Wednesday, April 18, 2012: 08:21:13 AM

Retail Trend

Standing out in the retail sector

Innovation, customisation and exclusivity key for retailers in the highly competitive space

The Indian retail space is by far one of the most competitive segments in the economy, especially in the organised retail sector. With the consumer becoming more aware, educated and fashion conscious than ever, the average retailer needs to offer something special and extraordinary to attract and retain customers.

 
According to Rajnikant Kedia, managing director of Insta Group of Companies, “Retail is a business of customisation because every customer’s need is different. Innovation is aligned with the perception of the brand.”
 
Speaking on how brands can stand out, Mr Kedia says, “In crowded market spaces the only way one can make a brand stand out is through strategic and structural innovation of its communication platforms. Today strategic and structural innovation is key to building top of the mind recalls and awareness.”
 
Therefore, innovative strategies form a crucial aspect of retail business and while the established players have already carved a niche in the urban market, the biggest competition lies in the Tier II and Tier III cities, where the transition towards organised retail is gradually taking place. Organised retailers operating in this emerging market face direct competition from the unorganised sector and therefore need to have a strong strategy in place to ensure that they have better exposure and higher penetration.
 
The average consumer in these markets is also keener to experience new products and services.
 
According to Prof A Ramaswamy Iyengar, faculty (Retail) at Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research, Mumbai, “The retail space in India is expanding and evolving at a rapid pace. Retailers following the traditional business model will soon be eliminated if they do not innovate. The average consumer has more disposable income than ever before and is also better informed. For any retailer to stand out, it is important to make the consumer feel special and exclusive. Customisation and exclusivity are the order of the day and every retailer has to strive towards it.”
 
Emerging concepts
 
With organised retail booming, the concept of combo offers and special discount days have become an important part of the retail industry in recent years. At the same time, retailers operating solely in the urban space are focusing more on making the customer feel special and therefore enhancing the retail experience in various ways. Walking into a fashion apparel store in a plush mall is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the traditional Indian bazaar. Looking for a new electronic gadget no longer involves hunting through narrow lanes for the small tech shop that imports/smuggles and sells fancy gadgets.
 
With several international brands entering the market, the scope for innovation and enhancement of the customer experience has also grown significantly. The amount of investments that international and domestic organised retailers are making on store design and display technology is a testament of the fact. An industry with a growth rate so fast and a customer base encompassing the entire population, the retail sector in India provides an excellent opportunity for several other related businesses to tap the retail boom.
 
Tias Chakraborty
 

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