Time to take stock

VM&RD - - FRONT PAGE - Vas­ant Jante

Where re­tail is con­cerned, we are in­deed liv­ing in ex­cit­ing times. Global brands are woo­ing In­dian cus­tomers like never be­fore, In­dian brands are tak­ing their cue from their global coun­ter­parts and as for the ever evolv­ing In­dian cus­tomer, well she cer­tainly is pam­pered for choice! Never be­fore have we seen such amal­ga­ma­tion be­tween the Desi and global or be­tween tradition and moder­nity. But all this is at the de­sign and visual ex­pe­ri­ence level. Be­yond that is an ex­pe­ri­ence that is less to do with the visual el­e­ments and more to do with em­pa­thy and un­der­stand­ing where shop­per con­ve­nience is con­cerned. And here, it is the lit­tle things that mat­ter. Af­ter all, as they say, God is in the de­tails. In­deed, the need to cre­ate a strong tem­plate of cus­tomer un­der­stand­ing and con­nect is per­haps most rel­e­vant now, thanks to the new FDI pol­icy. You see, when in­ter­na­tional re­tail and other brands en­ter the re­tail sec­tor in the coun­try or ex­pand their al­ready ex­ist­ing re­tail pres­ence in the coun­try, they will in­sist on stan­dards that may be way dif­fer­ent from what we have had. It will be our call to de­cide on whether these stan­dards ap­ply to the In­dian con­text. But there is the strong pos­si­bil­ity of conforming to these stan­dards by need or by ne­ces­sity. And it would help to be pre­pared. As al­ready men­tioned these stan­dards may well go be­yond the phys­i­cal stan­dards and may be more re­lated to how well you un­der­stand and en­gage with the cus­tomer. Do you have a well trained staff to in­ter­act in­tel­li­gently and sen­si­tively with the cus­tomers? Do you the tech­no­log­i­cal re­sources to put in place a com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem to un­der­stand and con­nect with you cus­tomers? Do you have a tem­plate of de­sign ideas that ap­peal to all senses of the shop­per? Well, these are some ques­tions we need to ask our­selves. Suren­der Gnanao­livu in his in­sight­ful col­umn ‘The Busi­ness of De­sign’ helps us ask some such per­ti­nent ques­tions that will helps us move ahead in this ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing time. Don’t miss it. And of course don’t miss our reg­u­lar fare on Win­dows and store de­sign up­dates – the way brands such as Elle, Life­style and Shop­pers Stop are re­defin­ing the Win­dows ex­pe­ri­ence or the way bands such as Aude­lade and Park Av­enue are adding a dash of in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence to their In­dian stores. Equally in­ter­est­ing is the ex­am­ple of Fur­ni­ture Repub­lic, which has added a new di­men­sion to fur­ni­ture buy­ing or that of Ekru, the de­signer fash­ion la­bel, which lever­ages tra­di­tional aes­thet­ics to cre­ate world class ex­pe­ri­ence. And as usual our in­ter­na­tional ex­am­ples are a ‘win­dow’ to in­no­va­tive pos­si­bil­i­ties...read on!

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