Retail Reimagined
Yours, Digitally!
| Episode
38 mins

Design Thinking in Fashion: Lessons from Levis, Amazon & Myntra


Learn how retailers can adapt to implement design thinking & buying behavior of customers to attain maximum return in this episode of Retail Reimagined with Shivanee Dutt, previously Myntra, Amazon, and many large-scale retailers, as she talks in detail about the best practices for creating a customer-centric approach using design and merchandising. This 40-minute conversation is no less than a walkthrough of strategies for Fashion Brands.


00:00 - Introductiontill 13:58 - Shivani's 20 years journey in Merchandise & Retail
13:58 - 18:32 - The Human Capital Centricity of Buying, Merchandising, and Design in Retail
18:32 - 25:38 - How has Technology, Digital E-Commerce & Data affected Merchandising?
25:38 - 31:58 - India v/s the US side of Retail: What are the Key Differences & Trends?
31:58 - 35:00 - Embracing Omnichannel to stay connected to the Consumers
35:00 - 39:29 - The Ongoing Debate of AI v/s Humans & its Effect on Retail
39:29 - 40:53 - Blooming era of the "Right Personalization"
40:53 - 45:44 -  The Transformation of Retail & its Trends
45:44 - 48:45 Rise of Digital Storefronts & Metaverse in Fashion Retail


Shivanee Dutt

Previously Myntra

Shivanee Dutt is an accomplished fashion designer and merchandiser who has held various leadership roles in both traditional and online retail. In her career spanning 2 decades, she has worked with some of the best Indian and International fashion brands like Levi’s, Spanx, Fossil, Transition Lenses, and Amazon. She was, till recently, the Director of Buying Curation at Myntra, where she led a team of trend researchers and curators focused on delivering a compelling customer experience and driving business growth.


Jitendranath Patri

Consulting Partner

Jitendranath Patri is a seasoned business professional with over 25 years of experience in the retail industry. He has deep knowledge in retail management, marketing, CRM, and customer loyalty. He works with Xeno as a consulting partner, driving innovation in CRM and loyalty strategies for retailers. Jitendranath also hosts a podcast called Retail Reimagined where he engages experienced retail professionals in insightful discussions.

[00:00:00] Jitendranath Patri: Hi everybody. This is Jiten from Xeno and you are listening to Retail Reimagined, the podcast where we'll talk to CEOs, CMOs, CTOs from the retail industry and uncover the future of retail. So tune into the podcast and learn what's happening in the retail industry.

[00:00:16] Jiten | Xeno: Hi folks, this is Jiten once again and welcome to Retail Reimagined. I do hope you're enjoying the podcast that we have brought on so far. Today's episode is one with the difference, in this episode of Retail Reimagined, I talked to Shivanee Dutt an accomplished fashion designer and merchandiser who's held various roles in both traditional and online retail to name a few Arvind Fashions, Amazon, Myntra, Levis, right, and the list is endless. 

[00:00:43] She was till recently the Director of Buying Curation at Myntra, where she led a team of trend researchers that you says is very specific to Gen Z and curators focused on delivering the comparing customer experience in driving business growth. Recently recognized with the nationwide 50 under 50 award by Mint for her contributions to the fashion consulting industry, Shivani credits her success to her customer-centric approach and keen eye for culturally relevant trends. Please join me in welcoming Shivanee Dutt to Retail Reimagined. 

[00:01:17] Shivanee, thank you so much for joining us and welcome to this episode of Retail Reimagined. 

[00:01:22] Shivanee | Speaker: Thank you Jiten, great to be here. Thank you.

[00:01:26] Jiten | Xeno: Shivanee, I don't know where to start. Right. But I think the, the best way to do it is just to kind of touch upon your complete diverse and extensive career that you have in the fashion industry.

[00:01:36] Right. Just walk us through it and gives us your experiences, give us your learnings from there. 

[00:01:41] Shivanee | Speaker: Sure, sure, sure. So, yeah, I've spent about 20 years in design, buying, merchandising, and marketing roles and through the process I've helped lifestyle brands across the world actually delivering some unique products and distinctive experiences to the consumers.

[00:01:56] So in some sense, you could say I'm a hybrid merchant, or a multihyphenate multi-category designer. That's the way I would look at myself, or as an advertising senior recently said, a super strong swiss knife in the Indian retail kitchen where something is always cooking. No jokes aside Jiten, compared to a lot of my tenure peers, I've had specialized, short and intense runs, I would say, which is also why I've, I've actually been able to sort of work with a lot of different brands, et cetera.

