Indian retail industry is going through a transition phase. Most of the retailing in our country is still in the unorganized sector. The spread out of the retails in US and India shows a wide gap between the two countries. Though retailing in India is undergoing an exponential growth, the road ahead is full of challenges.
What is retailing?
The word "Retail" originates from a French-Italian word. Retailer-someone who cuts off or sheds a small piece from something. Retailing is the set of activities that markets products or services to final consumers for their own personal or household use. It does this by organizing their availability on a relatively large scale and supplying them to customers on a relatively small scale. Retailer is a Person or Agent or Agency or Company or Organization who is instrumental in reaching the Goods or Merchandise or Services to the End User or Ultimate Consumer. Retailing is one of the pillars of the economy in India and accounts for 35% of GDP. The retail industry is divided into organised and unorganised sectors. Over 12 million outlets operate in the country and only 4% of them being larger than 500 sq ft (46 m2) in size. Organised retailing refers to trading activities undertaken by licensed retailers, that is, those who are registered for sales tax, income tax, etc. These include the corporate-backed hypermarkets and retail chains, and also the privately owned large retail businesses. Unorganised retailing, on the other hand, refers to the traditional formats of low-cost retailing, for example, the local kirana shops, owner manned general stores, paan/beedi shops, convenience stores, hand cart and pavement vendors, etc.  Most Indian shopping takes place in open markets and millions of independent grocery shops called kirana. Organized retail such supermarkets accounts for just 4% of the market as of 2008. Regulations prevent most foreign investment in retailing. Moreover, over thirty regulations such as "signboard licences" and "anti-hoarding measures" may have to be complied before a store can open doors. There are taxes for moving goods to states, from states, and even within states.
The Indian Retail Market
Indian market has high complexities in terms of a wide geographic spread and distinct consumer preferences varying by each region necessitating a need for localization even within the geographic zones. India has highest number of outlets per person (7 per thousand) Indian retail space per capita at 2 sq ft (0.19 m2)/ person is lowest in the world Indian retail density of 6 percent is highest in the world.  1.8 million households in India have an annual income of over 45 lakh. Delving further into consumer buying habits, purchase decisions can be separated into two categories: status-oriented and indulgence-oriented. CTVs/LCDs, refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, microwave ovens and DVD players fall in the status category. Indulgence-oriented products include plasma TVs, state-of-the-art home theatre systems, iPods, high-end digital cameras, camcorders, and gaming consoles. Consumers in the status category buy because they need to maintain a position in their social group. Indulgence-oriented buying happens with those who want to enjoy life better with products that meet their requirements. When it comes to the festival shopping season, it is primarily the status-oriented segment that contributes largely to the retailer’s cash register. While India presents a large market opportunity given the number and increasing purchasing power of consumers, there are significant challenges as well given that over 90% of trade is conducted through independent local stores. Challenges include: Geographically dispersed population, small ticket sizes, complex distribution network, little use of IT systems, limitations of mass media and existence of counterfeit goods. Retailing is the most active and attractive...