Home Retail Ushering in the golden age of retail in India

    Ushering in the golden age of retail in India


    Retail in India is undergoing a paradigm shift. Each day meets with a new challenge, which brings about a new opportunity. If done right, today we have an opportunity to turn our plans and actions into valuable assets. Thus, it would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that retail in India has well ushered into a golden age. Tapping this phase of retail being witnessed in India is the 11th edition of The India Retail Forum (IRF) with the theme ‘Ushering the Golden Age of Retail’ – a retail renaissance where innovation breaks barriers, where proven concepts are adapted seamlessly, where technology facilitates an augmented access to knowing our consumer better, and where new retail spaces and formats enhance the shopping experience. Reiterating the legacy of IRF, Amitabh Taneja, CMD, Images Group & Chief Convenor, IRF aptly says: “The mission of India Retail Forum is to act as a retail catalyst connecting businesses, people, knowledge and ideas for the profitable growth of modern retail.”

    Some food for thought – Retail, if spelt as ‘Re-Tale’ shifts our thoughts to weaving of a story that involves using the right side of our brain – the one that is adept to creativity and art. But ‘retail’ being a business subconsciously makes us believe that it is the left side of our brain that needs to be more active – the side that interprets numbers and logic better. To be honest, we all know that the attributes of our medium to earn and at the same time also enjoy our daily bread and butter has its root embedded in just not the science but also the art of how well we take it forward. Retail drives its exuberance and passion from the heart and the brain. Where the left brain helps us in meticulous planning, flawless execution and operational excellence to take care of numerical-led thinking through number crunching, rationalising logic and putting teams into action with a game-plan to succeed, the right brain aids us to think out of the box, helps us with the art of planning on intuition motivating the behaviour of our team and innovation.

    Spread across two days – September 17-18, 2014 – at The Renaissance, Mumbai, the 20+ sessions would see eminent industry speakers and retail experts discuss, debate and share how the amalgamation of the left and right side of the brain can help build your knowledge and expertise into a retail know-all. At IRF 2014, we aim to make you deep-dive into the whole hemisphere of your brain to unearth the pool of knowledge, ideas and class-leading concepts. From having experts talk on unlocking the potential of Indian retail and ushering in the next retail renaissance to doing things differently and re-drawing the blueprint for the next millennium of retail. IRF 2014 shall also have key Indian and international speakers share their expertise on creating a compelling brand experience and amplifying the customer’s emotional connect with a brand and discuss on the future of online retail in the session – What’s Next for Online Retail – Having made Headlines, How Online Retailers are Re-defining Omni-Channel and Omni-Present
    Retailing. There will be all this and much more at IRF 2014!

    Tapping the changing dynamics of Indian retailThe retail industry is already passing through a phase of transformation and industry observers predict that retail will transform more dynamically in the next five years than what it has over the past century. The way that consumers make purchasing decisions has dramatically altered: they stand in stores, using their smartphones to compare prices and product reviews; family and friends instantly weigh in on shopping decisions via social media; and when they are ready to buy, an ever-growing list of online retailers deliver products directly to them, sometimes on the same day. These shifts suggest that big changes are inevitable and that retailers must act now to win in the long term.

    The expert panel at IRF 2014 in the session ‘Doing Things Differently in the 21st Century’ will share how they are gearing up and building next-generation strategies for taking their businesses to the next level of growth in the ever-changing landscape of retail where buzzwords like ‘predictive retailing’, ‘omni-channel’, ‘digital’, ‘big data’, ‘offline-online integration’, ‘not just shopping but a complete lifestyle destination’, etc. are re-defining the entire landscape of  retail concepts, retail spaces, core set of customers, and customer expectations.

    The World Bank recently ranked India as the world’s third largest economy, having surpassed Japan and now behind only to the U.S. and China. This is a promising indicator of the rise of consumerism, growing consumer confidence index and the maturing of Indian retail markets, thus signifying the ushering of the golden age of retail in the country. To ensure that this golden age that we have stepped into does not lose its glitter, it is important that each stakeholder in this journey – whether it be retailers, brands, suppliers, e-commerce players, retail support services, retail real estate, government or policy-makers – fulfils their role to build the eco-system, which lays down a strong foundation thus becoming the pillars for this golden period. According to  global consulting experts, the top five game changers in retail would be –  (a) demographic changes, (b) multi-channel and mobile commerce, (c) customer relationship management, (d) distribution and logistics, and (e) emerging retail business models.

