Showing posts with label Indian Retail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Indian Retail. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Ten years and counting!

March 2009, when I decided to start my blog “An Indian and A Retailer”, has definitely become a defining moment in my life journey. Ten years and 1,00,000 plus views later, the blog still continues to attract regular readers who often use its contents as a reference with regard to Indian Retail.

The blog started off as a simple repository of my experiences and learning in the Indian Retail space. It went on to become the foundation stone of my journey as an author. This blog led to my first book “The INDIAN reTALEs”. That was followed by “Out Of Syllabus”, “BREAK FREE” and the latest one, “The Ultimate Guide to SMART SHOPPING”. This has been in addition to the various articles I have written for leading business publications. 

All these must total up to approximately four lakh plus words over the years.

A BIG THANK YOU to all my readers who found my writing to be of interest and use. Many of them have given private feedback as also written public reviews. 

Two anecdotes are worth sharing as part of this milestone.

The first is about the actual start of my journey in writing. In 2000 after I had returned from the UK after completing the Chevening Scholarship, Business Line invited me to write an article. This was to be about my stint at ASDA and was titled “Making an elephant dance”. The article detailed the interesting practices that were followed at ASDA to keep their large number of employees engaged and nimble footed to remain customer centric. The blog, in a manner of speaking continued from where this article had led me in the journey of being an author.

The second one is about the name for my blog. It was a challenge as I was conflicted by various ideas and options. The final decision was influenced by using the two identities that I am most proud of and has defined me as a person. 

An Indian; growing up in the pre-liberalization period and witnessing the contribution that an individual can make as an ordinary citizen of India has always been motivating to me. Post liberalization, this has only been reinforced. In spite of several options to pursue a career abroad, the appeal of being an Indian contributing to the country’s growth in whatever small way possible has held greater appeal for me.

A Retailer; is how I think and operate. The experiences from this sector have defined my outlook and continue to do so. I am immensely grateful that God led me into this sector and am thankful to all my mentors who have taught me about the various facets about retail.

One of the topics I have written extensively about is that the retail sector in India should be granted industry status. This would not only spur this sector to faster and better growth but also contribute significantly to the Indian economy. My fond wish and hope as “An Indian and A Retailer”, is that this happens soon. I hope that the industry status is granted and a comprehensive policy for this sector, including both offline and online retailers gets rolled out at the earliest. 

That would be fantastic and something to look forward to.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Is E-tail retailing or not?

E-Tail is a subset of retail and is largely about purchase of products (goods) online. However, the term e-commerce continues to be used for this segment. Apart from being misleading, this clearly is giving rise to policy approaches which disregards the aspects of a retail business which defines such e-tail operators.

If there is a defined FDI policy with regard to retail in India, there is no need for a separate policy and guidelines for e-tailing.

Yet, policy guidelines pertaining to e-tailing, wrongly described as e-commerce, keeps getting notified. The recent guidelines which came into effect from 1st February 2019, is a case in point.

Some points with regard to the dissonance created by guidelines pertaining to online shopping but defined as e-commerce have been explained in this article published in “The Hindu Business Line”. Click on this link to read the article titled, “The sting in the e-tail”.

Business Line, Retail, Indian Retail, Retail FDI, DIPP, V Rajesh Retail

The larger issue which is being conveniently ignored is industry status for the Retail Sector in India. Notifying this would not only help to streamline policy with regard to the various constituents of this sector but also enable the sector to growth.

Will this happen?

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Policy Clarity required to enable Indian Retail

Trade in India is centuries old and historically the stories of our spices, etc., reaching many foreign shores, abound. From a historical perspective, it was these riches that attracted traders from overseas and the subsequent developments led to East India Company establishing a trading base first and then making India into its colony. This historical turn of events might have left a deep and long lasting imprint on the collective psyche which might be manifesting itself in the form of the vigorous and violent opposition to FDI in multi brand retail, today. 

