Arden J. D’souza
Customer Care Associate & Head – Visual Merchandising Shopper’s Stop Ltd
In Retrospect: 2012
Retail thrives in a growing economy, but when consumer sentiment turns negative; spending is either skipped or postponed. When spending is postponed, retail is impacted, especially the clothing and accessory categories. This directly results in a drop in like-forlike sales, impacting profitability and growth. One of our chief learning’s from a slowdown has been to never compromise on customer experience. Customers should continue to get your best service, merchandise, ambience and VM. These are not negotiable from a customer perspective. Only then will they continue to shop with you.
Arrival of FDI
FDI will be a powerful catalyst of growth in the retail industry and, in the longterm, will prove beneficial to all the major stakeholders; a big step towards strengthening organized retail. The new regulations are going to change the retail landscape in our country positively. It will give us an opportunity to experience big box retailing in a world class manner. The maximum impact of FDI according to me will be felt in the super market and hyper market segments and in new brands entering the market. Department stores’ entry may be limited. None the less, it will expose consumers to the latest in fashion and ensure that India is on par with the rest of the world. From logistics, to back end warehousing and front end system implementation, things will get better for retailers, suppliers and consumers. From a VM perspective it will ensure better quality and more job creation within the field of visual merchandising. Recognition for VM's will increase and hopefully will result in better pay packages at all levels. Finally, retail design will improve with the influx of new retailers and new design firms. International brands will of course bring new designs and along with them, world class designers and store fit out agencies.
Looking Ahead: 2013
Indian Retailers have already begun to uplift the look and feel of their stores. They need to concentrate on ensuring this is a continuous process and not a one-time plan. Visual Merchandising at its core is a creative field, hence sustenance of visual merchandising teams, greater involvement of VM into store operations, B&M and design related activities and ensuring adequate budgets are always available for visual merchandising will ensure greater creative freedom for visual merchandisers. Giving VM a chance to coexist and if required control the look and feel of the store will only benefit the brand and consumer.