B Swaminathan (email@example.com)
Pune: Retailware, the Pune-based leading software solution provider focussed on the MSME retailers having more than 5 Thousand installations across the country has recently organized an online webinar for the retail sector with panelists from various retail segments. On the whole, the panelists were confident that retail stores are an integral part of Indian consumers and despite the impact of COVID-19, before Deepavali, the situation should come to normal.
Ajit Thadhani, CEO of Retailware moderated the session which had some stalwarts from the retail sector of the Maharastra region- Cavas Pundole from C.T.Pundole, Girish Chitale from Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale, Mayur Vora from Mapro foods, Nitin Khandelwal from Khandelwal Jewellers, Pradeep Gandhi from Kohinoor Cloth stores, Pramod Karamchandani from Venus Traders, Sharad Mahajan from Warna Bazar.
Kick-starting the session, Ajit spoke in brief on the ongoing lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic in India and how it will impact the retail business as a whole. He also spoke in detail on how technology could bring change in the simplifying a retailer’s pain points.
Girish said that this was an unexpected event and no one has ever experienced this. Pramod, being in the stationary segment expressed that despite having many orders and demand has generated in the market for stationery stores, due to work-from-home options, they are unable to serve the customers. He also said that close to 87 Thousand live SKUs are in place and they had also started home delivery too.
Mayur said that for the food-processing industry it will take 2 to 3 years for fully becoming operational. Quoting the example of the Jio-Facebook deal, he said that with many people entering the digital world, bigger players in the technology space will be in the forefront, and data capturing will be happening more.
Pradeep, on his speech, said about how Goa had started functioning and he said things are going to be normal. “Of course, we cannot expect those big-fat wedding happening. However, seeing the current situation, by Deepavali India should come to normal. He also said that whichever comes under the luxury angle will not be able to sustain immediately whereas value-based aspects will take some time to survive.
Nitin said that Gold is considered more as an investment that can be monetized at any point in time and with social distancing, the way retailing was functioning to date might change. There will be a challenge for retailers whose target audiences are the aspiring class (middle class).
Cavas Pundole said that Indians love to spend both inside and outside the country. He added that those items which are available in other countries are now available in India. Those who wanted to spend abroad will make those spending in India. That way, one cannot simply say sales will not happen.
The participants also agreed on the fact that in a matter of two or three months, things will be back to normal. Girish added that everyone will adapt to the ‘new normal’ and food-as-retail concept will be in great demand. “We are not sure how people will consider this- online or offline. However, in a matter of three months the hospitality and retail sector will have a boom.”, he said.
Sharad touched upon the rural angle of any retailing. “I believe that rural retailing will be at the forefront as a new format of retailing will reach in the foot-steps of the customers.” He also said that the purchasing power of the common man has reduced and spent will focus only on the essential items. Sharing concerns over the monsoons sales of this year was only 75% of what happened last year, he said this will change soon. Pradeep said electronics, jewelry, and touring abroad will not be an immediate expense.
Pradeep predicted that dress is something everyone will want to invest in. He also said whatever people had saved now, will invest first on appeals and sarees. According to him, the Deepavali purchase will be good for many cloth retailers. Pramod raised concerns on making stationery as an essential item and Girish threw light on how online will be an option.
On her concluding note, Rupal said that omnichannel is the future and it will take 6 to 8 months to come to normalcy. She said that retailers should change the way things were working till date and the way things were working these days. Retail stores should also adopt digital means as much as possible and ready for bouncing back.
There were also discussions on how retailers should adopt the latest technologies like Augmented reality. More than 500 retailers across India, majorly from Maharastra participated in this session.