Time to take stock
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!