Retail

The future of Indian retail in 2016

By: Mihir Kittur, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Ugam

Mihir Kittur, Co-founder & Chief Innovation Officer, Ugam

Writing about the future is easy. Nobody knows for sure and rarely does anybody go back and check if the predictions indeed came true. Predictions are often guesses, presumptions, suppositions, and extrapolations. Well, mine are all of these. To add to that none of them will shock you or are revolutionary. Rather an evolutionary continuum that resonates with a popular line … the more things change, the more they are the same.

Here’s what we might witness in India in 2016 across some facets of Retail:

For store retailers, it will be online again
Many store retailers are in the process or will re-launch their websites with far better functionality and robust technology. 2016 will see them investing in web operations like content management, web analytics, search engine optimization.

True omnichannel experience will need to wait
Several large store based retailers are making investments in technology infrastructure to enable an omnichannel experience for their shopper. However, those investments will continue to be in implementation phase all through 2016 and will probably deliver the expected omnichannel experience only in 2017.

Store retailers will be more active on marketplaces
Store based retailers have made announcements of collaborating with marketplaces. However, their presence and activity has been meagre. 2016 may see these retailers actually doing a better job of leveraging the marketplace traffic.

Amazon will continue to dominate
Amazon will continue to invest in its quest to dominate the Indian market. Constant iteration and redefinition is core to Amazon. This will put tremendous pressure on others to innovate at a pace they are not accustomed to. Significant investments in range expansion and fulfillment are likely.

Mobile and broadband will be the online retailers’ best friend
Online retailers will ride mobile and broadband growth in the country. This wave will have transformative impact on the shopper behavior and expectations.

Shopping season will be mostly all year long
Shopping season used to be around festivals. But increasingly, thanks to online retailers, it is becoming a year-long phenomenon. This is likely to sustain in 2016, with promotions being driven all year long.

Data and analytics will not be equally leveraged
The use of data and analytics has been dominated by the online players – where they see data as a key asset. They will continue to invest in big data analytics to improve merchandizing and marketing decisions. It is likely that store retailers will follow, but it is going to be a much slower and steeper climb for them.

To start-up or merge will be the question
The funding climate is beginning to get more selective. There is also talk of consolidation around some retailer start-ups. This raises a question whether 2016 would be a good time to venture in the slight overheated b2c online retail space. Opportunities may seem more interesting in the b2b online space.

Entry of foreign brands and retailers will continue
2016 is likely to see several entrants and investment plans from global brands and retailers.

The winds of change are always blowing. These changes in retail in India in 2016 are going to result in permanent changes in shopper behavior and expectations. One thing that will remain a constant is that long term success lies in customer centricity.

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