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Global Perspective - News Worth Sharing

  • India-retail

    Despite the hype around foreign brands entering the country, here’s the bitter truth: Indian cities have a long way to go before offering shoppers access to the world’s biggest brands.

    India’s biggest cities performed abysmally in a survey by real-estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle, which mapped the presence of top global brands in 140 cities. Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru ranked at 92, 109, and 126, respectively, reflecting the absence of many of the 240 global brands that the survey tracked. These include fashion, food, supermarket and electronics brands among others.

    London tops the list, while three Chinese cities show up in the top 10. Even a clutch of southeast Asian cities are ranked significantly higher than India’s largest metropolises. The Thai capital of Bangkok, for instance, is ranked 13. Indonesia’s Jakarta is at 24, while Philippine capital Manila is at 29, and Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City is ranked at 37.

    City Rank
    London 1
    Hong Kong 2
    Paris 3
    Dubai 4
    New York 5
    Shanghai 6
    Singapore 7
    Beijing 8
    Kuwait 9
    Tokyo 10
    Bangkok 13
    Jakarta 24
    Manila 29
    Ho Chi Minh City 37
    Delhi 92
    Mumbai 109
    Bangalore 126

    India’s low rankings underscored the government’s sluggishness in making the country’s $600-billion retail sector more investor-friendly. Many large foreign brands, including Walmart, Apple, and IKEA, have spent years negotiating with the government to open owned stores in India.

    Policy backlog

    India eased the rules for foreign retailers such as IKEA and Walmart only in 2012. Before that, supermarket chains such as Walmart and Tesco, defined by the government as multi-brand retailers, could only invest in wholesale stores (that sell goods to large businesses and not end consumers). Single-brand retailers such as Tommy Hilfiger and Puma could enter the market only through local partners.

    But with India seeking to create jobs and boost economic growth, the incumbent Narendra Modi-led BJP government further liberalised the policies over the last two years.

    Investment apart, foreign firms are eager to cash in on the demographic dividend in Asia’s third-largest economy. India has the world’s youngest population and a burgeoning middle-class, making it attractive for consumer-focussed companies.

    That is why, ever since they were allowed to invest directly in the market in 2012, Swedish retailers H&M and IKEA have been busy expanding their footprint. While H&M wants to double its store-count to 12 by the end of the current year, IKEA plans to add 25 over the next decade. Some of America’s largest retailers, including GAP, Aeropostale, and Kate Spade, besides Japan’s Muji, have recently opened shop in India.

  • With stores in Beijing, Wuhan, and Hong Kong, the young and quickly growing luxury shoe brand Maison Corthay has a significant focus on China and emerging markets for its French-made footwear. Overseen by master shoemaker Pierre Corthay, the bespoke and ready-to-wear creations retail starting at around US$1,000 a pair and go way up from there. Corthay is known not only for his expert craftsmanship, but also for his daring designs featuring classic styles with bright hues such as orange, purple, and blue. Now, the brand is expanding to incorporate casual styles as wealthy consumer demand evolves toward the “ath-leisure” lifestyle. We recently caught up with Corthay himself at his Beijing shop, when he was in town for the launch of a softer casual shoe model. Below, he shares his experiences selling to China’s ultra-rich shoe buyers and where he sees the market headed in the future.

    You’ve been open for over a year now here in Beijing. What has surprised you about the China market?

    My first surprise was they’re really daring with the color. The [global] men’s market moved within the last 10 years, of course—everybody noted this. Men are a bit more fashionable—little by little—but in China, the movement is very, very fast. In my collection, I’m very focused on the color and the detail of the piping. They really understand very quickly, and really they dare, which is not so obvious in France or other markets like the United States.

    You also have two stores in Hong Kong. Have you noticed any differences in taste between the mainland and Hong Kong customers? 

    Hong Kong is a bit different. It’s much more cosmopolitan than Beijing. In Hong Kong, you have some mainlanders who come, but you have all the nationalities.

    Here, it’s really like a new market. The people are very open-minded, in fact. You feel that they are more open-minded than the others. It’s a funny thing but I think it’s really true.

