Seamless Customer Experience in an Omnichannel Retail World


May 8, 2024

At the recent Phygital Retail Convention in Mumbai, Devangshu Dutta anchored an engaging “Fireside Chat” with Bhavana Jaiswal of IKEA India and Kapil Makhija of Unicommerce , on retailers engaging with their customers across channels and formats, and the opportunities as well as challenges in managing experiences seamlessly across online and offline interfaces.

Watch the video at this link:

Qatar Investment Authority invests $1 billion in Reliance Retail – CNBC segment


August 24, 2023

On CNBC-TV18 | Reliance Retail has established a dominant position and the growth trajectory remains robust – Devangshu Dutta of Third Eyesight tells Prashant Nair, Nigel D’Souza and Sonia Shenoy.

Almost 20 foreign brands set to enter India


August 18, 2023

Viveat Susan Pinto, Financial Express

August 18, 2023

Retail activity in the country is set to increase with some 20 foreign brands likely to enter India in the next 6-8 months, according to retail consultants and experts. This is double the number of about 10 foreign brands that would enter India annually in the pre-pandemic period.

An attractive retail market and growing affluence and consumer tastes are among the key reasons for the interest shown by foreign brands in India, said experts. Also, large groups such as Reliance and Aditya Birla are open to partnerships with foreign brands, with Reliance Brands, part of Reliance Retail, in particular, being the most aggressive of the lot.

“Global markets are witnessing slowdown and recessionary concerns, which is hurting retail sentiment. In contrast, retail sentiment in India is upbeat despite food inflationary pressures. Spending across non-essential categories will also grow as the festive season nears,” said Abhinav Joshi, head of research, India, Middle East & North Africa at consultancy CBRE.

The consultancy on Thursday released a report which said that retail leasing activity in India had grown 24% year-on-year in the first half of CY2023, led by foreign and domestic brands. The second half of the year was also expected to see a strong double-digit rate of growth in terms of leasing activity, with overall retail leasing likely to touch 5.5-6 million sq. ft. at the end of the CY2023, second only to the peak of 6.8 million sq. ft. seen in CY2019.    

Of the names eyeing an India-entry in the next few quarters include labels such as Italian luxury fashion brand Roberto Cavalli, American sportswear and footwear brand Foot Locker, Armani Caffe, the luxury cafe brand of Armani, British luxury brand Dunhill, Dubai’s Brands for Less, Old Navy and Banana Republic from Gap, Chinese brand Shein, Maison De Couture from Valentino, Spanish luxury brand Balenciaga, EL&N, a UK-based boutique cafe, Galleries Lafayette from Paris, Kiabi, Mavi, Damat, Dufy, Tudba Deri, Avva, Boohooman and Miss Poem, all apparel brands from Turkey and Europe, say industry sources.

Barring Galleries Lafayette which has tied up with Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail for its India entry, most other names are either talking to Reliance Brands (part of Reliance Retail) or have tied up with the company, persons in the know said. For instance, Balenciaga, EL&N, Shein, Gap’s Old Navy and Banana Republic, Armani Caffe, Maison de Couture from Valentino have tied up with Reliance Brands for their India entry. Executives at Reliance Brands were not immediately available for comment.

Most of these brands are eyeing a presence in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru and Hyderabad in the first phase of launch, before expanding their presence to other cities such as Pune, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Kolkata.

“The India retail opportunity is a compelling one, which most foreign retailers don’t want to miss,” says Devangshu Dutta, chief executive officer at Gurugram-based consultancy Third Eyesight.

“Some of the brands who’ve come earlier have also tasted success especially in the fast fashion category. This is an indication that brand awareness is growing and that people are ready to spend on global products as discretionary incomes grow,” he says.

On Wednesday, Japanese fast fashion retailer Uniqlo said that it was setting up two new stores in Mumbai in October, after launching 10 stores in the north over the last four years. The company’s chief executive officer Tomohiko Sei indicated that the retailer was open to new markets and store openings, but would focus on Mumbai for now.

CBRE says that Mumbai has seen retail leasing grow by 14.6% year-on-year in the first half of CY2023 on the back of a push by foreign brands to acquire space in the city. Delhi-NCR, meanwhile, reported a higher 65% year-on-year growth in retail leasing in the first half of the year, led by retail activity by both foreign and domestic brands.

