"Indian retail is a huge potential opportunity for fashion brands, and there undoubtedly will be huge change over the coming months and years as the new, more investment-friendly regime takes effect," writes Bob McKee, Infor director of global fashion strategy, in an Apparel Magazine guest column, headlined "A Tale of Two Industries: Retail in India."
"But those international brands will enter a market that is not only unique, but fraught with regional differences, unique product requirements and customer expectations. It will not just be a case of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) but also, manufacturers and retailers beware."
McKee assesses the economic, political, and cultural factors.
"Indian retail is in fact two separate industries - the "organized" retail of large chains, international brands and foreign investment and a more domestic "unorganized" or "shadow" retail that exerts huge economic and political influence. The tension between these two spheres is one of the most pressing issues facing international retailers, fashion manufacturers and textile-based businesses looking to capitalize on the Indian market."
He also adds a little history lesson and offers some global perspective.
"… this large "shadow" retail industry of smaller, independent retailers has such a strong identity of its own that it is hard to find similar examples elsewhere in the world. Perhaps the closest would be Brazil … Where Brazil imposed a closed domestic focus, India is keen to open itself up as a market, as both producer and consumer. This has led to retail becoming a real battleground as big, foreign retail giants look to enter the market but find themselves in the midst of a system that is based around a far more fragmented retail ecosystem than they are accustomed to."