Customer Perception of Retail Formats

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Indian retail presents a great opportunity to the domestic & the foreign investors. On the other hand, it also poses a great challenge in terms of customer satisfaction. The purpose of this research work is to compare customers' perceptions of two retail formats: Traditional Multi Speciality Stores and Exclusive Showrooms and their purchasing preferences. In addition, the paper compares these preferences across demographics. Data were collected through intercept survey in Ajmer city across a range of demographics. Consumer behaviour was also personally observed. Chi-square was used to investigate the nature and significance of the observed differences. On analysis it is found that four key factors exert critical influences on customers' perceptions: demographics, in-store customer service, brand images, and price and promotion. The results indicate that exclusive showrooms are perceived as having comparatively reliable prices and attractive promotions in comparison to traditional multi speciality stores, while traditional multi speciality stores have competitive advantages in terms of the in store customer services. Respondents find that the salespeople of traditional multi speciality stores are consistently courteous and also their behaviour instils more confidence in the customer. Keywords: Retailing, Customer Perception, Exclusive Showrooms, Traditional Multi Speciality Showrooms,

INTRODUCTION
The Global Emerging Markets Survey (GEMS), researched 300 global retailers, representing a global portfolio of around 25,000 stores, who are looking to expand outside their domestic markets, have identified India as the most sought-after retailing destination. The survey was conducted by London-based C B Richard Ellis, a leading real estate services firm. Over the last decade there have been sweeping changes in the general retailing business. For instance, what was once a strictly made-to-order market for clothing has now changed into a ready-to-wear market. In India, the retail sector is the second largest employer after agriculture. The retailing sector in India is highly fragmented and consists predominately of small, independent and owner - managed shops. There are some 12 million retail outlets in India. The proportion of sales through organized retailing is estimated to increase to around 6% by 2010 at present it’s just 2%. The world over retail business is dominated by smaller family run chain stores and regionally targeted stores, but gradually more and more markets in the eastern world are being taken over by billion - dollar multinational conglomerates. Customers are looking for ambience and convenience in shopping. This would continue as more dual income families, the consumer‘s ability to spend will increase, but at the same time, it is predicted that the time available for shopping will go down. In such a scenario, the retailers will have to take steps to develop shopping as an experience, though the more successful retailers will be those that will provide faster services. This paper attempts to understand the perception of customer towards the two retail formats: Traditional multi-speciality stores & Exclusive Showrooms. The paper attempts to explore the consumer perception on the basis of demographics and store image. REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Bernard Berelson & Gary Steiner (1964) suggested that Perception is the process by which an individual selects, organizes and interprets information inputs to create a meaningful picture of the world. Customer Perception is the selection, organisation and interpretation of marketing and environmental stimuli into a coherent picture (Henry Assael, 2001). The customer’s perception regarding stores affects their emotional states and thus, influences the buying behaviour this is true in every retail format. Exclusive showrooms Viz., those stores which offer single brand merchandise position their stores on the basis of pricing, quality and variety of the merchandise and...
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