Retail is a rapidly evolving sector and now more than ever. SpenglerFox, the globally networked Executive Search and Human Capital Solutions firm, recently held a global conference call on the Power of Retail and Expanding within Emerging Markets with Dennis Casey, founder of BORN Retailer International, who is an expert not only in Retail but expanding to Emerging Markets. He has travelled half way around the world expanding the AS Watson retail network as he grew it to 8,000 stores, starting with only 63 when he joined in 1988.
The failure of some retails chains in Emerging Markets was an interesting aspect that was discussed during the call. New market entry demands thorough research of the consumer trends, importation requirements and local players among others. Cloning home market approach might not prove to be a wise decision in markets that are culturally and economically different. It is important to look for market gaps and recruit the right people (or focus groups) with overseas exposure so that the local competition and conditions can be rightly assessed. Investments into logistics, imports and IT should be planned meticulously. Poor use of technology is another factor that slows down growth. Korea thrives on virtual stores and shops with advanced checkout technology that saves the customer from waiting at the checkout counter if their credit card details are registered with the store.
Being innovative is one of the biggest strengths in today's highly competitive world. Compelling promotions, active communication and consumer engagement are vital in keeping the interest of consumers intact. The need to be better than the rest drives companies to find their own niche and focus on new ideas. In emerging markets, consumers spend 50% of their time in a store reading labels on products to understand its use and benefits.
Organizations supported by a bureaucratic management have their own challenges as their reactions to change are slower. According to Casey, the sectors of opportunity are Convenience stores (especially in Japan and Taiwan), Health and Beauty (Korea), Confectionery, Specialist Food and Fashion accessories.
The Global Exchange offered an opportunity to Casey to share the lessons he learnt during his career of 45 years and his route to success. The entire discussion was conducted on a global conference call where participants dialled in from different parts of the world. This is a unique platform where you can interact and discuss issues and opportunities with your peers without having to fly in to any particular venue.
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