24 March 2022 15:12:21 IST

IIMA looks to enhance focus on retail tech and R&D

IIM Ahmedabad

In order to boost the consumer-focused research and innovation in the retail market strategies, a Retail Tech Consortium is set up at the Centre for Digital Transformation at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA). The Consortium also plans to collaborate with retail and technology organisations.

For the inaugural year, e-commerce giant Flipkart has joined as the principal partner of the Consortium.

This Consortium aims at building a strategic bridge linking retail brands, technology partners, and academia. Also, it work on sharing deep knowledge, research, and setting up industry-best practices for better collaboration amongst retail tech players in the country.

Knowledge sharing

Covid-led disruptions in the retail space have fast-tracked digitalisation of retail, thereby impacting both — online and traditional retailers.

This consortium will highlight the unbiased voices of customers on the digitalisation of retail, which will eventually help retailers understand their consumers better.

Pankaj Setia, professor and chairperson of the Centre for Digital Transformation at IIMA commented that such collaborations would initiate cutting-edge research on issues of the retail sector and gather insights on how to facilitate knowledge-sharing for retailers.

"We identify this as an urgent need. Retailers need to quickly react to the constantly-changing preferences of customers at the advent of new technological innovations. Managing inventory, labour shortages, supply chain logistics, and adhering to sustainable practices are a few other challenges that most online sellers are facing," Setia said.

"The Centre for Digital Transformation will create and share insights gathered through research that can enable the development of solutions by partners across the board," he added.

Digital push

Some of the activities that the consortium will undertake include nationwide consumer surveys, development of case studies, the conduct of field experiments and research studies, retail tech webinars, conferences among others.

Besides allowing cross-development of innovative ideas among companies and organisations, this will also create open data sources to enable learning across consumer cohorts with respect to their habits, usage, triggers, and barriers.

Flipkart's Chief Product and Technology Officer, Jeyandran Venugopal, commented, "The modern retail ecosystem in India has accelerated at an unprecedented speed over the past several years driven by rapid digital adoption. With fast-changing consumer preferences and needs, the only way for brands to thrive in this dynamic market is to capitalise on the power of technology."

Adding further he stated, "Through our collaboration with IIMA and insights gathered from the consumer survey, we intend to identify opportunities and create forums for knowledge-sharing, research and training that will help transform the retail ecosystem to drive greater value for Kiranas, retailers and customers."

The Centre for Digital Transformation at IIMA was inaugurated last year and focuses on activities that enhance an understanding of the digital ecosystem.

The emerging prospects of consumer research and retail innovation has prompted management institutions to take a deep dive to see a cultural or personal pattern of a consumer, which is not possible to see from the digital data.

Last year, the Indian Institute of Management Udaipur (IIMU) had also launched a 'Consumer Culture Lab' focusing on consumer goods space.

IIMU looks at the possibility to explore thick-data aspects of the consumer behaviour to create actionable insights.

With a digital push, institutions are enhancing their focus on big data and looking for qualitative data to get insights about consumer behaviour and their digital footprint.