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Showing posts from March, 2013

How Nokia lost connection!

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“The problem with you is that you are atleast 5 years ahead in your thinking as far as Retail trends in India are concerned”, a former colleague of mine whom I don’t wish to name quipped many years ago when I was setting up the Retail business at Bangalore International Airport. This is a forum that records Retail thoughts and not meant for self-propaganda, but when I look back, it seems so true of what he had said. Even now, I am working on certain concepts and ideas which are years ahead of what others in the business are doing, much to the annoyance sometimes of my colleagues and business partners. Those who have worked with me / have known me for quite some time would certainly agree to what I am saying. And Nokia is a case in point. Nokia,which enjoyed an over 70% market share around 2004 in India had experimented with various retail formats such as Nokia Distributors cum Retailers, Nokia preferred Retailers, Nokia Priority Centers and exclusive Nokia dealers. In 2004, they open

Alternate ECommerce–Auction Sites

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There was a cover story about Alibaba.com, China’s largest ECommerce company in recent issue of The Economist. Quite a few facts. That it is turning out to be one of the largest ecommerce companies in the world, with sales of over $170 billion, which is Amazon and eBay put together. That it has a financing division, viz., AliFinance which provides micro credit to small firms and consumers; and that it has 6 million vendors registered on its site. What was started in 1999 by the firm’s founder, Mr. Jack Ma, an English Teacher as a B-2-B portal connecting small Chinese manufacturers to overseas buyers has now transformed into an internet behemoth. “EBay may be a shark in the ocean,” Mr Ma once said, “but I am a crocodile in the Yangzi river. If we fight in the ocean, we lose; but if we fight in the river, we win.”Taobao, a consumer-to-consumer portal not unlike eBay, features nearly a billion products and is one of the 20 most-visited websites globally. Tmall, a newish business-to-consum

Free Wifi will be a crowd puller for Retailers

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I was at the Starbucks (SBUX) outlet in South Mumbai a few days ago. SBUX, in a JV with the Tata Group  opened their first outlet in India in South Mumbai a couple of months ago. We had a long day ahead and decided to start our first meeting at this location for the sheer purpose of convenience. And ofcourse, some good coffee. Not awesome coffee, atleast for me. For which I would go back to Café Coffee Day, India’s largest café chain with over 1,400 outlets across the country which in my opinion still brews the best coffee in town despite lapses in service levels here and there once in a while. I was pleasantly surprised that the SBUX outlet offers complimentary wifi to those who wish to have a sip or grab a bite and spend time around at their cafe. Ofcourse, for me it wasn’t the reason why I chose my meeting venue there. But then, anything complimentary is welcome in this mean world, I say. So there I was, connecting all my three devices – the laptop, the iPadmini and the iPhone on w

EMIs are a way of living for the nextgen

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I am not too surprised to see the two main distributors for Apple in India, namely Ingram and Redington jointly releasing full page Ads to promote the iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 in daily newspapers. There has been a huge Marketing blitzkrieg in this regard since Jan. 2013. No wonder, sales of Apple’s latest smartphones have seen a jump of over 100% across various Retailers such as Croma, EZone, etc. Until the launch of iPhone 5, Apple used to bundle their newest smartphones exclusively with mobile operators such as Vodafone, Airtel, Aircel, etc.Which means if a customer is not on one of the networks that has been bundled with, then he cannot buy the phone (one has to buy it with a particular network and then use the number portability option). All these changed with the launch of the iPhone 5 in India. During this time, Apple decided to release their phones to the broad trade channel through its two national authorised distributors mentioned above. Which meant that the iPhone 5 was readily

Consumer Spend – a loot at Airports

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Recently, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu launched a populist move in Chennai to commemorate her birthday – a Government funded canteen that serves one idly (rice patty) for Re 1 (1 USD is Rs. 53 approx.) Yes, you read that right, One Rupee for a Idly. The move is aimed to cater to the needs of those under the poverty line and the poor, the working class such as drivers of autos, taxis, trucks and so on. This was a way Amma (mother) as she is fondly known as, appeased the vote bank. It is not sure how much this scheme is going to cause to the State. Ofcourse, these so called welfare measures are out of the state’s coffers – tax payers money. It so happened that the very next day since this scheme was launched, I was travelling through the Chennai Airport which is managed by Airports Authority of India, a government body which also operates the Airport in Kolkata. These two airports faced stiff opposition by the unions when the Ministry of Aviation privatized the other major airports i

Flagship Stores

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After the successful launch of 137 stores across the country, Fastrack, the leading youth fashion accessories brand (a division of Titan Industries, part of the $85 billion Tata Group), today announced the launch of their flagship store at CMH Road, Bangalore. The success story of the Fastrack stores has been unprecedented. Since the launch of its first store in 2009, the retail channel has grown to 137 stores across 68 cities in all metros, mini metros and several smaller towns like Manipal and Nasik receiving tremendous response from its young consumers. The brand is looking at increasing the number to 250 by the end of 2014. Fastrack’s current stores occupy between 500 sq. ft and 800 sq. ft. The flagship store is spread across 1000 sq. ft. The space unfolds through a series of installations and events. A physical grid of white pipes forms the basis for a grid, from which various display systems are suspended. This meshwork of grids hides away services and lighting, and supports vari