27-Jul-2014  



Retail in India - The Past, Present and Future

Before the decade of eighties, India with hundreds of towns and cities was a nation striving for development. The evolution was being witnessed at various levels and the people of India were learning to play different roles as businessmen and consumers.

Retail-which literally means to put on the market, is a very important aspect of every city. Without a well organized retail industry we would not have our necessities and luxuries fulfilled. Be it our daily groceries or fashion accessories and everything in between, retail industry brings us the blissful experience of shopping. Though organized retailing industry began much earlier in the developed nations, India had not actively participated. However with its vast expanse and young population, India in the 21st century emerges as a highly potential retail market. The journey of retailing in India has been riveting and the future promises further growth. Here is a complete picture deciphering the past, present and future trends of Indian Retail Market.

Retail in India - Past
Before the decade of eighties, India with hundreds of towns and cities was a nation striving for development. The evolution was being witnessed at various levels and the people of the nation were learning to play different roles as businessmen and consumers. The foundation for a strong economy were being laid, youth were beckoning new awareness in all spheres. And this brought in an opportunity for retail industry to flourish. First in the metros and major cities later to impact sub urban and rural market as well.

Retailing in India at this stage was completely unorganized and it thrived as separate entities operated by small and medium entrepreneurs in their own territories. There was lack of international exposure and only a few Indian companies explored the retail platform on a larger scale. From overseas only companies like Levi's, Pepe, Marks and Spencer etc. had entered targeting upper middle and rich classes of Indians. However as more than 50 % population was formed by lower and lower middle class people, the market was not completely captured. This was later realized by brands like Big Bazaar and Pantaloons who made their products and services accessible to all classes of people and today the success of these brands proves the potential of Indian retail market.

A great shift that ushered in the Indian Retail Revolution was the eruption of Malls across all regional markets. Now at its peak, the mall culture actually brought in the organized format for Retailing in India which was absent earlier. Though malls were also initially planned for the higher strata, they successfully adapted to cater to the larger population of India. And it no wonder, today Malls are changing the way common Indians have their shopping experience. However there is still great scope for enhancing Indian mall culture as other than ambience and branding many other aspects of Retail Service remains to be developed on international standards.

To your surprise there was not a single mall in India a decade before and just a few years ago only a handful of them were striving, today there are more than 50 malls across different cities and 2 years from now around 500 malls are predicted to come up.

Indeed this shows a very promising trend ahead, however before taking a leap into the future of Retail in India, let's see what the Indian retail Industry is currently occupied with.

Retail in India - Present
At present the Retail industry in India is accelerating. Though India is still not at an equal pace with other Asian counterparts, Indian is geared to become a major player in the Retail Market. The fact that most of the developed nations are saturated and the developing ones still not prepared, India secures a great position in the international market. Also with a highly diverse demography, India provides immense scope for companies brining in different products targeting different consumers.

According to the Global Retail Development Index, India is positioned as the foremost destination for Retail investment and business development. The factor that is presently playing a significant role here is the fact that a large section of Indian population is in the age group of 20-34 with a considerably high purchasing power; this has caused the increase in the demand in the urban market resulting in consistent growth in the Retail business.

And though the metros and other tier 1 cities continue to sustain Retail growth, the buzz has now shifted from these great cities to lesser known ones. As the spending power is no longer limited to metros, every tier 2 city in the country has good market for almost every product or service. Due to this, tier 2 cities like Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Pune, Kolkatta, Ahmedabad, Baroda, Hyderabad, Cochin, Nagpur, Indore, Trivandrum etc. provide a good platform for a brand to enter Indian market.

However there are a few precautions for every brand that explores Indian market. As Indian consumers are very curious and have a broad perspective, they respond well to a new product or concept and there are very fair chances of a brand surviving well, but every Indian consumer be it an urbanite or a small town dweller needs a feeling of value for money. Although labeled as tight fisted, Indian consumers are great spenders once they realize that they are getting value for their money. Also new product /service concepts from the western world are better adopted first by the urban Indians, the smaller markets respond well to the need based retailing rather than luxury concepts.

As the Indian retailing is getting more and more organized various retail formats are emerging to capture the potential of the market.

  • Mega Malls
  • Multiplexes
  • Large and small supermarkets
  • Hypermarkets
  • Departmental stores are a few formats which flourishing in the both big and small regional markets

As the major cities have made the present retail scenario pleasant, the future of the Indian Retailing industry lies in the rural regions. Catering to these consumers will bring tremendous business to brands from every sector. However as the market expands companies entering India will have to be more cautious with their strategic plans. To tap into the psyche of consumers with different likes and dislikes and differing budgets a company has to be well prepared and highly flexible with their product and services. In this regard focusing on developing each market separately can save a brand from many troubles.

Retail in India - The Future
According to a study the size of the Indian Retail market is currently estimated at Rs. 704 crores which accounts for a meager 3 % of the total retail market. As the market becomes more and more organized the Indian retail industry will gain greater worth. The Retail sector in the small towns and cities will increase by 50 to 60 % pertaining to easy and inexpensive availability of land and demand among consumers.

Growth in India Real estate sector is also complementing the Retail sector and thus it becomes a strong feature for the future trend. Over a period of next 4 years there will be a retail space demand of 40 million sq. ft. However with growing real estate sector space constraint will not be there to meet this demand. The growth in the retail sector is also caused by the development of retail specific properties like malls and multiplexes.

According to a report, from the year 2003 to 2008 the retail sales are growing at a rate of 8.3% per annum. With this the organized retail which currently has only 3% of the total market share will acquire 15-20 % of the market share by the year 2010.

Factors that are playing a role in fuelling the bright future of the Indian Retail are as follows:

  • The income of an average Indian is increasing and thus there is a proportional increase in the purchasing power.
  • The infrastructure is improving greatly in all regions is benefiting the market.
  • Indian economy and its policies are also becoming more and more liberal making way for a wide range of companies to enter Indian market.
  • Indian population has learnt to become a good consumer and all national and international brands are benefiting with this new awareness.
  • Another great factor is the internet revolution, which is allowing foreign brands to understand Indian consumers and influence them before entering the market. Due to the reach of media in the remotest of the markets, consumers are now aware of the global products and it helps brands to build themselves faster in a new region

However despite these factors contributing to the growth of Indian retail Industry, there are a few challenges that the industry faces which need to be dealt with in order to realize the complete scope of growth in Indian market.

Foreign direct investment is not allowed in retail sector, which can be a concern for many brands. But Franchise agreements circumvent this problem. Along with this regulations and local laws and real estate purchase restrictions bring up challenges. Other than this lack of integrated supply chain and management and lack of trained workforce and flux of the market in terms of price and product choice also need to be eliminated.

Despite these challenges many international brands are thriving in the Indian market by finding solutions around these challenges. A company that plans to enter Indian market at this time can definitely look forward to great business if it analyzes and puts efforts on all parameters.

And with Good Planning, Timely Implementation and a media campaign that touches Indian consumers any brand can go far ahead in the Indian Retail Revolution.

By Shanker Domodaran



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