Tuesday, November 27, 2007

India Retail contd...

I had a chance to listen to a webinar on an India Retail tour done by a Retail Forward analyst (Subscription maybe required). It was a very interesting approach where the analyst went to 4 major metro cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore) and took a tour of some of the major stores in apparel, grocery and general merchandise specialities. It was more of study by observation then really looking at major statistics but regardless there were some interesting numbers thrown. Some key highlights

  • India is among the 6 fastest growing retail markets with a CAGR of 10.4 % for non-auto retail.
  • The more interesting part is that 96 - 97% of the retail sector is unorganized with over 12 million small mom and pop retailers. There is one exception to this - apparel, where the organized sector penetration is about 20%
  • About 65% of the retail sector comprises of grocery. The spoliage rate is extremely high for produce going upto 35% of the total inventory.
  • World over the real estate cost component comprises about 3 - 6 % while in India it is in the range of 7 - 27 % (!!!!) of the total operating costs.

Beyond the above numbers, some interesting observations were made by the analyst on what Indian retail does right. I am listing a few that I could note down

  • India seems to offer a very high degree of development in visual merchandising. Right from the street fruit and flower vendor to the bigger departmental store, there is a big emphasis on making the merchandise visually appealing. Shopping is viewed as a family outing and retailers tend to make their store fronts as attractive for them as possible
  • In addition to the visual appeal of the merchandise, smaller retailers seem to be very good at space utilization. Perhaps the higher than average cost component that the real estate has in the cost component is responsible for this. The report cites the example of a local panwallah (betel leaf vendor) shop where colorful merchandise is hung vertically to make as much use of space and at the same time display it to the potential customer
  • There are some stores which are somewhere midway between organized and unorganized retail. Saravana stores in Chennai is cited as an example. This store targets lower to middle class customers with multiple levels selling apparel, consumer goods etc. Its unorganized aspect is its high reliance on manual labor to process orders where one associate packs, other provides a counter receipt, another is a runner who takes the ticket merchandise to the front desk for customer to claim. Its organized aspect is the fact that they have cut all middlemen and directly buy from the producers. Their model is low margin and high volume.
  • From a branding perspective there is a trend of Indo-Western fusion. This is seen all the way from apparel to foreign fast food restaurants adapting a more local flavor and providing wider vegetarian options.

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