A stimulating discussion on innovating for market leadership

The morning session of the first day was quite insightful covering divergent aspects from whether as a retailer, are we ready to embrace the connected world moderated by S B Nagesh, Chairman-RAI and a technical insight into how the retail is geared up for democratisation through connectivity, moderated by Bijou Kurien, Board Member, L Capital Asia.

After the first session, the retailers and invitees alike had a time to interact and network with the esteemed speakers and panellists over an awesome spread of lunch at the Renaissance Lawns. After lunch, the technical session was split into two panel discussions each at Ballroom-1 and Ballroom-2.

The third technical session for the afternoon was on Innovating for Market Leadership

The session was moderated by Rachit Mathur, Partner, The Boston Consulting Group

The distinguished panellists discussing on the subject were:

Kenny Shin, Director & CEO, SHOP CJ Network Pvt. Ltd.

Patrik Antoni, Country Corporate Communications & Sustainability Manager, IKEA India

Sunil Kunders, Managing Director, Mindscape Computing

Vikas Choudhury, Managing Director, AIMIA India

“How would you look at innovation in the Indian retail industry?” asked Rachit Mathur, Partner, The Boston Consulting Group, opening the session on Innovating for Market Leadership at the Retail Leadership Summit organised by Retailers Association of India (RAI) on February 10.

Kenny Shin, Director & CEO, SHOP CJ Network Pvt. Ltd. said there are two types of innovations, one is incremental and other one would be disruptive or breakthrough. As a foreign television shopping channel, when Shop CJ came to India, he had assumed that India is a Hindi market. He soon realised Hindi covered just 40% of the Indian market and is now looking into regional channels too.

Vikas Choudhury, Managing Director, AIMIA India, observed that as a concept, loyalty is no longer static. From an era of loyalty cards, collecting points on shopping and redeeming them we have now come to a stage of no points. It is time that retailers need to consider adopting innovative ideas to keep the consumer loyal to the brand.

Patrik Antoni, Country Corporate Communications & Sustainability said that for him, the biggest driver in innovation would be sustainability. He is quite confident of adopting innovation and understanding the Indian market and how Ikea and India can help each other in adopting innovation.

Sunil Kunders, Managing Director, Mindscape Computing said that while working with a big retailer as CIO, he saw a big gap between what is promised to the customer and what the consumer actually gets. He reiterated that his mantra for innovation would always be to try and identify a need and then go for it irrespective of whether it has been done before, rather than just sitting under a tree and waiting for the apple to fall on your head.

Choudhury gave an example of a couple of retail and food stores which incorporated innovation to provide real time information to the consumer and it saw a paradigm increase in turnover by over 7 times since they started connecting with the consumer.

The panellists then discussed the pace of change and innovation. Kenny Shin explained that Shop CJ connects with consumers by visiting them individually and understanding their needs before adopting any innovation into the company’s marketing strategy.

Choudhury of AIMIA shared some interesting insights: He said what a consumer does at a store was just 5% of what his mind-set actually is and hence it is imperative to do an online analysis of the consumer’s interests and patterns of shopping habits. Once the target audience is identified, the conversion rates of the shopper actually double.

Particularly, in the space of retail technology, the very concept of incremental improvement is very important, he added. However, retailers, need to take a choice between an exemplar shift and incremental innovation, depending on which space he is working in and whether there is a scope of breakthrough innovation.

According to Antoni of IKEA India, investment in long term or short time innovations was a matter of perception and Ikea, as a company, had always believed in being adoptive to any kind of innovations that help in connecting to the consumer and serving them better.

The discussion ended with the panellists reiterating that in order to survive in the longer run, it is overbearing for companies and brands to adopt innovation and that it surely makes prudent business sense.

Sanjay Thampy, http://sanjaythampy.blogspot.in

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Retailers Association of India (RAI) is the unified voice of Indian retailers. RAI is a not for profit organization (registered under section 25 of Companies Act, 1956), works with all the stakeholders for creating the right environment for the growth of the modern retail industry in India. RAI is the body that encourages, develops, facilitates and supports retailers to become modern and adopt best practices that will delight customers. RAI has a three charter aim of Retail Development, Facilitation and Propagation.