    Maison Corthay's Beijing boutique. (Courtesy Photo)

    Maison Corthay’s Beijing boutique. (Courtesy Photo)

    How important is personalized service in the China market compared to other markets? 

    The same as everywhere. We make bespoke here, which is full bespoke—starting from scratch—and we have ready-to-wear, but in ready-to-wear, you have the possibility to make a very special thing called an “MTO” or “made-to-order”: you can change the color, you can change the finishing, the piping, the lining, the sole. Half of our business is done with the MTO in ready-to-wear, which is huge.

    What kind of demand have you seen for bespoke products in general in China? 

    In China’s market, I think the bespoke is a statement.

    The first time I came to China seven years ago, I visited the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, and I realized the level of the craft they had for a very long time. Of course, they had a very big period—the Cultural Revolution, which was terrible for their culture and for a lot of people, but they have this [craftsmanship] in their DNA. They know the quality; they know the nice craft. It’s a very sophisticated culture. They understand the difference, and they really enjoy it.

    You just introduced some soft shoes to the China market. Can you talk about how these compare to the other models?  

    For 25 years I’ve made a kind of formal shoe—leather sole, good construction, classical but with a twist. But in a certain way, it’s not very open. I decided six months ago, especially for the China market (but not only the China market—Dubai and also the Hong Kong market—countries where it’s hot or wet) we definitely need this product—something easier to wear, softer—they can wear it barefoot. Just to open the field a little bit more for the customer. It’s a first step because we’re probably going to move next for fall/winter to the sneaker, and then next spring/summer we’re probably going to make another loafer like this one but lighter and softer. Shoes that you’d like to wear on the beach in St. Tropez or on your yacht.

    Maison Corthay's Brighton shoe model. (Courtesy Photo)

    Maison Corthay’s Brighton shoe model. (Courtesy Photo)

    Have you noticed the rise of the ath-leisure trend in China?

    I think it’s a general movement of moving into more casual and more relaxed.

    Seven years ago, I was working with a hedge fund in China; I made five or six pairs for the founders. One time we were talking about the fashion of the men in China and the guy said to me, “Wow, you know, Pierre, if you see men in China with the suits, white shirt, and a tie, two options: bodyguard or driver. Look at us: we don’t wear a tie. We are relaxed in Prada and cool and colorful if we want. We don’t have a code.”

    What about leisure lifestyle in China? Do you see more of your clients interested in this?

    I think they are interested in everything. I think they are excessively curious. They really look at everything. They’re like children in a candy bar. It’s very cool to see them and have some fun.

    The last time I came, we had a customer come in with eight of his friends after lunch. He came with them and offered a pair of bespoke shoes to every friend he had here. We took 10 orders. They were all here; some were sleeping here on the couch because they were a bit drunk, of course. Two of them were sleeping on the couch; I took the measurement while the guy was sleeping. It was so fun. They were so happy.

    You never see this in France, ever. They are very happy to share with their friends and proud. In France, it’s the opposite; when you have a good address, you don’t want to give it.

    Can you give an example of one of your most interesting customers in China?

    There’s a very important man in China—he’s Chinese, but he places his order in France. He came in Paris. The first order he placed was 25 pairs directly. He chose a model that doesn’t exist, so we had to design 25 different models for him. That’s one of the most eccentric guys we’ve had.

    Do most customers in China know exactly what they want or do they need more of a consultation?

    They need advice sometimes. When we opened here, absolutely nobody knew the brand in China. It was very confidential and very niche. We saw how the people would shop very simply; they’d come through and say, “I like it, I buy it.” The brand matters here, but not for everybody. I think some people are able to just appreciate the product and the color. I wasn’t expecting this. It’s not like in Dubai, Saudi Arabia, or the Middle East.

    What is the most important form of marketing to get the word out about the brand in China?  

    The first is word of mouth. It of course takes time, but actually it’s the best thing. It really works.

    Do you have any predictions for what kind of styles will be popular in China over the next five years?

    Like everybody, we go to crossover style—something which is really between the classic and the sports and the casual. For work or life, people are more busy and need something very comfortable, but also classical and wearable with suits and formal wear. When you’re a designer and you want to create, it’s always much cooler if you can have freedom thinking out of the box like this.

