Demonetization, that was announced in November 2016 had an overbearing influence on the way 2017 started, barely 45 days into what was arguably one of the boldest reforms India has seen. This had both positive and negative rub-offs on organized trade, especially large format stores. On the positive side, there was demand consolidation, whereas on the negative side, there was a supply chain disruption and a severe impact on the cash dependent real-estate sector which meant that mall developments slowed down briefly.
The year 2017 was a watershed year in the reform roadmap of India. GST, a game changing initiative was introduced on July 1, 2017. GST implementation had its set of challenges which included a brief supply-chain disruption, which had to be weathered.
2017 was also significant as it saw the rapid evolution of ‘seamless commerce’, which can possibly be considered as one of the biggest influences in the future of retail in 2018. The customer increasingly is becoming channel agnostic and only those retailers that understand this and provide a seamless experience for the consumer, both digitally and in the physical stores, will continue to thrive.
The relevance of ‘Seamless Commerce’ can also be seen where many pure-play e-commerce brands venturing out to provide physical experience zones or even starting physical stores for own or franchised brands.
For Lifestyle International, 2017 saw the introduction of ‘Click & Collect’ across its key verticals of Lifestyle, Max and Home Centre and 2018 has several such plans in the pipeline to enhance seamless commerce.
2017 was also significant in the way the consumer voted for ‘value’ which is likely to continue as a significant retail trend in 2018. There was certain affirmation of the fact that the Indian Consumer respects the value proposition that brands offer. They bought brands that offered the best proposition in terms of price and functionality or fashion quotient. Many ‘overpriced’ brands saw stagnation or low growth, whereas brands that demonstrated stronger value proposition, thrived.
Another significant factor in the way of consumer behavior, is the faster adoption of trends. Changing lifestyles, and easier access to global content on fashion meant that consumers kept pace with and is easily adopting fashion.
I am confident that 2018 will see solid demand for fashion, rapid evolution of seamless commerce, more aware, more digitally savvy more assertive consumer, discipline in the pure-play e-commerce trade and overall a fruitful year for the industry.
(The article has been written by Kabir Lumba, Managing Director, Lifestyle International Pvt. Ltd)