Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TiE Retail Summit

Contributed by Charu Gupta

On 1st August, we attended the TiE Retail Summit held at Sheraton Hotel, Saket where Milagrow conducted a panel discussion on “How Small will Become Bigger” and mentoring session.

The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE), is a global not-for-profit organization, dedicated towards fostering entrepreneurship. TiE provides a platform for entrepreneurs, professionals, industry leaders, investors to interact with one another & forge long lasting relationships.

This time the summit was focused on finding out the challenges faced by the Indian retail industry and bringing out solutions through mentoring and knowledge sharing workshops.
I got a chance of attending the summit being a part of the organizing team from Milagrow which was altogether a great experience. In the morning, we reached the venue and set up the things for the panel discussion. The tent cards were placed and the standees were put up at strategic locations.

The summit started at 9 a.m. where the industry people shared their experiences and talked about the growing retail sector, the challenges and the way forward. Following were some key learnings:

  • The rising consumerism and huge potential of the market will drive the retail sector in future.
  • Small retailers do have an edge over Big Box Retailers in terms of better understanding of market, low operations cost, flexibility, customer knowledge and services.
  • There is an increasing influence of Bollywood on the lifestyle of consumers.
  • How product innovation and adapting to the need of local markets is important to modern age retailers and international players coming to Indian market.
  • The retailers today need to provide “shopping with fun” experience to their customers in order to retain them as sustaining in current competition only on the basis of products is hard. The consumers seek a WOW experience once they enter a store which the retailer needs to provide.
  • The organizations should be more process driven rather than individual driven.
    Milagrow conducted a workshop on “How Small will Become Bigger” in which Mr. Rajeev Karwal along with Mr. Sanjay Sahani of Ritu Wears and Mr. Ashish Kapur of Yo China spoke about different strategies which small retailers should adopt to fight Big players.

The key points which came out of the session were:

  • Location strategy is very important. Be where your consumer is whether it’s a high street or neighborhood market. The small retailers can also try kiosks as a good value proposition to retail their products. This can help them to reduce their operational cost as well as increase their presence and visibility across different locations.
  • Plan years in advance as to where you want to open the outlets to get the best real estate price deals.
  • Store Layout and Design should be such which is customer friendly and encourages browsing. The aspects like store atmospherics should be given due consideration to enhance the customer experience.
  • Make your store a brand and enhance its image so that wherever your customer goes, he search for your store and buy your merchandise.
  • Manage your manpower effectively. Selection of right people for the right job is the key. As retail is a customer facing industry, the employees need to be trained so that they can effectively communicate to their customers.
  • Stocking the right products and having a proper merchandising plan in place is very essential to avoid the stock out or overstock situation. The customer demand and buying behavior needs to be tracked and the merchandise should be kept accordingly.
  • Think unique and give your customers an experience and product/service which is unparalleled in the industry. This would drive the customer traffic in your store and gives you a distinct positioning in the industry.
  • Venturing into online retailing haphazardly would not give fruitful results. Plan judiciously according to the product offered and viability of selling it online and then go ahead with it.
    We also released a White Paper on “How small retailers are facing onslaught internationally” which talks about the strengths and weaknesses of small retailers as compared to big players in the industry, the strategies adopted by them and how they can improvise.
The workshop went very well and the audience gained a lot of knowledge on the topic. They got a lot of their queries answered in the QA session regarding online retailing, location planning, etc.
The workshop was summed up by Mr. Rajeev leaving the audience with 10 point suggestions as to how small retailers can grow their business and be successful in their market place by capitalizing on their strengths.

After that, we had a mentoring session where the budding entrepreneurs seeking guidance were mentored by Mr. Rajeev Karwal. This session helped them to know their road ahead and how they should strategize it.

All of the sessions were centered on the theme of how to make one’s business a successful business proposition and were an eye-opener for existing and aspiring enterprisers as to how to conduct their businesses and make them successful.Overall the TiE Retail Summit was a good learning experience and a great day for Milagrow!!

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