The CEOs Conclave at the South India Retail Summit, held on December 10 at the ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru, involved a group discussion on the growing relevance of perfecting customer experiences in India’s evolving retail industry. With omni-channelling and online commerce changing the landscape, retailers are left with little choice but to create superior customer experiences in order to retain shopper interest.
Present during the panel discussion — the final conference session of the day-long event — were S Raghunandhan, Co-Founder, Next Practice Retail; Kabir Lumba, MD, Lifestyle India; Abhishek Ganguly, MD, Puma India; Vishal Mirchandani, CEO – Retail and Commercial, Brigade Enterprises Limited; Viney Singh, MD, Max Hypermarket (Spar) and Mohini Binepal, Co-Founder and, Head Retail, Ruosh. The Conclave Co-Chair, along with S Raghunandhan, was R Sriram, Co-Founder of Next Practice Retail.
According to Lumba, the next wave of customer experience is likely to be driven by convenience as most shoppers face high pressure on time.
Puma’s Ganguly stressed that changes in retail are largely being effected by the consumer who is displaying a shift in terms of expectations. “Consumers are discovering what they want to buy and progressive retailers (retailers who really understand a consumer’s journey) know how customer experience works — be it on online or offline platforms,” he said.
Although Indian consumers have become more aspirational as reflected by higher sales of premium products, price is still a big deal, pointed out Mohini Binepal. “Customers really value what they get for a particular price. After sales services are also important in providing a seamless experience,” she added.
Vishal Mirchandani acknowledged that e-commerce has definitely grown into a significant threat to shopping centres. “The trend will inevitably grow, while shopping centre developers struggle to create better shopping experiences that feature an emotional touch. Here, uplifting of skills and standards of the staff becomes crucial,” he noted.
Ganguly felt that the major challenge for retailers lies in servicing scalability. “How and where can one hire staff when scaling up to a different region? Customer service cannot be mechanical,” he strssed.
The group concluded that hiring the right people and investing in and creating a future for the employee is paramount to build sustainable success for retailing in India.
The first-ever South India Retail Summit was held on December 10 at the ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru. Comprising a day-long conference and exhibition, the event hosted business and operational heads of some of South India’s and the country’s leading retail organisations, consumer brands, retail support companies, shopping centre developers and global consulting firms.