Corporates driving retail education in India

With the retail industry in the country expanding rapidly, there is a surge in demand for trained talent on the shop floors. Retail companies are beginning to realise that well-trained staff bring in much needed conceptual clarity and job awareness, early on in their careers, and consequently, investing in retail education, as a means to ensure continued supply of professionally trained talent. 

Presently,  all retail giants in the country,  including the Future Group, Bharti Group, Essar Group, Lifestyle, Shopper's Stop and Infinity Retail, are in the process of setting up or collaborating with universities to launch their own retail education programmes.  Understandably, this is a big investment; however it makes sense given that employers will get to mould the curriculum and learning inputs, around the needs of the market.  Experts such as Sanjeev Duggal, CEO and Executive Director, Bharti Group's Centum Learning highlight that industry intervention will help bridge the huge gap that presently exists between offerings from the academia and the actual skills requirements within the industry. 

Besides, given their deep understanding of the industry, retail players are better able to structure the content and process of learning in line with the realities of the shop floor.  For instance, at Essar Group's Aegis Global Academy, students are required to spend 65 percent of their time working on "live projects" in the shop floor and only the remaining 35 percent time for classroom-based theory. In addition, retailers such as Kishore Biyani's Future Group are moving a step ahead and linking in allied areas such as Supply Chain, Logistics and Entrepreneurship, enabling a comprehensive learning programme at their Future Innoversity. 

Until recently, retailing was only perceived as an extension of selling at the local mom and pop/grocery store. And managing customers and sales was considered more of a tactical skill than a strategic engagement or relationship building process.  However, with the organised retail sector expanding rapidly, it is bringing in much needed respect for the art of selling.  There is increased emphasis on professional selling and customer management skills, and retailers are paying closer attention to understanding customer needs, preferences and consumption behaviour. All of which, will not only improve the standards of professionalism in the industry, but over a period of time, elevate the quality of our shopping experiences. 

Well, it sure looks like retail therapy is here to stay!

About the author: Lakshmipriya Somasundaram is a Contributing Editor for TradeBriefs. She can be reached at lpsom@hotmail.com.



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