Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Reader's Feedback/ Comment

I would like to share a few comments received from a reader. My views are in italics.

Chanced upon your blogsite from one of your articles in tickled by life. It is nice. Though I am not a retailer by profession or passion - I thought of sharing my 2 cents on this topic.

1) Why do we have to ape the west in terms of retailing models & instead why not we have our own models?
It is very difficult to strictly compartmentalise formats and models as western or Indian. Even the over the counter model was prevalent in the west before the self service formats became popular. Broadly speaking retail can be either a convenience store, Supermarket, Hypermarket, Cash & Carry, Price Clubs, Specialty retail, etc. These are generic labels and universal. However, how it is implemented is country dependent. For example supermarkets abroad are typically much larger than the average 3,000 sq. ft. stores found in India. So, in that sense the format are being modified for India but it is in the evolutionary phase and one can expect to see a lot of action on this front.

2) For staples why not we have something like a pizza delivery model - where one could use a phone and have them delivered at home. (This one partly stems from my laziness of pushing the cart around in a shop) And for the other items, where the customer has usually made his mind on the brand, and why not adopt the above model.
This format is the key value offering of Kirana’s. They prefer this model to maximise sales from their relatively smaller store to leverage the kind of products that has been mentioned by the reader; generic grocery and products already decided by the customer. This was also tried out by a company in Mumbai – Sangam Direct. However, once the customer gets used to the “Touch, Feel & See” experience, it is difficult to substitute that.

It is a fact that as much as 30% of a customer’s basket in a self service format was unplanned purchases. If the retailer delinked the must-have purchases from the impulse ones, the overall sales would drop because impulse purchases would definitely decrease.

3) As for the issues of the customer trying new brands / in store promotion- why can't this be shifted to the customer’s house - will be more targeted / focussed and measurable.
The logistics and cost of trying this is not feasible. Earlier one would have seen sales people coming to the homes with samples and selling products of even famous brands. Increased security concerns and proliferation of apartments have made it difficult for such people to gain entry into homes. Also, as mentioned earlier, the retailer’s effort is to induce the shopper to enhance the basket while purchasing the must-have products. For that, the customer needs to come to a store where a range is on display.

4) And lastly why can't the local kirana stores be used as an order fulfilment mechanism - this way we do not drive them out of business and be on the right side (politically).
This is an idea worth exploring only if the retailer is operating a tele ordering/ web based or catalogue format.

5) Yes, I agree quality is one of the issues - but there are ways of tackling them - probably standardizing them. By this mechanism we save on retail space, high rentals and other costs.
As mentioned above, a virtual store can definitely leverage the local kirana as a delivery point. However, tracking availability, delivery of order, payment collection and transmission onwards would be very complicated unless the store became a franchisee.


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