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IRF’14: Conflict of Interest Between Organised Retailers & Online Retailers

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The second session of the concurrent event, India Retail Forum 2014 highlighted the conflict of interest between organised retailers and online retailers. Despite the onslaught of technology threatening to take over the organised retail business via ecommerce portals, the captains of the organised retail are optimistic without fear to leverage technology to support their brick and mortar retail business.

“Even in developed countries like US and Germany, ecommerce penetration is only 11 percent and 14 percent respectively where 4G flows like water. Hence, in India too, the brick and mortar organised retail will re-orient itself,” said Ajit Joshi, Managing Director and CEO, Croma (Infiniti Retail).

Joshi referred to the initial comments made by moderator Bijou Kurien, Member, Strategic Advisory Board; L Capital Asia who pointed out that Amazon achieved the same size in 14 years that Walmart took 40 years to achieve.

The interactive discussion at India Retail Forum 2014 raised many eyebrows in the backdrop of transformation set to take place in the retail industry over the next few years with consumers considering their birthright to return the product bought online if not found to be satisfied.

It was argued that consumers have the liberty to decide on their purchases using their smart phones after comparing prices and reading product reviews. Hence, organised retailers will have to harness the power of opinion that consumer has expressed in the web space, Kurien said.

Citing an example of embracing technology to its conventional retail business model, Kulin Lalbhai, Executive Director, Arvind Ltd said, “As India evolves, the vocabulary will change and user experience will become important. Technology will fundamentally change the way to reach out with the brand and lifestyle experience to the end consumer.”

Arvind is launching its first portal for consumers to buy clothes by allowing them to design his or her apparel, giving a complete digital immiscible experience. Participating in the panel discussion, celebrated Chef and CEO of Khana Khazana and Yellow Chilli Express was not too perturbed over the rising usage of technology by the consumer in his retail purchases.

Drawing a parallel between online technology and cooking, Kapoor said, “Theory of displacement was always there in fuel, but cooking remains the same. Similarly, selling remains the same in retail. Either you can create change or be part of the change, but the role of the business leader is to understand this change.”

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