Reatil Evolution And Revolution
BY JAGDEEP KAPOOR
India is a vast country more than five million retail outlets spread over almost 4,000 towns and around six lakhs villages. For many years the country’s retail sector was catered to by individual retail outlets owned separately and managed distinctively. Very few retail chains existed which were managed professionally. In the last few years professional retailing has come of age. This is an industry which has now started attracting better investment and talent.
A few years ago, a job in the retailing sector was looked down upon. Very few MBAs would even think of making a career in the area of professional retailing. Today, things have changed, primarily because of the expectations of Indian consumers rising and some sectors of industry responding quickly and heartily.
How have the expectation of the Indian consumers changed, specially in the urban areas? Indian consumers are now looking for world class service, upscale ambience and a variety of merchandise well displayed and easily accessible.
Some of the elements defining and raining the expectations of Indian consumers are overseas travel, exposure to television as well as experiencing pressures from kids and teenagers in the family. The entire approach is to enjoy shopping in comfortable surroundings and have a pleasant experience.
There is a near-starvation in the Indian market for professional retailing centers that meet and exceed the consumer expectations. There are two specific case studies where professional retailing has been practiced across the country for two different types of products. One of the key elements in both these case studies is that professional retailing exercise was driven by two young, dynamic and professional managers in their respective organizations.
In the first case in Mumbai, a set of three cinema houses were converted into a upscale shopping center. The brand developed a few years ago was Shoppers’ Stop which began with one section and then slowly spread itself well across kids wear and accessories, ladies wear and accessories as well as a section for males.
There was a constant endeavor to focus on displaying upscale, contemporary and trendy items in the product portfolio whether ethnic wear of multinational perfume brands.
One of the positives was to develop systems and processes whether in the form of car parking processes, computerization or customer service systems.
Today, Shoppers’ Stop attracts store traffic from far and wide. It has broken the myth of MBAs not wanting to go into a retailing career. A number of young, smart MBAs manage the affairs very competently.
Shoppers’ Stop has been made a happening place. Consumers have an emotional attachment to the brand and consider it to be their kind of place.
A well thought-out system of promotions as well as frequent buyer programmes branded as the “First Citizen’s Club” ensures greater involvement of consumers and increases repeat purchases. They consider to be it a family store and love visiting it again and again.
Shoppers’ Stop has since rolled out to other cities like Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, and many other cities with good results is one of the sound and professional retailing brands in the country.
The next case study is a specialised book and leisure store called Crossword. This is a brand that has developed a chain of owned as well as franchised stores across the country in major towns like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Pune and many other cities. It is a very focused store which is able to cater to the needs of the customers interested in books and CDRoms. It is known for its wide variety and has been able to succeed primarily due to the interesting merchandise, regular newsletters and reviews as well as promotions with famous authors. Some of the world’s best authors are invited for book signing sessions at the store which increases store traffic and keeps interest of hardcore book lovers alive.
In both cases, the new realities of the marketplace are being respected in the area of professional retailing. The key reasons for success are the stress on customer service, process and systems. In professional retailing the element of the utmost importance is located followed by purchase expertise, inventory control, tight security systems as well as proper selection and training of bright young people.
Professional retailing is bound to grow tremendously provided the right marketing strategy is adopted. India could go through a revolution in professional retailing in the next few years.
The author is Brand Guru Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director of the successful Samsika Marketing Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.
Tel: 022 28477700 / 7701
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