The retail sector in India is growing at a phenomenal pace leading to job opportunities in different areas. Aaditi Isaac reports.
The retail sector in India is growing at a phenomenal pace. According to the Global Retail Development Index 2012, India ranks fifth among the top 30 emerging markets for retail. The recent announcement by the Indian government with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail , especially allowing 100% FDI in single brands and multi-brand FDI has created positive sentiments in the retail sector.
“There are many factors contributing to the boom in this sector. To name a few, increased consumerism with a capacity to spend on luxury items and increased spending power in the hands of Indians. More Indians are travelling abroad and are exposed to different cultures and way of life and thereby more brands. India’s internal consumption is also high and the consumption pattern owning to diversity in culture, religion and the family values that encourage spending on specific occasions keep the retail business well oiled. Marriages add a big dimension to the retail spends. Our culture expects a lot of give-and-take for marriages, festivals and other important events of life. Hence, it’s imperative for people right from rural to the urban , irrespective of their caste and creed or economic status, to spend on gifts as a part and parcel of life. And that’s the reason worldwide retailers eye the Indian market,” says Swati Salunkhe, managing director, Growth Centre (I) Pvt Ltd.
The size of India’s retail sector is currently estimated at around $450 billion and organised retail accounts for around 5% of the total market share. Ratings agency Fitch has assigned a stable outlook to the retail sector for 2012 as factors like expected sales, growth-driven expansion and efficient working capital management are likely to benefit retail companies . It is estimated that the retail sector would continue to grow at 10-12 % per annum, which is extremely encouraging when the country’s economy is only projected to grow at 6%.
Within retail, the emerging sectors would be food and grocery, apparel, electronics, e-commerce , fashion and lifestyle.
“The upcoming areas within retail are luxury, super specialty stores/ malls, and renewed emphasis on high streets. Unfortunately, malls have become expensive affairs for most of the retailers. Therefore, a huge investment and emphasis has been laid down on e-tailing or online stores that has wider reach and are economically viable,” says Darlie Koshy, DG and CEO, Institute of Apparel Management.
Any professional who has an experience in the retail industry or a relevant qualification in the field of retail industry like visual merchandising, marketing or has pursued a retail course can get into this field.
The training and the skills would be a little different for people working in Indian retail stores and international retail stores.
“Conceptual understanding, analytical skills and details, understanding customers and observation skills — project management and operating skills are required to work in any retail industry whether Indian or international.
Specific aspects required to work in the international retail world would be understanding of global consumer behaviour, international standards and retailing strategies, for example, retail expansion strategies. One is required to develop a strategic bent of mind to be able to work in this environment,” says Salunkhe. It is also important to understand local culture , know the local language/s, spending patterns on festivals, special seasons, etc, and so on.
Meanwhile, Koshy points out, “We have always termed retail as semihospitality sector, therefore the knowledge of all the front-end issues such as customer relationship management , merchandise mix, logistics and supply chain management, ERP, and other latest real-time technological know-how is mandatory. One of the key issues is the product knowledge by the salesperson and retail shop floor employees who are not adequately trained in this area.”
Shalini Naagar, head HR, Marks and Spencer, Reliance India Private Ltd, believes that the customer assistants are the most important link in the chain since they are the ones who are directly interacting with customers. “They are the brand ambassadors and are the ones who exhibit our brand values to our customers. This is the underlying philosophy of our organisation ,” says Naagar.
Further, she points out that they have a thorough recruitment and selection process, which helps them get the best kind of talent. “We support our recruits with training throughout their employment with us, which include one month prior training at the time of store opening, leadership skill training, customer orientation training , front desk staff training etc,” says Naagar.
In such a scenario where the retail industry is growing at a fast pace, ready talent is needed, as many organisations would not have time to train them. “We would need ready talent since we will not have time to train them. The onus will then lie on both, the colleges as well as the retail industry to provide real learning opportunities to students, to enhance their retail knowledge. This will help us fill and maintain our talent pipelines,” says Naagar. Freshers entering the retail sector can expect around Rs 250, 000 to 500,000 per-annum.
SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES
Keeping pace with the change in the Indian retail sector the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) launched a retail course under the vocational stream at the senior secondary level from the academic session 2012-13 for class XI and XII.
Biswajit Saha, programme officer, vocational, CBSE says, “This course will be offered under vocational stream as 4/5elective for class XI & XII. The curriculum includes major course on retail combined with business entrepreneurship development (minor), soft skills, etc. The course will be delivered through theory sessions supported by practical applications. The board will also provide students with the books.”
Courses are available for freshers wanting to work in the retail industry and for people working in the retail industry without any formal education about the industry. “Short-term courses — one-year diploma programmes in retail as offered by various Bschools in the country for those who want to make a career in the retail industry are on offer. Students can also do a full-time programme-PGDM retail management (approved by AICTE),” points out Salunkhe.
For freshers in the retail industry, physical fitness plays the most important role. One needs to have a mental readiness to spend time on the shop floor.
To grow in the industry, beginners must keep a keen watch over (read about) economic conditions in different countries — which are the developing economies, look at investing patterns in various countries’ FDI, type and methods of funding, etc, how to reach the consumer in the digital era, new communication platforms and leveraging them is also important in the modern day scenario.
Via : TOI