    In China, I think it’s really the new world. They travel, they live in air conditioning, go to malls—it’s totally crazy compared to the old Europe in a certain way.

    Do your Chinese customers have a conception of French vs. Italian shoes? 

    I don’t think so. I’m sure the Italians were the first in the market, like in Russia. I think the Chinese people are very quickly understanding and they are very eager to embrace novelties. They are much more sensitive to the fashion, but they like classical and quality things too. It’s a big mix of a lot of different ideas, attitudes, discoveries. That’s what gives this dynamism to the market, I think. And it’s so big, so many cities over 3 million people—it’s just crazy.

    This interview was edited and condensed.

    The post French Shoe Master Pierre Corthay on Why Chinese Billionaires Love Bespoke appeared first on Jing Daily.

  • Apparel retailers make up only 17% of the total sales transacted online last year with merchants ranked in the just-released Internet Retailer Global 1000. But it’s a category particularly ripe for innovation and growth online.
  • The global eCommerce logistics business is booming.

    The industry is expected to grow from $122.2 billion in 2014 to more than $781 billion by 2024, according to a new study from Transparency Market Research.

    The growth is being fueled by a growing number of international eCommerce websites that sell goods across multiple borders, which is expected to continually fuel very strong growth in the coming years. Transparency Market Research’s study estimates that the global eCommerce market will grow at an annual rate of 20.6 percent from now to 2024.

    With the growing global marketplace, many logistics companies are investing in more space and ways to expand distribution services. DHL has invested $137 million to expand its distribution center in the U.S., while FedEx has also pledged to increase capital spending to expand its global eCommerce distribution network.

    Another wildcard in the whole market is the future plans of retail giants Amazon and Walmart, who seem to want to dominate all aspects of their own shipping networks (and possibly those of smaller retailers as well).

    “Although, while all of these trends sound like competitive threats, they also are merely different aspects in the evolution of a market that not only is becoming larger but also more varied, with all manner of express shipping options, premium shipping memberships and even a range of customer pickup approaches,” according to Retail Dive. “The whole pie is expanding in every direction, and there may be enough to serve everyone, from the traditional logistics giants to the emerging regional names to the Ubers of the world — and even Amazon (whatever it’s planning).”

  • Amma parks and Amma gymnasiums—named after Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa— will be set up in rural areas; retail Amma markets in Chennai are in the offing
  • Online retailers like Amazon India, Flipkart and Snapdeal are struggling to find services that will expand a nascent market that has worryingly declined since the start of the year
  • In a world where retail tailspins are becoming rather common – successful turnaround tales are few and far between. But on that increasingly short list lived JC Penney, which has managed to reverse what looked like a full tilt tailspin a few years ago. Though gains have been modest in absolute terms — comparatively, JC Penney is having a great year.

    And it is looking like it might strategically benefit from the wave of retail weakness that has left its competitors in the the department store business closing stores and abandoning the malls.  In recent earnings calls, both Macy’s and Sears have confirmed an additional wave of store closures as their unprofitable chaff is continuing to be separated from the more profitable wheat.

    Macy’s will close 100 stores nationwide, and Sears has been closing stores for years.

    This has put pressure on mall owners that are suddenly finding themselves with a dearth of tenants in the anchor store department — and JC Penney in a unique position when it comes to negotiating rent. Though JC Penney’s turnaround is ongoing and far from complete — according to CEO Marvin Ellison the store only has about 10 stores that aren’t making money.

    And Ellison recently noted that Sears’  recent trip of a cliff has been a boon to Penney’s, particularly in the area of  appliance sales.

    “Sears is donating share in appliances,” Ellison said.”We have no aspirations to be No. 1 in market share for appliances. To do that, we have to own the inventory. But we think we can be disruptive and can be convenient to our customers.”

    JC Penney is embracing the mall — a strategy many are a bit dubious on, given the fact that “malls are doomed to extinction” is pretty much accepted conventional wisdom at this point.

