Sagar Malviya, Economic Times
26 October 2023
Surging demand for fitness wear and sports equipment for disciplines other than cricket and football helped Decathlon’s India unit expand sales 37% to Rs 3,955 crore in FY23. With more than 100 large, warehouse-like stores selling products catering to 85 sporting disciplines, the French company is bigger than Adidas, Nike and Asics all put together in India.
In FY22, sales were Rs 2,936 crore, according to its latest filings with the Registrar of Companies. The retailer, however, posted a net loss of Rs 18.6 crore during the year ended March 2023 compared to a net profit of Rs 36 crore a year ago.
Experts said a host of factors – from pricing products about 30-40% lower than competing products to selling everything from running shoes, athleisure wear to mountaineering equipment under its own brands – has worked in its favour. “They have an extremely powerful format across different sporting activities and have something for both active and casual wear shoppers. For them, the market is still under penetrated with the kind of comprehensive product range they sell for outdoor sports beyond shoes and clothing,” said Devangshu Dutta, founder of retail consulting firm Third Eyesight. “Even their front end staff seem to have a strong domain knowledge about products compared to rival brands.”
By selling only private labels, Decathlon, the world’s biggest sporting goods firm, controls almost every bit of operations, from pricing and design to distribution, and keeps costs and selling prices low.
Decathlon uses a combination of in-house manufacturing and outsourcing to stock its shelves. In fact, it sources nearly 15% of its global requirement from India across sporting goods. And nearly all of its cricket merchandise sold globally is designed and made in India.
(Published in Economic Times)
Shambhavi Anand, Economic Times
New Delhi, May 24, 2023
Retailers and shopkeepers will soon not be allowed to seek phone numbers of their customers while generating bills, according to a diktat by the department of consumer affairs, a senior government official said.
Taking the numbers of customers without their “express consent” is a breach and encroachment of privacy, said the official, without wanting to be identified.
The official added that such a move will be classified as an unfair trading practice defined as any business practice or act that is deceptive, fraudulent, or causes injury to a consumer.
Most large retailers mandatorily take down buyers’ phone numbers while generating the bill for their purchases and use them for loyalty programmes or sending push messages.
The move has come after the department received several complaints from consumers about retailers insisting on getting their phone numbers. This will be communicated to all retailers through industry bodies representing retailers soon, the official added.
While the implementation of these new rules may require some adjustments and initial costs for retailers, it is seen as a necessary step towards protecting consumer privacy and ensuring fair business practices in the retail sector, said experts.
While retailers will have to rework their systems in case this becomes a regulation, this won’t stop them from asking for phone numbers of consumers as their loyalty programmes run on these numbers, said Devangshu Dutta, founder of Third Eyesight, a retail consultancy firm.
He added that retailers also use numbers for sending e-invoices and so this could have a cost impact and environmental impact.
(Published in Economic Times)
Akanksha Nagar, Financial Express
September 5, 2022
Can you give a brand a second shot at life?
Reliance Retail Ventures certainly thinks so. It has acquired Campa-Cola for an estimated `22 crore from Delhi-based Pure Drinks Group on the assumption that it will not only be able to revive the five-decade-old brand but can also use it to springboard into the dog-eat-dog soft drink market in India.
It will not be a cakewalk surely. The ones who were fans of the brand—which was launched in the 70s—have moved on, and younger customers have little or no association with the brand.
Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, believes that Reliance must have been very keen on getting into the soft drinks category as a part of its overall strategy of retail expansion. In any case, it hasn’t had to shell out a bomb for the brand so it is a less audacious gambit than starting from scratch. There is one other factor that might work in its favour—which is the formula, the taste of which had near widespread acceptance in its heyday.
Sandeep Goyal, managing director, Rediffusion Brand Solutions, who is handling a similar resurrection of Garden Vareli sarees, says giving an old brand like Campa-Cola a new life will be far from easy—the Campa-Cola generation is now in their sixties and therefore there is very little monetisable value in the nostalgia.
Launch versus resurrect
From the looks of it, Campa-Cola will have to fight sip for sip, bottle for bottle.
