Understanding that retailing is the most dynamic business, how to keep reinventing business plans to stay on top of the game was the theme for the panel discussion with Shivnath Thukral, former managing editor, NDTV Profit, as its moderator.
The session opened with the question on how to reinvention business plans according to changing times. At this, Venu Nair, MD, Marks and Spencer responded that the combination of innovation and smart merchandising is their modus operandi in this dynamic environment. Their core concept lies in enhancing fashion that cater to every member of the family. For them, quality space poses a challenge; wherein they want to create an environment offering privacy to the customers along with their signature offerings.
Thukral volleyed the same question to Shailesh Chaturvedi, MD and CEO, Tommy Hilfiger India, who responded by saying that they leapfrogged to the Indian market with their merchandise catering to the significantly different market.
Niren Chaudhary, president, Yum! India with the impressive cache of brands like Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell was asked about the changes he anticipate to which he answered that innovation is the key to doing things differently. He also laid stress on the conviction to face the changes and leverage on the technology.
According to him, the three key areas of focus are brand, business model and compassion agenda. It implies that listening to the needs of the customer and being flexible to their demands are necessary when venturing into new markets. “In a market like India, an element of innovation is necessary as there is no definition to the kind of market formats that develops,” he explained.
AD Singh of the Olive Bar and Kitchen, took the discussion forward by drawing the similarities of restaurant business with that of retail. He said,”They both share the same dynamics. With intense competition around, there is a need for the role of innovation in the industry in order to remain in front of the game. A lot of pop-up brands are bringing up the scale of business and along with it, the need for innovation is increasing.”
Thukral moved the discussion to Sriram Khatter, CEO, DLF with the question on how his extensive experience managed to influence the inevitability of changing business plan. For him, there are no short term remedies, everything is for the long haul. He explained that there are two levels to focus on; firstly, retail experience is safe, sustainable and customer oriented and secondly, to quote prices with validation. “This is an era of informed customers and the need of the hour is to transcend into seamless transition from the current format into omni-channel retailing,” he added.
S Raghunandan, CEO, Virtuous Retail shared his vision on “connecting communities”. Similar to the other panelist, he of the belief that the future lies in leveraging retail experience over sales. He told that companies should invest in building a brand on social media because that is where the trends is going. At this point, Augustin Alberto, CEO, Idearetail Chile, added his insights to what he sees as a 3-step movement into the future trends, i.e., experiential, innovative and productive. Like many of his contemporaries, he also believes that India as a market demands innovation and it becomes necessary to develop category, department wise.
Moving further, Thukral changed the discussion from experiences to the need for right quality of manpower. Chaudhary of Yum agreed to the importance of skill building from bottom to expedite efficient, innovative and productive workforce.
Citing Yum!’s example, they started initiatives like learning interventions at every level in the company, as well as a special project horizon where life skills are imparted among staffs’ to give them a better standard of living.
Further, A D Singh revealed how they create an opportunity for employers to be partners in their company; by creating a sense of ownership among the employees.
Chaturvedi of Tommy Hilfiger spoke about his experience of starting from the usual cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai; and how they expanded to over 50 cities in the last 10 years. Paranoia and caution made them step slowly into smaller cities but their strides grew stronger and longer as they understood their acceptance into the market.
Raghunandan of Virtuous Retail commented on the concept of trading density being the key; while the session concluded with comments from Alberto about adapting to consumer need and perspective.