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Organized Retail and Instant Noodles!!!

February 6th, 2008 by Sharmila Katre

As a working wife and mother who wants to run her home as competently as she runs her business, the advent of ‘organized’ retail, super markets and well formatted MBO’s seemed like an answer to one’s prayers. Yes, this was certainly what I dreamt of whenever I raced against the clock to get the month’s grocery shopping done in time to get home to cook dinner; or when the family had to subsist on instant noodles because picking up one’s dry rations and veggies from different locations at the end of a working day didn’t work out because of time and logistic constraints.

‘Organized’ retail is the answer to everyone’s prayers – the consumer and the producer…..or is it?

Products sit beautifully packaged on shelves which are easy to access, saying – BUY ME!!! Or BUY ME and get another like me free (oops, sorry! The free stock just ran out!)! Today I whiz around well lit and well laid out stores picking up products I need, and also don’t need, in double quick time to end up in a traffic jam at the cash counter!! And while I stand there watching the harried sales clerk struggle with the operation of a temperamental bar-code reader and the rush of shoppers waiting their turn to pay, I begin to notice (and miss) the many differences in my shopping experiences of the bygone days. I miss the ‘soft’ skills of the friendly neighborhood Lalaji who would notice and gently point out deviances to one’s standard shopping list; his mammoth memory bank that didn’t require him to cross check prices of unmarked/bar-coded products; his verbal promotion of new products; his ‘home delivery’ service of products that may not be in stock ……and all in all the complete warm, social and informative shopping experience.

For ‘organized’ retail in India to become an indispensable part of the shopping needs of the emerging segment of the urban Indian working women, retailers need to address many issues that go beyond large stylish stores, slick visual merchandising and bargains. Store planograms need to stock merchandise as per an Indian housewife shopping list which follows a pattern of ‘Dal’, ‘chawal’, ‘atta’, ‘tail’, ‘masala’…..rather than the western format which starts off with breakfast foods and so on. Shopping for Groceries in India follows a monthly pattern rather than a weekly pattern, and this needs to be taken into account while merchandise planning and stocking is done, so that stores are adequately and correctly stocked. Most importantly, deployment and training of staff needs to address peak and trough periods of the store traffic, and the ability to deal with client claims and returns efficiently.

Till then, either which ways, instant noodles will be the standard family fare on the nights that ‘mom’ goes grocery shopping!

Posted in Consumer, Customer Relationship, Food & Grocery, Market Research, Marketing, Retail, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Tippy Tippy Tap – What “product” do you want?

February 6th, 2008 by Tarang Gautam Saxena

A few days back I met a friend, a mother of a six year old and a primary school teacher by choice (so that she can be “gainfully occupied”!). We exchanged the woes of being a working woman, and she exclaimed that she was planning to begin getting her lunch and dinner organized through a “dabbawala”. This would free up the time spent on “non productive” chores of buying monthly grocery, the weekly veggies and stocking up to spend on “more important” activities in life.

No, she is not necessarily representative of a particular consumer segment, nor can one say at this stage that there is a significant number of such women in our society that “dabbawalas” should sit up and take notice of, who would want to give up the pleasures of browsing, shopping and bargaining and then let go of the appreciation that follows conjuring up the delicious cuisines.

But it is does make one think about how our changing lifestyle and attitudes are changing our needs and wants (and hence the desired products and services).

It makes one want to gaze into the crystal ball and see what promise does the changing social fabric of India hold for the market of products like pre-cut vegetables, or ready to-eat food, what about products like sanitized wipes. What does it mean for the potential of services like that of a qualified nanny or a temporary baby-sitter, or house cleaning services, or professional laundry services or dial-a-cab?

What would you (as a consumer or a marketer) like to add to the wish-list?

Posted in Consumer, Marketing, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Celebrating Entrepreneurship

February 2nd, 2008 by Devangshu Dutta

Creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem is absolutely critical to a healthy and vigorous society and economy.

Creating a “democratic” entrepreneurial ecosystem is even more critical to sustaining that health. A democratic entrepreneurial system is like all other democracies – inclusive and widespread – and vital to improving the baseline quality of life.

As we’ve pointed out elsewhere, retailing is not just a fundamentally entrepreneurial business, it also offers up a platform for the birth and growth of other entrepreneurial businesses.

Obviously, big retailers offer a change for companies to scale up faster, once they meet the performance criteria set by the retailers.

The interesting thing is that small retailers offer an even more interesting growth opportunity since, as their own business grows, they grow their supply partners as well.

Countless companies and brands have been launched on the back of the likes of Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Tesco, Marks & Spencer, and in India retailers such as Pantaloon’s and Spencer’s (and even some of the early modern retailers in India that don’t exist anymore).

In view of this, it is wonderful to see 2-9 February 2008 being celebrated as Entrepreneurship Week (on the National Entrepreneurship Network’s website) and also its powerfully worded pledge.

Posted in Entrepreneurship, India, Leadership, Retail, Uncategorized | No Comments »

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