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Retail Rendezvous on Technology with Rafique Malik

Technology adoption in retail is at its most exciting phase in India. Retailers – big and small are understanding the power of IoT, Cloud Computing and Big Data Analytics. In an exclusive interview to, Rafique Malik, Chairman, Metro Shoes talks about technology adoption used at Metro Shoes.

Mr. Rafique Malik

ZSK: Retail and technology – your views?
RM: Technology is an enabler and in today’s world, a digital mindset is mandatory. Technology gives us the access and ability to shift through and access immense amounts of data. It does, however, require business acumen to convert that into relevant and useful information that can be used for business decisions.

ZSK: Technology platforms adopted at Metro Shoes?
RM: In terms of significant investments, we have invested in an integrated software for our point of sale and customer loyalty. We have invested in SAP for finance and accounts. We are currently using ‘ Theory of constraints ‘ for auto replenishment of inventory and merchandise planning.

ZSK: What are your views on Internet of Things in India? How equipped are retailers to make use of IoT to its full potential?
RM: The Internet of things is a revolutionary concept which will take a little time to develop into its full potential. The basic premise is that our lives and devices will be seamlessly connected to ensure the most efficient optimization of our lives. The primary necessity for this will be data infrastructure in this country. Until 4G and access to internet becomes a given in terms of infrastructure, we cannot fully harness the power of IoT. The first steps on this journey are however evident through retailers personalizing their offerings to customers and the advent of wearable technology.

ZSK: Please comment on the implementation of Big Data analysis at Metro and Mochi?RM: We are using its ability primarily in merchandise planning through our use of TOC (Theory of constraints). We are using it to analyze store throughput and sales. Big data analytics proves especially valuable in analyzing customer’s purchase history and their buying preferences. Through this we are able to send targeted and relevant communications to our customers based on their wants.

ZSK: Cloud computing and retail – your views?
RM: Just the way Apple i-pods cooked a storm and took over walkmans within a few months of their launch, cloud computing will be the future of technology basis advanced analytics. From influencing purchase decisions to providing digitally connected customers what they value and expect, cloud computing is soon to emerge as the one-stop-solution to meet consumer expectations at all phases of their shopping experience. It is already implemented internationally and India becoming a more digital economy will undergo the cloud wave in a matter of few years!

ZSK: Top 3 departments within the organization where technology adaptation has been of immense help
RM: Merchandising / stock replenishments, e-commerce and customer loyalty.

  • Zainab S Kazi –



Future Automated

This is a post I recently came across on a social networking website. If this is true, I wonder what is in store for retail?

Have a read, interesting facts.

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt. What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again? Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years. It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs. Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Welcome to the Exponential Age.


Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence
Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain. Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 time more accurate than human nurses.

Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. By 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous Cars
In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies may become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance Companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.

Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.

Electric cars won’t become mainstream until 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.

With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Health: There will be companies that will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample and you breathe into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.

3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large number of spare parts they used to have in the past.

At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed. 

Business Opportunities
If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed in to failure in the 21st century.

70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.

There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all days on their fields. Agroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow-produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several startups that will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

There is an app called “moodies” which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it’s being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.

Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the default reserve currency.

Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.

The cheapest smart phones are already at $10 in Africa and Asia. Until 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education.

Robert M. Goldman MD, PhD, DO, FAASP
World Chairman-International Medical Commission
Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board-A4M
Founder & Chairman-International Sports Hall of Fame
Co-Founder & Chairman-World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine
President Emeritus-National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM)
Chairman-U.S. Sports Academy’s Board of Visitors

Lacoste enters the .COM World

The crocodile is just a click away now! The French lifestyle brand known for its polo t-shirts, Lacoste has entered the online world with the launch of its Digital Store. It is interesting to note that  India is the fifth market in Asia where the brand has made this move. The power of eCommerce in the country  is for sure catching momentum. Lacoste has 49 stores in India, namely in tier 1 cities and towns and with this move, they plan to cover the length and breadth of the country.


Catering specifically to the Indian market, Lacoste’s digital flagship, will offer the entire collection that is available at the offline stores and also extend its offering to a wide range of apparel, accessories, footwear, leather goods and perfumes.

The site follows the strict clean cut design codes and aesthetic seen in the Lacoste collections creating a luxurious and minimalist shopping environment allowing the quality of product and design to take centre stage. Apart from the products, the site will also feature ‘Le Magazine’, Lacoste’s digital magazine featuring the latest news from the brand including interviews and articles on Lacoste’s latest collaborations and designers. As well as behind the scenes videos from launches to campaign shoots.


For Lacoste, menswear is the bestseller for the brand.Over the last few years, the iconic Lacoste polo shirt, called as L1212 in our technical parlance, has developed a cult following, and even today it accounts for 30% of the total apparel sales in India. The Men’s Polo range as a whole is the single largest contributor to sales in India (more than 50%).

Jean-Louis Delamarre, Asia Pacific CEO for the brand shared that besides India, the brand has its digital flagship stores in  Korea, Japan, China & Australia. According to him, Philippines and Thailand will be the new additions on the e-commerce roadmap in the coming 12 months. He shares, “Digital flagships will remain the backbone of on-line strategy. We aim to offer our customers consistent brand content and exclusive experience, both in online and offline stores.”

Rajesh Jain MD and CEO, Lacoste India was quoted sharing, “This is a significant step towards adopting an omni-channel approach for the brand that includes both online and offline medium. Currently we have 49 stores in the country including one in Maldives and the digital flagship will be marked as the 50th point of sale, which will be an important milestone for us in the country.”



