Six Strategies for Indian Retailers to enhance their Profitability

The Indian retail sector has seen a high growth over the past decade with an emerging trend towards organized retail formats. The organized retail sector has today reached a share of 8-10% from an initial penetration of 2-3% a decade ago. There are multiple factors that have pushed the growth of Indian retail sector such as strong and robust economic growth, increased retail spending, growth in product categories that are retailed and emergence of innovative distribution channels such as smartphones. In such a powerful growth environment, it becomes critical for players to understand best strategies for higher profitability in Indian retail industry:

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Figure 1Six Strategies for Indian Retailers to enhance their Profitability

  1. Customers are king

The first critical step towards enhanced profitability in retail begins with addressing the needs of consumers. Since consumers vary by region, state and street, it becomes critical to understand local market dynamics and accordingly arrange product assortments in an online or offline store, so that their diverse needs are met. It may be a good idea to hire a chief consumer officer whose job is to continuously understand and address the needs of customers.

  1. Unique value proposition

In a highly competitive market segment, it makes sense to position your brand with a differentiated value offering. Retailers that design a unique value proposition which sets them apart from the competition multiply their chances of survival in the fierce competition. In order to develop a consumer centric value proposition, it is logical to analyse customer feedback about your brand, and then devise strategies to serve them better. Innovative ideas should form the basis of your value proposition strategies.

  1. Customer experience matters

Retailers need to merge online shopping experiences with offline in store experiences so that each customer touch point is attractive. Some of the key strategies for a seamless customer shopping experience include effective inventory management, an integrated sales and operations planning process, multi-modal transportation networks, and training of staff for various management activities.

  1. Let data decide for you

Retailers need to harness the power of data analytics to take critical business decisions. Digital analytics provide useful insights to retailers for marketing, supply chain management and customer experience. Knowing who your customers are, what they need, and how the entire retail chain works makes you a smarter player. Remember, analytics is not a one-time feature. It needs to be continuously explored for customer preferences that keep changing with time.

  1. Invest in technology

An intelligent retailer understands that the only way to stay ahead of the competition is to keep investing in new technology. It is good to take bold risks, but one should always have a back-up plan ready for an unforeseen failure. It is understood that technology has a small shelf life, but continuous contact with customers is expected to me more effective than blanket marketing.

  1. Protect your reputation

When you run a business in a digitally charged environment, you are also exposed to potential risks of such technology. Be it social media or potential website hacks, you need to be vigilant about your digital assets.

These powerful strategies can definitely change the game for your company in a highly competitive retail sector in India.

 

Experiential Tourism is Picking Up in India: SATTE 2017

After a spectacular opening on Day 1, SATTE 2017 begins on day 2 with the same enthusiastic audience. I made it on time for this event today, with a new pair of formal shoes, and a better planning strategy. The first panel discussion taking place today is on niche and experiential tourism.

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Here are the key takeaways:

  • Experiential travel is a multi billion dollar market. In US alone there are 67000 businesses in the experiential travel sector.
  • Cruise wedding is emerging as a new trend in India.
  • Tourism has grown in Kerala due to traditional ayurveda
  • Innovative tourism practices such as floating cottages have been successful in attracting tourists at locations such as Kerala.
  • There is a need to push the inclusion of Ayurvedic treatments in travel insurance plans to promote Ayurvedic medication on a global scale.
  • Service acts as the key differentiation for travel sector propositions.
  • Indian tourism needs to be promoted often, and on a larger scale for better inbound tourism.

That’s all I have in store for today.

SATTE 2017 is a great platform for B2B marketing, and I highly recommend that travel operators must attend this event for optimum business leads and  collaborations.

