by Soumik Ghosh

Indian retail industry stocks up for 2016. Here’s how

Jan 27, 2016
Agriculture IndustryAnalyticsBusiness

As the Indian Retail industry locks horns with its online adversary, let's take a look at how it's stocking up for 2016 to win back lost ground.

Now, here’s a quick dekko at trends that would makes in 2016:

Personalized Retail/Personalized store experience is a trend where the retailer provides an in-store experience that is customized for each visitor.Increased Usage of technology: While loyalty programs, point of sale (PoS) solutions, billing management solutions, RFID technology or inventory management solutions are all that a majority of retailers have banked upon thus far. The retailer needs to consider technology as an enabler of providing richer experience to its customer base.  Milk that smartphone: Nowadays, retailers are utilizing the power of mobile phones in the best possible ways to reach out to consumers. The data they capture is also being harnessed to learn and predict customer behavior.Relationship marketing: With rapid evolution of technologies and changing customer behavior, marketing has acquired an all new meaning.  Utilizing the socially networked consumer is the demand of the hour.

The Bread Basket

In the food and grocery space, it has been touted that hyper-local players will play spoil sport.  But in order to make a dent, they still have to go a long way; once again the retailers who decide to either work with these hyper-local players or who start with their own online presence will do good as they will increase their reach.

In an interview with Business Line, the Union Ministry for Food Processing Joint Secretary, J.P. Meena said the food processing sector is growing annually at 7.2 percent compared with 3.9 per cent in agriculture for the last five years.

Growing at a faster rate than the agriculture sector, more and more agriculture produce is getting processed, he said, adding that investment in the food processing sector has been increasing annually at 21.66 per cent.

Foreign direct investment has also been increasing significantly at the rate of average inflow of $117 million for 11 years. He added that exports were increasing at the rate of 20.4 percent per annum.

Rise of the Underdog

The Retailer’s ‘Eye of Mordor’ has now spotted and set its sights on India’s tier 2 & tier-3 cities. In a Deloitte report, Sumit Chanda, Chief Merchandising Officer at Aditya Birla Retail makes an interesting observation.

“Before we talk about consumer engagement, we need to measure the consumer’s adaptability and spending power in the Tier II cities. Around 5-6 years ago, television soaps captured the lifestyle of the metros, whereas today all the soaps are showcasing Tier-II and Tier-III cities.”

This goes on to prove that there is a huge aspiration level among the people in these cities which the retailer has is to tap. In addition to this, mass media has a big role in bringing the rural market to the center-stage, which is setting the actual consumer aspiration.

The key element to be focused on is the supply chain and infrastructure in the Tier-II cities. Although, the potential of these cities can be tapped only by facilitating supply chain and logistics. 

Tech Trends

“What’s going to make an impact in 2016? I’d say personalized retail; harnessing the power of smartphones; relationship marketing, and connecting with the socially networked consumer,” said Narendra Yadav, Co-founder – American Vision.

Veneeth Purushothaman, Former CIO – Bharti Retail shared this view. In addition to this, he believed analytics has a vital role to play. “Retailers have invested in Analytics and used it well – Using the insights to design store promotions and layouts. The next step is to act on the insights and link it with artificial intelligence or augmented reality,” he said.

Vidya Laxman believed that Micro segmentation and personalization will play an important role to meet customers’ expectations in 2016. “By customizing offers, they feel more engaged, special, and are provided with consistent experiences,” she opined.  

The IT bigwigs we interacted with gave us concurrent views on emerging technologies that could be harnessed. Here’s the gist:

Multichannel retail needs channel management technology.Analytics is the secret sauce, the new art of Retail.Your Customer can be anytime, anywhere. Use social media and be around.Customer relationship management would get tougher, and finally,Integration is everything  

“Another data that is not utilized fully is the image and video available from the cameras installed within the stores,” revealed Purushothaman. This data is a gold mine of information on customer behavior, and retailers can get insights on the floor planning and space planning by mining this information.

“Customer mobile apps, WiFi within Stores etc are other initiatives which everyone will do,” he added.

The biggest challenge continues to be the quality of data, the method of data capture whether it is Product or Customer information.

Collaboration with the supplier community is another missing link which is impacting the Supply Chain and the fill rates at the warehouses and the availability at the stores.

Initiatives which help maintain a central repository of product attributes and inventory levels for top suppliers is a must have for all retailers to subscribe and encourage.