Is E-commerce Replacing Physical Retail In India?

Anuj Puri, Chairman & Country Head, JLL India

Anuj Puri, Chairman & Country Head, JLL India

India’s retail market value was estimated at $520 billion in 2013, and is expected to grow to $950 billion by 2018. With a CAGR currently pegged at 13%, the Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow the fastest within the Asia-Pacific Region – with its market size doubling every 2-2.5 years. This certainly gives us reason for deep introspection. While the global growth rate of online shoppers is estimated at 8-10%, India currently has more than 10 million online shoppers.

Though 70% of India’s e-commerce market is related to travel (flights, hotel bookings, etc.), electronics and apparels are by far the most important categories in terms of sales. The key driver Indian e-commerce is the rapid increase of broadband internet penetration, which is growing at a whopping 20% every year. The rising standards of the mushrooming middle-class with high disposable incomes, coupled with the urban influence on rural aspirations, have led to an exponential growth of the internet culture in India.

This is very pertinent to the Indian retail sector. The internet has given Indian consumers access to a wide spectrum of products and services, even in places where brick-and-mortar shopping complexes have not reached. Also, the availability of a much wider range of products when compared to physical retail stores, coupled with relatively lower prices, is driving demand for online retail. With the evolution of the online marketplace, sites like Flipkart, Snapdeal, OLX and Jabong are thriving and more and more Indians are buying goods online.

E-commerce in India took off with a deluge of portals, including many focused on travel, media and jobs. The governments’ drive to open the sector for FDI in B2B business via the automatic route and bring e-commerce to the centre stage has caused a number of major players to venture into India. Today, Ebay, Amazon, Expedia and some serious Indian players are giving these physical retailers a run for their money.

Flipkart and Snapdeal’s recent fund-raising exercise put paid to the argument that investors are moving away from Indian e-commerce. The change in government and the stride of positive sentiment across the nation has led to growing faith in India and Indian business models. The governments’ initiative to simplify regulations and make India a business-friendly nation is definitely benefiting e-commerce.

Today, manufacturers and retailers running brick-and-mortar stores are anxiously asking the government to intervene with the creation of a regulatory body to stop e-retailers from undercutting prices. Physical retailers are definitely feeling the heat by the marketing blitz of their online counterparts, and the question of whether e-commerce is pushing out brick-and-mortar retailers looms large.

Many big companies are rising to the challenge and adopting smarter strategies to guard their turf. The likes of Tata, Future Group and Reliance are expanding their reach by foraying into e-commerce via alliances with leading online players. Indian retailers have clearly read the writing on the wall. As the competition grows, an omni-channel approach to delivering a unified and consistent customer experience is the new watchword.

Improving the overall experience is the avenue to success. Regardless of whether we’re talking about e-retailing, traditional brick-and-mortar retailing or a combination of both, the winners in this new steeplechase will have to evolve their offering to meet the needs, wants and desires of consumers. Retailers will increasingly have to offer services through various mediums.

However, e-commerce is still unlikely to completely replace or even seriously dent physical retail in this country. For Indians, malls are more than just shopping destinations – they are getaways from the humdrum and constraints of their day-to-day life, and mall developers have been catering to this dynamic by creating shopping complexes that offer retail, entertainment and dine-out option under a single roof. This is not a combination of offerings that even the slickest e-commerce operator can hope to compete with. ‘Experiential Retail’ is the holy mantra of the Indian shopper, and in the years to come, every mall across the country will do everything it can to turn the whole shopping experience into an entertainment experience.

Castell launches new heavy-duty access interlocks to protect workers in heavy industries

Industrial safety specialist Castell has launched heavy-duty access interlocks for use in industries such as waste and recycling, aggregates, steel and chemical processing. The AI-HD and AIE-HD have been designed to deliver robust performance where there are high potential loads and a high frequency of use.

ai-hd&aie-hd
The risks to personnel safety in harsh environments can be increased due to the heavy wear placed on safety components. The UK’s HSE recently reported that the construction industry in particular, while accounting for only around five per cent of Britain’s employees, still accounted for 31 per cent of fatal injuries to employees and 10 per cent of reported major or specified injuries.

Recognising these issues, Castell examined how it could develop its durable AI and AIE access interlocks to deliver enhanced products that would meet the day-to-day operational cycles encountered in heavy industry.

The AI-HD and AIE-HD will deliver years of performance in the harshest environments. The products use a heavy-duty stainless steel support mechanism, designed to take up to 1.5 times the load of current access interlocks, which reinforces the locking action. The design also provides additional protection for applications with high levels of vibration, such as mixers and shredders.

Elisa Hunt, Castell’s marketing manager, commented: “Castell has always been synonymous with high-performing products in harsh environments and the new HD access range takes this to a new level. Taking feedback from our customers in the cement mixing, tanker loading and waste and recycling industries has enabled us to develop a product that offers new levels of safety performance.”

Castell Safety International protects personnel, assets and the environment worldwide across the energy, industry, manufacturing and transport sectors. Castell products are designed to work in the harshest environments, delivering safe and efficient solutions.

For more information, please contact Ms.Elisa Hunt at pr@castell.com or visit www.castell.com. Castell Safety International has a distributor presence in India.

About Castell Safety International

Established in 1922, Castell manufactures the world’s widest range of industrial safety interlocking systems. Designed to protect personnel working with dangerous machinery or in hazardous environments, the company’s products are robust, durable and suitable for the heaviest of applications. Available in a range of materials, including stainless steel, they are proven even in dusty, corrosive and aggressive operating environments. All products conform to European safety standards.

About Halma

Halma, the leading safety, health and environmental technology group is a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange and has around 5000 employees in nearly 50 subsidiaries worldwide. Halma’s subsidiaries make products that protect lives and improve the quality of life for people through innovation in market leading products which make its customers safer, more competitive and more profitable. These subsidiaries are assisting India’s economy in areas such as energy, manufacturing, healthcare, water and waste treatment, construction and transport. Halma has an office in Mumbai.

Press contact in India:

Sunil Balan

Marketing Manager

Halma India

Mobile: +91 77381 61211

E-mail : sunil.balan@halma.com