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India as an upcoming market inhibits a tremendous potential but untapped, interestingly all this demographic potential, visible but difficult to be touched. To most when approached may seem like a true mirage.
Most of the retail in India is governed by small individually owned stores, which have been running on pure experience of the owner; however, it is in recent 5-7 years we see organized mass retail stores in various domains emerging in metropolitan cities of India.
To reach the pinnacle of the Indian market potential, it needs to be invested upon with time and capital, to make it more mature and aged like other markets (US, Europe..) To most of the companies like ours who have had some or good experience in working with these markets, the situation might seem less gloomy and understandable. We are exactly 15 years behind the way the businesses were run in any developed country however we are catching up at a speed greater than time.
Few characteristics of markets overseas from developed countries, if you working with big box retailers (Big Retail chains) the scope of error is negligible, hence a lot of planning is undertaken not allowing errors. India comes as a relatively easier market, our culture imbibes to forgive and magnitude of damage from error is also small, but for a company that has already developed systems and processes with tolerance for overseas markets for them India is a below the benchmark challenge, they know they are already sitting on the winning horse.
Merchandising is another aspect, where overseas market the study of packaging, positioning, and placement has already so far ahead, study not limited to just the product but with consumer behavior, customer’s expectations, and revenue per area, getting all of the experience in our domestic markets comes new and attractive to most of the retails space and if a company is already versed with such procedures can definitely add great value against competition.
Customers overseas have a great demand for quality, and with quality, I am not referring to a higher specification product but consistency in the product specification. In India we now see customers getting brand cautious, and the markets are not only governed by the price but with the communication and quality standards of brands.
Communication from the brands like in developed markets has changed to interactions, where both brands and its customers interact on various platforms. It has introspected a higher demand for service and quick response time; this again was desired here and already expected in International mature markets.
The concept of distribution zones, 3 party logistics and enhanced supply chain network which most of the companies selling overseas had accustomed to already are now easily replicating in India with their experience from before, and hence have up hand advantage against the companies that are newly discovering such systems. Sadly, importance of distribution and supply chain creeps in a lot after the business becomes mature through failures in businesses to most of the Indian companies. Companies who have been there, done that to them it comes naturally.
Today in any of these developed countries you don’t see a challenge in shipping to any zip code and you might find multiple logistic services available for every zip code however in India it is still in progress and same way this will be possible soon. Companies who have seen it happen in other countries, are patient and are looking at alternatives to reach such remote areas. Interestingly, the untapped potential lies in such pockets which are not accessible to all, and for companies being able to reach such locations, or find alternatives find gold sooner!
Indian market in canvas huge language barriers, every 200Km you see a completely new language, companies exporting to various developed markets like in Europe or South America, etc have already overcome the barrier with alternatives and now this may not even seem a threat, but a part and parcel of doing business.
Government policies, taxation, may look demotivating to most doing business in India, however, companies exporting around the world have dealt in far worse with additional duties, excise etc that it may not look so bad rather simpler than dealt with hence are more patient and less reluctant.
One of the most important aspect, while doing business overseas from your native country to a fully developed country, your business faces competition not only domestically but from the world which is more fierce, not only challenging your ability but the policy between countries, this trains to you to be on your toes and always deliver your best, once you challenge that then after doing business in a smaller domain it become simpler, this also stresses the system and processes made in your company to test against worst and hence making you internally stronger for future.