Friday, December 2, 2011

Retail in india : Where we are going?

" Oho Dipika ji...Lijiye aapka sab saaman taiyaar " . This immortal line from that Nirma Ad when the lady visits neighborhood grocery shop. Government of India has taken decision to allow 51% FDI in Indian retail market . No wonder , big debate has been going on , amidst protests and statements from some important and some not so important people. Everyone has own opinion, some can be easily termed as hypocrites who are opposing their own statements they made other day ; some are stupid at best saying they will burn foreign shops if opened . What about the people who will be actually affected? Some will gain out of this decision. Moving away from technicalities and the raging debate , i would like to look into the world where we interact with the traditional Kirana shop and how things may and may not be same again .

The immediate question comes into mind is , what things will not be same?

1: The natural smile of the attendant at kirana shop will be replaced by the artificial smile of the attendants in super malls.

2: You will not be asking new year calendar when you shop on the new year eve.

3: How you can ask for that extra chili for free at the mall after buying weekly vegetable stock? Asking for some stuffs which are given without measurement i.e. ginger for rupee 1 Or mixture of spices for rupee 5 .

4: Can the statement : " you save rupees xyz , if you buy this. " , replace the original form of bargain?

5: You will not be treated like god for being first customer/last customer.

6: What about returning things you bought which is not defective , but somehow you want to return that? Just try returning goods you bought from the super market store and we know how nasty and crazy things can get.

Having said this , buying all things under one roof can be good and bad idea as well. People can defend saying , " I don't have time to look for different options". Next question comes , we are running after what? The joy of buying vegetables confirming the market price by asking from 2-3 shops seems best market practice. They say FDI will improve the infrastructure and supply chain . Can we not understand nuances of supply chain management by knowing how we distribute news papers daily or how the the milk supply chain works on daily basis? But at the same time can there be no alternative path where we can improve the infrastructure without forcing closure of our neighborhood kirana shop or for that matter roadside vendors?

Before closing , i would like to mention here one recent event. Here it goes..

I decided to buy a sari for my mom and to make matters worse , i had to gift this as a surprise . So , i could not ask for valuable inputs from mom i.e. which color , which design etc . Somehow , i could not outsource this work on time and i had to perform this activity. What to do? which shop ? which design? at what time? Of what price? . I knew , i had to explain to mom , this-is-the-best-buy-after-elaborate-bargaining . I started devising algorithm and used delay-and-wait technique. I zeroed on to the tried and tested formula , be the last customer.This happened by constraint , rather than by choice , weird office timing and lazy me contributing to the resultant scenario . I reached the shop at around 10pm . They were almost drawing the shutters down. Did give the specification in some vague words i.e. color , medium price range , it's for Mom etc etc. The difficult part of action point was still with me , choose the best one and then look for bargain!. I did implement the screening procedure , though i was not sure of the criteria, May be it was first view and randomization . After first round short listing , it came to take final decision and bargain price. Thankfully , the shopkeeper agreed to good bargain ; at least it seemed to me , price was reduced by 200 from marked price. So deal was done and it came to completing formalities i.e. Paying the money ,take receipt , packaging. Wait! the situation had to become more win-win , at least it seemed to me . The shopkeeper offered 50 rupee less price than the agreed price , just because i was last customer. The Being-Last-customer situation had worked without me insisting on the same. Technically , i had completed the shopping part and was about to leave. Suddenly , it occurred to me , Man! something is missing!. After slight stress on my memory cells , i got the reason; Mom usually asks for complementary handkerchief at the end of shopping for sari activity . I placed one gentle query before the shopkeeper asking to put one handkerchief with the sari. He obliged with a natural smile. Mom was more than happy when she found that "extra" handkerchief . She knew , what must have happened.

May be , we love to shop in big place i.e. shopping mall, but memories are created in small places. I wish both foreign retail shops and Local kirana stores thrive together, I will see how things turn up.If foreign retail shops are dreams for many including me , local kirana shops form sweet memories. When dreams and memories shake hands , we are not sure which is better.

p.s : As i type these words , the song , "let it be : from movie desi Boyz " is playing on my pnone. My favourite for the moment.