Retail is one of the most dynamic industries in the entire world. India is no exception. With the burgeoning of retail chains across Indian towns and cities, demand is high for professionally trained retail personnel. So sport those shopping shoes and run for a new career
India has been called a nation of shopkeepers; not only shopkeepers but also diehard shoppers! Despite the slowdown, downsizing and loss of jobs, shopping during this festive season did not decline. Every market and mall was full of shoppers picking up clothes, jewelry, foods and lifestyle goods. It is not surprising, therefore, that India’s retail industry is among the largest in the world with revenue estimated to be around $220 billion and increasing at a rate of over 5 percent every year.
It is the younger population with greater discretionary incomes and the consequently changing lifestyles that is driving the retail growth. Shopping in India has witnessed a revolution with a change in consumer-buying behavior. Shopping is no longer a necessity, but also provides entertainment and fun. Shopping complexes are the new hangout joints for thousands of young people, who may not necessarily want to buy something. Today’s multi-stored malls, huge shopping centers, and sprawling complexes offer food, shopping, and entertainment all under the same roof to a growing middle class with a strong income base.
Retailing can be defined as the buying and selling of goods and services. It involves the distribution of products from manufacturers to the consumers through convenient channels and a direct interface with the customer with the coordination of business activities from end to end — right from the concept or design stage of a product or offering, to its delivery and post-delivery service to the customer.
Shopping has evolved into a science that provides vital information about the consumer, and how it can be used. Retail professionals, therefore, need to understand and interact directly with the customer in a store so as to be able to provide him/her the product closest to what he/she wants.
The mushrooming retail chains in Indian cities and towns have created huge demand for trained retail professionals. Companies like Pantaloons, Reliance India, Food World, Barista, Shopper’s Stop, Bata, Big Bazaar, and Music World to name a few, have opened their outlets across the length and breadth of the country.
Areas of work in the field of retail include stores management, inventory management, department layout management and customer service management. A retail manager, therefore, plans and coordinates the operations of retail outlets — be it small franchisees like specialty shops, fast-food chains, or sections of supermarkets or department stores. This would involve determining the layout of merchandise so that it is presented as attractively as possible, monitoring the stock levels, placing orders and managing the supply chains and keeping and analyzing records of sales figures and financial transactions.
A retail manager is also expected to maintain a high level of customer service by observing customer preferences and ensuring that complaints are quickly resolved. Often retail managers have to use innovative retail formats to enhance the shopping experience, organizing fashion shows at clothing departments, or serving coffee in the store to encourage buyers to stay and mingle. Retail managers work in different areas of a store, obtaining practical experience of each department and gaining selling, marketing and managerial skills.
Retail-specific areas such as visual merchandising, plannogramming or the science of maximizing space efficiency in a store and supply chain management are some of the jobs in demand today.
The basic qualification necessary to enroll in a program of retail management is to finish your school. Some institutes offer postgraduate programs for which the minimum eligibility is a three-year bachelor’s degree. The retail management course includes subjects like supply chain management, marketing information, finance management, inventory management and accounting in retail. Students also learn about sales promotion and customer relationship management, as well as business communication and organizational behavior.
While the huge demand for retail professionals has resulted in many getting into this career without formal training, a focused retail management course now available at many institutes provides the necessary inputs for those wanting to make a career in this field. However, even if you have done a BBA or MBA with marketing or a simple graduation, you can still look at a career in retail management.
If you have good communications and organizational skills and a flair for selling, retail management could be a good career option for you. This is a customer-oriented field and you should be able to put your business skills to practical and visible application. You must enjoy working with people and have a good product knowledge or interest in marketing areas like fashion, music and computer games. You also need good numerical skills and must have the ability to work accurately and neatly.
Multinationals have made significant inroads into the Indian retail sector, and are bringing in standards of customer service never before experienced in India. Most department stores have in-house training and even sponsor courses.
Opportunities are aplenty in this field. Department stores, designer boutiques, fast-food chains, super markets, company stores, music stores, electronics showrooms, automobile dealers, all employ retail professionals. The traditional food and grocery segment has seen the emergence of supermarkets and grocery chains like Food World, Nilgiris, Apna Bazaar, and convenience stores like Convenio, HP Speedmart and fast-food chains.
There has also been a large increase in the non-food retail segment, in a variety of new sectors. These include Shoppers’ Stop, Globus, Lifestyle, Westside, apparel Pantaloons, Levis, Reebok, Archies, Music World, Crosswords, Landmark, even in appliances and consumer durables, as well as healthcare and pharmacy. With the spread of the PVR chain, the entertainment and cinema segment is also offering a retail choice.
So, if you have enjoyed hanging around the shopping malls, a career in retail can not only ensure exciting shopping experiences, but also allows you to get paid handsomely to indulge in your fantasies. n Feature Desk