    But JC Penney boosters have noted that the chain’s embrace of store-within-a-store designs with Sephora and an upped focus on “retail-tainment” could be a picture of how some retailers are going to carve out a niche in the post eCommerce world.

  • reader.03-ed183428211b107dc3c32d208597a025 Square is turning point-of-sale companies that at one time could’ve been considered enemies into allies, with two new partnerships with Vend and TouchBistro. Square will now offer Vend and TouchBistro‘s restaurant, retail and other business owner clients full access to Square’s platform, including its hardware, payments infrastructure and financial service offerings (like… Read More
  • Target has made significant improvements to its fulfillment network — greatly increasing the speed that product flows throughout the enterprise. See how the retailer did it and the results it is enjoying.
  • Online marketplace Snapdeal has initiated a branding overhaul as it seeks to create a clear niche for itself in a market that is now dominated by Flipkart and Amazon India, according to two people aware of the development.

    Snapdeal, which is now a distant number three, is working on a new logo—one that resembles that of Dropbox, looking to introduce a fresh colour (you can expect one colour in the name, instead of the present blue and red) and introduce a new tagline, the people said on condition of anonymity.

    The makeover will be made public before Diwali, a time when e-commerce companies in India witness peak traffic and orders. The project is being led by Snapdeal co-founder Rohit Bansal, who is working closely with advertising agency McCann Erickson.

    Snapdeal earlier promoted itself as a deals site, touting deep discounts and the lowest prices. With a funding crunch, the company has been forced to change its strategy. Snapdeal, which didn’t have its own logistics unit until it acquired a stake in Gojavas in 2015, has now created Vulcan Express Pvt. Ltd, an in-house logistics and fulfilment service provider. With the help of the new logistics unit, the company is trying to present itself as a high-quality service provider.

    Snapdeal declined to comment for this story. Mint could not independently ascertain the investment behind Snapdeal’s rebranding strategy.

    Earlier this month, Snapdeal had said it would spend more than Rs.200 crore (US$30 million) on a campaign that will run for 60 days in the run-up to the Diwali festival.

    The new campaign is expected to be introduced across television, print, YouTube and social media next month.

    Online retailers have dominated the advertising arena in India through 2015 and 2016; the marketing has largely been around pushing discounts and educating Indian users about the nuances of online shopping. It is only now that e-commerce firms are trying to build a brand and establish differentiation in the market.

    Amazon’s advertising mantra over the past year has revolved around being a platform with the widest catalogue that one can trust. It has introduced taglines such as Apni Dukaan (My Shop) and Aur Dikhao (Show Me More). Bigger rival Flipkart is also trying to build customer loyalty by assuring original and authentic products and by promising prompt delivery.

    With the new tagline, Snapdeal, too, wants to go beyond the narrative of assurances and basic introductions to online shopping.

    Snapdeal usually comes up with a new tagline every year just before the festive season kicks in. In 2015, it hired Bollywood actor Aamir Khan to reposition and promote the brand, with the message Dil Ki Deal (a deal that tugs at your heartstrings).

    In 2014, Snapdeal pushed the message of discounts and savings with the slogan Bachaate Raho (Keep Saving).

    It is still uncertain whether the rebranding will work for Snapdeal this time. Amazon India is famed for its customer service and Flipkart, whose service levels dipped last year, is now making strides in regaining its high standards of the past.

    The first half of 2016 has been fairly muted for e-commerce advertising as firms remained cautious while investors tightened their purse strings.

    Mint reported last month that the overall share of business-to-consumer, or B2C, e-commerce firms in TV advertising (by volume) declined to 2.49% this year (as of 18 June) from 3.18% in the first half of 2015 (January-June), according to data from AdEx India, a division of TAM Media Research. Their share of print advertising declined to 1.25% from 1.29%.

    Also Read:

    India: Snapdeal gets $21m from Luxembourg’s Clouse SA as part of earlier round

    India: Like Ola and Snapdeal, startups are shutting down acquired firms

    India: Snapdeal to shut luxury platform amid slow funding

    This story was first published on Livemint.

    The post India: Snapdeal plans rebranding to boost image appeared first on DealStreetAsia.

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