The race is on. India just announced that it will allow foreign majority ownership in its retail industry. This paves the way for global retailers such as Wal-Mart, Tesco, Carrefour, or Metro. And it’ll be a brutal race, too. One might think that a retail market that is estimated at around $ 400 bio this year and is expected to double within the next four to five years will have enough room for all players. However, with the retail industry being largely devoid of any significant national players, this will be all about first-mover advantage. Maybe it’ll even turn out okay for the second in the race, as sometimes it needs a trailblazer to deal with all the nitty gritty groundwork before someone else reaps the benefits from the efforts of others. But nos. 3 and 4 will certainly find entry a lot more difficult. Wal-Mart which already has a joint-venture with Indian conglomerate Bharti will definitely be a serious contender for the top spot in the race – if they manage to learn from some of the mistakes they have made in other markets such as Germany or Korea. As attractive as the Indian retail market is, it is certainly also a market that will have lots of surprises and difficulties for foreign retailers – from differences in consumer behavior to challenges in dealing with Indian employees.
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