Advice to MBA aspirants -careers in retail sector

Prof Dr. Uday S... | March 26,2013 03:51 pm IST

The retail boom is here, but with nearly 90 % of the market still controlled by family owned shops, it’s time to move beyond the brick and mortar shops into the digital space..


Prof Dr Uday Salunkhe, Group Director-WeSchool gives advice to MBA aspirants on the opportunities and challenges in the Retail sector

1. Where does India stand vis-a-vie the world, when it comes to retail?
According to the Global Retail Development Index 2012, India ranks 5th among the top 30 emerging markets for retail. Over the next five years, the Indian middle class will be around 67 % of its population. Currently, India has 31.4 million middle class households, which is equivalent to 160 million individuals. This in itself is a massive opportunity as well as a challenge for any marketer.

2. Could you share with us , why is the retail sector booming at this point of time in India?
Indian consumption saga continues, and with of consolidation that has taken place now players with an understanding of individual store profitability and commitment to consumers have continued to show strong and consistent strides of growth. India’s internal consumption is also high and the consumption pattern owning to diversity in culture, religion and the family values that encourage spending on specific occasions keeps the retail business well oiled. Increased spending power in the hands of Indian upper middle class, their travels abroad and being exposed to different cultures, way of life provides the impetus to spending on a range of Household products as well as luxury goods. Marriages add a big dimension to the retail spends.

3. What are the emerging areas within retail? Why are these areas emerging within the retail sector?
Within Retail the emerging sectors would be food and grocery, apparel, electronics, e-commerce, fashion and lifestyle.

4. Is there something called as retail in real estate? What role does real estate play in retail sector?
Retail in real estate would be the manner in which a real estate owner leverages the space through the Retail Business. Here the real estate holders strike a deal with retailers to set up retail outlets eg malls and then revenue is earned through rent or revenue sharing wherein there is more involvement between the real estate development company and the retail business owners. There could be joint /common marketing and strategic agendas. Using a combination of rent and revenue sharing model is also prevalent.

Having said that, the high cost of real estate still makes it difficult to break even for many brands. Retailers are therefore looking at the digital space for marketing their products and services. In the times to come, one will see an increase in the number of online shoppers, which will change the face of the retail industry.


5. What are the skill sets required by students to work in retail --- both Indian and international?
Conceptual understanding, Analytical skills and details and understanding customers and observation skills - Project management and operating skills are required to work in the Indian/International retail industry.

But specific aspects required to work in the international retail world of work will be understanding of Global consumer behavior, International standards and retailing strategies - eg retail expansion strategies. One is required to develop a strategic bent of mind to be able to work in this environment. It is also important Understand local culture, know the local language/s, spending patterns eg festivals, special seasons etc.

6. What kind of programs are available to students desirous of making a career in retail?
Courses are available for freshers wanting to work in the retail industry / for persons working in the retail industry without any formal education about the retail industry – short term Diploma programs in Retail eg DRM at Welingkar, and for those who want to make a career in the retail industry and can do a full-time program – PGDM Retail Management (approved by AICTE) by Welingkar, Post graduate retail programs and specialized courses as run by NIFT.


7. What will be your Advice to the youngsters wanting to make their careers in this sector?
For new joinees in the Retail industry, one needs to have a mental readiness to spend lot of time on the shop floor. In the initial years this may be disproportionately long hours on the feet, while continuing to keep the mind calm irrespective of the various types of people one encounters – but this is the place where your will pick up the most important lessons to build a career in the retail industry.

Service orientation, making things easy and simple for the customer, travelling to developing markets in the country and internationally and low remuneration in the initial years are part of the retail industry culture internationally. However having put in the time and effort for about 5 years, the industry pays back really well.

To grow in the industry youngsters must keep a keen watch over economic conditions in different countries – especially the developing economies, look at investing patterns in various countries - FDI, type and methods of funding etc. , how to reach the consumer in the Digital era- new communication platforms and leveraging them is also important in the modern day scenario. Research reports of consulting companies focussing on retail studies are a good source of knowledge.


Prof Dr. Uday Salunkhe, Group Director-WeSchool shares the Mantra of managing the challenges of running a family managed business and why scions of these families need to undergo professional courses to polish their business acumen....