The Indian retail industry has presently emerged as one of the most dynamic and fast paced as several players have entered the market. It accounts for over 10 per cent of the country&’s gross domestic product and around eight per cent of its employment. The demand for floor personnel and retail managers is always high as the supermarkets and hypermarkets business is expanding rapidly. At times, start-up retail chains select graduates fresh out of college or hire students for part-time jobs in order to handle the burgeoning customer base.

As a student, pursuing a course in retail management would equip one with knowledge in retailing trends, market segmentation, pricing and merchandising, relationship marketing and the role of information technology in retailing. Retail management can prove to be the best career path for those who are interested in commodities, sales markets, market segments, diversification of businesses, advertising and campaigning, and marketing research. The profession offers a wide-ranging scope for exploring new companies that get introduced into the market and offer diverse products.

Hiring trends in the industry are divided into two segments — online and offline. In offline retail, the career options comprise store manager, merchandiser&’s sales/counter sales, sales promoter, and interim sales representatives whereas in the online segment, options are information technology management, software professionals, product manager, online and data management. The pay packet for a sales executive or a floor manager averages anywhere between Rs.15,000 and Rs.25,000, depending on the magnitude of business. At e-commerce companies, the annual remuneration for senior executives reaches Rs.1.5-3 crore, while mid-level employees with eight to 14 years experience can earn between Rs.50 lakh to Rs.1.5 crore a year. According to Paramjit Anand, executive director of Acreaty, “As of now, hiring trends in the industry are positive.

However, in offline segments hiring is comparatively less than the online trends. One can easily note the aggressive trends in the online market.” Retail would be the primary driver of hiring as Walmart will be opening around 500 stores, paving the way for India&’s retail segment to flourish. Much to the satisfaction of Indians, brands such as Ray-Ban, Bose, Gucci and Mango that sell fashion products have also entered the market a long time ago to provide a high-end customers with quality products. Besides these companies, apparel leaders such as Westside and Pantaloons, shoemakers such as Regal, Metro and Bata use different strategies to market their products and come up with creative methods to sell their brands.

Another change that is being seen is referral hiring. Referral recruitment encompasses a wide range of activities that use employee referral programmes, online job boards, and social media to research, engage, and ultimately hire people. Referral recruiting in the retail industry can take many forms — asking contacts in the network to pass on information about job openings, employees speaking well about the company socially and using social networks to find and connect with qualified candidates. On being asked about his insights on referral hiring, Anand said, “It is an upcoming trend that is on the rise but the biggest drawback of referral hiring is nobody can be held responsible.

Answers and approach in the interviews can be fabricated and therefore, it becomes difficult to judge the true personality of the candidates being hired. Also, their acquaintance might inform them beforehand about the entire procedure of the interview and related questions. Thus, such candidates cannot be considered apt for any company.”

Most companies such as Reliance, Big Bazaar and Vishal Mega Mart want trained employees due to limited budgets and time. A skill-based training provides a fresher with a chance to groom oneself in accordance with the corporate culture and changed trends. Another concept that is coming up fast is field sourcing. It is a fresh avenue in which interested candidates are sourced from their respective work areas and converted from passive job seekers to active ones. Their data is not available in the job portals, so executives personally interact with them and then maintain data accordingly. Several private company vans are running in the suburbs to source and screen prospective candidates.

Newer programmes are coming up to eradicate the problem of hiring. One of them is the Rural Employment Assistance Programme. Formulated by Anand, it has been designed wisely and proven effective in assisting rural people with skill-based training, making them aware about existing opportunities, connecting them with the main stream and in educating youth about the growth of the industry.

Anand said, “Various macroeconomic factors such as the recent crisis in Europe are negatively affecting the market. Foreign companies are reluctant to invest in the short-term so there&’s little flow of money in the market. In such a situation, these types of projects will help the unprivileged rural youth to come up and become a part of the corporate world.”

Accordingly, retail management is a subject that requires one to be absolutely familiar with brands, marketing strategies, and retail philosophies behind winning customers over.

The educational requirement is, at times, limited to only a pass in the twelfth standard. However, for students who have completed an MBA in retail management, the demand is geared more towards business research, market research, and pricing and strategising.

Though supply is optimal in India, there is always a huge demand for retail professionals. In India, a course in retail management would cost between one and three lakh annually depending on the college or institute one chooses. Though colleges abroad offer full funding for students who score well in the Graduate Management Admission Test or Cat, one must be prepared for footing additional expenses such as lodging. Having said that, it seems like there was never a better time to make a career in the retail industry than now.