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    Staying Ahead of Trends, Consumers, Technology

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    “Knowledge needs to be imparted,”stressed , President – Group HR, at the South India Retail Summit on December 10 at the ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru, “on how retailers need to be sensitive to consumers’ needs and why they need to be tech-savvy. They need to be able to handle consumers who are more technologically advanced.”

    Venkatramana was speaking at a session moderated by , Creative Director & Founding Partner, RETALE Design, on what a retailer needs to do in order to stay ahead of today ephemeral consumers. Joining the discussion were M Ramakrishnan, MD, Thulasi Pharmacies and Suraj Shantakumar, Director – Business Strategy, Kirtilals.

    “With consumers gaining more knowledge and becoming better-informed about products, they also expect the sales person to know more than they do. Today’s consumers are well travelled and know more about different products and brands,” Ramakrishnan stated.

    Venkatramana pointed out that apart from educating sales persons, a retailer also has to evolve existing in-store formats. “We need to be very close to the consumer,” he said.

    With new consumer buying patterns emerging, store experiences have assumed much greater importance in the context of creating experiences. Shantakumar elaborated on the kind of design lounge created within his store that provides consumers a highly differentiated ambience and experience. He felt consumers now are always scouring for elevated and out-of-the-box moments on their shopping trips.

    Drawing attention to HR element of retailing, Ramakrishnan noted, “Nobody comes to retail as a career,” adding that the retail sector has been characterised by high levels of attrition.

    Venkatramana stressed on the importance of employee satisfaction, stating that every retailer must be able to to take care of employees and give them valuable professional opportunities. “HR does play a crucial role in the online retail business as attrition rates in the Indian retail sector have risen sharply after the take-off of e-commerce,” he said.

    The compelling need to integrate operations and marketing with technology enablers  was also one of the major talking points of the session. Panelists pointed to tools such as  mobile apps which also allow consumers to imbibe in-store experiences, as an important innovation. According to Shantakumar, there are many instances of overseas consumers wishing to first recce stores online before visiting a country like India. “So, a robust online presence is one of the basics in retailing today,” he said.

    The first-ever South India Retail Summit was held on December 10 at the ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru. Comprising a day-long conference and exhibition, the event hosted business and operational heads of some of South India’s and the country’s leading retail organisations, consumer brands, retail support companies, shopping centre developers and global consulting firms.