Creating Channel Supremacy the Multichannel Way


Panel Discussion on Creating Channel Supremacy the Multichannel Way had experts from retail chains in South India brainstorming & discussing the trends on retail industry, especially in the context of multichannel retail.

Panelists in this session were:

Suraj Shantakumar, Director Business Strategy, Kirtilals

Sunil Sanklecha, MD, Nuts & Spices

M. Ramakrishnan, MD, Thulasi Pharmacy

Zarook Shah, Director, The Grand Mall

Moderator: Sastry Subrahmanya, Director, PWC

Multichannel - KRS - RAI



This is what the panelists had to say:

Question: What is your view on multi-channel?

Suraj Shantakumar, Director Business Strategy, Kirtilals

“Multi channel maturity is a function of business maturity.”


•Our business is about high value diamonds and gold.  Our key value proposition is personalized service – which social media to an  extent excludes.

•Our definition of multi channel includes : Direct to home for personalized  shopping; roadshows and exhibitions for the store catchment.

•We’ve developed  Special design lounges –  an IPAD app – which customers can use to BYOJ (Build Your Own Jewelry)

•This App ‘aggregates’ range across all stores – and creates an ‘endless aisle’ for customers.

• We are present online and on social media but these are for ‘display ‘ purposes.


M. Ramakrishnan, MD, Thulasi Pharmacy

“Multi Channel for us is events which increase customer engagement. 


•We run a chain of 39 pharmacy stores all over Tamil Nadu.

•We use health camps as a way to engage with the catchment.  Strategic PR exercises.

•We are present online – but to give information, we do not have an e-commerce enabled website as yet.

•Since our Target Audience are usually above 60 our multi channel and technology choices reflect that.

•Home delivery / prescription reminder services / email marketing are our version of “multi channel”

•Because we deal with health and because our target audience is older;  customers have concerns on privacy and security of online transactions.

•We have found that loyalty programs based on purchase patterns have met with some resistance – but discount based programs have been successful.

•Social media is a good channel for the neutraceutical side of the business. In addition, touch-screens in-store help to educate about usage / side effects of drugs.


Question: How is the customer expectation influence retailers choice of channel?

Zarook Shah, Director, The Grand MallRAI

•We run a mall in Chennai – we are a neighborhood mall, and are in the shadow of Phoenix Market City who are much larger than us.

•In addition, we also have an analytics / Ux company (Ux = User eXperience)

•Customers are jumping online at the first opportunity – so retailers have to think multichannel.

•Use interactive technology to present SKUs and range not available in store – using mobile technology.


Sunil Sanklecha, MD, Nuts & Spices RAI

•We are a chain of gourmet food stores.  Our Retail stores are a channel for the family business of dry fruit.

•23 stores in Tamil Nadu. Present online and on social media

•Created the online store to cater to customers who had moved outside the state.

•Most online retailers focus on price discounting as a way to drive traffic.  The trade-off is price v/s experience.  Online channels cannot provide the same experiential feel.

•Depending on which markets and customer segment – most retailers need both. It’s not an “either / or” thought process.


Online channels appeal to the “left” brain, brick and mortar to the “right” brain. One is quantitative and price based – the other is experiential. – Sastry Subrahmanya, Director, PWC (Moderator)

Zarook Shah, Director, The Grand Mall

•As a neighbourhood mall we have found social media far more useful than mainline print / media advertising.

•Email marketing and aggregating offers of all our tenant retailers  has helped us personalize our offering to the catchment.


Audience Question: How much should you spend on online advertising ? 

•We spend 2 to 3% of turnover on advertising. Of that about 20% is for online advertising.  (Sunil Sanklecha – Nuts ‘n’ Spices)

•We’ve found that a combination of social media / flyers works better than a radio / print media mix (Zarook Shah – Grand Mall).

•Our industry is regulated. We use PR – not advertising. We run a ‘handwriting’ contest which covers 100,000 children and helps us connect with the community.  Our advertising budget is miniscule – 0.2% of turnover.  (M. Ramakrishnan, MD, Thulasi Pharmacy )

•Online advertising is nascent for jewelry industry, we use a traditional ad budget – mostly in print and hoardings. (Suraj Shantakumar, Director Business Strategy, Kirtilals)







All brands need an online presence to be able relevant to the customer.  – Zarook Shah, Director, The Grand Mall

When you go online is a function of investments and bandwidth – Sunil Sanklecha, MD, Nuts & Spices

If you can’t use technology – be prepared to go out of business – M. Ramakrishnan, MD, Thulasi Pharmacy

Keeping customer experience consistent across channels is key.  – Suraj Shantakumar, Director Business Strategy, Kirtilals

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