FDI in retail to create a higher demand for retail pros

SkillingIndia on November 8, 2012 Comments
Skills relevant to the retail industry: visual merchandising, retailing strategies, below the line marketing initiatives & consumer understanding.

V. Govind Raj, VP – Integrated Retail Services, Titan Industries Ltd says, “With FDI in retail, expect greater investment in skill development.”

SkillingIndia: What are the emerging sectors in retail? What kinds of job opportunities are they creating for people?

Govind Raj: Increased consumerism with a capacity to spend on luxury items are contributing to the rising consumption levels of the Indian consumer. More and more Indians are also travelling abroad and are therefore exposed to different cultures, way of life and thereby more brands. Consequently, one of the major emerging sectors within retail is luxury and lifestyle. In line with that, organized retail formats like super speciality stores and malls and renewed emphasis on high streets are gaining popularity.

Another important sector within retail with enormous growth potential in future is e-commerce. Retail space and rentals are becoming increasingly expensive affairs and most large retailers are investing in e-retailing or online stores that have a wider reach. E-retailing will also allow for availability of much wider product range compared to what is available at brick and mortar retailers.

The boom in organized retail is likely to create a greater demand for professionals with skills relevant to the retailing industry like visual merchandising, retailing strategies, below the line marketing initiatives and consumer understanding. The last of these is especially critical since marketing is at the forefront of championing customers internally. Beyond advertising and making strategic plans, a marketing job is to guide all interactions with the consumer. Consequently, more and more retail organizations are driving market insights and market research. These investments are likely to have spin-off effects on areas like data analytics in retail, which are still at a very nascent stage in India.

SkillingIndia: Will the increase in FDI cap help in generating job opportunities? How?

Govind Raj: With FDI in retail, job opportunities will be created in the areas of front end retailing, warehousing (specialists), and retail management in addition to certain stable employment opportunities in the areas of marketing sales, computer operation, finance, etc.

Also, with the advent of FDI in retail and growth in job opportunities in this sector, one can expect greater investment in terms of time and money in skill development and training (both in house as well as outsourced). The entry of international retailers will bring in best practices in skill development and will therefore have a domino effect in this sector as well. However, the magnitude and spin off in this domain may be difficult to gauge at this time.

SkillingIndia: Which skill sets and/or qualifications enable people to enter in this field?

Govind Raj: Depending upon the size and scope of operations, retail managers are responsible for the entire retail operations including buying, marketing, operations, inventory control, personnel and finance. Therefore, skill sets like conceptual understanding of retail operations, understanding customers, observation skills, merchandising skills, project management and operating skills are critical enablers to enter in the retail sector.

SkillingIndia: What kind of skill development initiatives does Titan have in place to ensure that it has a pool of skilled talent availability?

Govind Raj: Retail expansion and investments in brands are fundamental business drivers for Titan Industries. Our front line retail talent pool is therefore a critical enabler of these business drivers, since it acts as the face of all our brands. Our biggest challenge in all retail channels today is how to enhance customer experience through people in the store. Thus, recruiting, training, retaining and motivating people is very important.

We have some unique initiatives in the area of skill development to ensure ready talent availability at a store level. We are moving large parts of our skill development initiatives to the store level with increasing focus on on-the-job and in-store learning interventions. Some of these unique initiatives include in-store capability mapping and coaching programs, e-learning programs designed for front line store staff and leveraging technology tools – like VC, web-ex to drive learning interventions for a remote workforce.

We also have talent assessment interventions, which gives us visibility to the pool of high performers/ high potentials that are ready for greater job responsibilities.

We have some of the best industry engagement and motivation initiatives for our front line retail store staff. The whole Learning and Development endeavour ends each year with a selection of the ‘best among the best’ and by organizing an annual rewards and recognition program for the front line staff called ‘Impressions’.  This involves stringent processes of assessment and culminates in a final awards ceremony. The activity serves as a huge engagement exercise and instils a sense of belonging and ownership towards the company within the retail staff.

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