SATTE 2017 Begins in Delhi

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SATTE, which is a renowned South Asian travel show began today at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. Tourism and travel operators from different parts of the world are participating in the 3 day long travel conference. The conference started on an initial discussion on sustainable tourism. Unfortunately, I missed this address. Why? Because I had fallen due to high heels on the road on my way to the conference. With major cab operators such as Uber and Ola on strike, I had limited options – take a metro or an auto. I decided to hire an auto. The reason was simple. I wanted to avoid climbing staircase with high heels, and then the hassle of boarding a metro. I managed to reach the exhibition area at 11:30 am. But an entire hour was lost in trying to locate a first aid booth in the conference. Right from exhibition desk to the ambulance outside Hall No. 11, everyone guided me with directions for a first aid booth. But sadly, I did not get any first aid. Fortunately, my wounds are not large enough, and I could manage without a first aid. God forbid, if someone has a serious emergency, what will happen? I expected the ambulance team to at least be loaded with medicines and expertise to assist me with my wounds. Such an experience highlights the lacunae in emergency and disaster management that still exist in such events organized in India.

I then headed to Hall 8 where a panel discussion on “Make in India and Tourism” was taking place. The discussion began with the evolution of tourism in India and the key pillars that form the basis of tourism. I am sharing some valuable insights from the session here.

  • India’s share in the global tourism sector is less than 1%. India’s domestic tourism sector on the other hand is comparatively stronger with billions of tourists that form its base.
  • In order to push growth in tourism sector, a radical shift is needed to create new demand through measures such as mega-tourism zones. GST also holds importance for Indian tourism sector.
  • The sector recommends direct tax incentives to holiday in India.
  • Tourism has not been defined in Indian constitution and it is recommended that this is done.
  • 80% of the tourism takes place within 3 hours distance from India.
  • If holiday in India is taken forward as s strategy, tourism sector contribution to Indian economy will be 4.5% (currently at 2%) and its employment rate will be 11% (currently 5%).
  • It is interesting to know that first ever tourism conference was held in Kashmir in India. Kashmir has been experimenting with various technologies to push tourism in the state. Tulip gardens of Kashmir have also been instrumental in promoting tourism in the region. There is revival of Bollywood movie production in Kashmir which is likely to promote tourism of the state. The state invites regional as well as international movie makers to promote the region.
  • Gir National Park is an attractive tourist destination for Gujarat and India, with the population of Asiatic Lions being rejuvenated in the wild life sanctuary adding special relevance to the place. Saurashtra region and its people need special mention to thank them for their efforts in conserving wildlife in the region. Migratory bird lovers must visit Saurashtra to observe nature at its best.
  • There is a need to create new tourist destinations to promote India as a tourist destination.

I will continue updating this blog post and post several others, while I cover the three day event.

Technology Trends For 2017

 

“The old order changeth yielding place to new” ― Alfred Tennyson

Around two-hundred years back, great poet Alfred Tennyson coined the above phrase. He didn’t know how much the world would change in the later days. With each passing year, people are developing improved devices and technological equipments for their own help.

It won’t be wrong to say that people have now become far more luxurious, advanced and busier than before. With 2017 just round the corner, let’s analyze some of the upcoming technology trends that are sure to sweep the rug from under your feet.

  • Smart Home: Over the last few years, smart home concept is gaining ground for its cool user experiences. A customer can now easily manage several home appliances using a single master-remote control.
  • Self-driving Cars: It’s another technological innovation that’s setting the agenda for driver-less vehicles. If selfdriving cars become a reality in the near future than its biggest beneficiaries will be the people who wish to use cars but don’t have enough money to pay to drivers.
  • Increasing use of Phone Apps: Be it online shopping or calling your cab via super cool apps like Ola and Uber, in 2017 we need to get ourselves acquainted with the online mobile usage at the earliest.
  • Synthetic foods to overtake natural ones: A lot of synthetic foods will find their way inside our refrigerators in the next few months. As the clamor for synthetic foods is growing aloud, the food processing technology will grow by leap and bounds soon. Reportedly, synthetic foods will become staple food from next year onwards. Tissue engineering will get a boost to grow food like eggs, meat and dairy.
  • Soft Robots: Forget the metallic robots that we always relate to every time the word crops up. In the next few years, the entire connotation of robot and robotics will get changed. You may actually see robots resembling humans from next year onwards. They will be robots with a human essence. SoftRobotics Gripper has already started the technological innovation in this regard. Use of elector active polymers, elastomer is expected to be used while creating Soft Robotics.
  • Space Management: A giant leap has already been made in the world of volume-space explorations. Low-cost sensors are being developed to help people know how to use their owned space judiciously. The world is becoming compact day by day – probably that’s the reason why scientists and engineers are looking for alternative ways to accommodate more machines and equipments in lesser space.
  • Precision Medicine: Probably you are hearing it for the first time. Precision medicine means “one-size-fits-all” methodology that is based on algorithm and data of patients. In California, the research on the subject has already begun and many doctors are advised by the authorities to initiate proper communication with patients to understand their social, environment and economical context while diagnosing diseases.
  • Drones will be put to good use: Drones which were until now associated with wars will soon be put to good use. Rwanda is developing a first-of-its-kind drone airport to provide medicines and foods to needy and helpless people in rural areas. It could be extremely beneficial to people living inside the war-torn remotest part of the country. These medicines will be cheap, affordable and highly effective.
  • E-transactions: People will probably forget going to bank from next year onwards. Payment via e-wallets, cards and digital transactions is getting more prominence these days. No longer, you need to roam with cash – instead all transactions can be made using the plastic money.

