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?

1 comment:

  1. On your blog after a long long time. Got a link back to your blog while I was sifting through old posts and saw your comment on this one.

    The retail revolution seems to have hit Pune too. The number of huge malls that have come up in the last five years bear testimony to that fact. I think Pune is now turning into another Bombay and I would hate it if it ever happened.

    Do check back on my blog again when you get time. There have been lots of things happening since that last comment of yours.