Earlier this week, I had the privilege of speaking to one of the prominent hardware retailers in Chennai MR.Ravi of MS paint & hardware. We had a insightful conversation on hardware retail business. Some of the things he told me were mind blowing and was impressed by the way they have built the business for over the last 2 decades.
Mr.Ravi told me hardware business in India is very unique as it has much dependency on the middlemen and is disconnected from the end customer. By middlemen he means the workers who fix and build or the contractors. These people control how much business a retailer can do from his shop. Hence a retailer is bound to be in a good relationship with his customers as well as pseudo-customers ie contractors,builders,plumbers etc as they suggest solutions to customers and customers sway to their words. Although this might seem bit odd, this is the market truth!
Another interesting thing that took me aback was the fact that customers are looking for more visualization of the product that they are trying to get.
I was puzzled, this was fair in a textile or food retail but hardware?
He explained it to me with an example, Previously people choose from paint catalogues and moved ahead to paint but now they want to see how their houses will be therefore retailers paint them and give a full view of a digital model to the customers and they buy the paint once they are satisfied with what they see.
Ravi calls this the touch and feel concept, mentality of modern customers. Interesting how he puts it.
Towards the end of our conversation we are discussing about the importance of data for businesses and I was able to sense how much he meant what he was about to say. Mr.Ravi told me that for hardware retail the variety of products was way too much and that the database built over these products is invaluable and a data loss would mean a disaster.
He also quoted an incident from how GoFrugal helped restore data he lost after his database got corrupted. He was in praise to the support provided by the team, what made it more interesting was that he mentioned the friendliness of the executives which made him feel that GoFrugal was easily approachable. I explained him our upcoming cloud solution for data protection he was delighted to hear it and said would definitely help retailers like him.
Yep, we are at your service. Always.Every time.
This was one of the most insightful conversations I have had in the recent times and I learnt 5 key things from a hardcore businessman, which will be helpful for any reader of this blog :
- Subject matter Knowledge is the key to success : Know your business, your market, your competitor and be updated on them.
- Time is as valuable as any of your wealth : This can be anything your service time in your retail, stock taking time, delivery time, every minute is valuable.
- Customer Centric business operations will stand the test of times
- Build relations with people from your business environment, they may be insignificant now but are potential for a later time.
- Adapting to Changes is important in businesses, choose the changes wisely And hold on!
Inputs : Mr. Ravi, Proprietor MS Hardware & Paints