Traditional wholesale and Organized retail

In my earlier post I had suggested that Semi Organized Retail will succeed in India.To build upon the idea I am presenting another case below.

India is a uniquely different from the west if we consider the following factors :

1.While the Retail stores big and small have been there for almost a century now,Organized chain stores are a new phenomena to the Indian market

2.In the absence of pan Indian chain stores we had bazaars and whole sale and retail markets which catered to the needs and  lifestyle  of the Indian Public.By virtue of their long innings these have a place of prominence in the mind of the Indian shopper.Their value preposition too is quite clear and each bazaar caters to a different taste and wallet size.This is something that organized retail is struggling with at the moment.image118

3.While Labor is in short supply and is therefore costly in the west,its in abundance in the country of more than a billion people.This has shaped the Indian wholesale and Retail Market very very differently.

For cash and carry models I believe that they will not be successful unless they target institutional clients and offer door to door delivery.In India if you have cash ,you don’t carry someone else does it for you.Large number of house holds are still serviced by Deliver ‘boys’ across neighborhoods.This service is free of charge and many a times if you are a regular the bill value does not matter.

4.While there may appear to be very little method in the madness and chaos seems to be buzzword if you scratch a little deeper you will find  self aligning systems very similar to those found in primitive life forms.They may look like randomly moving around but a pattern emerges as soon as you put them under a scanner and start to study their behavior.

Go to any ‘Mandi'(wholesale market) and you will know what I mean.

They may not be carrying Laptops and have fancy accounting systems but they know their business well partly because that’s what they do 24X7 and partly because it has become a part of their DNA.

5.In Organized retail we work on SOP’s and MOU’s to forge  supplier and buyer agreements but in case of traditional retail these are handed over from generations to generations.The buyer and the supplier are not only business partners but they are friends who sometimes even marry their siblings into each others families.

It is very difficult to replicate that level of trust and understanding and the spirit of co creation.The MBA’s in organized retail learn about segmentation,customer focus and value creation but in the traditional whole sale business they KNOW that that’s the only way.Survival to them means continuously reinventing themselves keeping an eye on the pulse of the market.They get their information through informal channels but the actions that follow them are fast and practical.

6.On the other hand the Organized retail lacks many if not all of the above attributes.The systems and processes neatly laid down in SOP’s and charts and tables remain there and very few retailers have been able to drive them down in the organization.The team members are young and new to the trade so while they may not do it deliberately the understanding of the importance of each step of the business process is missing.

7.Organized Retail does offer to its customers a neat and clean ,friendly shopping environment and a certain level of trust of quality as most are backed by big corporates of multinationals.

Another aspect which is important here is that of customer service and window shopping which is a big Grey area as far as traditional retail is concerned.The salesmen are often rude and do not have the finesse to deal with different class of customers.The idea of being confronted and not being able to just ‘have a look around’ does not appeal to many customers especially women.

The point that I am trying to make is that in a way both these entities can not only co exist but they can partner together for creating a unique value for the customer.How ?

Traditional wholesale  can serve as the supply chain for modern retailers as they stock bulk quantities which can ordered as per the sales lift on the image116shelves.

For trial runs of new products this could be great idea as you do not have to commit yourself to quantities upfront.A organized retailer can continue buying from wholesalers as long as the quantities become so large and predictable that owning a production line is the best option to enhance and retain higher margins.

This model will work very well for new retailers with young and image117inexperienced buying teams as they can use the skill and expertise of wholesalers who have been in the market for decades.Their understanding of local taste and price points will be far more than someone who has just passes out of college.

In fact what I am suggesting is nothing new.Almost all big retailers in the developed economies depend heavily on importers for their business.The concept of category captains is akin to what I am proposing.

In India we do not have ‘importers’ and also the organized retail market is not so big to support such operators but that gap can easily be filled by wholesalers.Those who have been touted as the biggest adversaries by an ignorant media can in fact bring a lot of value on the table for themselves and for the customer too.

I have been experimenting with the above in my business and it as worked quite well so far.

Student Politics in UP – HAASIL

The film is a realistic portrayal of Student Politics in UP which to a certain extent explains the absence of educated young people in the Political arena.Caste politics is quite evident from the scenes in which Ran Vijay Singh(Irrfaan khan) is a Thakur and Badri shankar Pandey(Ashutosh Rana) is a Pandit.

Personally the film brings back a lot of memories from the time when I was a student at Lucknow University.

Watch it.It’s just amazing !

This song is a treat too.Don’t miss out.

The complete movie is uploaded on You tube numbered sequentially 1/15 through 15/15.Type haasil Movie in search and see it if you liked it so far.

How to act

Have been some time since I posted under Meditations.I am publishing below the 5th paragraph from chapter 3.

How to act :

Never under compulsion,out of selfishness,without forethought,with misgivings.

Don’t dress up your thoughts.

No surplus words or unnecessary actions.

Let the spirit in you represent a man,an adult,a citizen,a roman,a ruler.Taking up his post like a soldier and patiently awaiting his recall from life.Needing no oath or witness.

