The session on Indian Retail: The Future Footprint – Audience Idea Session was moderated by Abhishek Malhotra, Partner, A.T. Kearney and facilitated by Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, Retailers Association of India.
The distinguished panellists deliberating on the subject were:
Ganesh Subramanian, Founder and CEO of Stylumia Intelligence Technology
Krishnakoli Sengupta Kumar, Head- Shopper Marketing, Smollan
Manoj Gupta, Founder, Craftsvilla
Dr. Nitin Sanghavi, Prof. Marketing & Strategy, Manchester Business School
Shantanu Rastogi, Principal, General Atlantic
Bharat Balachandran, Managing Director and Co Founder, Just Buy Life
Vinay Nadkarni, Managing Director & CEO, Globus Stores
This was an interactive session with the audience being part of the discussion as much as the panellists. In fact, the audience had been invited to share their views via questions posted on social media and through feedback forms at the venue. Abhishek Malhotra, Partner, A.T. Kearney, started off the session with asking the panellists to share a brief insight into what they see as the future of the importance of data in making business decisions.
Ganesh Subramanian, Founder and CEO of Stylumia Intelligence Technology observed that one of the most underrated assets for any business today was data. He felt that it is high time that data is also considered as a valuable asset and captured in the balance sheets of the company.
The future source of data according to Manoj Gupta, Founder, Craftsvilla would be Google and that would play a major role in taking business decisions in the next few years. All the nagging issues today would be resolved through innovations.
The vision for 2020 for Dr. Nitin Sanghavi, Prof. Marketing & Strategy, Manchester Business School, would be to remember that most of the retailers today would become multi-channel and the share of online operations would be anywhere between 5% to 25%. A key issue to be considered would be whether it would be necessary to continue with large format stores.
Shantanu Rastogi, Principal, General Atlantic felt that though the future of retail would certainly be multi-channel, each of these channels need to adopt technology to make their operations profitable at a ferocious pace or else they would be left behind.
The one thing Vinay Nadkarni, Managing Director & CEO, Globus Stores said he could predict was that retail will not change much as regards to buying and selling. What will change substantially, would be the customers. According to him, since the last 17 years that he has been with Globus dealing with the youth, the perception of the customers has undergone a rapid change. The customer today is impatient and needs to know everything before he goes on to buy and hence it is imperative for the brand to be available to the customer when he thinks of buying and not just when he is actually buying.
Krishnakoli Sengupta Kumar, Head- Shopper Marketing, Smollan, was of the opinion that whatever formats we have today will exist and grow. However, increasing the productivity and profitability at the shop floor level will be important for a brand to survive.
Bharat Balachandran, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Just Buy Life felt technology integration wasn’t an option because technology has become an integral part of business today. What is to be seen is how well and to what extent would retailers be willing to embrace technology and that would depend solely on how they see themselves 4 – 5 years from now.
The moderator felt that it would be only those companies which adopt technology that are going to survive and those who are a bit late in catching the technology bus would be shutting shop.
Rounding up the discussion, facilitator of the session and CEO of RAI Kumar Rajagopalan said that consumers expect what they want, where they want, and when they want from a brand. And whether retailers adopt technology or not, it is imperative that companies adopt to these expectations of the customer to be able to survive in business and make a mark for themselves as a brand.
Representing offline stores, Nadkarni admitted that most offline retailers come to know the customer only post buying in which sphere online stores have a great advantage as they know the preferences and tastes of the customer before the actual buy. Any technological advancement on this front would help a lot in enhancing business volumes and values of brick-and-mortar stores to be able to compete with e-retailers.
All panellists agreed that even in future, there is a place for everyone and though the major players will be omni-channel, a few pure-play channels will remain as they are today. The brands will need to figure out how they would make money in the channel in which they operate.
Sanjay Thampy, http://sanjaythampy.blogspot.in
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