Title: Growth spurt in the online retail sector
Published in The HINDU Opportunities section on February 22, 2012
Link to the published article
Against the backdrop of an accelerating modern retail market, India offers to be an attractive hub for domestic and international retailers seeking emerging markets. The online shopping market is a rapidly growing sector.
In contrast to the environment of an aging world population, India's advantage of having a large young population contributes to the increasing growth and popularity of this sector.
In a country that has a large proportion of its working-age population contributing to its lucrative consumer base and where people rely on metro cities for finding commodities with good quality and wide selection, online shopping offers a more varied, hassle-free and interesting shopping experience.
There are several perks to an online shopping experience such as 24 hour shopping, having rich product availability and taking the time to do comparisons, including having the ability to conduct online research on the products that one might like to buy. Unlike conventional shopping, the net savvy customer can get a detailed account of the specifications on a product through their website. Further, the hassle of packaging and posting a purchased gift can also be avoided. Added to this, several online shopping websites offer discounts, free shipping and price comparison checks on certain items to lure online shoppers. There are many career opportunities opening up in this sector, here is a look at the employment aspects in this sector.
Although workers can gain informal on-the-job training, a degree in business management is a basic prerequisite. Diploma and certificate courses in retail management, ecommerce, retail selling, retail marketing management or logistics & supply chain management are helpful to gain entry into the retail industry. Pursuing a MBA in Retail Management makes a candidate more employable.
This field requires people who have good analytical and reasoning skills besides being strong communicators (oral and verbal skills). It is beneficial to be aware of current market trends and understand the general business and have an entrepreneurial spirit.
As the online retailing involves creating fancy websites, candidates need to be familiar with e-commerce principles. Start-ups and online retail sites look for candidates who have core skills like product sourcing, warehousing and logistics background. Due to the increase in number of online retail businesses, it is necessary for aspirants to also improve their sales skills, customer dealing abilities and familiarise themselves on how to research market demands.
There are several educational institutions throughout the country that offer courses at the graduation and post-graduation level to equip students with the requisite skills. Some institutes that offer courses in Retail Management are: ACCMAN Institute of Management, Noida, Indian Institute of Retail Training, New Delhi, National Institute of Retail Management, Bangalore, Madras Institute of Retail Management, Chennai and Birla Institute of Management Technology, New Delhi.
A wide range of jobs are available in this profession that range from an online associate to a top level executive. Typical and unique roles in the online retail sector include customer support, internet marketing executives, retail merchandise managers, relationship managers, brand awareness executives, web programmers, graphic designers, IT project managers, supply chain professionals, category managers and zonal and area sales executives. The role of a Category Manager requires people with knowledge of the entire product category starting from launch to finish. Going up the ladder, candidates applying for the role of Retail Services Lead should possess strong online retail management experience and the ability to work with different segments such as marketing, sales, merchandising, project management and technology. Customer service roles are also available that involve handling customer inquiries by phone, replying to customer emails and communicating with clients for pre and post sales.
According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), the online retail industry is expected to be worth Rs.7,000 crore by 2015 due to easy availability of broadband services and increasing internet penetration. “A booming economy and rising disposable incomes have contributed to the evolution of online shopping,” says ASSOCHAM secretary general, D. S. Rawat. The buying-selling trends from leading online shopping portals indicated that online retail market currently stands at Rs. 2,000 crore and is growing at a steady annual rate of 35 per cent.
With India poised to become the third largest nation of internet users in the next year along with a substantial chunk of youngsters eager to embrace new technologies with rapidly changing lifestyles, online retailing is certainly on the growth trajectory. This forecast suggests that the sector may produce 20, 00,000 jobs by 2013 directly through retail operations.
EBay and Amazon are the market leaders in online shopping in the world. However, local players are gaining popularity in India. Flipkart is among the country's largest online retailer and continues to diversify from an online bookstore into media, consumer electronics, computers, healthcare and home appliances for its users. It offers path-breaking services like Cash on Delivery, a 30 day replacement policy, EMI options, free shipping and electronic wallet. Snapdeal.com, a coupon and deals website offers consumers discounts on dining, health, beauty services, branded products, travel and more. EBay.in, Infibeam.com, SoSasta.com, Indiaplaza.in, Naaptol.com and FutureBazaar.com are other popular websites that offer online shopping in India. So, if you have a keen interest in online retail, and would like to enter the realm of online shopping, the future is promising and offers lot of potential to build a career.