Over the years we have largely seen shop keepers with a few exceptions where businesses managed a chain of stores. It is only from the mid 90s that Retail as a concept emerged in India. Understanding the differentiation between "Shop Keeping" and Retailing is very important. Their approach to business and priorities are completely different. Similarly clubbing eTail (Online Shopping) with eCommerce with regard to policy is incorrect.

As a start, Indian Retail needs Industry status and a cohesive approach with regard to policy-making and governance. My thoughts towards enabling the sector has been published as a Retail Report titled as "Six steps to redefining retail rules" in The Hindu Business Line. (Click on the link to read the article)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Price and Value Perception; of products as also businesses!

I recently read an interesting article in Times of India (Click here to read the article) about physical retail offering competitive and lower prices. This is from a report published recently by Goldman Sachs and compares the prices of few categories and some examples are in the visual below. 



My long held view is that online is not going to destroy physical shopping. At the very least, this is not going to happen in the short or even medium term. I have seen concerns similar to this from the mid 90s and more recently in the context of FDI in Retail. When supermarkets and then hypermarkets came into India, everyone was predicting the demise of the local grocer (Kirana store), This has definitely not happened. In fact after almost two decades the modern trade segment is just about 10% of the total Retail sector in India. This is in spite of the fact that the retail sector has grown from approximately USD 200 Billion in 2000 to close to 600 Billion in 2015. This clearly indicates that the conventional outlets are growing and growing significantly. The share of modern trade (Organised Sector) is expected to increase to 13% by 2019 – 2020.

These percentages might vary depending on the report you read. However, the macro picture remains the same. Modern trade is still a small contributor to the overall retail sector in India. This share might drop much lower if food & grocery alone is considered.

Online retail is roughly 10% of modern trade or 1% of the total retail sector in India as of now. This article states that Goldman Sachs estimates that online retail would grow to be 22% of the modern trade in the next five years.

Seems to be extremely optimistic!

The widely varying, but always optimistic projections regarding online retail is best captured a detailed article in Livemint (Click here to read the article).

The variance between the lowest and highest estimate of online retail in 2020 USD 70 Billion. To put that in context, The modern trade contribution to the overall retail sector in India would be in the range of $ 60 Billion TODAY! 

In summary I can only hope that the investors pouring money into the online space do two things –
  • Physical retail is an important segment and investing there might be worthwhile.
  • Put someone to work to cross tally and tabulate all the various percentages and figures being quoted in the various reports about retail in India. The variances across all these forecasts and projections might be a wake-up call.


Image courtesy - Times of India

Thursday, November 17, 2016

No need for change!

Managing adequate change has always been a challenge in retail. Especially when the majority of shoppers tend to pay for purchases, even of the smallest value, with the largest of denominations! I had written about this a few years ago. CLICK HERE to read that article

I can totally empathize with the shop keepers in the context of demonetization and what they must be going through. Suffice to say that they are having a tough time but managing as they always do.

Getting back to the topic of change, it has always been a challenge and my guess is that it will continue to be so even after the supply of the various new notes has become normal. 

The key issue is the habit of carrying larger denomination notes and expecting change during any purchase. In smaller stores they often resort to handing out chocolates in lieu of coins to manage such situations. However, larger stores cannot afford to do this at least as the norm. Needless to say the problem of change does not arise for any credit/ debit card payment. Although technology has enabled digital payments as shown in the video, mass acceptance and use of such payment modes will take some more time to become a common practice.


Increasing use of non-cash payment modes has many benefits and one of the biggest of them all is that retailers need not worry about organizing change. If the current cash crunch ends up influencing the way people pay for their shopping, it would be a good thing.

Video courtesy - Social media forward

Monday, April 4, 2016

Replacement Guaranteed!

The recent spate of messaging by the online Retail majors hinges on reassuring the shopper that it is very easy to return or replace what has been purchased.

This is a core shopper expectation which is catered to very efficiently by the stand-alone, neighborhood store.  Interestingly modern retail formats including eTailers  are still struggling to establish trust on this front.  This is a very critical shopper behavior aspect and some of my earlier posts on this topic can be viewed by Clicking HERE

v rajesh, retail expert, shopper behaviour, marketing, customer service

I had a flashback to the late 90s, when the RPG Foodworld chain of supermarkets was trying to redefine the grocery and food shopping behavior. This involved addressing several key mind blocks and shopper resistance aspects; hassle free replacement being one of the most important amongst them.

