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Retailers are like dating platforms: Damodar Mall, CEO Grocery Retail, Reliance Retail

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Drawing a parallel between the concept of dating or the mythological concept of swayamvar, supermarketwala Damodar Mall shared some experienced and powerful tips of success and survival with the food grocery fraternity

Mumbai: Damodar Mall, CEO of grocery at Reliance Retail described retailers general courting of consumers with their products akin to a swayamvar, an Indian mythology and storytelling where eligible suitors line up in their best avatars to woo a bride.

“Fundamentally, all retailers whether online, offline or on app physical engage in a monthly swayamvar with customers,” Mall, who is also the Chairman of the ongoing IMAGES Group’s India Food Forum 2022. He was delivering the chairman’s address on Day one of IFF 2022 that is being held on Wednesday and Thursday at the Westin hotel at Mumbai.

According to him, fundamentally, all retailers whether online, app or physical engage in a monthly ritual that is akin to doing a swayamvar with the customers.

In a swayamvar, the most powerful person in the room is the person with the varmala (garland) — the bride, he said. “For us, it is the customer. Who are the other influencers in the room? None,” he said.

“All the power lies with the bride, the customer,” he added.

He said retailers cannot afford to take the customer for granted. “Just like in a swayamvar or dating, you got to be well-turned out and worry about the silent choice between you and your competitor,” he said.

This is the playground on which retail players have to play. People keep upgrading, making different choices. “As long as we both are synchronized and tangoing in this and keep giving them variety both will be happy,” he said.

He advised retailers should help the customers (the bride) in discovering something new and different every time and enjoy the process of choosing, in the “theatre of choice”.

Brands, however, do not want a swayvamvar, they want a shaadi (marriage) – they want customers to come to be loyal to them.

“We run physical or digital platforms of swayvamvar. During the shopping journey, as long as there is a difference between the customer’s list and the final bill, we are doing a good job,” he said.

The day you will say I fulfil all customers’ needs is when the growth will stop.

To win over bride (the customer), it’s important to make her journey in the theatre of choice interesting, he said. If a retailer can achieve that, the relationship will be a happy and long lasting one.

Mall was speaking on the inaugural day of the 15th edition of India Food Forum 2022, the mega congregation of India’s emeriti of the Food Retail establishment at The Westin Mumbai, Powai Lake on December 7-8.

Started in 2008, India Food Forum is the annual platform du jour for those looking to get a ring-side view of India’s food retail industry and those wanting to ride the action on the Emerging Innovations and Trends and Developments in the Business of Food in India.

The two-day conclave — focusing on Food & Grocery Retail on Day 1 and Foodservice on Day 2 — is being chaired by retail icon Damodar Mall, CEO — Grocery, Reliance Retail, and is powered by Smart Bazaar and MessageBird.

India Food Forum 2022 is set to host 150+ speakers, 100+ exhibitors, top hats belonging to the C-Suite of 400+ brands and organisations in the food business.

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