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'Retail will create a few billionaires in India'

December 14, 2007 14:30 IST
Retail management is a 'tricky' business, say experts. And retailers are a trickier lot. Yet, they have grabbed power across the globe by simply transforming private labels from price purchases into powerful brands.

Retailers are a busy lot too. They are constantly creating strategies to sell their products -- always toiling to excel.

What makes retail business rock? What plans set the cash boxes ringing? Does Indian retail business still have a long way to go? What do Indian retailers need to do to compete with their foreign counterparts?

What are the keys to achieve success in retail management?

What is the state of retail management in India? What measures need to be taken to help India attain success in this field?

In an online chat on on Thursday, professor of marketing, London Business School, Nirmalya Kumar answered many such readers' queries.

Nirmalya Kumar says
Hi this is Nirmalya. Welcome. Let's chat.

monu asked, Hi Mr. Kumar , I would like to know about is the price is the only winning factor among reatiler ware
Nirmalya Kumar answers,  at 2007-12-13 17:13:43No. There are always 4 winners in retail-cheapest, biggest, best and nearest. So at least 4 propositions.
rohit asked, hello sir,Can you tell something about branding in B2B marketing in areas like IT. How should it be able to show itself as a premium brand?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, Branding in B2B can get some price premium but usually it is associated with peace of mind and ease of doing business. It is built over years demonstrating this to the customer.
NCS asked, I am always confused with the terms used like MARKETING AND SALES. What is the real big difference?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, Sales is about taking the products that you have and finding customers for them. Marketing is much broader and incorporates selling. It is about understanding customer needs then developing the appropriate products and services and promoting them to the end user. Promotion includes advertising and selling.
rajeev asked, why wallmart so keen to enter India
Nirmalya Kumar answers, India and China are the only 2 countries besides the USA where a retail chain can dream of having 5000 stores. Retailing is about multiplication and large countries have the most potential.
vickey asked, There is this stigma of "Indians not good at Marketing" on International level, may be they do good in India. What is your take on that ?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, There is not stigma against Indians and marketing at international level. In fact several top companies marketers are Indians. However it is hard to move marketing people from one country to another because they need to know the local context.
Sudhir asked, Would it not be prudent for the retailers in India to form co-operatives and defend themselves against the might of established retail chains. Any source for them to take the necessary guidance to do so?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, Forming retailer cooperatives or wholesale sponsored cooperatives is a way for small retailers to gain some leverage against large retail chains especially in terms of buying, credit cards, advertsing and promotion.
dipalrc asked, Dr Kumar Do you think that Cash and Carry retail formats will suceed in india for fresh products/grocery items or what could be the ideal model?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, C & C serves small restaurants and shop keepers so groceries needed but not as important as in the supermarket format. In the latter a great grocery proposition is crucial for success.
gopichandms asked, HI Nirmalaya, Good Evening! What are the qualities smart marketing person should have to succeed in his career?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, A good marketing person has empathy for his customer and understands the techniques of marketing. As you get to more senior positions marketers have to understand the financial implications of marketing and become more strategic in their thinking.
Prashant asked, Where do see india five years from now, in retail marketing
Nirmalya Kumar answers, There will be many different formats but the kirana store will still be around because they have a value propoistion which is unique to them. However there will be fewer and account for a smaller proportion of total retail sales. Given the fondness for shopping in Asian countries malls will be a very big factor.
prakash asked, Do you think that employee attrition (especially employees switching to other competitors for better pay packages)is going to impact Indian Retailers in the log run?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, Attrition only matters at top management level. Most retail employees are serving customers and training new emploees to do that is not that difficult. In retail we are quite used to working with attrition rates of 50% in most developed countries.
dinesh asked, what is ur take of present state of marketing & retail education in India
Nirmalya Kumar answers, Marketing education in India is probably quite good. However retail education is relatively new and will take a few more years to mature. Having said that many good books on retail management exist so teaching retail skills is not that challenging and should be possible relatively easily in India.
n asked, Hello, what do you see as the single most important USP of Indian market?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, Size and growth.
prakash asked, In the context of Apparel retailing, Do you think that exclusive stores will be able to stand up to Large format Multi-Branded Retail Outlets?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, In general exclusive solo branded stores like H&M, Gap, Zara have been more succesful in the West than multi-branded apparel stores. This is because the malls with many solo branded stores take away the unique value proposition of multi-branded retail stores. This is why department stores are struggling in the West.
Amit asked, Can we have insurance against rising attrition?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, Unfortunately not. In a fast growth economy like India it is reality that all companies have to confront and some do it bbetter that others.
griffin asked, "department stores are struggling in the West" M&S is struggling? That is news to me!
Nirmalya Kumar answers, I was talking about the format in general and not any particular retailer. However M&S has just come through a painful restructuring as have most US department stores that focused on apparel.
KesN asked, Good Evening Dr. Kumar. What are your views about the success of Private labels in Indian stores? Is it possible for a Private label to compete with established multinational brands?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, As retail chains develop, they will develop sophisticated private label portfolios and compete with international brands headon. In 10yrs private labels will be quite significant in India. And international manufacturers will have to compete with them in India just as they do overseas.
kapil asked, do you think in retail, discounting model works better or promotional scheme model?
Nirmalya Kumar answers, Both models are successful. Promotional models work well for retailers located close to customers. Discounting models work better when retail stores require significant travel because it is hard to incentivise the customer to travel for a single item on promotion.
abhishek vats asked, what is scope of retail industry in India
Nirmalya Kumar answers, Retail will create a few billionaires in India. In most countries a retail owner is among the richest people in the country-Ikea in Sweden, Aldi in Germany, Wal-mart in USA.
harisv asked, Hi Nirmalya, what are your prime objectives in authoring the book "Value Merchants"? Also enlighten me as to how should companies look for customer needs in promoting their organisation(Customer Value Managment) without burdening their core business.
Nirmalya Kumar answers, The prime objective of any academic is to present new ideas and have them adopted by business. CVM is the result of 15 years of working with business marketing companies and sharing the learning with them in an easily accessible manner.
Nirmalya Kumar saysIt was a pleasure interacting with all of you. Sorry we had connectivity problems hence could not answer more questions but promise to come back soon. Nirmalya