Befikre – A lighthearted entertaining affair with a touch of France

If you have been eagerly waiting to watch Aditya Chopra’s Befikre  like me, you will not be disappointed. As indicated in the promos, the movie begins with scenes of couples making out, and this continues for an entire title song sequence. I personally found it a bit too much of smooching at the beginning of a movie with A/U certificate rating.
The movie beautifully depicts the love story of Indian cultural mindset guy Dharam (Ranveer Singh) and French oriented Indian Shyra (Vaani Kapoor). The movie plays the tale much like Hum tum with defined time period and alternates between various phases. The initial phase is about a live-in relationship between Dharam and Shyra that lasts for 1 year, followed by a break-up phase. The break-up brings in a new phase of friendship between Dharam and Shyra, which eventually translates into love. It is when a decent financial guy enters the life of Shyra, and proposes to her for marriage, does Dharam realize his true love for her. The end of the movie – the way Dharam talks about Shyra in order to break her marriage was over-dramatic. At one instance, Dharam had called Shyra as a slut – which was sort of abrupt – I call it modernized abuse.
As far as acting performance is concerned, Ranveer did a brilliant performance throughout the film. It was evident that he had enjoyed playing his role. Vaani seemed confident too, but looked little nervous in comparison to Ranveer. She actually fumbled at one dialogue during her French tour scenes, but I guess that was intentionally left unedited.
Overall it was a great entertainer, and I enjoyed watching the movie till the end. The movie depicts the state of mind of singles who are confused about love, relationships and marriage, and tells them to have faith, and everything will work.

Top 6 SEO Trends of 2017 to Boost Your Business Venture

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Whenever you search anything on a search engine, thousands of results appear on your screen. But we usually deal with the first 10 to 50 items and simply ignore the rest. This is when the SEO strategy comes to play. There can’t be any compromise on it. The website acts as a bridge between a business firm and its far-flung customers. So having a professional website or e-commerce outlet for your business means more success and credibility.

An attractive website with proper SEO strategy is the need of the hour for your business to survive amidst the current level of cut-throat competition. A well-designed website enhances the reliability and goodwill of a business firm.

There are a million of websites that are dealing in similar products – so your website has to be attractive and informative enough to fetch more visitors to your site on a frequent basis. Google and other search engines change their web-crawling policy from time to time so a website needs to be well-versed with the knowledge of search engine algorithms and analytics.