“Replacement Guarantee” was an initiative to address this important issue and it involved a holistic approach which included messaging, internal processes as well as staff education and training. This had a very positive impact which was reflected in the sales increase as also the basket penetration of several core categories of products.

Coming to the present times the two recent advertisements by Amazon and Flipkart are focusing on the ease of return and replacement. These two advertisements drive home the message effectively.



It is interesting to note some subtle and sublimal messaging in both these advertisements and they do raise two important questions in my mind as a retailer.
  1. Both the advertisements show an elderly person expressing concern about return and replacement. They are both reassured by someone who is much younger. Is easy return/ replacement a concern only for Gen X / older shoppers? The counter point could be that this a concern for the Gen Y and Gen Z but the advertisement is trying to drive home a message that their Gen Y and Gen Z customers do not face this problem. In that context are reference groups such a large influence for these shoppers?
  2. Retail brand building is built on trust which can happen only during the transactional experience.  Even today, the return/ replacement in most modern formats and eTailers are definitely not up to the mark. In that context will messaging alone work? What process changes have these eTailers instituted to ensure that the real experience lives up to the expectations created through the advertisements?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Who is shopping for what and when?

It is becoming common place to see mega sales and promotions being advertised and promoted by online retailers in India. However, what puzzles me is their timing. Most of these promotions are scheduled to start on Mondays and are during weekdays barring a few exceptions. This is in direct contrast to the physical stores. The brick and mortar stores usually gear up for promotions during the weekends namely Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They stock up, plan for adequate manpower and hope for the bumper weekend sale.


The weekend phenomenon is clearly a function of time where shoppers are free. Also, with shopping becoming more of a recreational cum functional outing, this tends to happen on weekends. Obviously online shopping is not time intensive and that is one of its main advantages. However, the timing of holding such promotional sales during weekdays, especially with a start on Monday’s is something worth exploring with regard to who buys from such sales, what is purchased and why on weekdays.

Conventional wisdom says that Monday would be amongst the busiest days for most working people and sparing time to even browse and click might not be possible for most. As clear data with regard to the age of online shoppers is not available easily, the next best reference is the age of internet users. A February 2015 report by PWC estimates that 37% of the users are in the age group of 15 – 24 and 38% are in the 25 – 34 years age group. It is quite possible that the majority of them are students or are in the early stage of their careers. They are also the Gen X whose orientation towards work as also work-life balance is very different from the older generations. Hence a weekday pressure, especially Monday pressure is not such a big factor.

This is validated by the categories that dominate online shopping in India. Another report by by RedSeer consulting dated March 2015 shows that 45% to 50% of online purchases are electronics and this could very well be dominated by mobile phones. Next is fashion with a share of 18% to 20%. Clearly these categories have a correlation with the dominant age groups of internet users and validate the weekday promotions of online retailers versus the weekend focus of physical stores.

In spite of increasing smart phone usage and shopping apps, 2/3rd of the orders are coming from a computer and only 1/3rd is originating from a smart phone. Many organizations especially those employing large numbers of the Gen X do not allow free access to online shopping and social network sites. If the majority of the potential online shoppers do not have access to these sites at work on their computer, they should be purchasing through their mobile. In which case the share of orders from mobiles does not reflect this and should be higher.

So the question remains, who is buying when and what online in India.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Formats and Shopper Expectations

It was perfectly acceptable to see names like Bharat Departmental stores or even Bharat Mall even for stores which were only 400 – 500 square foot on average and be crammed with products with the shop owner serving the customers from across the counter. However, this was ironical because Bharat Departmental stores would neither be large, nor presented in well defined departments and most definitely not lifestyle led as the name would lead one to believe. 



It is no wonder that this small temporary stall decided that a pun on the world’s largest retailer was a perfectly acceptable thing to do.