Rohit Ohri, chairman and CEO, FCB Group India, who had managed the Pepsi account for more than a decade, says it will be difficult for a new brand to find space in a market dominated by multinationals like Pepsi and Coke. While the residual equity can help get the foothold, the real challenge would be to woo a younger consumer set.
Naresh Gupta, co-founder and CSO, Bang In The Middle, concurs: “When you try to resurrect a brand, you do it knowing that the brand isn’t doing well or has been out of circulation. That is big baggage for the brand to wipe out. Often the residual awareness and following are limited to the audience that is less likely to be your core audience today.”
There is also the fact that young people in the metros are moving away from colas, preferring healthier drinks or niche artisanal products instead. At the same time, soft drink is an impulse category and needs a large dose of salience to fly off the shelf.
Gupta says Reliance can try and build on the Indian-ness that Campa-Cola exudes. His guess is the old brand will be used as a calling card in trade and there would be a host of new launches that build upon it. “Campa-Cola may fuel a lot more fresh fizzy drinks launch from Reliance,” he adds.
That said, just the sheer time an old brand has spent on the shop-shelves would give Campa-Cola an edge over any new brand that its current owner might want to launch. An old brand can appear to be proven, experienced and secure, while a new brand could be seen as untested, raw, and risky. An old brand may have had a positive relationship with the consumer but may have been dormant due to strategic or operational reasons. In such a case, reviving the brand is clearly a good idea, says Devangshu Dutta, chief executive, Third Eyesight.
Reliance could have launched a new brand but if the existing brand has residual awareness or connection, it could be the pivot around which other brand properties can be built. Here, the new owner also has the benefit of having a wide retail network. As on March 31, 2022, Reliance Retail operated 15,196 stores across 7,000-plus cities with a retail area of over 41.6 million sq ft. This, if nothing else, will give Campa-Cola a start any new brand will die for.
(Published in Financial Express)
Written By Christina Moniz
D2C brands take the offline route to widen reach
Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands are fluffing up the Indian mattress category with promises of lower prices, mattress-in-a-box convenience, 10-year warranty and 100-day trials. In a market that is predominantly unorganised, startups such as Wakefit, The Sleep Company, SleepyCat and Flo are aspiring to establish themselves as better alternatives to legacy brands such as Kurlon and Sleepwell, with most of them looking at the offline retail route too, to boost sales.
According to a Research and Markets report, while India’s overall mattress market has grown at a CAGR of over 11% in the last five years, the organised industry has grown at 17%. The mattress category in India is worth `12,000-13,000 crore; of this the organised segment commands 40% share.
New-age mattress brands are able to deliver products at lower price points by taking control of the entire consumer journey – from product discovery to post-sales support. Therefore, these D2C brands save big on distributor and retail margins, says Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight. These savings go towards compensating for higher customer acquisition costs and logistics, he observes. The elimination of the middlemen means that customers get their products at 30-35% less than what traditional players offer.
However, these digital-native companies are aware that they operate in a touch-and-feel category, which is why many offer a 100-day trial period. Priyanka Salot, co-founder, The Sleep Company, says that the product return rate is only 2-3%, and the returned mattresses are donated to charities but never resold. The Sleep Company, which entered the market a little over two years ago, is eyeing a turnover of `1,000 crore in the next five years, and has plans to launch its first offline store in a few months.
Online players also save on logistics, says Chaitanya Ramalingegowda, co-founder and director at Wakefit. “We implemented the roll-pack technology that allows the mattress to fit into a compact box. This lets us ship more products at a time,” he says. Wakefit has only two factories—one in north India and the other in south India—as opposed to older players with 10-12 factories across the country, he points out. The company hopes to close FY22 with a turnover of 630 crore, up from197 crore in FY20. It has one offline experience centre in Bengaluru, with plans to launch 10 more across five cities soon; these centres will not only be experiential, but also double up as booking/ retail sales outlets.
Rajat Wahi, partner, Deloitte India, points out that these new-age mattress brands must establish deeper offline distribution to expand reach. “After all, more than 90% of retail is offline in India,” he notes.
