In retail, it is not what you sell that counts, but how you sell it. Whether it is the ‘paanwalla’, the ‘bania’, the general store, the supermarket or the Mall, the selling method may remain the same but the pricing may differ. Marketing or selling today, has moved from merely selling of products and services to creating a relationship with the customer.
The various methods of communication with the consumer are advertising; sales promotion publicity and personal selling. The retailer finally takes the role of selling branded and non-branded products.
India today is a dynamic combination of demanding consumers, rising levels of consumption and a growing population base. It has emerged as the fourth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power. India has emerged as the nation which has topped the purchasing power index. It is currently one of the largest consumer markets in the world.
The role of marketing in Retail
Marketing is the process of planning, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create and satisfy consumers.
From these one can draw the conclusion that marketing has to do with providing the right product to the consumer at the right place and time which is largely what retailers believe that they are doing.
The role of marketing in a retail organization is two fold. The first role that marketing can play for a retail organization is that of informing the consumer that he exists. The second role that marketing plays for the retailer is enabling it to get closer to the end consumer.
Technology aids the understanding of consumer needs and preferences and at the same time, serves as the silent salesman. Most consumers want more information and retailers have reduced staffing levels so as to implement cost reduction.
Since independence, retail in India has evolved to support the unique needs of our country given its size and complexity. In India, retail has not as yet been accorded the status of an industry.
The retail in India has shaped up by a large shift from traditional grocery shops to modern formats that include Malls, hypermarkets, supermarkets and specialty stores across a wide range of categories. Today, these retail formats have established a good presence in important locations in the metros to smaller towns. Retail has taken few years in spreading out to the second tier cities and towns thereby exposing consumers in these areas to shopping options of branded and non-branded goods.
There is no doubt that retail in India is up for an exciting phase ahead. Retail is one of the most mature users of information technology. Technology needs to be geared up to tackle complex inventory systems, from technology driven training programs to state of the art cash register and credit systems.
Careers in this department may range from overall responsibility for the data processing efforts within the chain, including systems design, programming, computer operations and information systems (IS). Systems development may be another area, which would be responsible for programming one segment of the business such as merchandising finance or logistics. A retailer who has a presence in the e-commerce segment may also look for individuals who may be responsible for strategy development, procurement of merchandise and the fulfillment of orders and payments.
Visual merchandising is largely associated with creating the look of the store. Visual merchandisers are responsible for the total merchandise or service presentations.
The increase in competition has necessitated retailers to differentiate themselves from the competition. While products and services are important factors, visual merchandising is fast becoming an area of comparative advantage. It is believed that attractive displays attract and create increased sales.
Supply chain management and logistics are fast emerging as the key focus areas in retail. Supply chain management is the integrated management of the flow of materials and products, services and information from raw material suppliers, through operations to the final customer, and back again. Supply chain management and logistics is an integral factor affecting cost. Effective management of the supply chain enhances profitability.
The time of discount growth trends in retail seem to have ended with heavy footfalls being the recurring theme across the past couple of months amidst reports of higher volume sales across different regions. Indian retail appears all set to achieve success. It is a feeling that is doubly sweet; coming at it does after a year when the global economic slowdown mentioned day after day in headlines with the impact being felt in the Indian economy as well.