This was mainly because of the shopper frequenting a store mainly because of their personal relationship and trust. As such the name of the store actually made no difference to the shopper and it ended up being a reflection of the shop owner’s aspiration.

Fast forward to 2015 and the shoppers are changing. This change in shopper’s orientation was driven home when I saw an advertisement for a regional retailer who has largely been known for apparel till now, announcing the launch of a 'Hyper" store. 

CLICK here to read my ET Retail article about these changes in shopper expectation and behavior which has led to format definitions to become important and accurate.

Friday, May 8, 2015

An Indian & A Retailer’s 20 year old journey

May 9th holds a special place in my heart as it is the day when the first store branded as Foodworld was opened by RPG Retail (now known as Spencer’s Retail). Retail as a sector has been a great teacher and also given a lot to me personally. So this is a day to remember all that and give thanks as also reminisce about the remarkable journey over the past 20 years. The one thing that stands out when I recall the milestones of this journey is that change has always been a constant as also resistance to change has also been a constant.

Success has come to those who embrace change and in some ways anticipate change.

One example of such resistance to change is the back story to my decision to join Foodworld. At the time, all my friends and relatives were shocked and aghast by this and felt that this was a completely stupid and suicidal career move. After all who is going to switch over from the trusted, convenient neighborhood store and shop at supermarkets? For me, this was the challenge; making shoppers switch their buying behavior. Challenges were aplenty and managing this change and many more led to a fundamental shift and today modern trade/ chain stores are approximately 10% of the overall Retail in India. It is still early years and the journey is not over and “Abhi toh picture baki hain” as the dialogue goes in a popular Hindi film.

The journey till date and a snapshot of the changes and challenges that have been milestones have been detailed in an article for ET Retail titled “Disruptions & Consolidations of Indian Retail Sector”. Click Here to read this account of the twenty year Indian Retail journey.

One key thing that stands out as a reason and enabled those in the Indian Retail journey in managing these sweeping changes has been the ability to “Learn, Unlearn and Relearn”. This is a quote by Alvin Toffler and is very pertinent to the context of rapid change. Although this does seem simple enough, it is quite difficult to internalize.


This video about a cycle which had the handle bar turning the opposite way helps drive home the point as also the challenges in “Learning, Unlearning and relearning”. 

The key barrier to this remains our thinking process, conditioning and the bias that we build up over time. Going forward Indian Retail is bound to become more challenging with varied stake holders, demanding customers and changing operating paradigms. Only those who can “Learn, Unlearn and Relearn” will survive and succeed.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2015 will be a year of D&C for Indian Retail

Yet another year has gone by and from many perspectives, it has been a memorable milestone in Indian history. Positive sentiment which was kicked off early in the year became firmed and translated into shoppers feeling confident enough to open up their wallets and spend freely.

From a purely Retail segment perspective, the big bang caused by online Retail cannot be forgotten easily. Whether it is the high decibel presence in media, the unbelievable sums of funding that seem to be flowing in from a bottomless well or for the matter the shopper angst when they could not buy or ended up getting bricks instead of the mobiles they had purchased.

There is a dialogue in the Tamil film Padayappa where Rajnikanth says to his nemesis – “You won once and it was good for me; I woke up“

I guess this is a very apt summary of the year gone by for Indian Retail which has been concerned about losing out to chain stores who are worried about losing out to Ecommerce and the shoppers who feel that they are at the losing end.

Retail, Shopper, Shopper Marketing, Ecommerce, Online shopping, Retail Expert,
However, in the process physical stores have woken up to the potential as also the competition from online.  Ecommerce has woken up to the reality that Retail is not about high decibel advertising only and required on the ground execution. And finally, shoppers have woken up to the potential as also the downsides of deals which sound too good to be true.

The government now needs to wake up and grant industry status to Retail. 

So, what else can we expect in 2015?

The year ahead will be one of D&C; Disruption and Consolidation for Indian Retail. Click here to read more about this.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Industry status for Retail in India might now be considered

In June  2014 I had penned “A Retailer’s wish list to Shri Modi” which was published in ET Retail. Within a span of 100 days I got an update about one of the points highlighted in the wish list.

The Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Consumer affairs, Food and Public Distribution has written to The Secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion requesting that the proposal of according industry status to retail be discussed and further necessary action to be taken if found to be suitable.

Retail, Indian Retail, Retail FDI, Retail Industry, Retail Sector


This letter was copied to The Hon'ble Prime Minister of India and myself.

The key highlights of why industry status would be of great help is as follows –
  • Would help classify Retail and define different guidelines for the various segments.
  • Streamline the licensing and other regulatory systems into a single window.
  • Help to enable national platforms like a national registry of products which will make the introduction of computerized billing easier.
  • Enable skill and vocational training and employment generation
  • Ease of financing as guidelines which are specific to Retail can be notified.
Plus, there are many more game changing implications. I do hope that this Retailer's wish comes true.

I am very impressed and needless to say thrilled to have received this letter copy. Kudos to the Prime Minister and his team for reading and responding to this Retailer.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Retailer's wish list to Mr. Modi

In the din created by the argument and debate about FDI in multi brand Retail, several key issues about Indian Retail is falling between the tables. The fact is that the largest constituent of this sector; the 12 to 14 million stand alone stores cannot be ignored in any policy decision.

However, these hardy, smart and extremely resourceful businessmen do not need pseudo protectionism but a whole series of policy initiatives which will empower them to grow and succeed.

Having been a part of the Indian retail story I have put down a list of things which would benefit the various constituents of the Indian Retail sector. The first in this wish list is granting of industry status for Retail and a whole set of policy directives built around the industry status.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Ingenuity of the small shop keeper

Sometime ago I had written about the app developed by Neiman Marcus and how they had rolled it out under the umbrella of NM Service which offers a personalized shopping experience. They then discarded that by giving their store staff iPhones to be able to connect with the customers. It must have cost them quite a bit to go through that learning curve.

My admiration for the small, stand alone shop keepers in India went up another notch when I read this article about how one of them has started to leverage WhatsApp for better customer connect and service. Although several Retailers and shop owners have populated facebook and some are even active on Twitter, the use of WhatsApp to be able to connect in real time and provide immediate service is a great idea.

I am sure that many more such store owners will soon adopt this idea. This flexibility and nimble footed response to customers is just one of the things that chain Retailers need to learn. The other interesting lesson is the ability to adopt low cost or even zero cost resources to improve their businesses.

Such a cost sensitive thinking towards effective solutions will go a long way in ensuring success, especially in retail which is a low margin business.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What’s in store; 2014

My article for Economic Times Retail details some predictions for the Indian Retail sector in 2014. The first point naturally talks about the FDI in Retail and how it is not going to happen soon simply because of the final rider of a state’s clearance exists.

Today’s announcement by the new government in Delhi that they will not allow FDI in multi-brand Retail is exactly what I was talking about. It would be interesting to see how this pans out because the central government is miffed by this and the same party is supporting the minority government in Delhi. 

Indian retail expert, India, Retail, Retailing, Indian Retail, Retail Training, Retail Consultants, Retail Consulting, Retail Strategy, retail resource, retail industry trends


Regardless of the FDI story, 2014 promises to an exciting year for Indian Retail.  Click here to read the full article and share your views.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Indian Retail; Learning from a tender coconut vendor

I recently saw this tender coconut vendor in a locality called Mylapore in Chennai. His name is Mr. Rajkumar and when I asked him about the neatly printed price ticket, he said that he decided to put up the same to attract customers as also avoid bargaining with them.
 
Retail, Signage, Operations, Store, Indian Retail, Indian Retail News
 

Apart from his idea of putting up the price ticket, I was impressed by the attention to detail and execution focus. The signage is printed neatly and more importantly it is placed in an eye catching manner facing the traffic flow.

Execution focus is more about common sense and attention to detail. Something this picture clearly demonstrates. Contrast this with what is often seen in the various Retail stores; missing communication, torn posters, slanted price tickets, etc.

