What a day it was! Post pandemic, it was a joy to see the huge hall of Marriott filled with retail advocates from all parts of the Shopping/Retail ecosystem. Terra Biz organized the event and it was co-supported by the Chain Store of Pakistan (CAP) and the courier leader, TCS.
The buzz word and take-away from the event was the hybrid model of retail that will take a new shape with more virtual and e-commerce Pakistan happenings. The hot discussion was that delivery time must be reduced and customer services/ experiences should be enhanced.
After 2 long years of COVID, it was really a great feeling seeing a platform – a stage which was boarded by diverse retail sector gurus. When I write this piece on the 4th day of the event, as I reminiscence about gathering with and connecting to faces, exchanging names and business cards—it makes me feel alive and back in the centre of the action. This kind of networking will be remembered for a long time. I relished meeting my Brand friends, the old NED, IBA, DAWN, and the mega industry players. I could have invited them all even if my son’s marriage function was imminent.
The day session was a combination of multi directional talks. At times the pandits enforced Malls as tomorrow’s retail and convinced the audience on the need of space for a genuine retail experience. On a separate note the concerning issues of Kiryana culture and the cash movement, documenting shop-sales and tax were discussed at length. Millennials and Genz were also welcomed who braved the audience with HOPE for a bright future. Technology is our strength for tomorrow and startups are shaping up. We are 4th in the freelancing industry worldwide today – let’s engage the Academia and teach the newbies the evolving methods of trade.
The Guest of Honor M. Azfar Ahsan (Board of Investment), Hamza Hashmi (TerraBiz), Nadeem Hussain (Pakistan Fintech Network), Amir Paracha (Unilever); Saira Awan Malik (TCS); Faisal Riaz (Dolmen Mall); Rana Tariq, Shamoon Sultan (Khaadi), Ehsan Saya (Daraz), Ibad Ahmed (PandaMart),– all were in their element. I wished that each had been given a chance to speak for the whole day. (Sincere apologize if I am forgetting anyone)
PASHA is trying its best and thankfully the Government has realized the Tech sector’s importance in all facets of Governance. Badar Khushnood (PASHA Chairman) was seen flying high on the winds of achievement and he certainly had reasons to be proud of. The crowd– usually the brands, the top service providers, the tech, the Fintech and the Startups were convinced that they are not alone now. Gone is the old culture when Fintechs had to beg to get things addressed when it came to licenses and government approvals. It was a time when there were no policies and Fintech was a language unknown in the public sectors. Now the government is taking tech on board. Both the President and Prime Minister want technology to rule the race.
I would like to share some high moments including when Seema Aziz, the founder of Bareeze started her retail – it drove the crowd to an emotional pitch as she held a woman’s motherly role. The thrill of Women’s Day dominated with Rabia Garib on stage and Seema Irfan online. Rabia did justice to the well-managed event the whole day long.
The Founder of Al Fatah stores, Irfan Shaikh guided the audience with principles to work like a workaholic always. He was greeted with warm applause when he said that Al Fateh is coming to Karachi. Karachi welcomed Al Fateh warmly. All the sessions were so involving that time and topics were asking favours of extensions from each other.
The summit then showcased today’s new tech champs including Pakistan Fintech Association Chairman from TPS Shahzad Shahid, Pay Fast’s Adnan Ali, Tapsys’ Karim Jindani and the Saad Niazi from Keenu. The story of Naheed.pk for OmniChannel and e-commerce Pakistan was exciting. When Badar Khushnood and other Fintech Champs were speaking – the audience were taking photos of presentations and they flawlessly convinced the audience that Pakistan is the market to invest and has a huge potential to expand. Players like Ehad, Tajir, Jugnu, Bazaar, Retailo, Dastgyr, SMEAppSols.com entered this space from different cities & investors. The founders have come with diverse experiences and launch strategies. Pakistan is alive and kicking – we have huge potential. I remember CitiBank was the only a Merchant Bank – today it’s a farm of banks ready to get merchants on board and Aggregators and Licensed Payment Solution Providers have a long list to mention.
Also the retail’s representation was shining and he took the crowd by surprise while introducing lean development tool that’s replacing the huge elephant technologies on board whose features are unused mostly and concept unshared – as fear factor rises on information being the success factor.
Prakash Mennon – just shared everything. He took a Myer store from negative to $290million profit in 3 years. He said the key is the supply chain. Wille Eurola gave an eye opening lesson of packaging and presentation. He guided that to sell at a better price in the international market, you need to present well. How right he was!
Then came the Boss of the show. Steve Dennis (Amazon Bestselling Author) was screened to deliver excellence and he took brought the crowd to their toes.
I used to write for Spider in my early career days at dawn.com. If I had to select my topics from that day; I would have chosen the following as my headlines.
- The Future is Already Here
- Data is the New Oil
- Digitization is the Key to Tomorrow
- Cash is the Competition
- Will Malls be Replaced by Metaverse and Digital Showrooms?
- Seven Types of Retail Processes
- The Supply Chain is like a Human Body
- Just in Time
- Not One Size Fits All
- Supply Chain is S…. – PK just took it by Storm. (I can write a book on this)
- Reinvent or Disappear
- The Silo Mentality – Buy, Move, Sell
- Genz and Retail
- Malls are for Family Entertainment – Promote Them
- 90% CoD – the Digital Gap –A Huge Opportunity
- Economy and eMarket Size: 25% Bank Accounts; 1% Credit Cards
- Team-up with Academia – Penetrate Retail in Curriculum
- Covid is the Catalyst –A New Lifestyle
- Will we be a Cashless Society?
- Next Milestone : Autonomous Warehousing
- RAAST – A Ray of Hope
- The Undocumented Ocean and the Tax Net Inception
- Learning from Neighbours
I have so much to say as I really loved the event. I can keep on writing! It was a pleasure to be a part of such events– it refreshes learning, improves networking and gives a feeling that Pakistan is moving fast and steady. Let’s join hands and make it happen.
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January 12, 2024
September 5, 2023