Sharing their opinion on the significant category trends that are likely to unfold in the near future, stalwarts from the Indian retail industry believe that despite challenging times ahead, technology will set the pace for a retail revolution in the country with the industry entering a consolidation phase and ecommerce growing by leaps and bounds. Speaking on the sidelines of the India Retail Forum 2013 held at the Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai, industry experts opined that with the onset of a technology wave, the industry is cautiously optimistic about growth.
Bijou Kurien, former President & Chief Executive, Lifestyle Reliance Retail, said that for the multi-category retail segment, the next year would certainly be a bit challenging due to the difficult economic environment and low consumer sentiment.
Being upbeat about retail growth, Ajay Kaul, CEO, Jubilant Foods, stated that in the F&B category, in a year’s time, the country will experience a retail revolution. According to him, things will not change too dramatically in the next four quarters but due to the election round the corner, it will be a tipping point. Representing the consulting domain, Arvind K Singhal, Chairman, Technopak, pointed out that consumers in the middle strata, due to time at hand challenges, e-shopping will be the next big thing especially in urban India. Coming from the online retail industry, Vijay K Misra, Founder Director, Done by None, said that the Internet penetration will increase with the availability of cheaper smartphones.
Knowledge with technology will become the greatest enabler, said Rajiv Makhni, Managing Editor – Technology, NDTV. Tushar Ved, CEO, Major Brands stated that India is on the radar of the international fashion and lifestyle brands. By 2015-17 India will evolve as a very different market altogether, he added. Rajesh Jain, Director & CEO, Lacoste India mentioned that in the next 12 months the mass apparel market is going to perform better. Affluent customers will continue buying luxury apparel, the space in which Lacoste operates. The overall market sentiment would be cautiously optimistic, added Jain.
Dilip Kapur, President, Hidesign, mentioned that the sudden and explosive e-commerce growth might affect the high street stores. Hidesign thus plans to grow through ecommerce which already accounts for eight percent of its turnover. By next year, the brand expects e-commerce to contribute 12-14 percent to its sales. Talking about the branded jewellery segment, A Palani Kumar, GM, Integrated Retail Services, Titan Industries, said that customer experience will be the key differentiator. In the electronics space, Kannan Gopalakrishnan, Director, Retail, Nokia remarked that there will be more and more focus on building a relationship from the first point of customer contact and technology will allow companies to offer personalised service.
S. Raghunandan, CEO, Retail- Prestige Group expressed hope on the consumer confidence remaining positive. Meanwhile, Cyrus Engineer, Head -Sales & Marketing, Tata Realty stated that Indian retail is at a tipping point. According to Pushpa Bector, Senior VP, DLF Mall of India, the retail real estate industry is witnessing interesting times with innovative retail formats moving into the country.