That leads me to the topic of ownership. This vendor is clearly the owner/ operators and you can see him standing proud next to his “store”. Obviously his standards of execution are high.

If Retailers work towards creating a similar sense of ownership amongst the staff, they would also take pride in everything inside a store and a customer’s experience would automatically be of a higher level.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Indian Retail; Analytics is dead without Operational Excellence

The hot topic nowadays is “Big Data” and therefore analytics. This promises to have great potential for Retailers in terms of understanding and interpreting shopper behavior and expectations. Thereby enabling the Retailer to develop a more focused and sharply defined competitive advantage.
But, then are we missing something very important here?
 
I think the more important thing especially in the Indian retail scenario is operational excellence and execution focus. However, this does not sound as “cool” and futuristic as “Big Data”. Perhaps this is why I am asked more about “Big Data” and analytics in many of the forums, programs and classes and there is a marked decrease in interest levels when I choose to talk about operational excellence.
 
Analytics and “Big Data” is essentially about interpreting data. What if the underlying data itself was wrong?
 
Retail, Indian Retail, Store, CRM, Indian Retail Industry
 
This poster was displayed outside a leading chain of stores recently. Apart from the obvious mistake of printing out the email verbatim and just sticking it on a stand, the entire approach is incorrect and counterproductive.
 
The bonus points have a cost attached to it in terms of the redemption value, the cost of administering the system, etc. The Retailer has started incurring this cost hoping that capturing the birthday and anniversary details of shopper will create a sales opportunity. The bonus points are a reward or can even be called a bribe to make the shopper share this information with the Retailer.
 
You can see the level of operational excellence or rather the lack of it in the picture. In this context, how productive and useful is the cost and effort being expended on such initiatives? More importantly, what would be the accuracy of any analytics done on this? Suppose a report was being generated about the shopper participation in this scheme, it will obviously have very poor numbers and the data would be skewed.
 
Instead, if the Retailer had spent some more in having a better caliber of person who sends out an email with a separate attachment of the poster with the attachment, the impact level improves. Added to that is if the Retailer motivates the staff to implement such initiatives, then the impact and the data coming out of such programs would be far more meaningful.
 
In such a context is it worth it to spend large sums of money on software and skilled people to mine data and analyze the same?
 
Take a simpler example of sales data. The cashier tries to scan a product and when they are unable to locate the product code, they scan it using some other product code with the same price to complete the billing. This directly affects the inventory and sales data. H would such a level of data accucy help in any analysis?
 
At least in the Indian context there exists enormous opportunities for shopper delight and increasing operational productivity which will have a direct impact on the bottom line. Analytics and fascination with “Big Data” is good and should happen but after the operational issues are fixed and execution excellence is a reality.
 
Click HERE to join the debate about whether Retail analytics should wait for execution excellence.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Indian Retail - Point & Counterpoint: Is market place led model sustainable for E Tailing?

E Tailing in India is still in its nascent stages and yet one sees massive advertisement campaigns which seems to be enabled thanks to the funding. Does the business support such spends and can the model be sustained in a viable manner is an obvious question.
 
While the competitive advantage for any Retailer is best derived through sourcing some of these E Tailers seem to be embracing the market place led model in the context of lower costs and quicker roll outs.
 
However, the concern in my mind as a Retailer is that they are not only compromising the sourcing advantage but also not taking into account an important element of the Indian market place. Retail density in India is amongst the highest and when a phone call can connect me to known stores why should a shopper go through the net, even assuming they are doing so through their mobile.
 
The only motivation for such a move would be to access products and categories which are not available nearby or easily. Which in turn means that any site which is based on market place led model might end up being a niche player.
 
Is it a sustainable game plan?
 
Click here to join this discussion on my Facebook page.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Indian Retail; data goldmine awaits....

12 or 14 million outlets in India is a large number and also largely based on approximation. This same approach also works for generating the secondary or Retail sales data for most product categories in India. Even after so much of advances in mobile devices and technology most of the sales data is based on a representative sample which is indicative at best.

