Quick Check Departmental Store who throws light on the problems faced by the retailer in Pakistan.
Equipped with a Master’s degree, Abrar ul Haq and his brother are running the ‘famous departmental store’ for the last 20 years and are very proud of their ‘family retail business.’ While highlighting the retail scenario of the country, the retailer stated that the trade margin is not very clear in retail business. Blaming the distributor from the very beginning, he commented that most of our problems arise because of the distributor as he doesn’t deal in a fair manner. When asked why a distributor has to held responsible, he commented that margin varies because of bulk buying and ‘specific percentage’ provided by the distributor.
The Quick Check Store has witnessed nearly 60 distributors in a month. They are responsible for the delivery and booking of the product for the next day. Abrar further commented that communication is very tricky as they confront two major issues in this matter. First, if there is a customer complaint or delivery issue, they make a call to ordertaker and if he doesn’t resolve it, then they approach the distributor who is ‘never available to answer.’ Secondly, it is the company representative who helps them.
“Media, customer and order taker informs us about the new product or seasonal trade promo launched in a market,” said the responsible businessman. Stressing the importance of retail app in Pakistan, the owner of the store is of the view that there is no retail app which informs us about the latest products or settles down our disputes with customer, distributor or company, where should we go, emphasized the anxious owner. Appreciating the response of some well-reputed companies, Abrar pointed out that we do get informed about seasonal trade promos printed on electricity bills.
Based in Garden Town, the Quick Check Store is ‘a feast for the eyes’ and this has much to do with the family interest of Abrar ul Haq and his team who keep their store decorated with colorful discount offering flags and flexes and make sure that products are neatly stacked in racks. “The more enhanced and visible your approach is, the more successful the business is.”
Unfortunately, the interaction between the retailer and the company is very low. The need of the hour is that companies should organize more product training workshops and business conventions for the retailer so that the communication gap between the retailer and company should be bridged and they become more informed about company policies on the relevant product. His feedback on such an issue was very enthusiastic.
He further commented that the company representatives visit us to see if their products are meeting the appropriate standards set by the company but in most cases, the distributor ‘hardly bothers’ and is there when we have made direct complaints to the company. Technically we are stuck between the order taker and delivery.
The Quick Check owner showed a keen interest in attending the musical programs at the family festivals with his children and informed about the debit card and credit card facilities offered to the customers for more than a decade. Haq is not much aware of QR Code Payment mode but has come across three customers in a week who inquire about it. “A time will come when every company will have its QR code machine at every counter. The QR Code system has to be placed under one roof,” predicted Abrar.
The confident retailer is well settled and is not interested in getting loans from the bank.” I don’t need it but there are many who need such loans on easy terms so that they can easily pay back on time.” Calling ‘internet’ an important source of business promotion, Abrar said that he would definitely prefer it to boost his business.” He is an avid user of smartphones and uses apps like Whatsapp or Careem on a daily basis. “Everyday companies approach us with their apps promising to be a solution provider but we can’t download them all. There should be one app that can gather retail industry at one platform, so that it can act as a tool to launch a business, respond to entrepreneurial inquiries, inform the target audiences and provide solutions for all.”
There is no end to crises faced by the retailers of Pakistan. The suppliers do not deliver products on time, in case if we receive it, it is mostly out of stock and at the time of order booking, the distributor doesn’t tell us if the product is available or not. “One has to wait for a week for the supply to come in the market,” emphasized the vendor. Then there is a matter of expiry, if a product becomes expiry or customer brings it back, the distributor tries to delay the issue or company refuses to return it, referring it to a policy/margin matter.
To conclude, the company, retailer and distributor need to sit together and sort out their differences. As mentioned constantly, there should be ‘one app’ for all, so that all of us are informed about trade margins, stock level, latest products, price hikes, and others. “It is a dire need of the hour to keep us united and profitable in matters of the retail industry,” commented the enthusiastic soul.
Special Thanks to:
Video Facilities & Post: Areesh Zubair
Written Content: Madiha Syedain
Interview Arrangements: Nayyer Masood, Haider Ali