  • Informative Content: The golden rule of SEO is to provide accurate information to your customer in no time. Earlier, Google considered long contents more useful for SEO purposes, but in the last few months the trend has completely changed; users now want maximum information to be conveyed in just a few words!
  • Voice Search: Over the last few years, Google voice search facility is helping a lot of users to search whatever they want. It is highly beneficial to visually impaired users who can search using the voice search option. Keywords you are using for SEO purposes should be easy to understand. For example; a customer searching “Top toy retail stores USA” is expected to fetch better result than “Top toy stores”. Try to make the search more appropriate using astute keywords.
  • Loading time: It is another essential Google trend that is set to rule 2017. No business owner wants his website to have high bounce rate and slow loading rate. On an average, a website that takes less than 2-second to launch its home page gets more visitors and traffic than the ones that take more time.
  • It’s HTTPs and Not HTTP: The sudden spurt in cyber-crimes and online frauds including fraudulent shopping, bank account hacking, and deceptive fund transfer have made users somewhat cautious. Nobody wants to get his hard-earned money to go to the drains due to rampant online frauds. Therefore, an e-commerce portal must access the full HTTPS address instead of the simple HTTP. The “S” indicates the “secured” so in the coming months Google will definitely give a better ranking to sites having “https” tag. Website domains with a prefixed HTTPS tag are sure to be more search-friendly than the ones that do not have that tag. Getting a secured server and SSL certificate is indeed a good idea to win the faith of the customers.
  • Social Media Content Is Necessary: These days, when you search an online retail shop, it’s the social media profile of the company that appears on the top of Google search result page. So, writing interesting contents and useful snippets of your company or brand is necessary to boost your SEO strategy. Your social media profile must be up to date with the latest facts and information.
  • Keywords: Astute Keyword stuffing would be on the top of the mind of companies from the next year onwards. Since the business competition is huge nowadays, so using standardized and unique keywords on the web pages is ideal to enhance your website visibility and accomplish higher ranking on SERP (search engine result page).

In a nutshell, we can conclude here with the following 6 golden rules of website SEO execution; content, speed, reliability, social media, keywords and voice search.

Is India’s GDP expected to fall Post Demonetization Scheme?

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Before proceeding with the discussion on the short term and long term ramification of Prime Minister Modi’s demonitisation move to ban 500 and 1000 INR currency notes, we need to understand that India is still a developing economy with most of the transactions take place through liquid cash.

Not all people in India are included in the banking system. Probably that’s the reason why “Jan Dhan Yojna” initiated by the central government saw a whooping participating of such a huge chunk of people.  The government can definitely take a credit for the same, but it also brings India’s stark reality of development to the fore. Even after 69 years of the nation’s independence, India couldn’t successfully ensure cent percent financial inclusion of all its citizens.

Now coming back to the aftereffect of demonetization, we need to realize that a country’s economy can’t run by whims and fancies. A rationale must be there before taking any serious decisions such as the demonetization. It followed with a nation-wide liquidity chaos and even after two weeks the crisis won’t seem to go away so easily.

If the current state of cash crunch continues for a few weeks more then there’s no doubt that the nation’s economy is set to plummet further in the following months. Indian economy has definitely come to a standstill at this point in time. Common people and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) are definitely bearing the brunt.

The Decision Was Right but Implementation went wrong!

Nobody doubts the intent of the government but they are questioning the modus operandi of the banks to tackle the current problem. The government’s decision to demonetize 500 and 1000 INR notes was announced on November 8 to curb the rising black money and fake currency menace throughout the country.

Initially, it was believed that situation would become normal within a few days. But the problem still persists and people are clueless even now. Empty ATMs and long queues inside and outside the banks are a daily occurrence now. At least, ATM machines should have been recalibrated beforehand to prevent the current nation-wide cash chaos.

The current crisis will surely leave its negative impact on the overall economy of the nation. The GDP growth of 2017 and 2018 is set to be heavily hit due to the decision. However, in the long term everything will return to normalcy and boost the nation’s economy as well – it will take time.

The Effect of Cash Crunch on India’s GDP Growth

Some economists are of the view that around 2% of the nation’s economy will decelerate in FY 2018. At present, India’s projected GDP growth rate is around 7.3% but after this demonetization, it is expected to stay somewhat around 6 per cent.

According to a report, the ongoing cash crisis has affected around 40% of the nation’s daily transaction. Currently, 86% of the total money in circulation consists of 500 & 1000 INR currency notes. Obviously, when the entire 86% of the money in circulation would cease to remain legal tender – its impact was bound to be severe.

India is basically a cash-based economy with most transactions take place through cash. Especially, in day-to-day businesses like grocery, vegetable and medicines – retailers usually prefer cash than cheque or electronic mode of payment. Cash has continued to remain a preferred mode of a transaction because it’s prompt and conventional.

