ReTechCon, RAI’s Technology Conference comes to a Close; Multi-Channel Retail and Evolving Technology will follow Consumer Preferences – Panel of Speakers

ReTechCon 2012, RAI’s Technology Conference came to a close yesterday with over 750 delegates attending the event that had more 50 speakers and panellists over 20 well-placed sessions. ReTechCon is an annual event organised by RAI to promote technology – its uses and advancements – for retailers. This year’s event was held at the Bombay Exhibition Center in Mumbai on the 17th and 18th of May.

Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO, RAI

Speaking with Iamwire, Kumar Rajagopalan, CEO of RAI, said, “The purpose behind organising ReTechCon is to ensure that retailers get a chance to understand technology that could help them with their retail businesses. It is also an event that brings together a lot of technology service providers and gives them a chance to showcase their products and offerings, all to the benefit of the retailers.”

The event saw good participation from the industry with key technology companies such as Microsoft, HP & Intel, Motorola, IBM, Datalogic and others taking up exhibition spaces.  The event was supported by many organisations and associations such as FICCI, Microsoft, IBM, etc. and Wirefoot, which organised a session on Multi-Channel Retail on each of the days.

While the first day of the event had more than 10 sessions conducted by over 30 renowned speakers and panellists, the second day had 10 sessions with more than 20 speakers, each focussing on the role of technology in modern day retail.

Of special interest were the Wirefoot Sessions on Multi-Channel Retail, which focussed on the Growth of Online Retail in India and how the evolution of technology is making offline retailers go online and adopt a multi-channel format for reaching out to their customers.

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Speaking in the event, Samarjeet Singh, MD & CEO of Iksula, said, “Multi-Channel Retail is the new reality with TV Shopping, Catalogue, Web and Mobile becoming the new alternative channels of preference for consumers. Retailers would have to serve the new consumer preferences of research anywhere, buy anywhere and deliver anywhere.”

The first day’s session was moderated by Mr. Ankur Dinesh Garg, Co-Founder and Director, AllSchoolStuff.Com, and had Subhasis Sarkar (ITC), Kashyap Mehta (Croma Retail), Vijay Singh (AaramShop), Vivek Mathur (Shoppers Stop) and Samarjeet Singh (Iksula) as speakers.

Kashyap Mehta, Head of E-Commerce for Infiniti Retail (read Croma Retail), said, “Multi-Channel or rather Omni-Channel will integrate customer centricity by tapping their shopping habits at different stages in his lifecycle through various touch points, which in turn will help the retailer to increase the repeat purchase behaviour for each consumer.”

Discussing the growth and evolution of the multi-channel format, the panel was of the view that retail has evolved from a purely offline to a brick-and-click model in the current scenario, and will continue to evolve with the share and influence of mobile and web, as well as that of social media marketing set to rise further on the back of changing consumer preferences.

Vijay Singh, Founder & CEO, AaramShop, said, “Consumers media consumption patterns have been transformed primarily due to access to connected devices and opportunities on the web, and with it there has been a transformation in the path to purchase. The path is no longer linear and therefore brands and retailers need to be present and create multiple touch-points to engage with their customers.”

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The second day’s session was moderated by Mr. Samarjeet Singh, MD & CEO of Iksula and had Asim Dalal (The Bombay Store), Sandeep Aggarwal (Shop Clues), Shilpa Gupta (FICCI), Anil Rajpal (TCS), Kamal Singhani (IBM), CP Singh (Smile Singh) and Ajay Agarwal (Klisma) as panellists.

Sandeep Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Shopclues, said, “E-Commerce requires us to have a completely different culture within the organisation, with younger people who are skilled but also more open to experimenting and taking real time decisions to support  and grow the business.”

The panel discussed the various components of operating a multi-channel business, starting with having a different culture within the organisation for the e-commerce team/department, and moving on the operational issues such as inventory management, order fulfilment, scaling up of technology, and last but not the least, regulations and govt legislation and support.

Shilpa Gupta, Head – Retail, FICCI, said, “With the growth of the Multi-Channel Format, the consumer at times faces a trust deficit with the online retailers with whom he has never interacted face-to-face. Thus, FICCI along with the government is working on developing a TRUSTMARK and we are collating the feedback of online and multi-channel retailers on the same to set a benchmark for the industry.”

While Asim Dalal, CEO, The Bombay Store, highlighted some key factors which need to be kept in mind while opening an online store, such as having web-exclusive brands, logistics and warehousing, Anil Rajpal from TCS and Kamal Singhani from IBM talked about the role of technology and how to scale up your business as you go. Ajay Aggarwal from Klisma was of the view that it may be important for some retailers to own their logistics network as its affects the last mile delivery of products.

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The first day of the event closed with a special CEO/CIO dinner organised for CEO’s and industry thought leaders by RAI while the second day came to a close with a closing address by RAI’s Technology Committee and Networking Lunch and Cocktails.

Speaking on the growth of ReTechCon over the coming years, Kumar Rajagopalan, said, “Over the years, ReTechCon has grown from strength to strength and retailers of varied size and aspirations have joined the event and benefitted with the wealth of knowledge and implementation ideas discussed at the event.”

This was the 8th leg of the annual event which has become a flagship event for technologists and retailers alike due to it’s connect and relevance for both. With this year’s event coming to a close successfully, all eyes are on for next year’s event becoming an even bigger hit with the audience.

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