Is this the end for Mama & Papa stores?
Foreign direct investment in retail. Tier II and Tier III cities gearing up for multi-brand big-ticket retailers, round 2. Upto 40 % discounts due to deals between manufacturer and retailer. Retailer operates on a 7-month payment cycle. Can Mom & Pop stores compete? Possibly not.
Broadly speaking, we live in two Indias. There’s India Inc., and there’s Bharat. No secret.
Citizens of India Inc. encounter Bharat at every second step. You’ve got bullock-carts, cycles and / or auto-rickshaws slowing down the spanking new highway. Do these bullock-cart fellows pay any road-tax? Power cuts. Countered with generators. Mosquitoes, flies. Long live repellents. Heat. Air-conditioners. Red-tape. Go with the flow. Corruption. Cut a deal. Movie at the mall. Call the manager and reserve the best tickets, away from the locals / villagers. The new fly-pass over your city congests traffic in the side-lanes, adding to the chaos in your city, while providing immense benefits to highway traffic. It’s under-area, which was meant to solve the parking woes of your city, is one long garden. It’s not being used for parking due to the threat of terrorism, as in someone might park a car with a bomb in it. The 10 km long fly-pass might have like 4 cross-to-the-other-side cuts for pedestrians / locals / villagers / labour. Net result is that pedestrians / locals / villagers / labour cross from anywhere, anytime.
You see India Inc., Bharat doesn’t want to be left behind, in any manner. Bharat counters every move of yours with its own unique formula. No cut to cross to the other side of the highway? No problem. Bharat just crosses through the highway. See? You can’t side-step Bharat. There’s only one long-term formula for your success, and that involves the incorporation of Bharat into the scheme of things.
As of now, Bharat is rushing for really cheap goods that look exactly like their expensive originals. As in a 50 $ Blackberry replica. Or a 100 $ i-phone duplicate. Cheap tablets. Dirt-cheap watches that look like Rolexes, Tags and Breguets. There’s no end to it. China will make sure of that. See, Bharat doesn’t want to be left behind. It wants to move with you, but at its own price.
While India Inc. shops with credit cards, Bharat runs a parallel economy. Strictly cash. Come and go. Zilch savings, so no need for banks. If there are savings, there’s some brother in need and will borrow on interest. It’s a bristling parallel economy with unique dynamics.
Does one see a common trajectory between India Inc. and Bharat?
Fortunately, yes. Both are consumers. Also, both are producers. Bharat’s big on agriculture. India Inc. is about tech, innovation, management and competence. Bharat can’t afford most of what India Inc. produces, so it lives on duplicates, or on its own agricultural produce. And India Inc. needs to realize this.
Nobody’s expecting India Inc. to live the life of Bharat more than it needs to. But, and this is a big but, the need of the hour is to incorporate Bharat more and more into India Inc.’s supply chain.
Those are the magic words. If you’re innovative, show it now, India Inc. Your country’s progress is proportional to the progress of Bharat, because Bharat’s numbers are far larger than yours. Slowly, you’ll see, that Bharat will stop slowing you down, as it progresses. The bullock-cart fellow will progress to a tractor. Your cinema-going villager will be more civilized. Bharat will clean-up, and mosquitoes and flies will reduce. A random Bharat citizen will be satisfied enough to not want to bomb his own country. Etc. etc. etc. It’s a process. Yours is the initiation part. Get on with it. Stop cribbing. Incorporate Bharat into your master-plan as much as you can, and sooner than you think, you’ll be enjoying the then EDUCATED and CONSUMING demographic dividend.