AN innovative three-tier marketing channels strategy rolled out by Sigma Paints of Saudi Arabia two years ago has put the paint major at the sharp end of customer service, based on the valuable feedback it has received from each type of client. The Dammam-based paints specialist is now looking to expand its retail network to cover the Middle East.
The first phase of this plan – which covers both the professional and the end-user – saw the company opening its first Sigma Service Centre – “the 100 per cent professional outlet” – in the Al Rakkah district of Dammam in 2011.
“We have received amazing response from Day One. As an innovative concept unique to the Middle East, our new marketing strategy garnered a lot of attention and was a precise answer to the market needs,” says Ammar Al Barazi, Sigma’s channel marketing manager.
Sigma currently has two of such service centres, the first in Dammam to cover the Eastern Province, and the second in Riyadh, covering the Central Province.
According to Al Barazi, the strategy was implemented after a detailed study of the requirements of the market.
“We have kept a keen eye on the feedback from the market and the results are satisfactory. The professional segment appreciates the wide assortment of paints and paint tools and accessories that we offer in a manner that makes decision-making easy. Training for the professional segment is also an upside. We have a consistent education module, trying to keep professionals up to date on application methods and product introductions,” he says.
The second concept saw the opening of the Sigma Design Shop, a one-stop outlet for end-users, in Dammam, in January 2012. “This concept is innovative and unique and requires a special kind of partner. As such, we are very selective in our process and we are taking our time before opening new outlets. Our plans include opening more outlets in the kingdom during the coming years,” he says.
“The end-user segment appreciates the ease with which they can pick and choose colours and colour combinations. Our staff is trained to give the best advice possible. We have a wide assortment of product offerings in our shops including exterior and interior paints and decorative finishes; and paint tools and accessories such as brushes, rollers and scrapers,” he adds.
Sigma is focusing on continuing to be forward looking when it comes to its existing network, monitoring the market feedback, and introducing new products and tools while expanding its creative concept.
While implementing the strategy, Sigma has kept a close watch on customer feedback and satisfaction.
“Customer service is a critical point for us. We continuously evaluate customer satisfaction. Our research indicates that our customers always leave happy and always get what they want over and above what they usually find in the market with our competitors,” he says.
Al Barazi continues: “We have a clear and consistent system to ensure that our customers are getting the best customer service and the best training available in the market. This entails training in-shop staff; ensuring the presence of our staff in our shops all the time in order to help our partners and to trouble-shoot; and monitoring all actions and troubleshooting immediately, when necessary.
“We always get the feedback in all the shops, which is then reviewed by Sigma and answered to promptly. We also have a mystery shopper programme, which allows us to properly judge the level of service in the shops.”
To back its top-quality products and services, Sigma offers a range of value-added services including continuous training for professionals as well as its in-shop staff, assistance to its customers in specification and troubleshooting on technical issues; and on- and off-site assessments, when needed.
Meanwhile, Sigma continues to scout for the most suitable partners to expand its retail network. It is also looking to expand this network to cover the entire kingdom.
“We are in a constant search for the right partners who are a great fit for the brand. We are very selective and thus sometimes it takes time but all our partners believe in our value proposition and believe in Sigma Paints as a brand. That is the secret to our retail network success,” Al Barazi concludes.