Many pundits have passed judgement on the inevitability of ‘organised retail’. Yet, around the world, independents continue to thrive.
One may think that at least in difficult economic phases – such as the one facing economies around the world right now – large retailers are better equipped to survive. Yet, often it is the flexibility of the owner-driven small business that rides out the trough. Service levels and personalisation – that are increasingly critical in an impersonal world – are often far better delivered by a small retailer. [See “Playing with the Big Boys”]
And when it comes to business across borders, I can’t think of any retailer that is truly global. Most retailers that have successfully run international businesses in multiple countries (Carrefour, increasingly Tesco and others) have had to localise significantly – often sacrificing scale to achieve localisation.
A well-written article by Paul Chapman in Mint (February 18, 2007) raises some of these points using India as an illustration. Worth a read: The Rocky Route to Modern Retail.