[00:02:27] And some of it was planned, some of it was serendipity, as you would say, but all of it, in terms of experience is all great because it's just added how I bring, what I bring to different advisory projects, et cetera. So the funny thing is, I did not grow up around fashion.

[00:02:44] I grew up in a small town where civil services, medicine or engineering worthy, preferred you know, professions. Right. And there was no organized retail per se. And fashion was something that if you traveled abroad right, you would get exposure to it. So, now the same city is a, is a thriving metro and it has produced some very strong retail leaders, designers, and it organized retailers actually exploded there. It actually pulls in the highest rentals in the market. 

[00:03:14] So and the funny thing is when I actually told my parents that I'm going to do design at NIFT and I had cracked, I think LSR and St. Stephen's at that point in time, they were perplexed, but they said, okay, go ahead with it.

[00:03:26] And by the time I had graduated it, it had actually become an entrance of choice. So that is the, I would say that is the way, passion has actually exploded in India. Not just in terms of the skillset market or the EdTech, education market. But also in terms of organized retail. So both in terms of what's driving it on the front and the people who are powering it in the back on both sides, it's, from there to now, it's, it's, it's great.

[00:03:53] Yeah. 

[00:03:53] Jiten | Xeno: Right. Absolutely.

[00:03:54] Shivanee | Speaker: I think that's about it. 

[00:03:55] Jiten | Xeno: You know, you've kind of spent time both in India and the US. You've spent time in the Amazon of the world. You spent time possibly in one of the, one of India's oldest fashion brands, which is Arvind Fashions. Yeah. You spend time in Levi's and of course till recently with Myntra, right.

[00:04:14] What, what really, one, of course is very diverse. I don't know if you're doing very similar roles, but if you, you obviously can walk us through that, and what were your learnings from here? 

[00:04:23] Shivanee | Speaker: So, you touched upon a very interesting part. Two, two things, one is where, I wasn't with a particular firm for the longest time, but that's also a choice.

[00:04:32] And the diversity actually came in with the function changes as well. So I started off in design. I think my first stint and the four most memorable stints in my career that I would basically say was, where it all started was Allen Solly Women's Wear. I had the opportunity to be part of the launch team in a design role, and that's where my eyes open to sort of corporate design as a function within corporate retail.

[00:04:56] And from there, I would say the next big one was Levi's Strauss. That's where I sort of got in without a marketing degree. Everybody else was either very pedigreed from an IIM and the learning curve was sharp. Then onto moving, moving onto e-commerce, right? Which is of course in the US. Whatever I saw with, let's say name premium brands like FOSSIL, et cetera, which had stores which had wholesale as well as the dot com. 

[00:05:27] That's where my whole digital piece started to now to Amazon and to Myntra. Right. So the, the, and moving from India to the states. And working with different geographies, which is Europe as well as Southeast Asia and China, which was largely with FOSSIL and then back at Amazon in India. And then Myntra.

[00:05:46] Of course. The, the few learnings that I would basically say personally for me, is that one has to have a very sharp understanding of the consumer to be able to traverse this, these different functions. That's a single threaded ask. I think I would say for anybody in fashion, retail, whichever the function one would think that designers sort of define it beyond the trends or the macro trends that you see with consumers.

[00:06:13] But I don't think that's correct because design versus art, design is your answering of problem statement. For the consumer art is when it is something that's created from from your ask. And, and it, it, it may find a market, it may find a product market fit. So the, the, the first part that I would say is sharp consumer understanding, absolutely critical. The second piece I would say, is the ability to sort leverage relationships. That's a superpower. I think that holds true in India as well as anywhere outside. And personally for me, because I was usually like the first Indian in the, on the team or, trying to relate to a market that is so different from the where I grew up or where I studied fashion, to be able to do that party.

[00:06:59] It was of course the skills, but also how you translated it in terms of a relationship. The third piece that I would say is, the power of edit. Curation is funny that it's, it was one of my late, my most recent roles, but, largely we think design is additive, right? Or any experience is additive.

[00:07:20] But I have realized a lot of it is innitive, which means what is it that's absolutely right for the consumer, for the product, and for the market. So that is another superpower that really helps because across all the names that you sort of made, all of them are very sharply curated. Not just in terms of product selection, but also in terms of the way it is communicated. And the last piece is I think, we tend to get caught up in the nuts and bolts of what we're doing generally because and that would be the case, right? When you're moving functions, when you're moving countries, et cetera. But the ability to sort of step back and take 30,000 feet view and also to stitch it together.

