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India's Retail Revolution: Customer experience is the key differentiator

05-February-2007
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India's Retail Revolution: Customer experience is the key differentiator

India has been witnessing a boom in the retail sector and the sector is poised for several changes in the future. Addressing various issues of the retail industry, Assocham recently held a day-long summit 'India's Retail Revolution - Managing the change', which saw the participation of several industry leaders.

In the inaugural session, Dr Ajay Dua, Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, raised a few questions the retail boom had thrown for the industry. Primary is the issue of the uncertain future of numerous Mom and Pop stores, which face a threat from organised retail. He also expressed his concern on the escalating real estate prices, which is a necessary component for any retail store.

The inaugural plenary, which discussed 'Retail Boom - The Future Direction', was addressed by Anil K Agarwal, immediate past president, Assocham, while Dilip Modi, Chairman, Retail Committee, Assocham, delivered the keynote. D Raja, Secretary, National Council CPI, delivered the special address.

In the session titled, 'Reinventing Retail', Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, spoke about re-inventing the company and the brand. He said, "The future is about a new subject, which is 'Retail Branding' which needs to be reinvented. The approach required for this is one to one branding unlike mass communication, which mass marketers will never understand. Retail branding is front face branding and mass customised branding."

Emphasising on building positive customer experience, Jeffrey Markley, Partner, Simitri Group International, said, "The focus should be to earn profit made on customer and not through sale. Customer experience should not be shortchanged for anything and the aim should be to that of giving an experience of fine dining where both processes and people work and work very well for the customers leaving a sense of satisfaction as well as a smile on their face."

Taking forward Markley's point of providing customer experience, Vijay Kohli, Senior VP and Head of Enterprise Business Unit, NIS Sparta Ltd, brought to fore the issue of training people. He said, "This year, it is estimated that organised retail will grow somewhere between 37 per cent and 40 per cent. If that is the scenario, one has to be equipped with human resources who are key differentiators of products and processes. The need of the hour is to build talent who actually communicate the brand."

If attracting and grooming talent is an issue, Sanjiv Duggal, CEO, Bharti Comtel Ltd, gave a solution to bridge the gap between people projection and supply chain. He said, "One of the ways to combat this issue is to come up with a strategic response. It could probably be done through setting up a chain of education centres."

The summit also looked at various challenges and opportunities in retail as well as put forth a strategic approach to retail.

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