Shoes & Accessories partnered with Jaipuria Institute of Management for the Eight Annual Management Conference held on 24th January. At the event experts across the spectrum deliberated on the affluence and retail potential in the country.

Over the past decade, significant changes have been affecting the retail industry, largely due to the rapid pace of technological developments. With the advent of mobility and self-service models, retailers are aggressively working to stay ahead of the technology curve and meet new customers’ demands and buying preferences. As such, retailers are seeking to be ubiquitous in today’s digital world. However, being ubiquitous is still not enough. To better personalize and enhance service delivery, businesses need to know the users of their products and their service preferences. They also need to have the means through which identities can be ascertained. The discussion provided an overview of the main challenges facing the retail industry in this regard and some of the emerging realities of the Internet age that are impacting the industry.

“With the retail industry in India coming forth as one of the most dynamic and fast paced industries, choice of an appropriate retail format seems to be the key to success.” – Sharad Jaipuria Founder & Chairman, Jaipuria Institutes

The conference aimed to address the challenges, which the retail industry is foreseeing in coming years, the strategies adopted by business leaders to cope with the changed retail industry and the road ahead for Corporate India and the skill requirements for a new breed for prospective managers in retail Industry.The speakers at the event were Sadashiv Nayak-CEO Future Retail Limited, Anupam Bansal-MD Liberty Retail Limited, Rakesh Jain-MD Lacoste India, Deepak Chabbra-MD Crocs, Sushil Dungarwal-CEO BeyondSquarefeet, Piyush Sinha-Former Professor IIM Ahmedabad and Rajeev Karwal-CEO Milagrow Business and knowledge Solutions.

Chairman Sharad Jaipuria inaugurated the conference highlighting the fact that Indian Retail Industry is the largest among all the service sector industries accounting for 10% of country’s GDP and around 8% of the employment and how the unorganized Retail Industry of India has seen a major transformation in last decade. With the retail industry in India coming forth as one of the most dynamic and fast paced industries, choice of an appropriate retail format seems to be the key to success. The panel discussion kicked off with a video message from Rakesh Biyani, Joint MD Future Retail.

“Technology is not he objective-it is just an aid to reach the main objective of the retailers i.e., customer delight….” – Anupam Bansal Director LIBERTY Shoes

Sharad Jaipuria Chairman – Jaipuria Group, Prof. B.D Nathani – Conclave Director and Dr. D.N. Pandey –Director JIM Noida welcomed the guest and shared their views on the retail industry and its evolution towards an organized sector in last decade. Sadashiv Nayak, CEO-Future Retail, in key Note address shared his thoughts through an impactful and insightful presentation. Interestingly, through his presentation he articulated that how WhatsApp, Instagram, Netflix, PubG and Zomato are considered to be the competitors of Big Bazaar and how the company is trying to overcome the challenges of generic competition.

Sadashiv Nayak spoke about how business houses have to be on their toes, keeping their eyes and ears open for any slight development in the market, to be in the reckoning. Retail companies have to start looking for new formats that can make them distinctive and unique.Dr. D.N. Pandey communicated on how the retail is growing with a boom and no longer are people now hesitant to buy products online and with modern retailing into a new era the retailers need to discover with new customer segments, which are millennials.

Millennials: Ranging in age from 18 to 30, this demographic is responsible for the majority of purchases of everything from groceries to automobiles. This age-group anomaly continues to become increasingly important because they are the focus for brands everywhere. Unlocking the secrets of what they want, how they want it and when they want it is extremely crucial to any brand because this crowd is the target audience for long-term success. That was the focus of experts and they reflected their views on how the brands are tackling the present market consumers.

“Inclusiveness and diversity are two different things which retailers have to work upon.” – J.D. Singh Founding Director of JIMS, Noida

Rajeev Karwal, CEO and Founder-Milagrow Business and Knowledge Solutions who acted as the moderator of the panel said, “ Retail has to done with human heart and mind. Till the time humans have “Empathy” which cannot be artificially incubated in machines, which the god has given to the humans only…Humans cannot be replaced by Machines.”Anupam Bansal, Executive Director -Liberty shoes, said, “Technology is not the objective-it is just an aid to reach the main objective of the retailers i.e., customer delight. Nowadays customers’ increasing love for discounts has forced the retailers to think on everyday basis and to come out with regular offers on their products. Product Design is the major factor to attract customers.”

