KOLKATA: Amid changing socio-economic dynamics, retailers in the east have turned their focus on adopting various new strategies to achieve sustainable growth. Attending the Kolkata Retail Summit 2019 here on Thursday, they unanimously opined that sustainable growth has become critical for businesses in recent times.
“Sustainable growth involves going beyond profits to focus on several aspects of the organisation and its business, which includes both internal and external aspects,” said Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of Retailers Association of India (RAI), which organized the summit, creating a platform for retailers to connect, converse, collaborate and catalyse.
Rajagopalan also informed the retailers that RAI’s advocatory efforts are focused on bringing in a retail policy for the country. At present, four States including Maharashtra, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have retail policies. RAI is working with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade to bring in a policy that would benefit retailers of all sizes.
For sustainable growth of businesses, Rajagopalan insisted that induction of more women into the retail sector is vital. In the overall retail industry, less than 10 per cent of women are employed across India currently. He also emphasised on the need to make the sector worthy for empowering women.
According to Rajagopalan, sustainable growth in business can be achieved by personalisation, customisation, digital adoption and creating branding possibilities. He advised retailers to build relationships with the consumer, offer them customised services, embrace technology and create new brands in the retail sector, which would otherwise turn commoditised.
Retail stalwart and founder of Shopper’s Stop BS Nagesh, said organisations must define their purpose larger than objectives and goals to break barriers to sustainable growth. While doing so, he also urged retailers to bring in inclusiveness.
Of many strategies put forth by co-founder of Wow Momo Sagar Daryani to achieve sustainability in business, adoption of transformative leadership was indispensable. “You need to also focus on earning and not burning in the present time. Share wealth to make wealth, have right attitude towards every player in your team and build a team that can adapt to changes,” he said.
Daryani also expressed concern over the deep-discounting culture adopted by online food aggregators. However, he sees every possibility of homegrown food and restaurant brands making it big in global markets in future.
Sharing her own experience, Rochita Dey, director of Sreeleathers Limited, spoke on how her company changed the paradigm to cater to the preferences of young consumers. The footwear brand launched youth-centric product range, House of SL, conducted in-store activation programme and ventured into travel accessories segment.
For the director of Turtle, Shitanshu Jhunjhunwala, the focus had been on increasing the availability of products in the retail stores. He also emphasised on the increasing customer base in tier-II and tier-III cities. “Retailers must focus on creating their own business model today with the technology,” said Sidharth Pansari, director of Primarc Group,
The event also witnessed stimulating panel discussions on various aspects like employees as important drivers of sustainable growth, and what would drive retail in the coming years.
“There must be an alignment achieved between an organisation’s vision and its entire team. The team must work as a family,” said Dalpat Jain, CFO Manyavar.
CEO of Medhash Group Asutosh Saraf introduced the concept of highway retailing. “The retailers should also tap in the travellers and consumers along the highways,” he added.
Similarly, director of Style Bazaar Shreyansh Surana felt that for growth, use of data analytics and technology is a must for retailers. "We are using artificial intelligence (AI) and manual survey to assess what’s selling and what is not. Retailers in east are now turning to AI,” he informed.
Soumi Banik Nag of Ajanta Footcare highlighted how the trend in footwear industry has been changing phenomenally of late. "We are going pan-India very soon and have already started exporting to lot of countries like Germany, Saudia Arabia, Dubai and Srilanka. These are potential markets,” she said.
Director of Presto Anurag Poddar said after every 10 years, the world witnesses change. Customers who used to come to the brick and mortar stores are now buying online. "We now see ourselves as retailers as well as e-tailers,” he observed.