Walk the talk with Ajit Joshi, MD & CEO, Infinity Retail - Croma
We do not push the brand, we understand customer requirement and satisfy them with the most suitable product
We have an open door policy, we communicate extensively both in corporate office and shops
What have been the key contributors for the quick success of Croma as an organization?
One of the major contributors was having the right team in place from the beginning. The complete team was chosen from different industries to bring about a unique set of skills.
Additionally, the team had a shared dream to achieve something unique in the Indian retail industry. The concept of retail of electrodomestics and consumer durables in India was very new and anybody had taken yet the challenge to make it a reality. The new team had the motivation and courage to see the dream come true.
Finally the solid backing from the Tata Group has been key for our birth and success as a company. The support that we have received from other Tata companies has been very important from the beginning. We had the opportunity to work with Mr Krishna Kumar in defining our mission for example. For us it was a privilege to have the ‘father of M&A’ supporting us in creating our organization.
The mission for Croma was very unique from the beginning. Croma wanted to have an offering of products where every Indian family could find something for them. For example, if you need a phone, you can get a Tata Indicom phone for Rs 800 or you could get a high technology and sophisticated phone for Rs 10,000. Or you could fine a microwave that is a simple microwave or a sophisticated over, grill and microwave machine.
What is the uniqueness in Croma’s value proposition that have brought you the ‘Most Admired Retailer of the Year' award at India Retail Forum 2008'
There are many aspects that makes Croma unique:
- Format of Department store where you find all products and brands under one roof was very unique. Additionally, Open Format for products. The customers can to feel and touch the real products in display. The uniqueness comes from the parent company. We have been able to build many synergies through learning and sharing with other Tata Group companies.
- Our Brand campaign was also very successful. ‘We help customers buy’ campaign was very successful as approach is ‘we will not sell, we will help you buy’. Our teams in the front end are trained and groomed on the products and on understanding customer requirements to suggest products that fit the customer requirement.
- Our understanding of the customer is also unique. We do not push brand, we want ti understand customer requirements and satisfy them with the most suitable product. When we first open our store in Mumbai, our front end people will visit the houses of the customer before suggesting which TV the customer should buy. Customers could underestimate the available space in their living room while wanting a big plasma TV. If you recommend the right fit you have gained the loyalty of a family.
When it comes improving productivity from all levels in the organization, how can you ensure that each individual understands their contribution to the organization and is driven to contribute towards the common objective?
Employees that join our organization are under probation for 6 months. During this period is time for assessing the fit of the relationship from both sides. Once and employee is confirmed his goals are set in alignment with the store targets and goals and those are align to the organization goals in different areas.
Now that you are growing rapidly, how do you ensure a close linkage of every individual with the core values of the organization? How does one manage the need for standardization with the reality of diversity?
Head office works very closely with the stores, while Monday to Friday the core team is in corporate office, the weekends normally are spend in the stores, visiting and connecting with our front end staff on the ground. Customer is the central part of our business and the complete organization is centred on helping our customers to make the right choices for their needs. All Customer Feedback received is reviewed and answered by the Heads of Department and the Customer Care team, so there is a share responsibility on servicing the customer from the front end and the corporate teams.
While we are opening stores in different places in India, the experience you will receive in a Croma Store is standard and unique regardless of the location. We have mastered this model learning from our internal role models, like Taj for example. The service offereded in the Taj New Delhi or Mumbai or New York is the same.
What is the role of your Human Resource team in supporting the business?
The HR team is like a spinal cord of an organization, that connects and share information among the part of the body. It has the information, it shares the information and feeds the feedback loop and it plays a critical role for the health of the organization. If the spinal cord does not function properly, then the body gets paralyse.
Tell us more about Croma’s culture?
For our team communication and sharing is key for engagement of our employees. We have an open door policy, we communicate extensively both in corporate office and shops. I personally ensure that I have floor meetings regularly where we can share information and ask questions openly. We also incorporate the voice of the minority in our decision making, normally we look for consensus as approach for decision making but we also make the effort of taking the time to understand the minority’s point of view.