The Shop, the two-day summit on organised retailing culminated in the Capital on June 30, 2006. The final day brought forward certain pertinent issues to the fore.
Speaking during a session on ‘Evolving Indian Retail: The World’s View’, Yael Shapiro, Head-Strategic Retail Tenant Division, Old Mutual Property Group, South Africa, began by talking about the position of women in the retail industry. She pointed out, “Women account for 90 per cent of the purchasing decisions hence, we cannot afford to neglect that segment.”
Besides underlining the huge opportunity that India has to offer in terms of the propensity of the people to spend, the high growth rate, huge media penetration, huge influx of international travel with global brands entering India, the relatively cheap price at which space is available, the fusion of East and West, the literacy rate, the technological advancement, Shapiro also brought to fore the challenges that this industry has to grapple with.
According to her, designing, marketing, research, redevelopment (refurbishment), and understanding the local content of the market were some of the critical factors that needed to be addressed. She concluded her presentation by stating, “For the global retail industry, the time is now, the place is India, and the potential is endless.”
The next session revolved around ‘Setting Benchmarks in Retail’. Presenting his views on the topic, Rajeev Handa, VP and Retail Head, Tata Teleservices Ltd, exemplified the concept that his company followed, wherein stress was laid on the modular format giving importance to having exclusive space. Speaking on the way forward, Handa said, “Exclusive brand retail stores in telecom are vital to enhancing brand vitality and driving subscribers and revenue.”
Bipin Gurnani, CEO, Piramyd Megastore, underscored the significance of monitoring the performances (first internally and then taking it forward), which, according to him, was important for promoting accountability, demonstrating the results of the activities and getting the feedback of employees to enhance productivity. He said, “Benchmarking is extremely important to improve performance levels.”
Speaking about the ‘Challenges in Luxury Retailing’, Biren Vaidya, MD, Rose Group of Companies (which is into the jewellery business) described luxury (in the Indian context) as a relative term, which has evolved over time and is now all about exclusivity and class and style.
Profiling the Indian luxury customer as highly developed, individualistic, loyal and someone who is spoilt for choice, Vaidya, said, “Luxury as a category is a moving benchmark which never suffers from recession or economic changes. Luxury of today would be comfort of tomorrow and necessity of day after.”
The next session to follow was on ‘Ambience Makes a Difference’. Presenting his views, Thorsten Allenstein, Country Head, Triumph International, one of the largest manufacturers of lingerie in Europe, said, “Ambience is about capturing the customer’s imagination and holding on to it for as long as you can.”
Speculating the problems that a brand like Triumph could face in India, Allenstein said, “We see a lot of potential in this country, but space constraint is a big problem in India. People need to change their mindset.”
He attributed music, lighting, colours and finishes, visuals, and displays as some of the options to improve the ambience of a store. Along with Allenstein, the other key speakers to deliberate on the issue included Vijay Jain, CEO, Orra and Hemu Ramaiah, Managing Partner, Landmark.