Suren­der Gnanao­livu

Ex­ec­u­tive VP & Head – Brand Ex­pe­ri­ence & Store Devel­op­ment Mahin­dra Re­tail Pri­vate Lim­ited


In Ret­ro­spect: 2012

Change in mar­ket con­di­tions and con­sumer needs have had com­pa­nies relook­ing at their strate­gies and busi­ness models to bring sharper fo­cus and dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion to their of­fer­ings and re­tail con­cepts. With the pop­u­lar­iza­tion of e-com­merce, brand ex­pe­ri­ence has now gone be­yond the phys­i­cal store and its trad­ing hours and is now re­quired to be seam­less across all con­sumer touch points. An­other im­por­tant char­ac­ter­is­tic of the new age in­formed con­sumer is the dy­namic na­ture of their needs ow­ing to which nim­ble­ness and flex­i­bil­ity have be­come a crit­i­cal re­quire­ment for sus­tain­ing their loy­alty. Brands and re­tail­ers have found in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions and new ways in col­lab­o­ra­tion with stake­hold­ers like con­sumers, ven­dors and ser­vice providers. One such suc­cess­ful ini­tia­tive was the ‘sus­tain­able store de­sign’ which help de­liver en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and eco­nomic ben­e­fits. Fo­cus on build­ing a team of in­ter­nal re­sources, loyal ven­dors and ser­vice providers who clearly un­der­stood our busi­ness ob­jec­tives helped crash the learn­ing curve and time taken for devel­op­ment and ex­e­cu­tion mak­ing all new ini­tia­tives vi­able and worth it. A great win-win equa­tion!

Ar­rival of FDI

The im­pact of FDI, I think, will have a de­layed ef­fect on the mar­ket ow­ing to the chal­leng­ing rid­ers that come with it. Global brands will take some time to cre­ate busi­ness in­fra­struc­tures in In­dia that de­liv­ery their prof­itabil­ity ob­jec­tives. The ob­vi­ous im­pact on the mar­ket will be the rais­ing of bench­marks of cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence by the global brands with up­dated con­cepts and lo­cal brand try­ing to play catch-up! For all of us FDI will in­deed be good news as this will help ex­pand the mar­ket and bring in new con­sumers and con­sump­tion pat­terns that ap­pre­ci­ate good brand ex­pe­ri­ence which or­ga­nized re­tail­ers are equipped to de­liver. One wel­come change will be the im­prove­ment of the de­clin­ing cus­tomer ser­vice. I also see the rise of the fast grow­ing and highly prof­itable or­ga­nized tra­di­tional re­tail­ers. Pro­pri­etor run by the overseas ed­u­cated new gen­er­a­tion they will play a large role in chang­ing con­sump­tion pat­terns of the masses and com­pete with or­ga­nized re­tail. With the need for an up­graded shop­ping en­vi­ron­ment, I see re­tail de­sign con­sul­tants and ser­vice providers (fix­tures, light­ing, man­nequins, sig­nage etc.) in In­dia hav­ing to re­spond by ei­ther up­grad­ing with in­ter­nal ef­forts or by col­lab­o­ra­tion with global com­pa­nies. Global com­pa­nies too would se­ri­ously look to en­ter In­dia on their own.With the in­formed new age con­sumer’s ex­pec­ta­tions be­ing clearly global, th­ese global re­sources are likely to have a clear ad­van­tage. The chal­lenge is for the lo­cal agen­cies to work to­gether amidst the com­pe­ti­tion for the com­mon good of the in­dus­try.

Look­ing Ahead: 2013

Relook at cur­rent busi­ness models; take a very close look at con­sumers; help them be a part of the busi­ness which means shift­ing from fo­cus­ing on ‘share hold­ers’ to fo­cus­ing on ‘stake hold­ers’.

Adopt trends that con­sumers are em­brac­ing like sus­tain­abil­ity and CSR which im­pacts so­ci­ety and en­vi­ron­ment and de­liver eco­nomic value us­ing them.

Dif­fer­en­ti­ate clearly in-terms of of­fer­ings and ex­pe­ri­ence. The best op­tion is to keep fo­cus­ing on the con­sumer, ask­ing them what they want and giv­ing them more than what they ask for!

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