Govt plans single policy for retail, e-tail & FMCG: Kant

In an effort to provide a level-playing field to stakeholders, the government is planning to provide a single policy for retail, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and e-commerce, said NITI Aayog chief executive officer (CEO) Amitabh Kant at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry’s (Ficci) annual flagship retail, FMCG, e-commerce convention on Thursday.

“There is a move in the government to harmonise the varied policies of retail, FMCG and e-commerce within a single policy framework, which will address all concerns of industry and consumers,” said the NITI Aayog CEO.

Devendra Chawla, group president (food, FMCG & brands), Future Group; Bijou Kurien, board member, L Capital Asia; Gaurav Mahajan, president-group apparel, Raymond; Rajesh Jain, managing director & CEO, Lacoste India and Raghava Rao, finance director & chief financial officer, Amazon India, were present at the event.

Kant said the government was encouraging domestic entrepreneurship but foreign players would foster healthy competition. “The domestic market would be challenged by foreign businesses, which would enable indigenous companies to scale up, enhance quality of products and services, and penetrate global markets,” he said.

Kant added that technology would play a key role in the retail sector. With the internet’s growing rural penetration, retailers would be able to deepen their market. He added retailers should also look at widening their base of suppliers, promote and market Made In India goods and products.  

According to Kant, the challenge of the goods and services tax (GST) would be to bring on board every state of the country. “To make GST highly effective, there is a need for states to think progressively and work in tandem with the Centre,” he said. The way forward for GST, he added, would be keeping tax rates low and eliminating exemptions.  

According to the Ficci-PricewaterhouseCoopers report released on Thursday on the ‘Impact Of Shift In Consumer Spending & Behaviour: A Challenge For CEOs In The Retail & Consumer Goods Sector’, e-commerce and omni-channel retailing have become the new buzz words that are shaping channel strategies of mid-sized companies, as they try to reach out to India’s burgeoning digital and tech-savvy population.

This has led to varying degrees of integration of the digital channel from pure play e-commerce offerings to a comprehensive omni-channel approach. “Increasingly, start-ups like Lenskart, which first set up shop online and tested the market for its products, have begun to create brick-and-mortar distribution set-ups,” the report said.

The report added that e-commerce has also become a critical distribution arm for traditional brick-and-mortar players. Companies such as Godrej Nature’s Basket have been at the forefront in supplementing their brick-and-mortar sales with an online web and mobile presence, as well as through partnerships with e-commerce websites such as Amazon.

Furthermore, according to the report, with its exponential growth rate in the past decade, India is attracting foreign investors on account of robust domestic demand, growing middle class, young population and high returns on investment - all of which make it a very credible investment destination.

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