The trained retailers from ISPF are now improving how they operate their stores and constantly trying to change the sleep products industry.

A mere three-word quote from the eccentric Rita Wilson: “Awareness is empowering”. Empowering for the scientific understanding it brings, for the choices it enables, and for the value it adds to our well-being. For too long, markets, though successful in capturing the imagination of the people to an extent, have lacked depth. Rather than stressing extensively on “You need this”, what was missing all along was simply focusing on the why of the “need”. Customers always show an elevated level of satisfaction when the purchase comes from a place of awareness, followed by independent choice.

It is only fair that retail ups its game to resonate with the behaviour of the new-age customer. An industry as genuinely purposeful as a mattress need not rely on sly marketing techniques. By simply equipping the customers with much-needed information through the medium of the ever-trusted mediators: the retailers, the industry can thrive further. Retailers ought to not only be aware but skilled to pass on the information constructively.

ISPF at the forefront

Forefront is no surprise ISPF has been at the forefront of elevating the retail segment of the Indian sleep product industry to ensure a quality experience for all the stakeholders. Their training programs have been one of the key drivers in this mission. In the past year, 2000+ retailers were trained and certified. The number itself speaks of the impact endowed.

The last month saw HGH India World of Sleep Pavillion host a large number of industry stakeholders and their enthusiasm. During these 4 days, ISPF in association with GTT (Global Talent Track) organised a training program for 245 retailers. A professional consultant from GTT leads the 4 day long sessions with holistic modules and impartial learning methods. The focus was increasingly laid upon consultative selling methods to enrich customers’ experience.

Bi-annual training sessions

With an overwhelmingly appreciative response from retailers at the HGH India coupled with visible impact, ISPF has made the obvious choice of taking a countrywide approach to these training sessions. The organisation in association with GTT will be offering a bi-yearly training session across numerous cities, starting with Banglore and Hyderabad this August.

The dual sessions will also be accompanied by regular enhancement of knowledge and the latest sleep products industry news. For this, monthly newspapers and regular updates will be used to maintain a steady and accessible stream of information for retailers. The upskilling efforts will ultimately help empower the consumers into making a more informed choice. Besides, the retailers would also receive a certification and a mention on the ISPF website, handing them a favourable position online in front of their customers.

ISPF is putting its efforts in training its retail partners and empower the retailers to achieve better success in the business and meet customers’ expectations. It is heading towards empowerment of retailers with knowledge that can help customers to take informed decisions as much needed information flows through the retailers in most effective way.

4 modules, 1 mission!

The sessions would entail 4 modules to lay equal focus on the critical aspects. The first is regarding upskilling. It concerns the general retail etiquette of the mattress industry. The second one focuses solely on consumer experience: line of inquiry to understand customer’s needs better, practice consultative selling, provide product knowledge in a simple relatable manner using relevant examples, etc.

Since technology has slipped into every possible aspect of life, sleep industry retailers showing minimum participation in the realm would only be doing so at the cost of their customer base, both new and old. Nowadays, it isn’t unlikely for digital window shopping to convert into actual purchases in real-time. Thus the need for an in-depth digital presence is justified and wouldn’t be wrong to say, an absolute necessity.

This is exactly what the third module focuses on. Amidst stiff competition from online channels, brick-and-mortar businesses need a strong digital strategy to thrive. Retailers will be assisted in their digitization efforts. Creating a strong presence is not the only purpose, since at the end of the line, it is always the customer satisfaction the efforts are concentrated at.

Hence retailers will be trained about aspects like how to reach out to the right audience through suitable platforms and strategies, satisfyingly address customers’ queries and provide them with coherent information while keeping user-friendliness in focus. Simply, the aim is to use the power of the digital world to create a bridge that ultimately leads the customer to the retailers’ doors.

Another crucial but often overlooked aspect, display, will be covered here. A retail store is a place the customer should not only get to see the mattress or other products but experience it using all the senses. Big companies like Walmart and Ikea admit to savvy display strategies being a major part of their success mantra.

After all, we tend to be a slave to our senses. We walk towards a product before even realising it, almost akin to a trance. This realm should be extensively exploited by the sleep product retailer, especially considering that it poses a major advantage against their digital rivals.

A layer deeper

An in-depth conversation with Mr Sundaresan unveils the deeper layers of this mission. From workplace accidents, and diminished productivity to lengthy hospital bills and overall, a degraded quality of life, the consequences of poor sleep health are many. Everyone faces them regularly but does not necessarily realise it.

With the right training, “we expect the retailers to be industry’s torchbearers, shedding light on these issues that customers face due to poor sleep health and thus help them attain awareness.” Not that they want to only help bring focus to the issues, but to speak in a way that is solution-based. “This is where the part of sensitising customers about the benefits of a good mattress and further, suggesting suitable mattress comes in.”

 “Curating a personalised experience for the customers is the need of the hour” Mr S. Sundaresan stresses. “When we can talk about the topic of poor sleep health and its consequences in a way that is relatable to the customer, we can finally make them understand how switching to a suitable mattress acts as an investment.”

 Thus, the expertise of retailers translates into informed choices by customers. That is indeed a win-win situation for all involved. No doubt, the upcoming ISPF Retail Training efforts in association with GTT do give us all something to be excited about.