Cheerfulness.Without requiring other people’s help.Or serenity supplied by others.

To stand up straight – not straightened.

Shatranj ke Khiladi and Lucknow

Satyajit Ray’s Shatranj ke Khiladi is one of my favorite movies.It not only takes me back in time to an era which transformed the fate of the people of Awadh but is also a treat to the senses with brilliant research,narration and performances.

I am giving below a few scenes that would help you appreciate the Nazaakat,Nafaasat and Tehzeeb (culture) of Lucknow which was called the constantinople of the East.

Munshi Premchand’s story,Screenplay and direction of Satyajit Ray,Narration by Amitabh Bachchan and some brilliant performances by Sanjeev Kumar,Syed Jaafri,Victor Banerjee and Amjad Khan.It could’nt get any better than this.

Scene 1 :

Its the opening scene along with casting and a superb narration by Amitabh Bachchan.In his book Premchand has described the Lucknow of those times so beautifully that I have read the paragraph many times.I am reading a book by Sharar called ‘Gujistaan Lucknow’ which has vivid details of life in those times.I can now realize the genius of Premchand and satyajit Ray to have captured the mood so brilliantly.

The residents of lucknow had built a world of their own which was centred around the idea of pleasure in all its forms.They flew kites,sang Ghazals,watched dance performences by nautch girls as well as Kathak Ustads,had animal fights,ate the best of food in their dastarkhwans and of course played chess.

It is believed that Wajid Ali Shah ‘s dinner camed from Six different Kitchen out of which the the main Kitchen had an expense of Rs 800000 annually in those times.There were other Nawabs who were famous for their taste and used have as many as 25 types of Pulav’s every day for dinner.

By the way there is big difference between Biryani and Pulav and Lucknowites belived Biryani to be a food of lesser mortals.It was considered a tuaheen if Biryani was cooked instead of Pulav for dinner at someone’s place.

You have a taste of the Nawwabi of Lucknow’s public in the scene below

Scene 2 :

This is a scene from General Outram’s study.He came to be known as Sir james Outram later.The scene has a dialogue between General Outram(played by Sir Richard Attenborough) and Sargeant Weston ( played by Tom Alter).I read in an interview with Tom Alter that he was chosen for  the role by Satyajit Ray when he visited NSD on the convocation day.He was impressed by Tom’s knowledge of Urdu and told him that he would hear from him soon.In the same interview Tom revealed the level of detail that Satyajit Dada would go into making his movies.He sketched General Outram’s study for the shot so that there were no objects that were out of place.Each article that you see on the Table or on the walls was well researched.Same is the case with all the scenes in the movie,if you watch closely.The level of detail is just amazing.

Sargeant Weston describes the lifestyle of Wajid Ali Shah and seems to be quite impressed with his knowledge of the arts and Music.He even recites a couplet of Generals insistance.It’s a treat ..

Scene 3 :

This is a must watch.It is the best performance of Amjad Khan ever.For those of you who remember him as Gabbar of Sholay it will be real eye opener.Amajad Khan fits the character of Wajid Ali Shah to the T and with his impeccable urdu pronounciation and effortless dialogue delivery he just captures your heart.You feel sorry for the king who sang songs of love and freedom but lost his thrown to British Politics even though his subject loved him to the extent that they sang his songs in the streets of Lucknow.

I have used one of his other songs as the title of one of my posts on Lucknow – Jab chhod chale Lucknow nagri,kahen haal ke hum par kya Guzari.

It is said that when British army came upto his palace all his servants ran away and he just kept asking’ Koi hai joote pehnane waala?’


I strongly feel that even though times have changed the Mijaaz (temprament) of the residents of this laid back city has not changed.As soon as you step into the city the mannerism,cultured talk,fondness of food and of all other good things in life will be evident to you.

I could never decide whether it has done more harm or good for Lucknow but as far as its peole are concerned they still look down upon other cities in thier cultural development. The more I read the more I am convinced that they are right.They may have lost out on material side of things but as far as appreciation of art forms and sheer good taste is concerned it is dificult to beat this city of Nawabs.

मरीना बीच पर

मरीना बीच पर

बरसों पेहले एक ब्राम्हण ने कहा था

तुम में सूर्य का अंश है                                     sunset-large

दूर शितिज पर डूबते सूरज से

मैं कुछ केहना चाहता हूं

मगर क्या ?

जो मायने नहीं रखता

उसे केहने के क्या मायने

और जो मायने रखता है

उसे केहने की हिम्मत नहीं है मुझमें

तो बस बैठा हू इस इंतज़ार में

कि कब एक बडी सी लेहर आये

और मैं भी डूब जाऊं मेरे सूरज की तरह

धरती की गोद से निकला समन्दर मुझे ऐसे घेर ले

जैसे मां अपने बिलखते हुए बच्चे को

अपने आचल में समेट लेती है

और तब केहने के लिये मेरे पास

कुछ नहीं रहेगा

~ ब कलम खुद