Need of the hour is to understand the consumer with their changing tendency of purchasing: Lalit Agarwal
Need of the hour is to understand the consumer with their changing tendency of purchasing: Lalit Agarwal

The word technology has created a huge buzz across industries and society around us. Retailers seem to have been swayed away with the misconception that only technology will help them drive the future business. Instead they have to understand that technology is just an enabler and onus is to serve the basic right and need of the consumers while understanding them well. It is the time for the retailers to underline the basic fact that at end of the day consumer wants clear value for his money for the kind of product or service he avails. Thus, emphasizing on the fact that what retailers need to do to engage with the consumer more while revealing the future strategies of V-Mart Retail Ltd., Lalit Agarwal, CMD of the company spoke to on the occasion of Retail Leadership Summit 2018 in Mumbai.   

What is the need of the hour for retailers to engage more with consumers?
Need of the hour is to understand the consumer more with their changing propensity of purchasing and changing aspirations of all ages of consumers, the millennial and youth. The kind of education and information consumers have got, retailers have to be on their toes and be very agile to their needs and supply chain management. They have to understanding diverse preferences of those consumers who live in across different geographies. The gap is bridging and reducing frequently between international and Indian fashion. 

With retailers it is all about organization culture, the work and the technology that they use. It is all about how well they can bring consumers together to have a great experience in the retail shop. It is the challenging factor and retailers have to change along with customer time to come.

According to you to what extent retailers are getting driven by the consumers?   
Today the customer is very much informed. He understands what he wants to buy. He has predefined set of requirements. He is well informed either by media or internet or aspirations around. He wants to behave like the next city customer. When he comes to the floor he in-fact gives a lot of inputs to retail employees. 

Customer today wants stuff that his role model is wearing or that he is Googling and certainly that's the change customer is demanding. It's a supply led chain which is creating demand so it has to be met or else the customer will fly away. Today a consumer is carrying a supercomputer in his pocket.      

What would be your strategy going forward?
Our fundamental strategy is to first deliver the basic right or service to the customers, wherever and whenever he is coming, whatever demand he has got, whatever price range that he wants the product in. We are ensuring that supply chain is in place, consumer need has to be understood well and the product has to be supplied well in time. The basic service cover almost 90 percent of the retail business, only top-up you have to do is with these new ingredients of technology. 

What do retailers need to understand about technology as an enabler?
We don't need to carry away and swayed away by the fact that only technology will help you. Retailers have to underline the basic fact what customer wants. At the end of the day consumer want clear value for his money and the product that he wants. He is not going to get carried away with your technological inputs, for him it's nothing new.

How many stores are you planning to add in the future?
We are done with launching 30 stores. We would want to expedite the retail expansion further. We may open 30 more stores in the coming year and looking to reach the mark of 100 stores in the coming 30 months. These all will be the company owned stores. 

These stores will be spread across tier III and IV cities pan India. We operate more in the cluster approach and don't go away more than 100 km from our existing location. We want to move an inch towards our goal at a time. 

What is the average investment that goes for each store?
Typically we invest Rs 20 mn in each store and for 30 stores we have to invest Rs 600 mn. 

What is your current revenue?
We had clocked revenue of Rs 1000 crores last year and aspire to grow by 25 percent YOY. 

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