“Indian retail is coming to terms with the digital disruption that is converging the online and offline retailers to explore customer insights using artificial intelligence in the new landscape for retail that is set to usher. With the advent of the online shopping, malls are getting reconfigured with food and beverage along with entertainment now allocating for up to 40 percent space compared to 15-17 percent in the past few years”, said Sushil Dungarwal-CEO BeyondSquarefeet. He added, “Mobile penetration, on the other hand, has boosted online shopping with lower cash on delivery and more through payment gateways. Moreover, with messaging on the rise, the internet-linked mobile usage is set to reshape the retail business with mobile moving from being a mere technology to consumer behavior. Mobile will drive the majority of all sales but 90 percent plus of these sales will still occur in stores.”

“An omnipresent mobile penetration is driving the always online consumer with attractive online deals and discounts. But for us the war is not have online or offline. It’s rather discount and non-discounting formats,” said Rajesh Jain, MD Lacoste. Prof. Piyush Sinha pointed that today’s generation is so independent that they know what to wear, where to go etc. He said, “Availability, Accessibility and Affordability are still in the minds of consumers. Retailers on one side have to offer discounts to the customers and on the other hand they have to spend more on the advertising. It is the Customer Experience which initially affects the customer attitude towards the brand then only comes the point of whether an individual can afford it or not. If someone loves discount no matter which company or which brand, his buying decision is only based on less price.”

Sushil Dungarwal stated that, “While designing the malls we study consumer buying behavior on daily basis- how the customer is moving, how long he is on mobile phone while in the mall to understand the consumer well. He emphasized on the fact that even today most of millennials are ready to buy a Rs.300 shirt online rather than buying Rs.8000 pair of shoes because the risk is less. Shopping is a mental entertainment and Fun of shopping comes only when you indulge in it and it is all about sharing and happiness. Deepak Chabbra, MD Crocs India said, “The rising online shopping fuelled by the Internet and mobile penetration, the digital disruption has impacted the brick and mortar since the past few years.The future will be driven by technology and its is an enabler and not a disrupter.”

Anupam Bansal expressed, “The companies should focus more on revamping stores and collections than offer discounts. The strategy of selling old merchandise at discounted rates might be the right choice as fashion trends keep changing, but to be on discount throughout the year on online formats is not a good strategy.”Prof Sinha said, “The millennials research new models online, then go into the store to try them on. They might buy the same brand, but every year the new models have a different look and feel. That’s what the brands need to harp upon rather than discounts. Leading retailers are aware of these changes in buying behavior and provide an Omni-channel experience that addresses the whole customer journey, not just certain channels.”

“The future will be driven by technology and its is an enabler and not a disrupter.”
– Deepak Chabbra, MD, Crocs India

Rajesh Jain added, “Once upon a time the retailer held almost all of the power in a purchasing relationship, the consumer was confined by the constraints they set forth. Nowadays, however, the narrative has shifted in the complete opposite direction. The channels that are available to consumers allow them to break free from the limitations of location, time or payment method. Online shopping means that a consumer can buy goods from a store across the country instead of having to visit the local alternative during their designated business hours.”

Deepak said, “Physical retailers that do not embrace the shift to online experiences will lose sales to their competitors who are more accommodating of their market’s purchasing preferences and trends.
Businesses that rely solely on e-commerce by contrast will experience unique but equally negative results as well.”

In order to address the growing prevalence of digital experiences among consumer preferences, retailers have begun investing in the “Omni channel”. Being able to blend the online and offline world into a single, cohesive experience has become a chief concern for brick-and-mortar retailers everywhere.The rise of the Omni channel has allowed retailers to alter the objectives of their stores from being pure sales outlets to spaces where they deliver experiences that influence and alter consumer perceptions. A company that can successfully leverage the Omni channel when marketing its products is able to deliver experiences that draw in buyers and engages with them in a place that connects with their values and interests. The Omni channel goes beyond simple cost and benefit value propositions and into the realm of extrinsic value.

“The purpose of conclave was to bring all industry experts from Footwear, Apparel, Accessories and Mall Management on a platform to share views to handle millenials.”

BD Nathani, Conclave Director

With changing aspirations of consumers, shopping centers across the country are changing their positioning and offering holistic experiences to the shoppers. Once known as discount shopping hubs, shopping centers are now providing diverse experiential offerings to entice the patrons. For these malls, the festive sales and footfalls are still soaring high and even with deep discount offerings by e-commerce companies, there is less impact in sales or footfalls. For malls, brand activation leads to increased consumer awareness and creating a closer bond between the consumer and the brand by immersing them in a fun and memorable experience. It also helps in increasing footfalls and in pushing sales. It generates high brand recall and creates consumer connect at an emotional level.

The conclusive comments of J.D. Singh, Founder Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida summed up the thoughts of all, “Inclusiveness and diversity are two different things which retailers have to work upon.”

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