However, the demonetization move of the government has its own advantages too. Prime Minister Modi has simultaneously tried to solve three persistent problems of Indian economy i.e. a parallel economy backed up by black money, hard-to-recognise counterfeit currency notes of 500 & 1000 INR and also the terror financing. The decision will certainly prevent hoarding of unaccounted cash, tax evasion and investment of black money in realty sectors in future.

 

Cancer Treatment Options: Trends and Development

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Diseases are inevitable in a human life. For one reason or another you may fall sick a number of times in your lifetime. But the good news is that most of the times you will beat the disease by taking right dosage of medicine on time and with a little lifestyle changes. But the sad news is even in the 21st century winning a battle against cancer is impossible.

No need to worry. Medical scenario has changed a lot in the last few decades. What seemed impossible at that time is quite possible now. In fact, there are several real life examples of cancer survivors who have won the battle against the deadly disease.

Star cyclist Lance Armstrong, Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh, Hollywood celebrities Hugh Jackman and Robert De Niro amongst others have successfully come out of the fatal disease and living a pleasant life now. It definitely gives a glimmer of hope to all cancer patients. There is every reason to smile and feel optimist.

Some Effective Cancer Treatment Options For Quick Recovery

  • Surgery: Since ancient times surgery has been considered to be the most effective cancer treatment option. It involves complete removal of a malignant tumor out of the body. Once a biopsy (the process by which a tissue from a problematic area of the body is taken out for laboratory examination) confirms the presence of cancerous cells – the doctor then follow it up with appropriate surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: In recent times, chemotherapy has got wider acceptability for its effectiveness. It is done to shrink size the tumour and thus reducing the risk factor too. Oncologists or cancer specialists use chemotherapy to cure blood cancers.
  • Immunotherapy: This is another cancer treatment option that includes a wide range of therapies. The aim of Immunotherapy is boost the patient’s inherent capability to fight cancer cells while improving the body’s defense power. It stops the growth and spreading of cancer cells inside body.
  • Stem Cell Transplant: It restores blood forming cells inside cancer patient – who has destroyed the same due to high intake of radiation – permeated through chemotherapy while treating any other cancers. Human body consists of three types of blood cells; RBC or Red Blood Cells, WBC (White Blood Cells) or Blood Platelets. We need all these cells to work in tandem to stay healthy.
  • Hormone Therapy: This cancer treatment option is extremely beneficial for persons suffering from breast or prostate cancer (both these cancers form due to hormone related factors). This therapy is highly advisable in cases when surgery or chemotherapy is not applicable. It prevents cancerous cells to grow further.

Usually doctor finalises the appropriate therapy options for cancer patients depending upon the patients’ medical history, severity of the cancer, his heredity and allergy to certain medications and drugs.

Preventing Cancer: Tips at a Glance

  • Be active.
  • Do Exercise Regularly.
  • Have a good 8-hour sleep every day.
  • Don’t expose your skin to sun for longer hours. Take adequate care of your skin. Use moisturizers on frequent basis.
  • Eat lots of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Don’t forget your daily intake of Vitamin C – found in oranges, lemon and Indian gooseberries. Also drink at least 8 to 10 liters of water every day to keep yourself hydrated.

Why Boats Are Important in Bihar

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Each year, floods follow rain in Bihar and impacts the daily lives of millions of people in the state. So how do they save themselves each year? The answer is through boats.

North Bihar has a thriving boat building business because boats are needed to travel through canals whenever it floods in the area. The sales of boats rise, especially from August to November.

A short documentary by PARI (People’s Archive of Rural India) showcases how important the boats are to the people in the region. The video is available here : http://bit.ly/2ejF2Z0

Image Link: https://ruralindiaonline.org/articles/vote-for-boat/

The boats are used for different purposes like catching fish and working around farmland. They are also used in the areas affected by floods. The size and cost of the boats vary. Bigger the boats, higher go the cost. But generally they cost between Rs. 7000 to Rs. 8000. The bigger ones of 15ft and 18ft costs Rs. 11000 to Rs. 12000 and when the demand increases, the rates increase as well.

