Competition is good for consumers because it adds more value to each rupee spent by them. Even if the gain is not in value terms, it definitely adds to the service level and experience. It started with consumer goods, then automobiles, banking and currently there is hardly any sector that sees monopoly of a single player or cartelisation between two or three players.
On our visits abroad, we used to wonder at super giant stores like Walmart, Carrefour, Mustafa, Lulus etc, the range offered by these stores and the sheer shopping experience. We had our own Super Bazaars, Apna Bazaars, Akbarally’s etc, albeit on a much smaller scale. However, with the World shrinking, India also hasn’t remain untouched by this phenomenon and what started as Big Bazar format has soon expanded into a host of chains having multiple stores. More, D’mart, Star Bazar, Reliance Fresh have all quickly mushroomed and have rapidly captured the consumer’s mindset.
The above has impacted the sales of neighbourhood grocery, General and provision stores. People go to D’mart that guarantees minimum 7% mark down on MRP, gives customer advantage to choose amongst the competing brands, showcases special offers, accepts payment through debit and credit cards and provides pleasant shopping experience in cool and spacious air conditioned comfort. D’mart has also come closer to customers by opening D’mart Ready in every nook and corner, where customers can go and place order and collect their merchandise later.
As if this was not enough, the neighbourhood grocer has experienced onslaught from e-commerce platform. People, who have busy routines and can’t visit hyper stores can now procure the things of daily requirement online from the likes of Amazon, Flipkart and Grofers. This could be the final nail in the coffin of local retailer.
But why should we feel the pain for him? What value is he adding to the commodity we buy from him or experience that we have of dealing with him. He charges MRP (when local taxes were extra, he would religiously include the same without issuing any receipt, meaning without ever paying it) , gets irritated if you ask him for competing products to select the best deal, tries to push expired goods, has goods stacked all over in not too clean environs, doesn’t accept card or online payment, does not dress up smartly, behaves indifferently and demands change for smaller payment! It’s high time these retailers do a quick upskilling in retailing and marketing and start adding value to their proposition. Keep price list of competing goods handy for customer to choose, recommend lucrative deals to earn trust, don’t treat MRP as the minimum retail price, start accepting credit and debit cards, put up a pleasant persona before customers and discard inferior/perished goods even if it means loss on those materials, is my unsolicited advice to these shopkeepers, lest they are going to be rendered redundant sooner than expected.
In today’s milieu, when people have all information available to them on touch of a button and are spoilt for choices, only those who provide value add shall survive, others will simply be obliterated.