(Published in Financial Express)

What Is Behind Reliance Retail’s Expansion Spree


July 8, 2022

Akash Podishetty & Krishna Veera Vanamali, Business Standard

New Delhi, 8 July 2022

India’s $900 billion retail market has emerged as one of the most dynamic industries and is expected to reach anywhere between $1.3-$1.5 trillion by 2025. The organized retail is seen gaining 15% market share in the overall retail space, while food & grocery and apparel and lifestyle may account for 80% of India’s retail market by 2025.

Large market offers big opportunities. And it looks like Reliance Retail has seized it, with its massive omni-channel retail play of physical stores, B2B with kiranas and e-commerce.

The company went on an acquisition spree and partnerships in the last three years, adding to its portfolio some of the biggest names, including Hamleys, Dunzo, Zivame etc.

It has also partnered with famous global retail chain 7-Eleven. Catering to India’s affluent consumers, Reliance, meanwhile, houses some of the most iconic brands such as Versace, Armani Exchange, GAP, GAS, Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors among others. The premium segment has become one of the fastest growing categories.

Also firming up its inorganic play, the company is planning to acquire dozens of niche local consumer brands to build a formidable consumer goods business.

Arvind Singhal, Chairman and Managing Director, Technopak Advisors says, there’s focus on physical retail expansion. Reliance is looking to cater to both price conscious and brand conscious customers, while trying to capture as much of the private consumption market as possible, he says.

Reliance Retail’s competitors are nowhere close to even put up a fight. The company has over 15,000 offline stores across categories, compared with DMart’s 294 stores or Aditya Birla Fashion’s 3,468 outlets.

Reliance retail’s revenue has grown five times in the last five years and the core retail revenue of $18 billion is greater than competitors combined, according to a Bernstein report.

Speaking to Business Standard, Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight, says, Reliance wants a decent share of Indian consumers’ wallet. From that perspective, Reliance still has a long way to go, he says. As consumer preferences evolve, Reliance too should adapt.

An undisputed leader in the domestic market, the aim of Reliance, according to Mukesh Ambani, is to become one of the top 10 retailers globally. Part of this bet is based on the premise that incomes and consumption power of Indians will increase across the board in coming years. However, could the uneven recovery that different segments of the population have seen stop the pie from growing larger and prove to be a dampener for Ambani’s ambitions?

(Published in Business Standard)

Explained: How is direct selling different from pyramid scheme and why has ED attached Amway India’s assets


April 24, 2022

Written By Devika Singh

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on April 19 accused Amway India of running a “multi-level marketing (MLM) scam” and attached its assets worth Rs 757.77 crore. This is not the first time that Amway India has been accused of running a ‘pyramid scheme’. Read on to understand how direct selling is different from pyramid schemes and why has the ED attached Amway India’s assets?

The direct selling industry is again under the regulatory scanner in India with the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) move to attach the assets of the Indian unit of US-based direct selling company, Amway. The ED has accused the company of running a “multi-level marketing (MLM) scam” and attached its assets worth Rs 757.77 crore.

According to an ED statement, the attached property includes Amway India’s land and factory building at Dindigul district in Tamil Nadu, plant and machinery vehicles, bank accounts and fixed deposits.

“Immovable and movable properties worth Rs 411.83 crore and bank balances of Rs 345.94 crore from 36 different accounts belonging to Amway attached,” the ED said. The seizures, the ED said, have been made under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).

This is not the first time that Amway India has been accused of running a ‘pyramid scheme’. The company faced accusations on similar lines in the US in the 1970s and has been under government scrutiny in Karnataka and Kerala in the past. In fact, in 2013, Kerala police arrested then Amway India chief William Scott Pinckney and its directors, accusing them of running a pyramid scheme.

Direct selling has come under scrutiny time and again, as over the years, consumers have been duped by fake sellers hawking defective products and services in the garb of direct selling. To discourage such schemes, the government had proposed a draft policy last year, which aims at regulating the direct selling market segment.

Read on to understand what is direct selling, why the ED attached Amway India’s assets, what is Amway’s stand on the issue, how is direct selling different from pyramid schemes, and what are government regulations around direct selling in India?

What is direct selling?

Direct selling firms deploy agents who buy products from the company and then directly reach out and sell to consumers at their homes or other places instead of through a retail format like a store. The direct selling entity and the agent share the profits made through the sale of products. According to industry estimates, there are about 60 lakh agents in the country, who pursue direct selling as a means of earning additional income.

