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Despite policy hurdles, global retailers see India as one of their key markets: Deloitte global report

20-January-2017
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 Despite policy hurdles, global retailers see India as one of their key markets: Deloitte global report

The top 250 retailers worldwide generated aggregated revenues of USD 4.31 trillion in fiscal year 2015, representing a composite growth of 5.2 per cent, according to the report ‘Global Powers of Retailing 2017: The art and science of customers’ brought out by Deloitte. This report marks the 20th year of identifying the 250 largest retailers around the world and analyzing their performance across geographies, sectors, and channels.

The Top 10 companies according to this report are Walmart, which continued its long-held dominance as the world’s largest retailer, followed by Costco Wholesale Corporation; The Kroger Co; Schwarz Unternehmenstreuhand KG; Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (formerly Walgreen Co.); The Home Depot, Inc; Carrefour S.A.; Aldi Einkauf GmbH & Co. oHG; Tesco PLC and Amazon.com, Inc.

“Slow economic growth in major developed economies, high levels of debt in emerging countries, deflation or low inflation in rich countries and a protectionist backlash against globalisation were among the dynamics which contributed to a challenging economic environment for retailers,” explained Dr Ira Kalish, Deloitte Global Chief Economist. “And yet, people need to shop, so the industry carries on. In some places, and with some cohorts of shoppers, the outlook for retailers is favourable,” Kalish further said.

Commenting on the India market, a Deloitte India spokesperson said, “Despite policy hurdles and other operational challenges, global retailers consider India as one of their key markets and want to grow as India grows. While growth has surpassed most of the other global markets, India’s retail market is young and promising.”

The rapid shift to e-commerce is quite literally transforming the retail landscape in India. With e-commerce forming an integral part of the overall growth of retail sales, retailers are rationalising their physical footprint and intensifying their e-commerce presence. “Use of technology and social media is going to be one of the critical factors among the retailers operating in a young, vast and fragmented market like India,” the Deloitte India spokesperson added.

Global Powers of Retailing Top 250

For the third year in a row, revenue growth for the apparel and accessories retailers in this list of top 250 outperformed other product sectors. Historically, this category of retailers has been the most profitable, and fiscal year 2015 was no exception. However, retailers of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) are, by far, the largest companies (with average retail revenue of nearly USD 21.6 billion) as well as the most numerous (133 retailers, accounting for just over half of the top 250 companies and two-thirds of the revenue of the top 250).

The level of retail globalisation appears to be the same as previous year. Two-thirds of the top 250 retailers operated outside their home country borders, had retail operations in more than 10 countries on an average, and derived nearly a quarter of their composite retail revenue from foreign operations.

The art and science of customers

Global Powers of Retailing 2017 also discusses the art and science of customer engagement to help retailers design fresh experiences enabled by the right technology and strengthen customer loyalty. What was once considered futuristic is now table stakes. Retail innovators know technology is no longer supplemental to the shopping experience, it is fundamental. Technology alone, however, is not enough. Customers are seeking new and surprising products and experiences.

The five trends identified in the report are:

  • Less is more. Customers are defining themselves less by how many things they own and more by how curated their lives are in terms of possessions and experiences.
  • “Following” economy. Customers are seeking experiences and products that reflect the personal brand they promote on social media.
  • “Retailisation” of the world. The maker movement, the sharing economy, and other factors have made it increasingly difficult to define what a retailer is and does - non-traditional retailers are developing new business models to serve customer needs, such as subscription services and flash-sales.
  • On-demand shopping and fulfillment. Relevancy will be determined by the ability of retailers to meet the on-demand mindset of the modern customer.
  • Exponential living. Exponential technologies, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality, are changing how we live and how we will shop.

“Over the past 20 years, we have seen a seismic shift in retail and the customers that retailers serve,” said Vicky Eng, Consumer Business Retail Sector leader, Deloitte Global. “We are living in an era where customers are in the driver’s seat more than ever before and they are craving authenticity, newness, convenience, and creativity. We are living in the customer-driven economy,” Eng added.

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