There is a powerful data goldmine waiting to be tapped into and I have recently written an article for Business Line wherein this issue has been discussed including a possible solution. This might end up being a Win:Win for all parties concerned and the Kirana or stand alone shop keeper might be benefited the most.

Yet another idea to support these traditional shop keepers and a governmental agency might be a good starting point to take this forward.

Click here to read the full article and share your views and comments.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Indian Retail - Point & Counter Point: Can interesting formats like this be viable?

Soda or carbonated drinks have been around for a long, long time and is often consumed under medical pretext. People tend to drink a carbonated drink to relieve flatulence although the CO2 in the drink does not really do anything to actually help!

During an earlier stint with a leading soft drink brand, I have heard of some weird stories which include patients with fever being prescribed a orange carbonated drink which was very popular in the southern Tamil Nadu markets.

Suffice to say that carbonated drinks have been and will continue to be popular. Although increasingly one does not see the ubiquitous “Goli Soda” which has an interesting looking bottle with a round glass marble inside. This which would seal the bottle’s top due to internal pressure.

Indian Retail Expert Blog

During a recent trip to Coimbatore I noticed this interesting outlet named “Planet Soda”. They have this very innovative soda making and dispensing machine as you can see in the picture.

Indian Retail Expert Blog

Each cup is sold for Rs. 10,/- and my guess is that the cost of that would be a maximum of Rs. 5/- after including electricity costs. This would give an approximate margin of 50% which is not bad assuming enough volumes are there to convert this into a respectable rupee earning.

So, this is a great idea for an incremental offering for small stand alone shops as also larger stores, with some space to spare.  This might even be a great idea for malls and larger chain stores. Stores can have such machines just outside their billing areas. Any excess or unused space which is customer facing can be used for this and the real estate can be monetized.

When I checked up on the penetration of this idea I found that apart from Planet Soda, which operates in the Coimbatore belt, another company in Ahmedabad - Geleriya Products - is quite active in this space and have a similar offering. As the actual technology involved is relatively simple, it might be just a matter of time before this takes off in a big way, if marketed and promoted well.

CLICK Here to join the discussion and share your views on my page.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Indian Retail - Point & Counterpoint: Great ideas are a waste of time without execution focus

A few days ago I woke up to see a half page advertisement of a national Retail chain which was trying something new and interesting. They had affixed a scratch card to the advertisement and I am guessing that they were hoping that this would trigger curiosity and drive walk ins.

Sadly, the scratch card had been already scratched out and the offer was visible which completely defeated the very purpose of a scratch card. The other evident lack of execution focus was that the scratch card had been affixed upside down as you can see in the picture. (Retailer’s name has been masked)
 

 
A good idea and this is in line with the basic Retail focus of generating customer footfalls and then focusing on conversion inside the store.

However this good idea did not factor in some basic ground realities. Namely, that a scratch card which has already been defaced will have absolutely no impact on any potential customer. The other reality is that anyone will be tempted to scratch and see what is in such a card, very similar to the universal fixation of breaking the bubbles of a bubble wrap sheet.

So, another great idea which sounded fabulous when being presented seems to have fallen by the way side.

How could this great idea become very effective?

Very simple, factor in the reality that news paper agents will have access to these and if they can insert pamphlets in a paper, they can definitely scratch and see what is hidden.

Just print a random number sequence on a card which is stuck on the advertisement. This card can be shown while billing and the offer pertaining to that random number can be accessed from a data table which is uploaded in the billing software. The curiosity value is retained and the idea becomes effective.

Lastly, there could be one more perspective. In Tamil Nadu there is a ban on lottery or what is called as game of chance. This is one reason why coupons always have a slogan and then gets defined as a game of skill and not chance. (A leading ice cream brand had to withdraw a national promotion only in TN, a few years ago due to this reason). Maybe, the scratch cards were defaced deliberately. In which case why spend so much of money in making these cards and getting them fixed onto the news paper advertisement.

A distinct lack of execution focus seems to be coming through and that is a big NO, NO in Retail.

CLICK HERE to join the discussion about “Execution Focus” on my page and share your perspectives and examples.