Zainab S. Kazi


Mumo-Mumbai Moms – Where Moms Meet

If you are active on Facebook you would have noticed some or the other post from the group Mumo-Mumbai Moms. With any astonishing member count of more than 57,000; the group has moms of Mumbai share everything – from pin to piano. Complete strangers to each other, the members here unite to wish an achievement by fellow Mumoian – this could be to motivate someone to lose weight to congratulate someone on their little one’s birthday.


Founded by Neha Kare Kanabar – Mumo-Mumbai Moms is a virtual world filled with excitement. The group gives all its members opportunities to turn entrepreneurs. The first Wednesday of each month is akin to visiting a bazaar and the initiative is rightly named as – Budh Bazaar.  Kanabar takes efforts to unite the members in the real world by organizing contests, kitty parties, member meets etc.

In an interview  with Kanabar, I find out the  inception and journey covered so far.

ZSK: Lets begin with talking about the inception of Mumo-Mumbai – the idea behind the launch?
NKK: MUMO an acronym of Mumbai Moms as a Facebook community was started with a very selfish reason…it was my personal need for a break, to meet likeminded people and to socialize out of my work circle, if not more at-least once a month! It was on May 14, 2014 that I opened this idea to some known and unknown people when I discovered that it was not just me but many more… especially moms who were looking out for something similar! A happy mother can only raise happy kids. This was the thought behind the conceptualization of MUMO- Mumbai Moms Riddhima Chopra was the first mother who joined MUMO and believed in this dream on May 18, 2014 .

group pic12.jpg
At one of the member meets

ZSK: A brief on Mumo-Mumbai in terms of its launch, spreading the word, initial plan of action and if there has been a change incorporated to keep at par with the ever changing dynamics of parenting?
NKK: I have always believed in the magic of believing and this belief attracted me to some incredible women joining MUMO in the very initial phase. These women were incredible versatile talents waiting to explore their capabilities. We joined our hands and made a strong team together and result are now in front of you.

MUMO is now a part of “UNIMO-Universe of moms” an umbrella brand under which we have launched many city specific mommy groups like INMO Indore Moms, PUMO Pune Moms, BENMO Bengaluru Moms and many more launching soon. I would not quote this as a change but yes a very vital imperative for growth and to meet the needs of moms of other cities who lack empowerment groups like MUMO. Every day we receive numerous requests and mails to start this kind of group in their cities. So yes we are innovating and initiating lots of things with changing times.

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Another get-together

ZSK: USP that Mumo-Mumbai holds and milestone moments that you may want to share?
NKK: There are many parenting communities doing excellent stuff but none which is focused only on the needs of mothers and that too with a city specific group. “MUMO “is a much awaited concept by MOMS of 21st century and that makes it unique. Our Meet- Ups ensures that people put a face to the names they are chatting with. Mumo makes them come out of their virtual world and helps them connect.

Here it is not just about quantity but also quality of people. Having said that we are proud to state that in spite of being a city specific group we are India’ s largest mommy community with 57000 plus moms in just 2 years. In these 2 years we have conducted around 28 Grand Meetups and numerous sub-meeets. These events were an interesting mix of Theme parties, family event, mommy & baby alfresco, workshops, panel discussions, marathons and also social drives. Why go anywhere, if MUMO is here!!

ZSK: Let’s talk about Budh Bazaar…
NKK: Budh Bazaar was started for supporting and empowering Mompreneurs and small businesses. We wanted to launch a free Platform within MUMO which was dedicated to helping each other succeed. It is also a very important Search Support for buyers to get the products/service of their choice and that too at a competitive price. MUMO allows free business posting only on first Wednesdays of every month on our Fb community and also on our 98 WhatsApp group network.

“BUDH BAZAAR” for me is a local, independent vertical of Mumo where collaboration beats competition.

ZSK: You have achieved a remarkable feat of achieving more than 57,000 members! This is phenomenal. Some anecdotes that you may want to share from the journey?NKK: Numbers have now crossed 57000 and as you read this interview we would have surely hit many more. And in this process every day is a learning experience – some anecdotes that are closer to my heart are- One where a mom needed a rare blood group for her ailing husband and within 3 hours there were 35 blood donors from MUMO by her side.

Our visit to a senior citizen home & spending time with them was also something that I will never ever forget. Unfortunately one very young mom in our group lost her husband and her parents were far away, unknown Mumoians gathered by her side in no time.

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Visit to an old-age home

I still remember a very old south Indian Mumoian who has sent me her mouthwatering munchies at my place insisting me to accept those as a token of gratitude because her household expenses use to run because of this platform.

ZSK: Since you are so closely knit with majority of the members, how easy / difficult is it to ‘maintain’ a cordial relationship between mothers? The do’s and don’ts of bonding that you may want to highlight based on the experience of running this group so well…
NKK: You nailed it! It is not really easy to maintain cordial relationships with strangers you meet only virtually, chats can be misleading and at times social media can disrupt things completely.

Few tips here would ensure that you leverage only the strength of social media:

  • Be impeccable with your words
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Be sceptical but learn to listen
  • Be aware of each photo/Quote/Forward you post
  • Be very Choosy about adding strangers even if you have many mutual friends .Either meet them and then decide or at least verify their credentials.

ZSK: And let’s conclude with the vision you have for the group…
NKK: Vision of making the world a smaller and connected place. To build a support system where mothers can get unlimited Benefits/Friends /Guidance/Breaks without spending even a single penny but just by helping each other with what they are good at! Every expecting mom in Mumbai should be a MUMOian.

  • Zainab S Kazi –