[00:08:03] So I, I often do this. I look back and I say, what is it that sort of worked across that really helps identify operators, maybe let's say when you have a 5% fix. That can actually give you a 50% lift. And that is true in most of retail and that brings me to the last point, which is technology.

[00:08:22] When technology comes in, it takes away the churn of you being involved in the nut and bolt and to leverage technology is another superpower because you're able to sort of do that. So that's kinda my 20 year view on having worked with a lot of these different brands. Yeah. 

[00:08:40] Jiten | Xeno: So how can you explain the merchandise led revenue growth that, typically what happens is, at least from, I, I, I've been in marketing, I've been in customer, managing customer loyalty, CRM and all that, so forth.

[00:08:52] And we, we are so used to seeing it, everything on the front end, right. But what we call the front end, which is the store level or the floor level. Right, right. But for y'all, yeah. I had to see it from the behind the scenes. Yeah. What is it that that goes into it? And what, what the science or the whatever it is magic. 

[00:09:14] Shivanee | Speaker: The both, both pieces. It's funny that you say this Jiten, because very recently I made a point in, this is something that I was working with my team also, at Myntra is, this whole idea about technology and artificial intelligence, right? Coming in buying, merchandising and design are probably the most human capital centric tools that you have in retail, and they really are the engine in some ways that drive the entire product development and the selection piece.

[00:09:44] And there is quite a bit that actually sort of fits in, in this piece and that actually has an impact. Right. A lot of the firms that you spoke about, they have very, very, set processes that have either been developed over time in, in the India perspective, or they've been borrowed from their global sort of counterpart so that they fit in some way, right?

[00:10:06] But the basics are very, very, simple, right? If it's a brand, or it's a platform. What is the product into market fit? Right? What is it that you want to offer and to whom? So understanding the consumer and the market demand is very critical. And one may, like I said, designers and buyers don't think about it.

[00:10:23] You start with an Excel sheet, which is, which is an OTB probably, and then you try and place it in terms of store. You take an offer, what, what, what you're buying internationally or you are producing and you are making a selection. But I think. That is a limited view. There's always a consumer understanding.

[00:10:40] Who is the consumer currently? Who is the consumer that you're going to acquire, right? And where is it that you really want to go and does it actually make sense, right? Because these are decision points or selection decision points that are made on a daily basis, I would say. Right? So what is the consumer market fit with supply, right?

[00:10:58] Okay. The consumer wants it and they want it at a particular price, but are you able to supply it? is it right? Does it make costs? Does it make sense from a cost perspective? Does it make sense from a margin perspective? Or is it right for the brand? That's another other platform, right? Is that where you sort of want to go. Then macro trends, that's something that, I'm, I'm really glad to see this. 20 years now, there's a proper science, there's proper understanding of forecasting and trend research, as a, as a separate function. But I'm talking about 20 years back. You would have specialists who would read the market trends, not just from a consumer macro perspective, but also from a passion perspective, because the distinctive part about fashion is it is above all taste play.

[00:11:43] Also, there's a very strong taste parameter, so you can get the demographics and the psychographics or even the qualitative piece, but defining the taste is a different nuanced sort of clay and that's where I think to build anything new, reading the macro trends in terms of fashion is also very, very critical.

[00:12:01] And the last piece is how does it all sort of fit in? From an experience point of view, because you could have, you could have bought the most, well-balanced line. You could have designed it, you could have placed orders, but if the supply doesn't fit in, if it doesn't fit into the stores that you allocated it into or into the experience because there's a sale experience that's going on, it will not sort of matter.

[00:12:29] Right? So the experience needs to very, very, aptly, almost like impresario in the fashion space. It needs to orchestrate and bring it all together. So I think that's kind of how it would flow. And here is where I think technology has a strong role to play, so, there isn't anything that comprehensively solved for this entire step or set of steps that are there.

[00:12:54] Yeah. Yeah. Got it. 

[00:12:56] Jiten | Xeno: Right, right. So I'm gonna ask you question maybe a quick question because you, you, you spoke about customer focus or a customer centric approach. You spoke about technology, I think, which is a big things today, right. And you touched upon AI, of course, I'll come back to AI a little bit towards the end a little later. But we always, again, I'm coming from the, possibly the marketing or the customer engagement perspective. 

