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Monday, 15 December 2014


The recent churn of events in the retail sector of India has turned conventional logic topsy turvy. No, I don't refer to the on now, off now, piecemeal legislation on FDI in retail sector. I don't mean the oft repeated discussion about giant retailers swallowing the Mom & Pop stores. What has caused the churn is the latest disruptor in town the online retailers. Old hat in most developed countries, online retailing is making a splash in India and how. 

Post the plethora of deep discount offers dished out by the fledgling online retails armed with VC funded deep pockets, the first reactions I heard from the bricks-n-mortar store owners was that the new demon attacking the markets from cyberspace was indulging in unfair trade practice! Reminds me of "Frog eat insects, Snake eat Frog" story from Indian folklore! Flashback to a few years and you will see how the "Big retail" defended their right to "deep discount" on the back of volumes and VC funded deep pockets!
Cybermarket War!

However selfish the arguments of the Offline businesses may sound fact remains that Online retail given its wider reach, low overheads (in the long run), 24*7 timings and sheer convenience it offers is a adversary worthy of a digging in and fighting. Rather than bring in pressure through political lobbying and crying foul   about imaginary malpractices, the offline stores must look at ways n means to compete against a business model which offers value to a consumer. 

First things first. It would possibly be foolhardy for Offline stores to compete with e-tailers on convenience plank. They can probably on discounts but beyond a point below the belt pricing is a zero sum game or a me-too! So trying to ape online benefits in an offline environment can only take you thus far and no further.

Me-Too Discounts!

Learn from Lalaji/Sethji/Nadaranne!

A smart retailer today must offer what is possibly the most critical differentiator and in turn the crucial shortcoming of the online retailers, shopping experience. Shopping in India is more than just bargain hunting; it is the sheer pleasure of hunting for the bargain which gives us the high! Shopping is a family outing, a time pass, a relaxation, a hobby. Offline Retailers must today present a store which must enhance the 'Experience' element while shopping. Nice and friendly decors, easy to access displays, convenient zoning, sufficient parking etc are a given. The key to success is to offer all these concrete elements with the personal touch of
a Lalaji/Sethji. Make the consumer feel important, wanted and welcome. Be patient with multiple 'trials', suggest the products best suited, hang around to help   without being overbearing, be polite yet friendly. Post sales ensure to deliver the best in the industry after sales service. In short do what the friendly neighborhood 'Nadar Maligai' has perfected over centuries, make the customer feel like the King that he/she is! Remember every customer is a human being first. Treat them like the way you would like to be treated and you have a business good enough to beat any competition, offline and online.



PS: If the Lalajis/Sethjis could withstand the competition from Ambanis/Biyanis, they can well withstand the Flipkarts/Amazons etc. Like cockroaches, mosquitoes, Rats and Mallus, they are invincible!


Lalaji/Sethji/Nadar Maligai: Popular euphemism for ‘Local’ Businesses/Retailers. 

1 comment:

  1. You are the master of your own field. You have touched the crux of the
    Problem->rapport with customers. That is right. Well written without fear.