Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The ugly side gets uglier

Rajesh Gupta was very quick in pointing out the unrest in a couple of other cities in India - see comment in previous post.

The protest that first started at Ranchi against the retail outlet of Reliance Fresh has spread to Indore and Raipur. In fact, if I am not mistaken, the retail outlet against which the vegetable vendors of Indore are protesting has not yet opened.

It is all a reaction to the wide-spread publicity that the new retail outlets will sell the goods cheaper than the regular street-side sabjiwala. The vegetable vendors are scared that the huge discounted price that will be offered at these new retail outlets will be so much that their sales will be affected to the large extent. So much that they might not be able to make their day-to-day livelihood.

It appears that the news of protest in Ranchi and in Indore has inspired the vendors in Raipur to come out to the streets. Here no major new retail outlet is yet proposed or announced. The sabjiwalas of Raipur were protesting outside an already established retail outlet.

I only hope that a peaceful solution can be found, wherein both the involved parties can survive and prosper.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The ugly side of the retail onslaught

The opening of the retail outleft of Reliance - Reliance Fresh - had to face the brunt of the local vegetable vendors at Ranchi.

News sources say that the vegetable vendors of the town gathered outside the Reliance Fresh outlet and started should slogans and throwing stones. They even damaged the glass panes and decor of the shop. The outraged people were asking Reliance to concentrate on their other businesses. Their main protest was that why is such a big business house trying to sell vegetables and deprive them of their only livelihood.

Till now the focus of this blog has been the effect the influx of the large business houses into the retail foray have on the millions of mom-n-dad stores across the length and breadth of this big country. This is a reaction from the tiny shop-keepers.

The vegetable vendors are generally tiny shop-keepers who don't even have shops. Most vegetable vendors squat by the street-side to sell their wares. They can be seen on all busy commercial and residential areas, where they spread a small plastic sheet on the ground and display their goods on it. They generally buy in the morning from the mandi and try to sell it off by the end of the day.

Obviously the retail onslaught is not going be easy. In proceeding on this track, the big business houses are treading on unchartered territory and there is no saying what kind of resistance or support they may face along the way.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Traditional Retailers on the Technology Track

The traditional retailers have visibly embarked on the technology track.

Computers, closed circuit television (CCTV), modern gadgets are now the latest in thing in the retail infrastructure scenario. Obviously the traditional retailers - owners of the mom-n-pop stores - are gearing up.

Most of the participants of this modernisation campaign are in it to be able to meet the stricter reporting requirements of the various government agencies. Their consultants - tax advisers and auditors - are insisting that they deploy the hi-tech reporting mechanisms to be able to better comply with the statutory reporting which, in India, is clearly headed towards the e-world.

Some of the retailers are modernising because their principals - the manufacturers and brand owners of their products - are insisting that they do so. I am aware of a couple of such principals who want their dealers to be online all through the day and use their common infrastructure of their billing and information requirements.

Their is yet another group of retailers that is upgrading because it is the in-thing. They use these modern tools to demonstrate that they in sync with the latest. For this group modernisation is more of a marketing gimmick. They like to be recognized as trend-setters in their group.

Then, there is one group that is upgrading because his neighbour has done it.

Whatever be the reason, the modernization will certainly help these small retail establishments survive the retail onslaught of the big business houses.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The retail onslaught has definitely slowed down.

The government interest in the retail onslaught (Previous Blog) has definitely slowed down the retail onslaught in India. The only news in the media now-a-days in the media is about the activities of the Reliance Retail venture.

This company which is a totally indigenous effort, with no foreign collaboration is going on with its retail programme. It has recently inaugurated its latest venture Reliance Digital, its foray into retailing digital products.

I certainly look forward to findings of the study that was requested by the Prime Minister's Office. The report should make interesting reading and pave out the path for future development in this sector.