[00:13:22] Shivanee | Speaker: Mm-hmm.

[00:13:22] Jiten | Xeno: As marketers or as retailers, we wanna engage with our customers, right? We wanna make it as relevant and as personalized as possible.

[00:13:29] And everything that we do, we generally tend to just possibly focus it on offers. 

[00:13:36] Shivanee | Speaker: Hmm. 

[00:13:36] Jiten | Xeno: Yeah. Or, or certain other attributes. Right. I remember we used to also go and check with the merchandising team saying, Hey, what are the new collection? Can we do something? But I don't see much of that really happening.

[00:13:51] Shivanee | Speaker: Hmm. Yeah. 

[00:13:53] Jiten | Xeno: Your, your thoughts on that. 

[00:13:55] Shivanee | Speaker: So that's a very good point then that you sort of mentioned, and this is the plus side and the minus side of having technology, digital or e-commerce sort of coming. And I think it'll settle, in my opinion, it'll settle because having had exposure to two of the largest in the best e-commerce organizations that exist, I can tell you that there is a lot of data. Right. 

[00:14:20] There is enough that comes in, but you are also right that the data defines the surface level of the strategy going forward or the pivots that happen. A lot of it still has to do with understanding the real consumer and it could be a setup, it could be a coupon, it could be a quad, it could be individual consumers.

[00:14:42] And that is where I think Omni has a very strong play and Omni doesn't necessarily need, in my opinion, doesn't necessarily need to be that you must have stores. You could have popups, you could have different ways of activation where you actually take that and you talk to the consumer.

[00:15:01] Because one thing that happens with e-commerce is you have a lot of data and, but data is what you make, make of data. , it's, it's the insights that you pull out of it. And there are multiple ways of culling insights. But the truth of the matter is you could be demographically very much a clone of the next person, right. We could have the same age markers, we could have the same lifestyle markers, et cetera. But the taste and the parameter, the perspective or your adoption.

[00:15:28] So that's on the backend, on the front end. Also, when you say sales, et cetera, sales is actually a mechanism, honestly, right? It's a mechanism to, to, ensure that those customers that are actually looking at value being the largest trigger or discount being the largest trigger are able to buy it, but it can be denoted in a lot of different ways. So, the way I have actually handled it, or the teams that I've actually worked with, we have always asked to have a larger and a more open, connect with the consumer.

[00:16:01] So, whether it's actual D2C, whether it is brands, selling via distributors to consumers, many ways of having done this. So in my experience, in the offline space, we were actually required, in most of the places that have worked to shop, to, to work the floor, to work the floor because when you work the floor, you're able to sort of meet the consumer where they're at.

[00:16:24] Right? So that's for your offline details. So, and of course in buying and merchandising, You actually do up the store. So you take the opportunity to also observe the consumer to understand what they're picking up. And this is beyond data, this is beyond what we do on a fortnightly basis. If we're looking at, performance data, what style work, what , cuts work.

[00:16:44] It's the real consumer that you put a face to. And this, this would definitely be a part of that. On the e-commerce side where it may seem that a lot of things get very hazy and very lost in the sea of data. I can tell you that the insights team or the market research team is a very strong.

[00:17:01] Part of most e-commerce firms, Amazon, because I was part of, the, the larger, cross category marketing team. Everything started with, insights, and that meant traditional focus groups as well as digital focus groups. And even at Myntra where, you have something called a KYC, know your consumer.

[00:17:19] So there are multiple programs that a lot of large scale E-commerce firms are also using to stay connected to the real consumer. Whether it means get a pool of gen Zs, who your, who are your go-to folks to ask if a particular product or a particular look of a store or a particular construct will actually sort of work or what they're looking.

[00:17:40] So, so there are mechanisms that even in the age of digital and e-commerce, , that are driving the direct access to consumer. And of course design and buying merchandising we ask for, and we are definitely there because without understanding consumer, you cannot drive design or selection in my opinion.

[00:18:00] Jiten | Xeno: Absolutely. I think well, well articulated the point, right? I think when, when one looks at, even customer engagement in whatever means. I think it shouldn't be a very, it shouldn't be an effort driven in silos. Right. I think it's kind of driven holistically across the entire retail ecosystem.

