Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Parkson Store Visit in KL (Part Two)

Let's move on to Part 2 of my Store Visit in Parkson, Kuala Lumpur.

For my readers who miss part one, you can find the information here: http://www.ktwealth.blogspot.sg/2014/01/my-store-visit-parkson-kuala-lumpur.html

In-store Promotion, Marketing and Branding

There are some catalog and booklets available that showcase the latest deals. During the Chinese New Year, Parkson launches hamper sets to mark the auspicious Year of the Horse. There are also discounted offers for various merchandises.

The problem is, the promotional materials are placed at the Customer Service Centre. One whole stack. It's not distributed to potential customers or placed in prominent points of attraction in the department store. For example, the decorated entrance of Parkson where you can have a table to place them or get Promoters to give out and talk about it. This is in consideration of the festive mood. The advertising visuals are printed in attractive designs and colors. Sadly, in my humble opinion, the implementation needs further improvement. This explains why few people (based on observation) take copies and walk around. If they do, they would probably spread via word of mouth communication, take photos, upload and share with their friends via social media platforms.

Secondly, I did not see any standees or signage pointing to any strong promotion. Neither did I heard any interesting deals mentioned in the store. For instance, "Deal of the Month". Footfall is lacking and the best period to boost sales is through seasonal period. So, the short term marketing hype may facilitate traffic but I did not witness any of them. However, Parkson does have loyalty card membership which I find it interesting. You can check it out through their website or drop by any outlet to find out more details. Probably it's better if the card membership marketing is a little more aggressive, considering the highly competitive retail landscape in Malaysia.

Service Staff

I do not expect any first-grade service like what you see in 5 star hotels. At least the minimum of serving customers with a smile is important, especially the warmth, making sure customer experience and mood are co-align positively. Such gestures come naturally. One has to take a pinch of salt as there are different ways of customer interaction. Think of Robinson. In Singapore, when you buy shoes, the Robinson staff gladly serves you, of course when you treat the service staff with similar respect. In Parkson, although the crowd is thin, I notice staff are not really that enthusiastic or take the initial approach to greet customers. A few did when customers inquire more questions. Not sure but a successful brick and mortar store needs these intangible for better recognition - get customers to remember you. Most want that level of personal connection.

Merchandise Mix

The crockery and pot section appeals to me because of the wide varieties and brands. In the apparel and footwear section, there is no popular premium to middle class brands, except a few which may not be familiar with the general public. In the Pavilion mall of Jalan Bukit Bintang, there is Armani Exchange and Zara standalone outlets. Question is, how will Parkson bring in unique brands that has the pull factor? You need specialty to highly sought-after brand offerings to increase concessionaire sales, part of Parkson revenue streams.

In the Beauty & Cosmetics section, as many brands are evident in other outlets like Estee Lauder, Clarins, Laneige, therefore the outlay and display counters may make a difference. Just imagine a U-shaped layout where perfumes are placed strategically to trickle one of your five senses.....are you attracted to stop, take a look and browse around? Another alternative is to built in fancy counters for individual brands that do not represent the common design. It's to catch the attention of the shopper and indulge him/her with the latest products. Takashimaya Singapore revamps their surroundings and more shoppers turn their heads to the perfume area. I hope Parkson may look into this and capture the wild imagination of the customer.

Conclusion

There is no foolproof way to ensure retail sales will remain consistent. A successful store depends on factors like deeper service engagement between customers and staffs, great atmospherics, excellent in-store promotion, continuous loyalty card awareness, wide merchandise mix and appealing layout. Parkson, in my sample store visits, did not perform to what I thought it may be, thinking that the Chinese New Year period may drum up something special. Honestly, I am disappointed.

On the contrary, it does not mean I am not sticking with them. I believe in the business fundamentals of Parkson, for instance their low debt level and concessionaire sales business model. Just that, I dress up as a mystery shopper, providing a real life perspective from consumer standpoint. It may not be 100% accurate for sure but can be used as a guideline for Parkson to innovate and readily adapt to fast moving consumer trends. Hopefully, Parkson will take concise plans to strengthen long standing relationships with current customers while aggressively capture new customers (middle income groups) through their ongoing Parkson Elite Card membership program.

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