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Two decades ago, retail was the most untapped market in India and today, it is the fastest growing! Indian retail sector that boasts of employing 8 per cent of the total workforce, currently a billion-dollar market expected to become a trillion-dollar market by 2020, is on a roll and it is getting more expansive and robust one year after another. Mr Ambud Sharma, Founder and CEO of Escaro Royale feels,"Indian retail industry is growing at its fastest pace ever thriving to become the world’s largest retail industry. The continually churning wheels of development and advancements in product delivery have led to a huge transformation in the retail segment." He also adds that India is also poised to become the world’s largest e-commerce market and 2019 is going to witness a lot many changes in the retail sector.
Who would have imagined that this untapped market will become the way of the world and catch the fancy and subject of analysis of business pandits and gurus? Entrepreneur India enlists 5 trends in the retail sector that will prevail in 2019:
India is swallowing technology and retail and amalgamating the two. Neeraj Singh, Director of KPMG, says that now augmented reality has entered Indian retail to give Indian millennials the larger-than-life experiences they are looking to experience. He said in an interview at the Future of Noida Retail Summit, “Ikea is a good example to look at. I can settle my furniture in a virtual environment on my floors, on my walls. That’s the experience we want! The fun is to tap into this experience, convert it and create something absolutely innovative!” He also added that India is the place to be right now as far as the retail sector is concerned.
Brick and Mortar
India has seen the online versus offline conflict very closely. Many startups and big companies went offline and embraced the brick and mortar formats last year. While the online setup gives comfort and convenience, something important to the millennials’ way of life, the vitality of the brick and mortar format cannot be neglected either. So will 2019 be the year when brick and mortar stores’ presence will be indisputable established?
“Brick and mortar are going to stay and stay for an indefinite period of time,” says Amit Dullu, Operation Head of Iconic Infinite Fashion. He adds that there was an emerging and concerning perspective initially that online retail will eat up the businesses of the physical stores but all those worries have now been put to rest. “Online players coming back to brick and mortar setups have contradicted the initial concerns of online winning the war against offline.”
He also added that he is expecting 2019 to be better; the mood will be upbeat for the Indian retail sector this year.
Harsh Shah, Co-founder of Fynd, said that tech has started penetrating the offline retail and it is no more a fight between online and offline. “E-commerce companies have started realizing that for the next mile penetration, they need to get into offline and hence you will see an enhanced effort by e-commerce companies having retail store strategies or trying their hands on B2B retail.”
Singh also emphasized that nowadays, retailers are looking beyond the screen, brand building isn’t mere buying and selling for them, “Brands are looking for something more…for instance, Walmart sponsors education. The employees spend a dollar or so per day and the rest is spent by the company. Companies are talking about the gender divide. Brand building is not just about buying and selling, it also includes what the company culture is. How you treat the employees.”
Raghav Suneja, Director, Sona Papers says, “A new segment of consumers have risen who create value-based judgements about what brand and quality to buy and where to shop. This segment is more concerned about the origin of products.”
Hence, value-based judgment will lead the retail market this year.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Apart from Augmented Reality, usage of AI is expected to increase more in this year feels Nikhil Gupta, Founder and Director of All-In supermarkets. “From startups to renowned brands, all are focusing on e-commerce along with physical stores presence. Having said that, a huge junk of masses still love experiential purchase and hence physical stores will be a major point of purchase.”
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the technologies that are on the forefront in 2019. Aneesh Reddy, CEO and Co-Founder of Capillary Technologies, says, “. AI and ML in retail help brands reduce the dependence on data analysts and drive effortless decision making. With AI, retail brands can automate targeted campaigns to offer personalized services to every customer.” He also added that at the moment of interaction, AI with the help of historical customer behaviour tweaks customer experience right from first touch point to the entire journey.
Social Media has taken the world by storm. If every aspect of life is influenced and impacted enormously by social media, it is imperative that business and retail, too, will be included in the category. Sharma says, "The rising tides of social media will continue to influence the trends for millennials impacting their buying decisions and retail production cycles. Instant gratification will become an essential part of the retail model as customers will expect shorter delivery times."
Social Media definitely makes everything look enthralling and fiercely competitive as well!