India Retail Forum 2010 - My takeaways and experiences

Ever since I read about IRF for the first time several years ago, I had been wanting to attend an event of this stature and bask in its experience. My dream came true when I got the opportunity to attend IRF 2010, thanks to several benevolent souls and li'l amount of jugaad:) Although I went with a sole purpose to interact with the Retail Experts, I got some amazing  learnings in the Stalls that were kept. I went to almost every stall and interacted with the Sales personnel, who were kind enough to present their pitch to a management student. I shall write about them in detail later. Meanwhile, here are some of the takeaways after attending few of the sessions.

FDI in Retail Debate

a) While Mr. Biyani stressed upon building demand first and letting it bring FDI by itself, Mr. B.S.Nagesh took the other side of the court when he demanded commitment from the players by pooling in capital first so that it could lead to the much needed development in the back-end.

b) Remaining people in the discussion either took the side of Mr. Biyani or Mr. Nagesh. Mr. Nagesh stressed often on the long term nature of the Retail industry in response to few questions from the audience in which they questioned the applicability of the Business Model itself.

c) Mr.Shivnaath Thukral of NDTV rightly pointed out the evident lack of consensus between the organized players and wondered out what would bring about a unified voice to raise their concerns

I found this debate quite interesting, as I had been following FDI in Retail Debate quite intensely. However, most of them wallowed around issues which are most bandied about. Incidentally, I had made a presentation  in my B-School few days back on the same topic, where I explored this issue deeply. As expected, none focused on farmers per se, as long as I heard the discussions.  I was also personally expecting somebody would raise the controversial Press Note No.2, brought in by DIPP. I had several questions on contract farming, however the timing didnt seem fit to ask at that moment. I have uploaded my presentation here( Would love to hear your comments.

CRM in Retail

a)While few of the panelists were sceptical about bringing numbers into the entire CRM game, Analytics industry experts reinforced their presence by stressing on how numbers in the CRM supplement the whole process

b) Few of the panelists lamented lack of focus in delivering customer experience. Some felt there should be responsibilities exclusively on managing customer experience

c) Few panelists focused on the importance of Real Time in CRM. As consumers are getting wired, CRM hasnt still understood the costly implication of Real time.

Design in Retail

a) Several foreigners took part in the discussion. There were two Indians. The discussion centered on the mindset shifting from seeing design as cosmetics to an integral part of the design.
Everyone was so weary and tired, thanks to searing heat in the exhibition hall. They wanted to speak n leave. Few could bring in some energy in the discussion. I couldnt gain much in this session.

I shall write extensively on the Exhibition stalls and my takeways in another blog post some time later.