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!