Monday, May 31, 2010

Can Retail succeed where politics and diplomacy seems to be stuck?

The North Eastern part of our country has never been the center stage whether it was in terms of politics or commerce. In fact people from the North East have migrated to other parts of India and are slowly becoming a dominant factor in the Retail work force as per a recent media report.

It is in this region that our brotherly neighbor who was till recently our bhai bhai, started playing visa games by issuing a visa on separate pieces of paper under the pretext that the visa is actually an internal travel document and not a visa. In that context, it would do well for anyone who thinks of this as a supportive gesture that, in India, one can travel anywhere without any such “internal travel document”. Anyone can wake up tomorrow and book tickets to go to Leh or Kanya Kumari or Porbandar or Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh. That’s India and one of the many reasons why I am proud to be an Indian.

Anyways, let’s get back to the topic at hand.

I have been reading about how our friendly neighbor has been insisting that a large portion of the north eastern area is actually not a part of India!!!

A few days ago I read a report in Business Line dated 12/5/10 that retail outlets such as Arrow, Titan, Big Bazaar, etc., are making a beeline for this region. When a few Retailers go, others can’t be far behind.

So, will India do a repeat of the East India Company in reverse? Will Indian Retailers establish such a strong presence and more importantly a consumer base, that our friendly neighbor’s claims are no longer tenable?

I think this is possible and my Retail brethren should prove me right by opening as many stores as possible in the “7 Sister states” as possible to create a vast customer base, who are a part of the larger Indian Customer base.

Last, but not the least is the reality of economic growth that Retail will bring to this region and bind it to India forever. And in that context, the Government of India should encourage any Retailer who is ready to take this step without turning a blind eye to the same.

Jai Hind.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mobile Independence

Yesterday while coming out of a forecourt retail outlet in a petrol pump, I saw this very interesting and impressive sight. A mobile Coffee and Tea vending person.

What is so great about it, when cyclists with a stainless steel insulated jar abound in India shouting out Chai or Kapi, depending on the region.

Well for one was the design of this vehicle which is best seen rather than described and is as below. More importantly is the person, Mr. Shanmugam who is a physically challenged person. Instead of moaning and cribbing about his fate this person has taken up an interesting vocation and has been at it for the last 15 years. Recently he also got married and lets all wish him a great life ahead.

He typically sells Coffee and Tea and has a few biscuits/ cookies on the tray (mounted over the front handle) as value add for the customers.

The sight of him reminded me of my idea/ dream/ vision of a mobile and different retail format and I have suggested that he expand his assortment to simple things like recharge cards, etc.

He was quite excited about the idea while also expressing apprehension that there were many elements on the street who prey on people like him. They typically take things free under the pretext of taking credit and then never pay up.

Any ideas on how such a menace can be handled by mobile Retailers?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vagaries of Indian Supply Chain

Sometime ago I had posted a picture of a truck with agri produce being transported on a barge across a river. Yesterday I happened to see this picture of camels transporting water melons. This brings to fore the point I have made in “The INDIAN reTALEs” about Indian Retail and SCM being a unique animal (pun intended w.r.t the camel) and needs to be understood well to be managed.

Imagine trying to apply international best practices like fleet optimization to this herd of camels, you will get the idea!!

Photo Courtesy: The Hindu

Sunday, May 9, 2010

What an Awesome feeling!

For the past few days I have been like an expectant mother, jumping at every feedback about the book being available or not available at stores. I sent mails and SMSes to the Publishers pestering them about why the stocks have not reached the stores. Being in Retail and the becoming an author, is a bit like a Doctor going for some treatment. Such a person would want to know everything, second the other Doctor and so on.

So it was with me. Calling all my friends at the various book chains to enquire why the book is not available yet; to be told that orders have been placed and then hassle the publisher about why the stocks have not been sent.

My loving friends unknowingly fuelled this frenzy by reporting back whenever they went to one of the stores and saying that the book was not yet available.

So, you can imagine my absolute delight when one of my friends called me yesterday morning to say that the Book has been sighted at the Landmark store at Chennai and another friend posted on FB that he has picked it up from a Landmark store in Mumbai.

Today morning I went over to the store for some cheap thrills. Had pictures taken of me next to the book on display and all that. It was an awesome and memorable moment.

Coincidentally, May 9th is the Anniversary of RPG Foodworld as the first store at R A Puram in Chennai was opened on this date back in 1996. We had a reunion get together of the old veterans yesterday followed by a few of us visiting the store today morning to wish the staff and participated in the cake cutting ceremony.

It seemed only right that “The INDIAN reTALEs” has finally hit the shelves during this time of the year.

Please look out for the book when you visit a book store next and spread the word about “The INDIAN reTALEs” amongst all your friends and contacts.