    At IRF 2014, the curtain raiser session shall provide an analysis of the Indian retail landscape, thus capturing the latest trends and ideas to capitalise on the golden age of retail. The experts present shall look ahead to spot the ‘game changers’ that will significantly impact retailers, brands and suppliers in 2015 and beyond. Innovation has reached its zenith, and retailers must be well prepared for transformational developments that are empowering shoppers to expect more from the industry made possible by technology evolution, the digital reach, online information at fingertips, and the rise of a young new affluent class of consumers which is not just limited to the big metros. Present at IRF 2014 would be experts from world-renowned consulting firms sharing detailed insights into trends and factors shaping up the retail landscape and drawing up the retail vision of 2020. Highlighting what makes IRF a must-attend event, Ajit Joshi, CEO & Managing Director – Infiniti Retail shares: “The platform of IRF has become the mecca of national and international players seeking to addressing critical issues related to the retail industry. It is a cauldron that helps come up with interesting and innovative business models.”

    A not-to-miss inaugural session is designed to give you a bird’s-eye view of the technologies, innovations, retail concepts, retail real estate landscape, omni-channels and other aspects that will shape retail in 2030.

    Connecting with the generation-IYou type, they swipe. You click, they tap. Meet Generation I. Today’s digital natives are demanding experiences that are richer, more immediate, interactive and, above all, intuitive than ever before. Expectations are higher from retail where buying the product is the beginning of the process and where store interiors are expected to be magical, intuitive, connected landscapes. Technology is reshaping consumer behaviour and, in turn, reshaping retailing. Over the next few years, consumers will experience completely new retail models that deliver unique shopping experiences for their guests. The challenge before us is to serve the most technologically savvy generation in history and understand their behaviour. Kishore Biyani, Group CEO, Future Group touches the nerve of the current dynamics when he says: “We are currently witnessing the emergence of unprecedented practices in retail, with one of the stronger themes being the convergence of physical and digital retail. All of us are learning new ways of not only attracting customers but also getting to know them better. The digital revolution around us is enabling better practices in managing our supply partners, communities, investors and employees.”

    It remains no secret that today it is not sufficient to understand the needs of the customer; it is equally important to forecast the needs of a customer tomorrow, and this is where advanced insights and trends help to draw the right strategy for reaching your retail vision. Competition is intensifying and shifting to new arenas, and consumers are rapidly evolving their approach to purchase decisions. It is mandatory to keep ourselves updated on the major trends reshaping the retail landscape and the actions that need to be taken in order to ride the wave of a bright era of retail.

    A segment of consumers specifically believes that only 5 per cent of brands make their lives notably better and would not be bothered if 92 per cent of brands disappeared entirely. So how can your brand make it among the top 5 per cent? Apple is a great case in point famously considered as the king of brand experience. And how does Apple makes it happen – it does not spend its time telling consumers how the new iPad works or describing its new features, but through engaging its consumers by weaving its story around the whole experience of an aspirational lifestyle, which its users vie to be a part of. It is time retailers do the same by moving a step ahead from just focusing on merchandise and assortments in their store, to build a brand experience model where convenience, reach, price value equation, store experience and digital content – all combine to form the halo of a great brand connect and have the key element of emotional pull with the consumer.

    At IRF 2014, the marketing experts and heads of coveted brands will share insights on how you can amplify what your brand stands for across all brand touch-points and build a new creativity, credibility and vitality around it.

    Data is your dynamiteTechnology and social media have empowered the customer today. Never before in the history of retail has the customer been so powerful than what they are today. One wrong move by the brand and there is some serious damage control to be taken care of. Technology has also empowered the customer to shop in real time. This attribute can be well put to use by retailers to strengthen their sales. Today, virtually all shoppers have smartphones, and virtually all smarthpone owners use social media. It comes as a blessing that today one can maximise the digital (online + mobile) and social media strategy to keep a brand connected to its consumers at a fraction of the cost of traditional means of advertising. Inarguably, mobile and social media are important, but then beyond figuring out how many ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ we have, it seems to be an un-doable task to get hard data and metrics that could be used fruitfully. With every click and comment, customers generate high volumes of information about themselves that marketers are eager to collect and use to provide a more relevant and personalised experience. Even at the store level, online purchases on e-commerce sites, and the data through RFIDs and barcodes generated through store assortment and inventory management, a huge amount of data is being collected on the consumer decision-making process, purchase patterns, and in-store shopper insights. At IRF 2014, our panel of experts will share insights into how one can translate Big Data metrics of connectivity, predictive analytics, personalisation, context, location awareness, and consistency, to deliver the right message to the right consumer at the right time and right place. One can also seek expert advice into how they can turn data into insight, insight into action, and action into tangible results, through a systemic approach.

