New Delhi, Delhi, India As a continuation of its efforts to sustain small retailers, Kiranas and MSMEs through constructive policymaking, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Research Center Policy and Governance (CPRG) India, in association with METRO Cash & Carry, organized a multi-stakeholder conference, “Retail Samvad”, on the theme “The Future of Retail: Resilience and Opportunities for Small Retailers in New Delhi.
The keynote address on ‘Futureproofing Small Retailers & MSMEs for India@100’ was delivered by Hon. MP and ex-IRS Mrs. Sunita Duggal who said, “Under the leadership of Hon. PM Shri Narendra Modi, The government is open to addressing the industries issues and taking concrete steps to make it easier to do business. Ground-level solutions are needed to become more operationally resilient in the retail industry. I am very impressed with the Retail Samvad initiative; it is an excellent platform to discuss the challenges facing the retail sector and the interventions required. We look forward to the recommendation of today’s speakers, associations and think tanks, to present their views on empowering and safeguarding the interests of small retailers in India. The opening session focused on the resilience of traditional commerce and how it is fighting to remain relevant in the era of the rapid delivery mechanism. Speakers at this roundtable highlighted the need to recognize the contribution of small retailers and create an environment to support their efforts. Instead of the policy intervention required for the retail segment, emphasizing the challenges faced by small retailers, the looming leaders reiterated the need for prompt intervention from the Indian government. Speaking at the event, Mr. Arvind Mediratta, President of Retail and Domestic Trade, FICCI and Managing Director and CEO of METRO Cash & Carry India said, “The pandemic has introduced many changes in the changing consumer behavior and has also had an impact on smaller retailers across the country. The future is omnichannel, where consumers would prefer the convenience of shopping online, but the enthusiasm for physical shopping will never die. There is an imminent need to recognize the sector, giving it industry status and the need to accelerate the national integrated retail policy. Suggested recommendations should be expedited, taking into account the interest of small retailers in India. There is a growing need to ensure a level playing field for all offline and online retailers; and creating a conducive business environment for the growth of small retailers in India. The discussions focused on the various policy interventions required by the Indian government, reinforcing the need to consider the right recognition for the segment, facilitating a better environment for small retailers for their ease of doing business. The deliberation focused on the problems of traditional commerce and small retailers with the multiple licenses, renewals, clearances and key interventions necessary for their ease of operation. Industry think tanks also reflected on the urgent need to upskill the workforce, allowing them to stay relevant and create better job opportunities for the segment. Speaking about the changing dynamic environment, Rajat Wahi, Partner, Deloitte, said, “Consumer behavior is changing rapidly with the change in the business environment, especially due to the pandemic and some of the trends may continue to to maintain. In such a scenario, the retail sector needs to adapt quickly to changes to sustain itself. We need to put consumers at the center, understand their needs and deliver services efficiently. The sector faces a myriad of challenges in terms of policy, ease of operation, and workforce retention. We will need to create a sustainable culture for all stakeholders and promote the growth of the retail sector which can create huge job opportunities. Speaking of policy and implementation, Lalit Agarwal, MD, V Mart, said, “Implementation and execution are just as important as policy formulation. We see the emptiness in the whole system. We need to improve the ease of doing business with simple policies and their implementation at ground level. What is missing today is first the need to recognize the segment, followed by a better environment for doing business and including it in government policies with minimal red tape. The one-day event concluded with policy recommendations and interventions for the Indian government to consider; include the segment in government programs/Yojnas; and help recognize the sector and the valuable contribution of small retailers to strengthening the retail economy.
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