TRRAIN is a public charitable trust formed in 2011 by B. S. Nagesh, with the vision of empowering people in retail and works to achieve immediate and lasting change in the lives of retail associates in India. They are solely committed to upgrading the lives of people in retail, both at work and at home. TRRAIN’s initiative on building an inclusive retail workforce by creating livelihood for Persons with Disabilities in retail roles has received tremendous support from the industry and impacted the lives of over 17,000+ Persons with Disabilities. TRRAIN’s initiative TRRAINHer Ascent aims to create livelihood for women in retail. It has been created to train women, provide them employment opportunities in the retail industry, and help them become financially independent. TRRAIN has undertaken various initiatives to build pride and dignity through the TRRAIN Retail Awards and Retail Employees Day.
B S Nagesh has been involved with Shoppers Stop and its group companies since its inception in 1991 as the first employee. As part of his personal philosophy of Learn, Earn & Return, he stepped out of the day – to – day roles of the business as MD in 2009 and founded TRRAIN.
In an exclusive chat, B.S. Nagesh, Founder, TRRAIN on the organisation, their initiatives to support the retailers and much more.
How did TRRAIN come about?
TRRAIN was born after an in-depth research was conducted amongst employees and employers, both, in modern and traditional retail. This study, conducted by an independent body, indicated that a vast majority of people working in the retail sector hardly felt a sense of pride or dignity for their work. Moreover, social inclusion was hard to come by and up skilling or learning new skills was almost inevitably out of question.
This led to the inception of Trust for Retailers & Retail Associates of India (TRRAIN) in 2011 with the vision of empowering people in retail. We work extensively to achieve immediate and lasting change further upgrading the lives of retail associates in India, both at work and at home. At its crux is a strongly ingrained value system based on Pride, Inclusion, Respect, Development that is core to all our initiatives.
This lockdown saw the retailers stand out and be the go-to person for the consumer, your thoughts?
Pandemic or no pandemic, off-season or peak festive periods, nothing stops or deters the spirit of the retail community. Every single day, they cater to thousands of needs, requests, pleas tailored to every individual’s tastes. So much so that you’re local kiranawala or delivery agents are akin to friends you can rely on. This year more so, we truly witnessed the power of a community that stepped up, risked their own lives to keep households running. For a community quite under-prepared for a pandemic of this scale, they were quick to adapt and cater to our needs. Thus, it calls for an even bigger celebration this year for World Retail Employees Day.
2020 has been one of the most difficult year. What have been the learnings and challenges that the retail community faces?
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a radical shift in consumer behaviour and retail took a massive hit. Stores were shut for months with close to zero revenue coming in for the businesses. In the beginning, even stores which were open were facing issues due to gaps in supply chain due to pandemic. However, as the world coped with the new normal, the retail workforce truly stood firm in the face of adversity. We have heard of stories employees, who quarantined themselves from their families for over 3 months and wore heavy PPE suits long hours each day to serve their customers. If there is one thing the pandemic has taught is to be resilient. Needless to say, that the pandemic has also rewritten the rules of retail but what it also brought in is a sense of gratitude to a community that delivered our daily bread and milk to our doorstep, despite the unprecedented times.
What is the significance of World Retail Employees Day, which is celebrated on the 12th December?
Conceptualized by TRRAIN in 2011, December 12th, every year, is recognized, globally as Retail Employees’ Day (RED). Being an industry-first initiative, it gives us immense pride to have spearheaded a movement that now has global recognition. It’s a day to bring the retail employees including delivery boys, kiranawalas, and retail attendants into focus and thank them for their untiring efforts. With Retail Employees’ Day we aim to build pride in the retail community by creating awareness and empathy for their jobs, lives and the significant role they play in the lives of customers.
Back in 2011 with a humble 20,000 joining in the movement, Retail Employees Day has grown manifold to now being recognized and having a global footprint. Celebrated across five countries viz. Turkey, UAE, India, Philippines and Bangladesh, the movement now enters its 10th glorious year of creating awareness and empathy for the retail community with #KhulkeBoloThankYou. Over the years, RED has garnered tremendous support from 1000+ leading brands in India including Shoppers Stop, Reliance Retail, Future Group, Arvind Fashion along with 100+ malls and 8.5 lakh SMEs who have echoed the shared vision.
Can you tell us about the campaign, #KhulKeBoloThankYou…?
2020 as a year has truly been a humbling experience that has taught us one of the most significant life lessons of being grateful. If there’s one thing that kept us afloat through the challenging times, hands down it’s been our frontline heroes on duty, every single day. As the doctors, policemen and public servants attended to their call of duty, there are those who ensured that even your smallest requirements were met and delivered at your doorstep – our retailers.
With our clarion call of #KhulKeBoloThankYou the idea is to encourage people to thank the retail associates for their relentless service all through the year despite the global pandemic. With the goal of gathering 1 Million Thank You, the movement by TRRAIN & RAI is a step to empower the frontline warriors from the retail fraternity across the globe and in India. Conceptualized by Contract Advertising, the film encourages you to add two words to your shopping list this Retail Employees Day – ‘Thank You’ signified by the ‘hand-on-heart’ logo.
As this pandemic and lockdown have seen a surge on the digital platform, how is this segment going to leverage on this?
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of ecommerce and Omni channel retail in India. The segment is currently still growing at a rapid pace in India. When stores shut retailers quickly ramped up efforts to scale their digital presence and many retailers have seen great sales during the festival period online. Sales through digital channel will continue to be a part of the retailers’ strategy in the coming years and its share will keep on growing.
What are the trends you are going to see in this segment in 2021?
Thanks to the telecom operators in India, reach and penetration in their tier 3 & 4 cities is no longer a challenge for businesses. The customer either buys online or offline, thus an important thing for brands will be to build trust amongst customers and to facilitate an omnichannel strategy. Social media and platforms like Whatsapp will play a big role in connecting brands to their customers. One of the things I foresee is that channels will converge to form a brand channel (eg. Shopperstop.com) and a marketplace (amazon.com/flipkart.com). The brands will be built on the brand channel and volumes will be built on the marketplaces.
What are the other initiatives by TRRAIN to empower the retail community through the pandemic and lockdown?
As soon as the lockdown struck, retail stores pan India had to shut down. This had a huge impact on the lives of retail associates. With the support of the retail community we launched a relief fund to help retail employees, who had lost jobs or had been put on furlough. We were able to impact the lives of hundreds of such youth by providing income bridge support to them. Now that the stores have started opening, we are working on a medical relief fund for retail employees to help them with bridge support for any medicinal or hospital charges. This will be open to retail employees pan India and we aim to impact thousands more through this fund.
~ Join in the movement and #KhulkeBoloThankYou: www.red2020.trrain.org ~