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Consumer is the retail king

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What a cricket bat is to Sachin Tendulkar, a pen is to Salman Rushdie, and a camera is to Satyajit Ray, consumers are the same to retailers. In the present scenario, consumer loyalty plays a pivotal role in making retail gain considerable heights as a business proposition in the country.

But, are consumer demands being addressed by the retailers? The answer to this particular question is perhaps the way forward for retailers in the country.

Experts closely monitoring the industry feel that consumers in the country are more adaptable to changing retail dynamics, and hence, organised retailers should focus at strengthening their supply chain management in order to offer satisfying front-end services to the customers.

In the recently concluded Financial Express Retail Round Table Conference (RTC) sponsored by Brandhouse Retails Ltd, YS Bhave, secretary, department of consumer affairs, government of India, said, “Consumers in India have certain expectations from the retailers and it is the duty of the retailers to understand the consumer dynamics thoroughly.”

Addressing the same issue, Sumant Sinha, chief executive officer, Aditya Birla Retail, said, “Retailers should follow the right model when it comes to execution. A flexible approach in dealing with customers becomes important for various retail models in order to understand customers’ mindset better.”

Suggesting measures, Tarun Joshi, managing director, Brandhouse Retails Ltd, said: “Strategy plays an important role in the organised retail format and it is important for retailers to convey their strategy to customers.”

Raghu Pillai, president and CEO, operations and strategy, Reliance Retail Ltd, said, “Execution is a key in making organised retail business a big success. Moreover, forming alliances is yet another step in that direction. We are looking at forming alliances for setting up specialised stores in India.”

Many retailers in the country have adopted similar measures and are understood to be reaping the benefits. According to the Brand Equity Survey by one of the country’s leading economic dailies, many retail formats have changed their strategies and, in the process, have gained consumer loyalty.

According to the survey, Reliance Fresh is one of the most favoured retail brands of the consumer today. The format, which landed in controversies from day one, has made an impressive debut in rendering overall services to consumers and now holds the 13th spot in the list of most favoured brands in the country. Another food-and-grocery retailer Subhiksha holds the 22nd position, a notch above Pantaloon Retail’s Big Bazaar. Vishal Mega Mart stands at 42 and Spencer’s ranks at 58 in the list.

According to experts, the survey results indicate that consumers are still choosing their favoured formats depending on parameters that include pricing, convenience and offers, before arriving at a preferred destination.

The bottomline: In the given retailing scenario, where all the established names are vying for footfalls from similar catchment areas, value for money and a wider range of stock keeping units (SKU) will become the differentiator in the days to come.

– Satrajit Sen

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