The boat-maker say that the boats get cold every month, but during the rainy season, the sale increases. In the area of Saharsa district, the boats are extensively used for transportation during the rainy season. Prime example of this are the people living near the river Koshi. The boats help them to come out of their house, which is difficult to do during the rainy season as the entire area is full of water and transportation without boat is very hard.

Between August – November, the boat makers build about 15 to 20 boats in one and a half months on an average. The boats are made by local carpenters who have mastered the art and this work provides them bread and butter for a living.

Floods in Bihar

Every year, rain in Bihar is followed by floods that displace and disrupt the lives of millions of people. Out of the entire Indian population which is affected by floods, 22 percent live in Bihar. The recent most serious floods that came to the state was in 2013. In that year, about 5.9 million people in 3,768 villages across 20 districts of the state were affected.

Reasons for Flood

The biggest reason cited for floods in Bihar is Nepal’s mountainous region. The rivers Koshi, Narayani and Bagmati are flooded when heavy rains fall on the mountains of Nepal. This is because the water flows into these rivers and thus they overflow and impact the daily lives of the people.

The embankments situated to help the situation have been useless for the sole reason of water-logging between the high and low lands. On the other hand, deforestation in the catchment areas of the rivers like Koshi has been rampant, which is why water flows into the villages causing floods.

Gender Inequality – Everyone Is A Culprit!

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India of today is relentlessly aspiring to make a solidified place for itself in world politics, economy, defense, science and space. On one hand, more than two decades of liberalization and globalization has redefined the concept of capital economy around the world at large and particularly in India; whereas, UN General Assembly still in 2015 lists ending poverty and hunger as their primary Sustainable Development Goals.

The paradox is nowhere more evident in its entirety than in India. Despite the grave income inequality, so much so, that one is forced to vividly notice the existence of two juxtaposed national entities surviving within the geographical boundaries of one India; there is something that unifies these contrasting national identities and it is not Hindutva! Whether one is rich or a pauper, educated or uneducated, urban or a rural resident, we are all bitten by the bug of a cultural male bias! It would be easier to shrug one’s shoulder on yet another feminist sermon. But, the declining Child Sex Ratio ever since the recorded data on population has been maintained is a horrifying and disturbing indicator for the country. Modernity, education and growth were supposed to end gender inequality but what we are witnessing is starkly opposite!

Society is the reflection of material development. The nation which is obsessed with consumerism, translating it as growth needs introspection on this disheartening trend that encompasses religious, ethnic, educational, economic, caste-based and geographical diversity. A society in which a woman is discriminated against from her mother’s womb and her modesty outraged either physically or psychologically has no right to call itself civilized or developed.

I had a long held prejudice against marriage in its arranged, moral, societal and family oriented format as the root cause for all social woes. It will be a different debate altogether and inconsequential too as anyway in our time while we walk the earth, there seems no plausible hope of this rouged institution of marriage waning. Weddings will continue to be negotiated between families and women will continue to be treated as objects in this widely accepted, sacred and lawful trade.

However, there is something which all of us can do to curb the persistent adverse sex ratio without much rigor at individual levels. It is by fighting against the menace of dowry and understanding its detrimental backlash on the country. We can play a crucial part towards a gender equitable world. Dowry is often downplayed but is one of the most vital empirical reasons for the tendency of not wanting a girl child. The practice of dowry continues unabated and in the present epoch of commercialization has become uglier than ever. Ironically, we have made women their own foes in this vicious arrangement of family affairs! Every one of us is a culprit in this abhorrent crime against women as either a directly involved party or a witness who preferred shutting their eyes, mouth and ears like Gandhi’s pseudo mystic apes!

I am aware of some obnoxious arguments in favour of dowry too. I suppose anybody who respects individuality, believes in liberty and values the dignity of human life could only laugh at such sugar-coated pretexts being offered, as I did! To rise against dowry will be our first formidable step towards empowering women and moving forward into a desired land where people irrespective of any biases and prejudice have freedom of choices and outcomes!