Raju Pullan, Senior Vice President, Consumer Electronics Business at Samsung India, is busy these days strategizing the direction the Company’s business will take once lockdown eases across India. His day is filled with tens of video conference calls with his team as well as with partners, but he’s found time to rekindle his passion for a musical instrument – the Organ.
He’s got classes fixed with his teacher for every Friday, and the weekend, and is already getting the hang of the keys and basic notes (c, d, e, f and g… high and low keys) so far. His teacher isn’t someone far away, peering into his life through the laptop, but his 9-year-old son Austin!
“After a hectic day of con-calls and video calls, this helps me unwind,” says Raju. “Through these days, I am learning to learn, unlearn and learn in the new Un-tact society every day.”
Raju and his team are talking to several partners daily, and 100 in-store promoters every week, 25 each from different regions, to understand and listen to how consumers are behaving, especially where stores have opened. He calls them ‘Samsung Warriors’ on the ground.
So what have we learnt about consumers?
– They want contact-less payments. Big jump in credit card/debit card transactions
– They are coming to stores all researched, spending less time, closing orders quickly
– Smaller town consumers are picking larger TVs (43-55 inch), bigger refrigerators (300 litres and above), higher capacity washing machines, and microwaves.
“Even at my home, the ROI on the microwave has shot up over the last 40-odd days with my wife and daughter churning out cakes and muffins,” says Raju. His humble contribution is the finely cut almonds! So that’s one kind of learning.
The other is ensuring skill development and training of 8,000 in-store promoters, hundreds of sales staff and also partners on not just our new products but also the new normal, consumer behaviour, and most importantly how to keep themselves and consumers safe at the store floor by maintaining hygiene and social distancing.
Many of our in-store promoters are getting calls from consumers with their requirements, and several of them are opting for Samsung’s unique strategy of demo on video, remotely.
“There is going to be a whole new way of working going forward. All of us, our team, partners need to be on the same page on that. We have to take care of both our consumers and partners,” he points out.
Even as retail opens up, to ensure consumers get the Samsung products they want, his team rolled out a unique and the true O2O (online to offline) program . In this, consumers can pre-book Samsung products on its official online store Samsung Shop (https://www.samsung.com/in/offer/online/ce-sale/) and get up to 15% cash back. Booked products will be express delivered from the nearest Samsung Authorised Retailer as lockdown restrictions get lifted in different parts of the country. Of course, following all standard operating procedures.
This has two benefits. Consumers get their products faster, and it also helps Samsung’s retail partners.
Looking at the kind of strong demand, the pre-book offer has been extended till May 17.
Of the orders received since the pre-book offers started at the end of April, 37% orders came for refrigerators as summers are peaking. This was followed by demand for TVs (21%) as consumers are watching more content as a family and Samsung Smart TVs come with Personal Computer mode that aid both Work From Home and classroom studies. Microwaves (17%), ACs (12%) and Washing Machines (11%) followed.
“In every crisis lies big opportunity. That is what I believe,” says Raju, indicating how his team has been able to bring partners together for the O2O program.
To keep stress free, Raju practices the Organ as per the class timings (strictly set by Austin). In addition, a few times, the entire consumer electronics leadership team of Samsung has come together to do Yoga on video call, having discovered a few Yoga gurus in the team!
“I picked up a few breathing exercises that I now do every morning in my balcony, staring into the green in front of me, listening to the birds chirping.”
- Be a life-long learner
- Challenge status quo
- Listening is magic