This is why D2C brands are not only taking the offline route, but also foraying into other segments like furniture and sleepwear. Kabir Siddiq, founder and CEO of SleepyCat, says the brand has plans to launch around four experience centres, and aims to become a one-stop shop for all sleep and comfort solutions, offering comforters, pillows and even bedding for pets.
Is the proliferation of D2C players giving legacy brands sleepless nights? Mohanraj J, CEO, Duroflex, says it has been akin to a “wake-up call”. He says the company has poured in investments into the D2C segment in the past few years, and now even has a completely online brand called Sleepyhead, catering to the millennial consumers. “Until recently, about 10% of our company’s growth was from online sales, but we expect that number to change to 30-35% this year,” he adds.
Despite the influx of new-age players, he maintains that Duroflex has doubled its growth in the past two years, with traditional retail registering 25-30% annual growth.
Financial Express, 17 January 2022
The e-grocery market has seen the emergence of new-age, hyperlocal players, each outmaneuvering the other in terms of delivery timelines. Vaishnavi Gupta asks experts if online and offline grocery retailers ought to worry as quick commerce companies like Dunzo, Zepto and Blinkit, which promise delivery in a matter of minutes, get in the fast lane.
‘Knowing your customer’s needs is key’ – Devangshu Dutta, Founder, Third Eyesight
The answer to various questions around the e-grocery space in India lies in how you respond to this one question: if grocery is delivered tomorrow instead of in 10 minutes or even on the same day, who cares? Knowing the customer you are targeting, and what they need, is what helps in crystallising a unique value proposition. The online grocery market is made up of diverse customers with diverse needs/ wants. There’s a whole spectrum from digital natives to those for whom shopping online is an add-on for specific products or specific needs. Figuratively speaking, most customers won’t put all their grocery eggs in one basket.
If ‘authoritative selection’ is the value proposition you want to play off, a hyperlocal infrastructure is virtually impossible to create. On the other hand, if hyperfast, hyperlocality is what your customer is after, then product selection must be strictly narrow. Time-criticality is also determined by the nature of the product. Fresh produce that is ordered regularly and frequently won’t shift en masse to a hyperfast website.
‘Impulse purchases small fraction of total purchases’ – Alagu Balaraman, CEO, Augmented SCM
Customers normally plan bulk purchases and prefer to get them out of the way. So, fewer orders are more convenient. Customers also like to browse for new brands and packs. So, it is likely that a 10-minute delivery will be useful for impulse purchases or emergencies. This accounts for a small fraction of the total purchase basket of the customer. Servicing small orders will raise the unit delivery cost per item. Initially, this might be funded by investors, but eventually, the customer will pay. Or will they?
From a sustainability perspective, the “oops I forgot” or “I want it now” style of purchase is counter to the green style of the new generation. Having small orders transported to doorsteps will substantially damage our collective carbon footprint and aggravate climate change issues. We have seen this excitement over hyperlocal delivery companies before — first in 2015 and again in 2018. Most have retreated on plans or have allowed themselves to be acquired at presumably modest valuations.
‘E-grocery profitability a major challenge’ – Rajat Wahi, Partner, Deloitte India
The majority (around 85%) of the grocery sales are done through the 10-12 million kirana/ mom-and-pop stores spread across India; 8-10% sales happen through modern retail chains; while online sales account for less than 3% of the total grocery sales today. Online grocers need to surpass the services that end customers demand — such as products to suit local tastes, sales credit, instant delivery on orders via phone or WhatsApp, small orders with no minimums, personal touch, returns and exchange — which is being done at a very low cost and margin by the kirana stores.
This is a tall order for e-grocery players. They are tying up with kiranas for last mile order fulfilment and delivery, offering a differentiated range of products, and better value using their EDLP (every day, low price) model, focussing on fresh meats through a better cold chain, offering credit and discounts, and more. Unless we see a major consolidation of retail in the coming years, building a successful and profitable e-grocery business will continue to be a major challenge.