Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce & Industry organized MCCI Retail Forum 2019 on the theme ‘E–Retail Vs Brick-and-Mortar Retail : Convergence for a Better Living’ at Taj Bengal, Kolkata.
Shri Sadhan Pande, Hon’ble Minister, Consumer Affairs, Self Help Group & Self Employment, Government of West Bengal addressed the inaugural session as the chief guest. Dwelling on the inaugural theme of ‘Indian Retail: Current Trends & Future Prospects’, Shri Pande spoke about inclusive growth, in which the rural masses should be provided the luxuries of products and services available for the urban people.
While on the one hand, India is a young country with 75 percent of population in the young age bracket, on the other, India is an old country with 6,000 years of culture and heritage. Since there is a change in the attitude of the rural people, the retailers are reaching to the rural and semi-urban markets. He also referred to direct selling companies with any advertisements who are reaching out to the customers at much lower prices.
The Minister said that West Bengal is the 1st state to have a dedicated consumer affairs department. This was followed by the Central Government and other states much later.
Namit Bajoria, Chairman of Retail Standing Committee, MCCI said that e-commerce is growing at a faster rate in India, which is estimated at US$ 1.3 billion in 2020 from US$ 672 million in 2017. Government policy and rapid digitization are helping to grow e-retail.
Other distinguished speakers were Vipul Sabharwal, Managing Director, Luminous Power Technologies (P) Ltd. and Bijou Kurien, renowned retail expert.
The panel discussion on ‘E–Retail Vs Brick-and-Mortar Retail : Convergence for a Better Living’ was moderated by Viresh Oberoi, Founder & Former CEO, mjunction Services Ltd. the Panelists were :
– Atanu Ghosh, Founder & CEO, Salt & Soap and Founder & CEO, Bluebeaks
– R Ajay, Chief – Strategic Planning, Business Development, & New Stores Ventures, Future Lifestyle Fashion Limited
– Aji Issac Mathew, CEO & Co-founder, Indusnet Techshu Digital Pvt. Ltd.
Vipul Sabharwal felt that both e-retail and brick-and-mortar retail would co-exist with innovation being the key.
Bijou Kurien said that new business models and new ways of dissemination of information would evolve with new ways of advertising and new ways of life for farmers.
Viresh Oberoi spoke about how to reduce the inventories and increase the freshness of the products, differentiate the business models where brick-and-mortar is at the front end.
Atanu Ghosh said that e-retail is only 10 percent globally, 3 percent in India and around 20 percent in China, so that there is a huge opportunity for e-retail to grow.
R Ajay mentioned about 4 Ws in retail viz, Why, Who, What & Where.
Aji Issac Mathew spoke about the importance of communication with the customers as akso the change of mindset to go digital.
The welcome address was delivered by Vishal Jhajharia, President of the Chamber, who said that retail accounts for over 10 percent of GDP and it is the second largest employer after agriculture, which accounts for about 8 percent of India’s employment. India is considered as the world’s 5th largest global destination in the retail space.