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    Innovation – The Success Mantra in Retail

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    The session titled “Innovation – The Success Mantra in Retail,” held on day two of the 2013 at ITC Sonar, Kolkata discussed at length the critical role of innovation in retail.

    Eminent panelists at the session were Sagar Daryani, Founder, Wow Momo; Sanjay Killa, Rithwick, Lifestyle; Sanjay Chordia, Imagine; Sarvesh Saharia, Business Head, Retail, Ambuja Neotia Group; , Presto personalised Wonders; and Rohit Jalan, Linc Pens & Plastic.

    Daryani started the session by stating that innovation is the success mantra not only in retail but in all aspects of life. It’s all about doing simple things in life innovatively.

    Jalan threw more light on the topic by saying that innovation is the change. “We need to move ahead with time. In our industry, pens are low involvement products. The key point is providing the customers with better quality pens.” He also mentioned that it’s a challenge to break into Rs 5 segment in the industry. The company recently launched a new line i.e., offering 3 pens at Rs 20 and hopes to make a history with the product, said Jalan.

    Poddar took over the stage and said Presto is all about personalised gifting and the company gets the drive to innovate from within. It commenced the business with rubber stamps. With the mall culture coming in, the company realise the need for personalised gifting options.

    Continuing with the discussion, Saharia mentioned that innovation is extremely important in order to differentiate oneself from the competition. Nowadays, innovation is technology driven and is important to retain the customer loyalty. He further added that Tea Junction introduced innovation in the business by designing cylindrical earthen pots which weren’t easily available in the country. According to him, the customer was also offered an innovative ambience.

    Killa stated that having started 10 years back, the company has become the ultimate kitchen ware and household destination. He said: “Jo dikhta hai, wahi bikhta hai.”

    Chordia from Systematic Media quoted Steve Jobs and said: ‘Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower’. In his opinion, the customers in Kolkata are very curious. They want to know why should they buy a product, which made him realise the importance of providing a good product experience to the customers at the store. He also added that more than giving false promises and talking negatively about the products, one has to focus on the product and try and give a complete experience to the customers. The company recently opened an Imagine store in Quest mall, Kolkata. Chordia mentioned that he wants many more malls to come up in the city which should all work together for creating better lives. Each retailer should be confident about the product and be consistent, stated Chordia.

    Daryani gave a flashback of how Wow Momo came into existence. The company wanted to innovate so it started with momos and came up with items like  chocolate momo and moBurger. The company also focussed on the look and feel of the brand to create an impression in the consumer’s mind. Poddar mentioned that though innovation is expensive we are all driven by the compulsion to innovate considering the cut-throat competition. Responding to Daryani’s question that how can innovation be associated with emotional connect with the customers, Saharia replied that they have been associating innovation with emotional connection by selling tea in earthen pots which is very much in sync with the local culture. The company has also developed local dialects in local caricatures to have a strong emotional connect with the customers. Killa added to Saharia’s reply by saying that they take very good care of the lady customers by providing a wide range of kitchenwares and household items.

    Chordia stated that the brand gets its best business from the existing customers as they act like their brand ambassadors. Jalan said that 5-6 years ago they signed a brand endorsement with and then the other brands subsequently followed that idea. Poddar, however,  disclosed that he was inspirated by Shutterfly, a store in USA to come up with personalised home decor products which they are planning to launch very soon. The company is also planning to expand its business in Malaysia.
    Sharing his inspiration, Saharia said that for him the home delivery model of Mc Donald’s did the trick. He also admitted that the company is currently working on a similar delivery model for Tea Junction as well.

    The session was concluded by Poddar as he appreciated the retail development that has happened in East India due to which many brands have become successful. He also thanked the Ambuja Group to come up with such development in the region.