    Remaining relevantChange is the name of the game but having said that, it is imperative to remember that we are not talking about a 360-degree change. The change here is all about re-inventing one’s ideas and strategies. Retail is one of the most dynamic businesses. It is a well-known fact that with the growing global exposure and virtual diminishing of the world borders, the landscape of a retail business changes itself completely every 3-4 years. Today, this change is led by how consumers research products, shop and then buy. The two primary motivators here are mobile shopping and ready access to product information online. In this scenario, retailers need to strive towards creating content-driven retail marketing experiences that integrate consumer shopping touch-points across stores, websites, social media and e-mail. Succeeding in a retail business is not about expending all your energies in a 100-m sprint, but showing the stamina to adapt to a marathon. At IRF 2014, the most successful heads of coveted brands and retail businesses will offer in-depth insights on how they develop their retail game plan to succeed, how they form the vision in the boardrooms, and how they then finally develop an execution culture in their organisation modelled along the three core processes – the people process, the strategy process and the operations process – needed to deliver execution excellence.

    Ajay Bijli, Chairman & Managing Director, PVR Ltd. explains: “Operating in the most dynamic marketplace on this side of hemisphere requires a lot of innovation, agility and to be able to adapt to the changing market needs. With competition from globalised retail and online retailers that provide shoppers with abundant information, retailers in India need to operate across channels as efficiently as possible, breaking down organisational silos that prevent profitable multichannel retailing.”

    Seducing the customer through storeAs the distinction between online buying and physical stores is blurring and both channels are integrating into the total consumer buying experience, the physical store needs to be an embodiment of the brand and a destination for consumers where they can do much more than simply browse and transact. Stores are becoming an integral part of the multi-channel experience and thus they need to evolve into experience-based destinations that drive brand loyalty and engage customers at a more emotional level, and not just storing an assortment of products and checkout lines. Consumers expect the store to enable an experience which online cannot deliver, that is providing the in-store ambience and the ‘touch and feel’ experience across the brand and product. However, at the same time, consumers expect to experience all the information in a store as they would do online – they want to be able to scan product bar codes and access detailed information walking around the store, similar to what they would be able to experience browsing online, and a majority would like to use their mobile device as a substitute for their credit card. This is where the transformation of the retail store becomes imperative, which begins with a deep understanding of the customer, the technologies available today on how to deliver the finest customer experience, and an integrated strategy to personalise the experience at every point of interaction.
    The need of the hour is to build a multi-dimensional personality into a store by incorporating the many aspects of:

    – Entertainment destination- Engagement with customers through digital and audio visual content- Embodiment of the brand- Customised experiences and tailored products- Offering lifestyle services- Connected stores for connected consumers – the Internet of everything
    It is all about creating an all-around presence Just a couple of years back, there was speculation that with online retail catching momentum, the brick and mortar stores would eventually be a thing of the past and hence, to remain relevant, it was important that each offline retailer had online presence as well. Nevertheless, we have all been witness to the fact that nothing of that sort has happened. What perhaps exclusive online retail formats did was push the offline retailers to have their presence online and this only helped the latter to strengthen their reach and increase their sales. Today, the key to multi-channel retail strategy is to offer the right combination of helpful product information, product availability and a good price. The smart brick-and-mortar players today recognise the inevitable rise of online shopping and are adapting to the new realities. Macys, the 154-year-old retail chain, for example, saw its online sales rise by 40 per cent in 2011 while same-store sales grew just 5.3 per cent.

    Where retailers have seamlessly adopted to online retailing, the challenge that the industry still seems to be facing is in the area of omni-channel retailing. Despite industry buzz about omni-channel retailing, the truth is that many retailers are still struggling to get online right, much less build a cohesive brick, online and mobile. At IRF 2014, one will also get a chance to meet the trail-blazing star retailers who have perfected the omni-channel retailing model and who live by the credo ‘wherever you buy, and whenever you buy, we will make sure you buy it from us’.

    Bridging the gapThe proliferation of fashion-based programmers on satellite television channels and fashion magazines have increased the consciousness of the average Indian masses about the changing trends in global fashion. More and more fashion training institutes and fashion corporations are cropping up. Many national and international brands are establishing themselves in the Indian market. The mall culture has immensely helped in the growth of our fashion industry. Yet, India lags behind when it comes to be featured among the list of countries known for their sense of fashion. So while the fashion ecosystem has been created, we need to create the ‘fashionable consumer’ – the fashionista – the average person on the street, the regular college-goer, the common working professional who carries a sense of fashion and aims at a higher standard of style. Having done this, retail will only take a step ahead in its golden age.

