The third session on the day one of India Retail Forum 2014 was focusing on unlocking the potential of Indian retail and ushering in the next retail renaissance. The session was held by B.S. Nagesh, Founder, TRRAIN who commenced the discussion saying that since the last 20 years all the retail players have always been optimistic. Nagesh then, started with posing questions to the speakers. The first question was to Sam Balsara, Chairman and M.D of Medicine World, Do you think the Indian consumer is changing? Balsara replied “The Indian consumers are changing continuously. Today, the Indian consumer has more money but less time, so the critical factor that is relevant in this context is the loyalty factor.” In earlier days, the Indian customer was more loyal, but today he has become disloyal for the sake of change. Change has become the central trigger of his life. Balsara emphasized on the fact that on the growing economy Indian consumers have followed the hard mentality, i.e. he wants to be seen as an individuals.
Nagesh focused on the thought here that “Are Indian customers brand loyal and are they good at multi-tasking?” and this was followed by the second question to Kunal Bahl, co-founder and CEO of Snapdeal.com, how do you drive stickiness in a medium. Bahl replied “The key here is to have a very clear USP. At the end of the day, the customer looks for best prices and a larger assortment.”
Next question was to Rajiv Kaul, President –The Leela on how do you become loyal to your consumers. Kaul stated that there are two important things that go behind the answer to this question. One is to earning the consumer interest, and two- the customer will shop in your place, only when they have the right information. The key here is to build a long term customer trust.
Rakesh Biyani, Joint M.D. Future Retail was asked that with FDI coming in, ‘do you think the online businesses are going to kill the brick and mortar retail’. He also asked that there are two age groups: One is the 18-25 years which is the group of tomorrow, and the other is 25-35 years age group. The question is what happens to the other age groups, “With the emergence of ecommerce and what do you think the retailers are going to do to attract them to brick and mortar”. To which Biyani replied that there is a much larger opportunity in our country. The online retailers have the advantage of larger assortment and faster decision making which ironically are the limitations of brick and mortar, but with technology coming up there is equal opportunity for brick and mortar to come in the same space.
Online retailing started in early 90’s and now omni-channel enterprises has been created. Brick and Mortar is currently growing at a faster rate than e commerce. The physical presence at delivery points and transactional points does matter. The biggest difference for brick and mortar will be to use the technology increase the canvas of the product they are offering with technological platform, the position to offer merchandise across all the store will increase as well and the presence in all the space too.
The next question was to Juvencio Maeztu, CEO of IKEA India, ‘How can you bring in customer experience in the business’. He said there are two messages that IKEA focuses on: one is the beginning and two is the emotions. These are the key drivers of futures in retail. The IKEA store is attracting 70 lakh customers every year. The entry point for them is not the store but the customer and his lifestyle.
Rajiv Kaul added that the Indian consumers today are more affluent, assertive, and not shy. He said today 8 percent of his business is coming from website and thus website is no longer only an information provider but also a space for online commerce. Nagesh added, the technology in e-commerce has created a huge ecosystem and a new market place.
Kunal Bahl said that it is necessary to build a technological platform, not only locally but also national. He informed that Croma partnered with Snapdeal to use their platform to reach to the 50,000 business networks that Snapdeal has build over years. He stated, the important catalysts to build a strong online presence are leveraging on logistics and mobile and building an interest in consumers mind. Snapdeal focuses on galvanizing people and its team and not on making more sales. Mr. Nagesh took the conversation ahead with a question that what Snapdeal does to bring energy to office, to which a Snapdeal employee replied that they always try to fit themselves at the shoes of the consumers and provide more assortment and better prices.
He shared five important points: First that business can’t be carried forward in two ways: firstly by working skills forward and working customers and secondly by working customers backward. The business will grow irrelevant if we go by the first strategy. The key is to go by the second strategy. Second to maximize Experimentation in unit time and reduce the cost of failure, third to be relentless and work customer backward fourth to be willing to be misunderstood and have a strong focus on the customers. Fifth is a long term focus on the business.