[00:18:19] Yeah, yeah, yeah. One question that's intriguing me, and I wanna ask you this and know you've spent time in India, you spent time in, of course you spent time, US, and now in India. Retail trends that you see, how does it differ? What, what are the learnings that you brought from here and where is India really going in terms of retail?

[00:18:38] Shivanee | Speaker: Hmm. That's a great question, and if you had asked me this five years back, I would've probably had a different answer. But in general, I would say, there are different life stages Jiten, of retail development. Whether it is consumer cohorts, or trends or how, online, offline is actually emerging in a different manner.

[00:19:02] Let's say in the US the whole concept of outlets is a very structured concept, which means that, again, it's been there since the days of Macy's. So, so, mid-priced retail segments that were there to, to premium priced. So, all of them have evolved their own sort of outlet format, and it's a structured piece that that flows, which is outside the city. 

[00:19:24] You actually go to a outlet mall to sort of shop. And that's one thing that I actually haven't sort of seen in India yet. Especially in the luxury, in the bridge to luxury segment. That's something that US has a heads up on.

[00:19:39] Some department stores, well known department stores, they may survive the consumption slow down. They may decide to become more e-commerce driven or actually go to basic value plus design mode which is always sort of going to be there in the US where, design play, network, category expansion, channel diversification, that will all sort of see. India in that sense is a fragmented market.

[00:20:04] And I would say it's a polarized market, where you've got these two sets happening, and you've probably heard this from a lot of other people. You've got the luxury premium segment and you've got a value segment that's very strong both driven by two separate Indias. One is India, the other is Bharat, right? And that is where value translates very, very differently. Sales is relevant for both. Timing and the messaging is what makes it 

[00:20:30] Jiten | Xeno: mm-hmm. 

[00:20:30] Shivanee | Speaker: Relevant. 

[00:20:31] Jiten | Xeno: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. 

[00:20:31] Shivanee | Speaker: So I think, yeah, I think that's where my head is in terms of differences. 

[00:20:36] Jiten | Xeno: Timing and messaging is what you said, right? 

[00:20:39] Shivanee | Speaker: Yes, yes. Yes.

[00:20:40] In terms of how do you take the learnings from the US and actually try and sort of translate it? Yeah. 

[00:20:47] Jiten | Xeno: But given the fact that you're operating within the Indian Environment, is there differentiation? Would you have deploy for both India and Bharat. 

[00:20:55] Shivanee | Speaker: Yes, absolutely. I would definitely say so.

[00:20:59] So there are, there are unifying principles that should work, but that's more about how we operate, right? That's my strong point of view on the role of design, the role of design or the role of curated selection on both sides. And of course, so India, that it's a market that's actually expanding very, very sharply.

[00:21:21] In fact, I was sort of reading somewhere that you have the largest, largest base of high net worth income households that are sort of growing here. Then on the other side, you've got Gen Zs. Which are very, very prominent. And this would hold true for both India as well as Bharat. Right? Because I think I read somewhere that it's going to be a half a billion, gen Z consumers in the next four to five sort of years, that you'll see.

[00:21:46] And they will be split. I don't know evenly or unevenly, but prominently between India and sort of Bharat, right. On how it's, prominent. Now, when you ask me about the difference on both, it's where they are in their fashion adoption cycle, that's one thing. And that bridge is always going to be slightly different, but it is, it's also becoming narrower. So, value is very important. But like a lot of, a lot of retailers in eCommerce, folks, and this is where data, data, if you don't deep dive into it, yeah, you'll make mistake. 

[00:22:23] They would say that Bharat is a very sales driven market. I would beg to differ, that value translates differently. Some of the monikers that we see in terms of design color, brand, brand logos, certain cuts, what is sort of permissible, but with a little bit of edit and change.

[00:22:42] It's how you translate it, right? Versus in, in terms of actual design. Also, in terms of how you message, it's more vernacular. Then it, it goes more Hinglish or, English and Tamil or English and whatever the, the pieces are so, I would not want to just say that it's a laggard market purely because of affordability.

[00:23:03] It is because of differences in where they are in their adoption cycle. Right. Difference in taste and style. 

[00:23:09] Jiten | Xeno: Got it. Got it. 

[00:23:10] Shivanee | Speaker: And also a different piece that I remembered. A CK example, one of the highest grossing stores of CK at least when, when I was there, was actually in a tier two city.

