Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Retail Revolution

There are reports splashed everyday in magazines, newspapers, TV channels, about retail being the next big thing in India. Huge conglomerates, Indian and Foreign are lining up to take a share of the pie. Reliance, ITC, Bharti, Future, Birlas, Tatas, all gung ho to increase the organized retail sector from a measly 3% to atleast 10% which still leaves room for much more.

Excellent service, variety, with prices attract the modern upcoming Indian consumer. Unfortunately, the road to change is never smooth. It is strewn with obstacles, in this case, cries of ‘Retail Roko’ from the local retailers who had their little shops for a livelihood. When Reliance was forced to exit from UP by the government, I as usual, grumbled about our government being a regressive one and not promoting best retail practices being followed across the world.

I watched a Reliance store being torn down at Bhubhaneshwar, and was shaken by the fury of the retailers. I later went with Mum to get our groceries from Reliance Fresh which was a good 3 kms from our house. Smaller SKUs not being at these outlets, we went to get the same from a Kirana store we used to patronize earlier for all our needs. The shop owner with contempt and bitterness in his voice, asked us, if we would come to his shop only for things that we couldn’t get at the large outlets. It was a moment of truth for me as I realized, how by shifting our loyalty from the Kirana store which was a source of livelihood for a family, we had severely affected their living and for that matter survival. On carrying out a survey for a retail project I realized, how everyone favored organized retail and had completely stopped going to Kirana stores. Obviously, they would be up in arms against the behemoths.

Then there were those enterprising shop owners who spruced up their shops, gave them new looks, offered the convenience of home delivery, proximity to the consumers and tried and succeeded in retaining their consumers or even happily tied up with the larger retail stores instead of getting eliminated. India is facing the winds of change at present, change that is happening at an extremely fast pace. Will it be able to cope up with this change is the question. Moral, ethical, financial dilemmas are faced at every moment. Will the change be marked by bloody wars with huge sacrifices made by a few for the larger good, or will India adapt quickly to it?


Random Ramblings

INDIAAAAAAAAAAAA…..INDIA echoed the shouts of one and all during the nail biting fight to the finish between India and Pakistan. Nothing unites India like cricket does. Generations X, Y, Z, A, B, C.., the rich the poor, everyone exults in the victory of the Indian cricket team. Be it the shoe polish wala who vows to polish 1000 pairs of shoes for free if the cricket team wins to the rich corporate who promises to dole out humongous sums of money to charity or the Indian cricket team if they win or the housewife who does a puja everyday and begs God to let India win or infact does a puja of the cricket team itself(!), It was humorous to see at several Ganesha Pandals, Aartis being done with utter devoutness, not of Lord Ganesha but of huge posters and TV screens of THE Indian Cricket team, and coconuts being broken as THE MATCH commenced.

When the last catch was taken, all India went into a frenzy, shouts and crackers went off in every upmarket locality, the local mohallas, the streets were jampacked with a nation gone crazy with euphoria. Everyone was smiling, celebrating.

I only wish this unity was shown by the nation in more areas than just cricket. Nobody took to the streets in protest when there were blasts at Mumbai, Hyderabad, no one demanded more action from the government who according to reports has hardly spruced up security. We Indians, share our joy together, but shouldn’t the citizens of India also share the sorrows?