India SME Forum launches digitization drive during Future Proofing Retail Summit

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Retailer assert working with online channels boost revenue

September 1: India SME Forum (ISF), India’s largest non-governmental, not-for-profit organization for small and medium businesses, hosted the ‘Future Proofing Retail Summit’ on Tuesday, 30th August 2022, in Ahmedabad, as part of their efforts to start digitization drive for retailers, sellers and traders across cities in India. The Gujarat summit is the first of this series to help retailers converge with online platforms like Amazon to increase their businesses. The summit’s focus was to help businesses become self-reliant by restructuring outdated supply chains, managing inventory efficiently, reimagining customer experience, and reinventing the physical shop for the digital era. Participation from sellers across sectors including handicrafts, textiles, electronics, home & kitchen, furniture, sports supplies, fashion & beauty, imitation jewellery, grocery, and stationary threw examples of successful adoption of digital trade.

The summit primarily focused on the following three priority areas covered through a full-day event comprising three power-packed workshops, roundtable discussions, and media consultation:

Reimagining Customer Relations

The session revolved around how retailers should rethink and take control of all customer relationships, review customer policies, and develop new offerings and experiences to increase customer value. This comprised industry experts such as Mr. Sachin Kamat, Director, Enrich, Mr. Aashish Batra, Co-founder, myPAPERCLIP, Mr. Vivek Rana, Managing Partner, Gnothi Seauton, and Dr. Varsha Jain, Professor, Integrated Marketing Communication, MICA. Mr. Rana suggested that the definition of customer experience changed significantly with the explosion of the online world. The key to building the customer base and catering to their evolving needs is to provide a personalized touch to every customer and adopt the SAVE theory, i.e., Solution, Access, Value Addition, and Experience. Mr. Batra stressed the Omni channel business model that is helping businesses thrive and be ready for future generations.

Supply and Value Chain Resiliency

The panel discussed the importance of technology upgradation in the retail industry with a focus on demand planning, demand sensing, investing in supply chain digitization, changes in stock offering basis the upcoming festive seasons and automated stock inventory management. This comprised industry experts such as Mr. Ramesh Venkat, Head – Industry Partnerships & New Initiatives, Logistics Sector Skill Council, Dr. Anil Chinnabhandar, Sr. Vice President – SCM & Planning, Landmark Group, Mr. Rajnish Goel, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Licious, Mr. Ajay Aggarwal, Global Head – Retail, Nihilent, Mr. Sanjeev Chandra, Regional Sales Manager, West & South, Ecom Express, and Mr. Krishna Singh, Founder, GlobalSpace Technologies Limited (moderator). The discussion highlighted the need for the sectors to come together and embrace technology. It also elaborated how retail support like extensive supply chain and last-mile delivery have enabled sellers to tap new markets and scale businesses beyond their immediate local borders.

Embracing Digital Revolution

The discussion highlighted the concept of smart stores, the importance of digitization, and how retailers should embrace and adapt to the digital world by using different strategies. This comprised industry experts such as Mr. Syed Akhtar, Associate Director, Sulekha, Mr. Jeff Thomas, Chief Strategy Officer, Spinta Digital, Ms. Neha Bansal, Founder & CEO, AV Retail, Mr Shireesh Joshi, Chief Business Officer, Open Network for Digital Commerce, and Dr. Akshaya Vijayalakshmi, Associate Professor PhD, Marketing, IIM Ahmedabad (moderator). The discussion highlighted how the digital revolution is changing and improving how products are designed, created, and delivered to customers, creating tremendous implications for the retail value chain. This rapid development of digital infrastructure and digital money transfer options is increasing the presence of Omni channel retailers, ensuring a seamless experience for the shopper.

The summit concluded with a consultative round table comprising retailers, traders, merchants and shop owners’ associations from Gujarat to deliberate and address the challenges faced by industry stakeholders. These included the need to standardize GST brackets within a single industry & the need for tax reforms, welfare and pension schemes for entrepreneurs, increase awareness around government schemes, subsidies and other provisions for MSMEs and come up with a single national and state retail trade policy.

Mr. Nilesh Shukla, President, India SME Forum, Gujarat Chapter, announced that he would hold monthly industry stakeholder consultations to learn about and understand regional and sectoral challenges faced by traders and retailers & make a representation to the state and central government for policy recommendations in regular intervals.

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