[00:23:23] And you wouldn't expect. And in a lot of the cities, the ask is, what the consumer ask is what drove stores actually being launched there. So you would think that the disposable income is less, or they would be a laggard value market where you would put a season minus two. But a lot of brands will actually tell you this, that that's actually what's driving on one end of the spectrum higher higher brand purchase. 

[00:23:48] Jiten | Xeno: Right, right. And I, I think, I think a lot of brands, I think looking at the cost of retail floor space in the cities is now are moving to, and, and quite quickly into, into the tier two and tier three markets. Right. So, extension of that question, omnichannel.

[00:24:06] Shivanee | Speaker: Yes.

[00:24:06] Jiten | Xeno: Mentioned it sometime, prior, during our conversation. The importance of omnichannel in all of this, right? Yeah. Becoming reality. Do you see brands really taking up or taking it up pretty seriously? And do they have to? 

[00:24:21] Shivanee | Speaker: It's a very good question Jiten. Again, if you had asked me two years or three years ago, I would've had a different play.

[00:24:28] So you, you, you answered it very well, yourself, by the, the fact that there are a lot of, tier two, tier three cities that are actually going to see an explosion of offline retail, and what brands are. Actually doing is with having a store or set of stores there, they're giving their whole brand and identity.

[00:24:46] It's a real space that you stay connected to. The way e-commerce came in in India, it wasn't driven from an experience forward point of view, and largely by the way, merchandise moved. Right. Discounting and sales became the larger play.

[00:25:01] It's also how, they are scaled. It's where, you have to show the performance results. That's how sales and sales messaging actually drove a certain perception of the, e-commerce stores. But I think as we mature, even on the e-commerce style, branding and experience will become important.

[00:25:20] And hence, wherever you have a network. Of, good stores, you would have to have a link in some ways of figuring out how the consumer stays connected. So it's an experiential connect that Omni can actually provide. And I think that will be seen as the markets sort of mature. Some are already doing it.

[00:25:41] Some will actually take to it, right? You may see a lot more of it in the luxury or the premium bridge to luxury brand space. And maybe there's an opportunity for the department stores to actually look at that and bring that forward because you lock in the consumer, across the consumer journey in that manner, right?

[00:26:01] That's more, that's way more important versus allowing them to shop a sale here, shop a sale there. So, in short, you will see that sort of emerging it's impact. 

[00:26:13] Jiten | Xeno: Interesting point you raise on the fact that everything driven by sales and it became, I think it was not only e-commerce brands or D2C brands, I think, I think, traditional retail also kind of fell victim to it.

[00:26:25] Shivanee | Speaker: Yeah.

[00:26:26] Jiten | Xeno: Because I hope that changes and like you said the maturity comes in right. Yeah. Again, you spoke about AI and technology, right. What is the, you, what is it that retailers need to do to, to adopt to this? Are they doing enough in this space?

[00:26:43] Shivanee | Speaker: Um hmm. It's up for debate. This is a very hot topic right now. And not just in the retail space across, not just fashion retail, it's across the board. I, like I stated earlier, and having been on the back backend of the work design, merchandising, buying, they are very human centered functions. 

[00:27:04] In India specifically, it's a large chain of human functions that actually drive it. And why India, actually same is true for US, et cetera. You've got career merchants, et cetera, but there is some, there are, there are tasks, that, that can not be automated. That is where AI can sort of support it.

[00:27:23] There isn't a single short product that actually even as of today, that actually takes care of the entire design buying merchandising, sourcing sort of function. When I was starting out, product line management systems were being designed and a lot of people were testing it, etcetera.

[00:27:42] But we still work a lot with excels and Google sheet forms and typically drawn tech packs. So that's one space that the, the faster we adopt it, the faster we will be able to sort of respond. Right.

[00:27:58] From a macro perspective, there is a lot of consolidation that's happening, so an auto simplification of the market. So you've got consolidation of fashion conglomerates, as you can see. Yes, you've got D2C brands that are mushrooming, but they'll get absorbed.

[00:28:13] D2C is the channel of choice, so and what D2C, a lot of people say or don't notice is that you've got a, a segment, a a much sharper cohort of consumers that you are actually going for. And a lot of them are either single product or single product line, offerings, and that's where the response time that they're also looking at has to be faster.

