Rajat Wahi, Partner at Deloitte Consulting said, “The COVID pandemic has impacted the growth of retail, which was expected to grow from 850-900 Billion USD to 1.2 Trillion USD by 2022 and this will now likely get pushed back to 2023-24 due to the slowdown in offline retail."
The pandemic has taught many new lessons to retailers and brands. To stay in the game, they must redesign their strategies.
However, there are certain common challenges that can be resolved through discussions with a Forum dedicated to retailers and FMCG companies. One such forum is called National Industry Forum for Retail (NIFR).
The NIFR is a congregation of key Industry leaders, including Metro Cash & Carry, Future Group, Walmart India, Reliance Retail, Amazon, Google, BigBasket, More Retail, Flipkart, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), Procter & Gamble Company (P&G), Johnson & Johnson, Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL), ITC, among others.
The forum is aimed at collaboratively addressing challenges faced by brand owners, retailers, and e-tailers in their supply & demand chain processes, enhancing operational efficiencies, and consumer trust by ensuring the availability of the right product and seamless consumer experience.
It is facilitated by GS1 India, a global standards organisation working closely with the Indian retail industry.
According to industry sources, retailers and FMCG companies are discussing challenges with NIFR— The forum members are currently focussing on best practices and standards adoption, enabling seamless consumer experience in omnichannel retailing, and carton-level barcoding.
In a digitised era, it is critical to have a uniform and consistent information in the offline and online worlds. This helps manufacturer/brand owners to increase search visibility, bridge data silos and connect with consumers as well as be able to sell more products.
On the other hand, the consumers are benefitted as they can more efficiently search for, compare, and share information about products, buy products, and share their experiences.
Rajat Wahi, Partner at Deloitte Consulting said, “The COVID pandemic has impacted the growth of retail, which was expected to grow from $850-900 billion to $1.2 trillion by 2022 and this will now likely get pushed back to 2023-24 due to the slowdown in offline retail."
“The new normal has seen 80-90 percent of business for FMCG companies reaching the pre-COVID levels but with limited assortments. The current times are paving the way for new collaboration /relationships, brands are working on new opportunities with a collaborative approach in order to succeed in the retail and redefine the way they reach end consumers,” he added.
Best Practices and Standard adoption
Challenge 1: When the barcode on the product is scanned, it shows multiple grammages on the billing system. In such a scenario, people at the billing counter need to be extra cautious to select the right product and right grammage at the time of billing. Manual mistakes can lead to legal liabilities for the retailer.
Objective: Define best practices in regard to allocation of barcode numbers on products
Progress so far: Workstream members had reached a consensus on allocation of new barcode numbers in the event of a change in net content of the product by over 10 percent. This now needs to get the consensus from NIFR participants, after which, the proposal will be presented to the industry for wider adoption and implementation.
Most retail stores also complained that there is a difficulty in the interpretation of the short product description shared by the brand owners with the retailers as part of the product listing. Due to the limitation of 40 characters, every brand owner is devising their own logic to arrive at short product description.
This approach is creating difficulty at the retailer end in interpreting the product by looking at the description.
Objective: ‘Standardisation of Product Description’ for online and offline retailers.
Progress so far: Suggestions on the same were received from several brands, including L’Oréal and Marico and the workstream members reached a broad consensus. Next is to move the ‘Short Product Description’ recommendation by the workstream members towards adoption and implementation by the industry.
Challenge 2: The lengthy and cumbersome receiving process, including manual checks, the truck loading time at the retailer warehouse goes up to 3-4 hours for a single truck. This leads to wastage of fuel and time, leading to transportation cost for brands and increased turnaround time for retailers for stock in-warding.
Also, sometimes, there is a problem of space and only one truck can enter at the dock. In such a scenario, other trucks have to wait or plan accordingly, delaying the further receiving processes. Since the receiving process is mostly manual, it leads to manual errors, brands claimed
- Minimising cumbersome receiving process to increase efficiency and save time by adoption of an automated process
--Reducing the unloading time at retailer warehouses. Mismatches and manual checking currently add time
--Ensuring efficient in-store movement and visibility of cartons
Challenge 3: Brand owners/manufacturers have to provide product details multiple times, as per e-tailer formats, which leads to wastage of time and resources for manufacturers to get their products listed. The entire process takes several days and ever-changing product details add to further complexities. This also creates inconsistent consumer experience across portals.
--Arriving at a common standard by integrating different guidelines for capturing product attributes, product images, etc., that each retailer follows, making it easier for brands to follow the same.
--Making onboarding of suppliers on retailer platforms faster and providing a consistent and truly omnichannel product experience for consumers.