Snapshots from Indian Retail !

Organized retail is the industry of moment in India. For past few years, it has been the big thing. Every business group/company in India worth his/her salt has put some eggs in this basket. Now with dwindling growth rates and high inflation rates, the picture is not as rosy as it was a year ago but still most people would bet you money that organized retail is here to stay in India. Presented here are some of my experiences in past few weeks with Indian retail.

1. One day in big bazaar, we decide to have a look at sandwich makers. There are few brands on offer with most stock of a brand called Koryo which Future Group is promoting. For comparison, there is one from Usha. The piece is clearly old, its cord already disintegrating. Its only purpose seems to be to give some sense of choice and make Koryo look like a good deal.

2. We walk into Vivek's, an old and prominent electronics retail chain. They seem to have a more balanced collection with Bajaj, Murphy Richards, Philips.. Philips ! wow ! Looks interesting. Sales person senses our inclination and encourages us to buy. There is a small timer like thing on the appliance that looks interesting. On inquiry, we are told that it is the timer but it does not work. The piece is broken and it is the only piece !

3. Again in Vivek's, this time we have decided to buy a Microwave. We are ready to pay but it is getting very delayed. On inquiry, the salesperson sheepishly asks us if we would be alright with the display model since there are no more in stock ! This after hard selling it to us for 10-15 minutes. We leave without it.

4. Over to Food World, I decide to head to one, even though it is a little far away from home since 2 years back, they used to be pretty decent. We start looking at some vegetables and lo and behold ! cockroaches ! In the vegetables, on juice packs, on every eatable thing in the store ! And nobody seems to be bothered. Tried finding a after shave for myself and most of the material on shelf for the brand I wanted was almost a year old (average life for after shave is 2 years).

5. Couldn't find a FM radio (radio only) in any of the electronics retail chains. Finally small shops and Sony showroom (with only 1 model which looked very retro, salesperson explained that only old people ask for stand alone radios and they like it big :)) ) came to rescue.

My over all experience of going to all these stores in past few days has been of going to a seconds sales ! The stock on shelfs seems old, salesperson not up to the mark and at other times, choice is just an illusion. If this is already the situation, product companies should be very worried about organized retail. I would feel much more comfortable dealing with a company person who actually knows about the product directly rather than go to a retail chain and hear half baked commentary of a sales person. Both of them have an agenda on mind but with the former, I know that before hand !


anaggh said…
Love your experiences! I have had similar or worse in Mumbai...Keep them going.
Organized indian retail business is heavily category management business model based. Which works great at the outset since india has a huge supplier and shipping/distribution (supply chain management-SCM)) disconnects. But to sustain in the long run, it is clearly lacking on improving SCM efficiencies. Your experiences clearly shows basic failures of managing a retail business. We agree, indian retail is its infancy but I am not seeing any signs of improvements with the passage of time and global talent availability advantage India has.

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