Monday, September 1, 2008

A feel of retail !

Special session by Mr.P.K.MOHAPATRA, President & CEO, Technology Business Sector, RPG & Chairman- Retail Varsity & Governing Council Member, CBS

“A feel of Retail” were the words mentioned on the first slide of his presentation, but, the students got much more than a feel of it. For those who believed that there was nothing much to discuss about the Retail world, this session was a pleasant surprise. It was an eye opener for the marketing and the marcom varsity students as well, as they gained useful inputs which would play a crucial part in helping them understand the business world better. The quantum of knowledge that was delivered was fundamental in nature but crucial as it laid a foundation about the retail world in our minds.

He started off by giving us a comprehensive definition of the word Retail and its meaning; “Organized retailing presupposes an ability to influence, or more importantly manage a set of supply chains to be able to deliver value to the customer in a commercially sustainable & viable way”. He stressed more on the ability to influence, delivery of value and the commercial viability, which, as he explained, formulated the crux of any Retail establishment. We were simultaneously subjected to an array of general knowledge questions which covered not only the Indian market but the international scenario as well. We were introduced to the “who’s who” of the retail world, in the process.

Some of the interesting information were:

“10 million retail stores in India alone, making it the largest booming retail hub in the world”

“7/11 being the Largest convenience store in the world”

“Ginza district – Costliest shopping district in Japan” etc.

He then, took us through a journey about big guns of the international Retail market like M&S, NEXT, TESCO, HARRODS etc. and provided a brief overview about the culture, volume of sale and turnover of each of these business giants. The students received every piece of information with awe and utmost interest. The right amount of fuel was required to be injected to illuminate our minds towards the world of Retail and Mr. Mohapatra did just that, with incredible ease. By the time he finished, he had already captured the imagination of all and had ignited many minds with passion for the retail industry.

He then shifted our focus towards the 3 main attributes of a Retail establishment viz. right price, right quality and right time. He explained that with these three elements in place the success of a retail outlet was inevitable, but even if one of them is compromised with it would have a huge impact not only on the business but on the whole supply chain, thus making it very crucial for the very existence of the establishment.

He then introduced us to the various formats in the Retail world, classifying them on the basis of product categories and size. Mr. Mohapatra followed a systematic approach to explain the magnitude of the various businesses like standalone stores, boutiques, general stores, grocery stores, departmental stores, convenience stores, supermarkets category killers, warehouse clubs and hyper markets. Such was the clarity in the information delivered that the students almost immediately related it to the various shops and markets they had either visited or heard about and clarified which segment it belonged to.

He then highlighted that in-depth understanding of the customer’s needs was one of the main pre requisites and some times a tough challenge faced by retail outlets, because at the end of the day it’s the customers who determine the success of the outlet. Efforts need to be taken, unfailingly, to determine the type or strata of customers the outlet will be dealing with, their mindsets, their preferences, their expectations and last but not the least their opinions of feedbacks, which in turn will determine if the outlet will be enjoying customer loyalty in the future.

After emphasizing the importance of customers he explained the virtue cycle which was a shot in the arm for the students. He explained that the virtue cycle was a very important concept as it was based on the very fundamentals of retailing and each of its aspects depended on the proper execution or deliverance of its predecessor. The merchant provides for value for goods with additional service and by offering various other benefits to the customer which in turn leads to customer satisfaction. He concluded by saying that when customer satisfaction is attained it automatically leads to an increase in the volume of sales and an increase in sales means a subsequent increase in margin which in turn leads to more profit and thus forcing the merchant to continue providing value for goods to sustain the growth and look for a probable expansion in business in the future. Numerous interesting cases that were discussed include Brioni suits, Tie-Rack & BodyShop.

Mr.Mohapatra answered our questions in the simplest of ways and made sure none of the numerous questions that we fired at him went unanswered. He showed us only the tip of the ice berg which was by itself taking a long time for us to digest the facts and figures but we were really grateful to Mr. Mohapatra for at the end of the lecture each one of us developed this insatiable thirst for more knowledge which wouldn’t have been possible if not for his inspiring lecture..

From the moment he walked in and till the moment he wrapped up the lecture, we were captivated by his persona, the volume of information and the style of presentation. We were thrilled to know that he was scheduled to take many more sessions on retail in the future. We are looking forward for that day when Mr. Mohapatra hypnotizes us yet again with his insights from the world of retail.

Contributed by Suhas, Marketing Varsity

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