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Physical retail to thrive on customer experience, say retail leaders at RAI Kolkata summit

By Retail4Growth Bureau | November 22, 2022

The panel discussions at Kolkata Retail Summit (KRS) 2022 included dialogues on various aspects of Reshaping the Customer Journey: The role of the Physical store Focusing on Customer Experience, Rethinking Strategies that Focus on the Future of Retail, and Vision 2030: What is the Future of Shopping.

Kolkata Retail Summit (KRS) by Retailers Association of India 2022, Kolkata

The Retailers Association of India (RAI) organised the ‘Kolkata Retail Summit (KRS) 2022’ on 18 November 2022 at The Park Hotel in Kolkata with participation from the retail fraternity of Eastern India.

The summit commenced with an address by Bijou Kurien, Chairman of, the Retailers Association of India (RAI). Expressing his views, Bijou Kurien said, “Retail has transformed dramatically in the last two years. Retailers re-evaluated the role of stores. Digital technologies permeated into retail. Today, the retail industry stands on much stronger foundations. Riding on the growth of the Indian economy, retail consumption is poised to explode.

Speaking about the outlook of the retail industry in India, Kumar Rajagopalan said, Retail in India is evolving at a rapid pace post the pandemic. The eastern region has been growing at about 20% compared to pre-pandemic levels and retailers would like to explore more growth possibilities here. At present, there is a sense of cheer among consumers – cheer to travel without restrictions, eat out and socialise, which in turn is creating consumption opportunities and positively impacting categories such as QSRs, apparel like leisure wear, footwear, travel-related items and even jewellery. Furthermore, the wedding season is boosting demand for occasion wear and beauty categories.”

The highlight of the summit was a keynote address by Shashwat Goenka, Sector Head - Spencer's Retail Ltd, RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, about how retail is progressing in India. During his address, Shashwat Goenka said, “Retailers will double their footprint in the near future. India’s retail is unique - diverse customer behaviour across food and appeal. One size fits all doesn’t fit in India. India is a microcosm of several small Indias across India. We must be aware of how to cater to specific consumers. There is a need to fuel omnichannel retail. Adaptation and adoption of tech are the norms. During the pandemic, WFH equipment shot up, post-pandemic was the revenge shopping phenomenon, and now it’s glocal and omnichannel. We also need to be mindful of Internet penetration across the country - 25% of India’s grocery retail is going to be e-commerce. Customers require instant replies. We need to cater to diverse consumers and their diverse needs. Retailers need to cater to this. The Indian consumer is not spoilt for choice; they know what they want and don’t have brand loyalty. It is about what is convenient. The difference is customer experience. Agility and flexibility should be part of the retailer’s core.”

KRS 2022 also hosted captivating Fireside Chats that included an in-depth conversation between Harshavardhan Neotia, Chairman, of Ambuja Neotia Group, and Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, of Retailers Association of India (RAI).

Speaking about consumer demand in India, Harshavardhan Neotia, said, “Consumer demand in India is only going to skyrocket. It is estimated that India’s consumer base will overtake the US.  Experiential buying is going to dominate and not eCommerce - although eCommerce may dominate in categories that may not require experiences.

Another stimulating Fireside Chat hosted at KRS 2022 was with Suvankar Sen, Executive Director, Senco Gold Ltd., while Sagar Daryani, Co-Founder & CEO, Wow! Momo Foods inspired the audience through his Special Address on ‘Survival, Revival & Growth during the Covid era - how agility is the most important tool for modern retail’.

The thought-provoking panel discussions at KRS 2022 included dialogues on various aspects of Reshaping the Customer Journey: The role of the Physical store Focusing on Customer Experience, Rethinking Strategies that Focus on the Future of Retail, and Vision 2030: What is the Future of Shopping.

Participating in the panel discussions were retail leaders such as Anirban Aditya, Chairman, Aditya Group, Mukesh Kumar, MD & CEO, Quest Properties India, Murali Krishnan, CMO and Co-Founder, Wow! Momo Foods, Rishi Nayar, Director – East, ANAROCK Property Consultants, Rochita Dey, Director, Sreeleathers, Shitanshu Jhunjhunwala, Director, Turtle, Shreyans Surana, Director, Style Baazar, Sunil Menon, Chief Retail Expansion Officer, Lenskart, Umang Mittal, ED, PRM BEGRAJ, among others.

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