[00:28:35] So the entire cycle, buying, merchandising and retailing, has to become that faster. The only way that can happen is not by adding more humans to it, it is by making some of that process automated, even the idea of the house of brands coming, you are, you are creating more and more brands. So, so there's a lot of consolidation that's happening, in terms of merchandising, we'll experience shorter fashion calendars, right? You'll have limited long tail drops. This whole idea of I'm buying nine months in advance or 

[00:29:10] Jiten | Xeno: yeah. 

[00:29:10] Shivanee | Speaker: 12 months in advance, which is traditional retail that is going to go away. So that's, that's really going to spin everything on its head. And the faster brands and platforms sort of adopt it. The, the, the better it'll be. There'll be real time assortments for international brands. Earlier we used to say, okay, you can bring in something in India eight months later and it'll still be fashionably relevant. No, if I have a Louis Vuitton launch or a LVMH launch, why Louis Vuitton, if you take a Supreme or any of the other brands also, it's all props, it's, it's realtime, whatever is released internationally is available. That's thanks to digital. So assortment will have to become really realtime social listening, all of that. So, so there's a lot that, that is making, as pushing the, the, the back end of the market to really grow up.

[00:30:04] And adopt AI, not from a place of fear, but from a place of wisdom where you're actually taking it and making it work for you versus you working on. 

[00:30:13] Jiten | Xeno: Absolutely, and I see a lot of connectivity because again, connecting back to the point like, hey, how does it, if you, if the change is happening there, how does it translate into actually making things even better for the customer?

[00:30:25] Right. Where the store be it on in the experience website and getting far more personalized. In actually offering a customer something that he or she wants. 

[00:30:35] Shivanee | Speaker: Absolutely. So j what you said, I'll also add from a more recent, very absolutely recent experience, and I'm not gonna name completely, but the fact that personalization is the, the hot topic, right? Right now that a lot of e-commerce firms are going in for personalization, but how do you get there? One is of course, you understand that you don't have one customer or two customers. You could have experience that could be differentiated through a cohort of 12 or 20 different customers.

[00:31:05] And unless you understand that whole piece and we, I did this in my last, it was the last piece of that that will play out is you gonna merchandise for that many different experiences. So think of the work that is sort of ex exploding that is gonna fall on the back end where technology is the only answer. 

[00:31:24] Jiten | Xeno: Yeah. I think again, boils down to how, how sharp you focused you on the customer, and then how do you use technology leverage and, and bring the data to your advantage. Right. One last question, Shivanee, and you've had a lot of experience, you've gained a lot of experience, you've played a lot of roles. Retail has changed of this pandemic also played its part. 

[00:31:47] Shivanee | Speaker: Mm-hmm.

[00:31:47] Jiten | Xeno: The last five, seven years, retail has changed and it's transforming. Right? So what should brand leaders look for in the next few years? What can they look for? Need not be fashion trend, but generally perspective. What should they keep in mind in the lookout for. 

[00:32:06] Shivanee | Speaker: So some of it actually, I think I did sort of mention. 

[00:32:11] Jiten | Xeno: Yeah

[00:32:11] Shivanee | Speaker: in my last conversation. I, I just answered in the previous piece. It's a really, it's an interesting time to be in fashion retail. A lot of people are basically like how is it going to play out? How is it going to go anywhere? But like I mentioned, there's a lot that's happening. You were a consolidation of large fashion houses, and I'm specifically answering about India, right? 

[00:32:32] Jiten | Xeno: Yeah, absolutely.

[00:32:33] Shivanee | Speaker: There isn't an India fashion house that has. Completely or solidly made its mark, but it will, now you may have one two, you may have three. That's one thing. So, so there's consolidation there. D2C cannot be a small play. It has, it is a mainstay play. So, you have offline, you have online.

[00:32:52] But even in online you've got marketplaces, you've got your own dot com, which becomes really, really critical because, having your handle on your own customer is absolutely key. So it's, it's hundred percent responsibility of that as well as letting you get the data and feed you what you need to know.

[00:33:12] Not, not just for design and selection but even for marketing and promotion all together. Because we are expanding digitally, there is a scope for as many different brands or cluster of brands. We've started thinking in terms of apps, in terms of experiences, but have we actually thought of what's going to feed those apps? So each app or each set of apps has its own cluster of brands that would actually fit in. But we haven't thought of house of brands from that sort of angle in perspective. Yeah. Fashion retailer will have to, retailers will have to flip their understanding and see that if it's getting so nuanced in terms of experiences, then you can really get nuanced in terms of the brands.

