One of our fastest growing International businesses in M&S is India which is run as a joint venture with Reliance Retail. We now have over 50 stores and are one of the most accessible international brands in India courtesy of our local sourcing capability.
eCommerce was a natural next step for us but India is a very complex market in which to operate. Local regulation states that businesses cannot be a wholesaler and a retailer and in addition our local retailing licence only allows M&S to operate a “Cash & Carry” operation … effectively only allowed to operate offline. The rather circuitous regulation is in order to protect the nascent Indian eCommerce start-ups and allow them to flourish before allowing larger Western organisations enter.
Following on from our success in China on TMall I was again able to convince the M&S Board that our online market entry approach in India should be with through the largest clothing Marketplace (<a href=”http://www.myntra.com/marks-&-spencer”>Myntra</a> and Flipkart), but that this time it would be through a wholesale rather than dropship model.
Venu Nair (our MD in India) and I were able to negotiate a deal, get it agreed approved internally, secure stock, pre-retail it, develop our operational processes and recruit a local online lead in under 12 weeks. Unfortunately it took the local authorities a year to eventually satisfy themselves that we were operating within the spirit of the law in supporting local .com start ups and to approve the arrangement. But we’re live now and trading well.