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!