    Another vast opportunity that lay before retailers in India is tapping the tier-2 and -3 cities and towns. Regional retailers are performing at par with some of the leading national retailers and there is a healthy lesson to be learnt from them.

    Banking big on an ideaAgile start-ups are continuing to emerge, and showing promising ideas and concepts for powering the growth in retail. With low
    start-up costs for online businesses, new models and ideas can come to life faster than ever before. Billion-dollar business ideas are surpassing boundaries, age limits, restrictions, time lines, and rigidities. The seemingly innocuous ideas of a couple of years back are invaluable concepts and enterprises today. That is the charm and magic of the retail industry. Entrepreneurs, who have set ambitious high growth expectations, invested ahead of the demand on sheer self-belief, staffed up with motivated teams, took the frugal resources out to their last mile, and stayed in constant conversation with their customers. We bring one face to face with these individuals at IRF 2014 to acknowledge and nurture them for the new wave of retail concepts that will create the true retail-ization of the Indian markets and develop a new era of consumerism and empowered consumers. One will also get to meet inspirational retail-preneurs and understand how to instill conviction in building the next billion dollar idea.

    In the session ‘Creative Ideas to Doing Business Profitably 7 Days a Week, and 365 Days a Year,’ our creative experts and seasoned professionals will share some great ideas which can keep the footfalls constant throughout the day, week, and even the year. After all, retail needs to keep the buzz and customer flow all day long and all year round, for maintaining a healthy top-line and bottom-line.

    An idea has the power to change the world. It is a mantra that propels organisations and individuals alike to innovate, to push boundaries, and to stimulate change and progress. It is also a mission shared by all of the thought leaders. In this dynamic world of retail, very few have mastered the success mantras for their organisations as have these stalwarts. At IRF 2014, in the special feature presentation – The Oscars of Management Thinking: Innovation, Building Scaling, Funding, Globalization – the grand masters will share strategic insights on building marquee brands, scaling up through expanding into new categories, landing the right store size and the right retail spaces in shopping centres and high street, reinventing the idea of customer delight, building a healthy top-line and bottom-line for their investors and shareholders, mobilising the right financial resources, getting right their capital structure and funding avenues, and other things that will help take businesses to the zenith of retail success.

    Food and grocery retailFood in India is linked to celebration. In the era of digital information, at the swipe of a finger, nutrition awareness amongst the consumers is growing at lightning speed. This is of course thanks to innovations like detailed information of each product available on barcodes, Wi-Fi enabled stores, developing better ways for shoppers to order groceries at home and on-the-go, traditional grocers personalising their services through concepts like home delivery and delivery at specified times for working couples, and e-grocery sites offering the convenience to shop ‘anytime, anywhere’. All these are becoming the next big opportunities for the Food & Grocery segment – for all the players including neighbourhood convenience stores, progressive grocers, specialty and gourmet food stores, supermarkets, hypermarkets and e-grocers. Convenience for commuters is an integral part of the latest click-and-collect drive, with multiple retailers looking to target shoppers during their daily journey to work. TESCO has built a great example of a shopping experience in subway stations and thus transforming this waiting time for the commuters into an incredibly productive and satisfying shopping experience. We need more unique models like this. This huge opportunity of a billion plus people on the move ready for consumption and the technology advancements increasing the reach allows us to build new models and improve the existing ones with future focus on building the consumer’s appetite for consumption and developing more efficient fulfillment models. It is a world of opportunity and a defining time for the food and grocery market. At IRF 2014, leaders of top FMCG brands and food and grocery retailers will share insight into powering the growth ahead for this dynamic and ever-changing industry.

    Special Highlights at IRF 2014IRF RISING STAR CHALLENGEThe fourth edition of the IRF Rising Star Challenge brings an opportunity to the brightest young minds of today to put their best foot forward with a business plan entailing the creation of a retail business, which delivers positive social impact. Retail entrepreneurship is not strictly about making money; it is about doing something bigger than oneself, something that creates positive social impact. It is how one ‘does well by doing good’. A socially impactful retail business is a great way to establish a leadership position in the eyes of customers and can help to achieve the differentiation of a retail brand in a crowded pool of competitors. In the long term, it can create a loyal following of consumers who benefit from the product or service and from buyers who want to support socially conscious establishments.

    The Rising Star Challenge shall witness more than 300 bright and young minds from close to 20 top B-schools of India battle it out for the top spot.