Panel Discussion

~Staying Relevant: How Brands Are Evolving to Meet Changing Customer Needs~

Mumbai, 11th May 2023: 

At Phygital Retail Convention 2023, for the Fashion & Lifestyle panel, industry experts discussed how the retail industry is no longer the same as it was before the digital transformation wave.  

Talking about the market shift, Kamal Khushlani, Founding director, Mufti said, “For fashion brands like Mufti, inventory management and attitude shifts are crucial to stand out in a market that values expression and boldness. Retailers must cater to the digitally impacted audience and offer new product categories aligned with changing consumer habits, such as an increased focus on well-being.”  

From AI-powered chatbots to virtual try-on experiences, retailers are adopting innovative solutions to attract and retain customers. In the era of digital transformation, the retail industry is moving towards a customer-centric model where the focus is on building long-term relationships with customers rather than just driving sales.  

Amitabh Suri, CEO USPA, shares his journey on how it takes years of expertise to win customers’ trust. Cover Story Clothing CEO, Manjula Tiwari, says, “Brands are not built overnight.” She discusses the changes she has witnessed in the fashion industry, where previously menswear brands dominated while the women’s wear industry remained unorganized, with a prevalence of local stores and non-branded clothing. However, in recent years, the industry has experienced substantial growth and Women today have access to all international-level clothing right here, enabling them to shop for the latest fashion trends with ease and convenience.” 

During a panel discussion on “Unifying Online + Offline market and redefining premium customer experience”, Sandeep Jabbal, CCA & Chief Digital Transformation & Information Officer, Shoppers Stop shared his insights on customer perspectives and their expectations both in stores and online, highlighting the importance of customer centricity in retail. Lokesh Wagadre, AVP & Head IT, Kaya then spoke about the need to balance services across channels and how hyperlocal delivery can be a primary factor in building a user-friendly omnichannel experience. He also stressed the importance of keeping pricing consistent across all channels. 

Rakshit Daga, CTO, Big Basket discussed the challenges of bringing all grocery items online and keeping up with market-driven categories. He shared key metrics such as delivery time and complaints per order that are crucial for ensuring customer reliability and commercial viability.  

Gautam Saraogi, CEO of Go Colors stressed on the importance of offering customers reasonable prices and superior quality. He explained that Go Colors aims to create an exceptional customer experience that keeps people coming back. With a focus on quality and affordability, the brand has become a go-to destination for customers looking for trendy and comfortable leggings, jeggings, and other fashion essentials. 

The retail industry is constantly evolving to stay relevant to customers and to remain profitable. Brands like USPA focus on creating sharper brands for fashion and lifestyle segments, while Spykar aims to do for women’s wear what they have done for men’s wear. Ducati is a great example of a brand diversifying beyond their core product, offering co-branded lifestyle products such as shoes, glasses, and watches.  

During a discussion on the topic of Winning Bharat: Value for money versus Value for experience in the food retail industry, experts emphasized the importance of understanding the target audience and their propensity to spend. They stressed that once this clarity is achieved, brands can curate their products and experiences accordingly. It was suggested that brands must think from the target audience’s point of view and communicate with them in a language that resonates, regardless of whether they are in a Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 city.  

Earlier during the day, BS Nagesh, Founder of TRRAIN and Chairman of Shoppers Stop, emphasized the need for businesses to adapt to changing customer preferences and behaviors to attract new customers over the next decade. Sangeeta Pendurkar, CEO of Pantaloons, shared her thoughts on the importance of innovation and finding solutions to improve our lives.  

Shibu Philips, Director of Shopping Malls at Lulu Group India shared that the Retailers are focusing on improving physical stores to meet the changing preferences of customers. Despite the availability of online shopping, footfall in malls remains strong. Rajneesh Mahajan, CEO of Inorbit Malls emphasizes on the importance of creating dynamic infrastructure to provide social spaces for urban consumers. Pramod Arora of PVR Group says technology and innovation can help retailers tap into emerging markets in tier 2 and tier 3 cities in India.

The main takeaways from day one emphasize the importance of brands becoming more customer-centric and adapting to the digital landscape to remain relevant in the industry.