In the seventh session of ongoing retail event, India Retail Forum 2014 a special presentation and panel discussion by ESRI took place on Building a Location Platform for Business Success in Retail.
Several industry experts were part of the panel discussion such as Shivnath Thukral, Former Managing Editor, NDTV Profit; Linda Peters, Global Business Development, ESRI Inc.; B S Nagesh, Founder, TRRAIN;. Bhavit Desai, Global Retail, Real Estate, and Logistics Consultant (USA); Shubhranshu Pani, MD- Retail Services, JLL; Wolfgang Hall, Global Industry Manager- Logistics and Supply Chain, ESRI Inc. and Peeyush Bajpai, COO, Indicus Analytics.
Linda Peters started the presentation with a brief introduction to the importance of location and site selection in retail. She said “Location is Everywhere”, however it is very important to reach the customer. Data analytics plays a very important role in location decisions.
Location analysis includes components like Marketing Plan, Marketing, Store Operations Risk Management and Distribution. According to a IBM/MIT report, 3000 executives in 30 industries across 30 countries have 60 percent more data than they can use. With this insight, the discussion was open for the guests.
As per B S Nagesh, initially location selection was by mere availability as there were no retail locations available two decades ago. India being in a nascent stage of retailing, he felt it was a major challenge to convince the top management to use data analytics in retail location selection in the country. India being a different market, some top management sometimes reject locations based on vaastu. He added shoppers stop as a retailer also started using data in early 2000s and also loyalty program data contributed to 74 percent of business decisions then. Data Analytics should be used in the right way to make the most of it.
In Bhavit Desai’s view it is critical to educate on the uses of data analytics. It isa combination of art and science and hence should complement the gut feeling and data. Not having realized the importance of these technologies early, even a retailer like Walmart had to shut 50 stores in China.
Peeyush Bajpai further explained the challenges in Indian scenario wherein people are not very willing to accept decisions based on data. Data can become information only when it is put in the correct context, this information on analysis becomes intelligence.
There is a positive sentiment with respect to increase of technology use in retail in India even though challenges like privacy still remain a concern. Peters then posed a question ‘How technology impactts the reaction of the customer?’ Desai replied stating that a cue should be taken from Amazon’s philosophy of obsessing completely about the customer and must find ways to satisfy needs of the customer. Over the last few years 100-200 mn have been spent in building malls but not even 100k had been spent on research for location.
Nagesh added another important issue about the absence of ‘Zoning Laws’ as the mall property owners do not know what the adjoining properties will develop into and how it will impact its own mall, thus affecting the catchment richness. Sometimes a mall is sold to several owners where shoppers stop at a time had to pay to 50 mini owners.
Wolfgang Hall, suggested how gamification can be used in combination with location based services to push information, provide incentives, entertain and thus through all this create value. The returns of such apps may not be immediate and may require high investment.