[00:33:57] And that's also probably what's driving private label or explosions and international brands, they're coming to India, not just as a, by the way, I'm extending my range here. International brands will make and curate for India specifically the all case in point, so it may start in luxury, but it'll go all around.

[00:34:18] So I think, , they need to basically get ready for, like I said, shorter fashion calendars, real-time assortment. The idea of guest, influencers and guest curators. So you will also see a lot of skills that will sort of be imported, people who will bring a different flavor or, brands that will not have their set design or buying and merchandising team.

[00:34:40] It could be rotational. That's the way I actually see it, because you bring in the flavor of what is being selected for that piece, social listening, transporting. There's a lot, that lot that's going on in terms of chat that I don't think we are actually listening to much better. AI like planning and buying scenarios, there's so much that's on play that you can design your own experiences, et cetera, but the backend. The backend takes a lot of scenario, planning. When you are opening any new store, either real store or a shop, shop online, right? This scenario planning that is a lot of work that goes in or plan on cramming, et cetera.

[00:35:20] All of that can be AI made. If you figure out the right set of prompts to work with digital showrooming and something. CK has done it. TH does it. Other Indian retailers need to, not just from a cost perspective, but from an effort perspective, that is where the maximum sort of effort and time actually goes in.

[00:35:40] That's where you need a nine month calendar, and that's. That's not going to cut it in the long.

[00:35:48] Jiten | Xeno: And you've can let go of the track. Right? Yeah. And you mentioned digital, digital storefront, right? 

[00:35:53] Shivanee | Speaker: Yes. Yes. 

[00:35:54] Jiten | Xeno: Do you see Metaverse becoming a big thing in retail. 

[00:35:57] Shivanee | Speaker: So, I think not metaverse in its form today. I definitely feel that there'll be a hybrid form. Let me explain that to you. Because I'm a mother to a seven year old and I see a lot of other, kids, 7, 10, 11, 12, all in the society. All of them are on screen. They're really glued to the screen and if you look at the content that they watch or they engage in, it is absolutely virtual.

[00:36:25] If you even sit them down and talk to them, they think in those terms, et cetera. So it's definitely there. The way Metaverse today is, other than the experience to even get to that space for a regular alpha or I would say, gen Z 

[00:36:40] Jiten | Xeno: regular customer. 

[00:36:41] Shivanee | Speaker: Yeah. It, it takes time. So the, the easier that they make it for them to integrate in the space that they're already there, that is something that will actually play out.

[00:36:52] But the point is that, does it apply to everyone? I don't think so. There is an age cut. There's a sharp age cut that I see. Okay. Which is when this audience that I spoke about, this alpha group, when it becomes mature and they have the discretionary spend power and the ability to jump in and out of experiences seamlessly, they will sort of take to it. That's when you'll see metaverse actually explode. That's my, that's my sense. Absolutely. Forecaster talking right now. 

[00:37:24] Jiten | Xeno: No. Perfect. Perfect. So I think what it does is, and, and listening to your conversation, I think, I think what I've realized, I think there's a, there's a tremendous opportunity for marketers. I won't call it challenge, I won't call it whatever, but I'll call it an opportunity because, how do marketers use all of this information to drive better engagement with their customers and, and drive a higher retention? Because I think that's what's key given the plethora, plethora of choice that a customer would have.

[00:37:49] Right. 

[00:37:50] Shivanee | Speaker: Absolutely. Great. 

[00:37:52] Jiten | Xeno: Yeah. So thanks Shivanee. Thanks so much for spending this time. I think it was amazing, I, I did pick up and learn a lot from this conversation, good to actually catch up and understand retail from a complete perspective, not just a very siloed one. 

[00:38:07] Shivanee | Speaker: Yeah. It's a very divergent perspective, but that's what leading the leaves beyond where you are currently does to you transporting point. 

[00:38:16] Jiten | Xeno: Absolutely. Absolutely. 

[00:38:17] Shivanee | Speaker: Thank you so much for having me. 

[00:38:19] Jiten | Xeno: My pleasure. Pleasure. Thanks so much. 

[00:38:21] Shivanee | Speaker: Thank you. Bye.

Retail Reimagined is a podcast series that features CXOs from the retail industry who are at the forefront of digital transformation and customer-centricity.

Yours, Digitally! is a digital personalisation podcast dedicated to leadership & marketing teams of retail brands who are looking to shift from conventional marketing to digital personalized marketing like Amazon, Spotify & Netflix have already done.




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