The direct selling industry, as per estimates, is pegged at Rs 10,000 crore in India, and has been growing at 12-13 percent per annum over the last five years. Experts say multi-vitamins, and home care and personal care products are the top-selling categories through this channel.

Beside Amway, companies such as Avon, Oriflame, Modicare and Tupperware operate in the direct selling segment. Some of these companies have been in India for decades now.

What is pyramid scheme and how is it different from direct selling?

Pyramid schemes are defined as a form of investment in which a paying participant recruits further participants and gets rewarded for it. Over the years, consumers have been duped by fake sellers hawking defective products and services in the garb of direct selling, often bringing the direct selling industry too, under scrutiny.

“Pyramid scheme is a scam to make money for a few people and it is based on selling an empty promise, multiplying it through recruiting people,” said Devangshu Dutta, CEO of retail consultancy Third Eyesight.

However, he added, it has to collapse somewhere because you are selling a product or service that does not exist.

“As opposed to that, in direct selling, the companies are selling products and at the end of it there is a tangible exchange of goods or services. So, even if you have downline distributors, as long as at the end of it the customer is getting something of value, then it’s not really a pyramid scheme,” he added.

Why has ED attached Amway India’s assets?

According to the ED’s press statement, Amway India runs a multi-level-marketing scheme or pyramid scheme, which “induces the common gullible public to join as members of the company and purchase products at exorbitant prices.”

The ED said the prices of most Amway products are “exorbitant as compared to the alternative popular products of reputed manufacturers available in the open market”. The new members, who are asked by the company to join it, are not buying the products to be used by themselves, but to become rich by becoming members as showcased by the upline members, said ED.

“The reality is that the commissions received by the upline members contribute enormously to the hike in prices of the products,” the ED said.

And this, indicated the ED, makes Amway’s operations similar to a pyramid scheme, where new members are recruited by existing members with claims of amassing wealth and becoming rich.

The agency claimed that between FY2003 and FY2022, Amway collected Rs 27,562 crore, of which it paid commissions worth Rs 7,588 crore to affiliate members and distributors in the United States and India.

What is Amway’s stand on the issue?

Amway, however, claims that it does not offer any incentives to new members to join the company and the members are only paid once they make a transaction or sell the product, and hence they are not operating a pyramid scheme.

The company has released a statement saying that the action of the authorities is with regard to the investigation dating back to 2011 and since then Amway has been co-operating with the department and has shared all information as sought from Amway from time to time. Amway said it will continue to cooperate with the government authorities for a fair, legal, and logical conclusion of the outstanding issues.

“As the matter is sub judice, we do not wish to comment further. We request you to exercise caution, considering a misleading impression about our business also affects the livelihood of over 5.5 lakh direct sellers in the country,” it said in a statement to media.

In an conversation last year with Moneycontrol, Amway India CEO Anshu Budhraja had said that Amway India does not charge any registration fee to its agents.

“There are no charges for joining Amway business. Further, to ensure that the customers have a satisfying experience with Amway, our products are backed by a money-back guarantee for 100 percent satisfaction of use,” Budhraja had said.

What are the regulations around direct selling?

The government last year included Direct Selling under the Consumer Protection Act (Direct Selling) Rules, 2021. These new rules prohibit direct selling companies from charging registration fees from their agents, and bars them from charging their agents for the cost of demonstration to prospective buyers.

The rules also forbid direct sellers from engaging in pyramid and money circulation schemes. The rules mandate that the companies operating in the segment would have to appoint a Chief Compliance Officer, a Grievance Redressal Officer, and a Nodal Contact Person. The companies would also need to be registered with the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and must have an office in India.

They would also be mandated to maintain a website with all relevant information.

“Every direct selling entity shall establish a mechanism for filing of complaints by consumers through its offices, branches and direct sellers through a person, post, telephone, e-mail, and website,” as per the regulation.

“Every direct selling entity shall establish a mechanism for filing of complaints by consumers through its offices, branches and direct sellers through a person, post, telephone, e-mail, and website,” as per the regulation.

It adds: “Every direct selling entity shall ensure that such registration number is displayed prominently to its users in a clear and accessible manner on its website and each invoice issued for each transaction.”

In addition, such companies would have to maintain a record of direct sellers working with them, including their ID proof, address proof, email ID, and other contact information.

Source: moneycontrol