By Sridhar Narsing
What Japan could not stand up to foreign FDI two decades ago that paved the way to shut the pop-and-mom stores relegating many families poorer — should become a lesson to massive Indian populations whose dependence on retail sector is crucial for their survival in the two decades.
If Indians, based on their centuries of past foreign invasions and rule, are truly sincere in restoring their faith in themselves, they should wake up to fight foreign FDI which is bound to turn lives upside down soon. Neither the governments nor the leadership can help the small retail sector players at this juncture and it is time to fight it the novel way.
Here are 10 tips whereby even smaller kirana shop owners can fight foreign retail chains, instead of resigning to their fate.
1. Think local: If you are a retail or a kirana store owner and have developed a good base of customers, renew your commitment to them by providing extra service with smile.
2. Embrace technology: Open online service to your customers and a quick delivery model within your locality. Keep your cost to minimum and here you can opt for Google’s joint-venture to provide free website for one year to Get Your Business Online at www.indiagetonline.in and web presence gives you that extra edge faster and you can capture your customers before the mega stores begin their sway over the market.
3. Keep your margins as low as possible and never shy away from providing what retail customers want. If goods are not available readily, you should always be in a position to get them delivered to your customer in a short span of time. Start your strategy today.
4. Keep quick delivery model drawn for your business now, before it is too late. Yet this model should not eat into your investments. Best option is to go for Tata Nano car and its equivalent delivery vans to keep the cost low. Secondly, keep you locality within your reach and serve your customers with a smile again. When Domino’s Pizza can deliver within one hour in its locality, why not you?
5. Reinforce your energies and be present in locality of your choice with vigorous presence. In every local event, festival and educational gathering, make it a point to donate or sponsor an event and make yourself part of your locality. Say “no” to bandhs and strikes. They are not going to help you individually or collectively. Cite them the FDI reason and refuse any support.
6. Pricing model should be very competitive. This can be achieved when you can cut your costs. This is possible only when you know what the limitations of a middle class family are and what they prefer and how they can afford high-end goods. If possible, rope in local banks to provide small loans to your customers, especially during the festive and marriage seasons.
7. Interest-free loans should be viable in retail sector as well. Encourage your customers to deposit their monthly income with you and buy goods over the rest of the month and provide them more discounts and use the deposit for your daily turnover. This could prove successful if you are really a most-favoured local retailer. Reach that status first and then try this model.
8. Next step is to get into a city-level chain of stores and be shareholders yourselves. A city-based retail network can work better and reduce the cost with a collective online network and cooperate with each other. This model can defeat any mega-store with foreign FDI or even those insider retail chains with money muscle.
9. Never depend on governments or cooperatives to come to your rescue. Let the rescue plan be yours and start individually first and then join a group or network to increase your survival chances, lest you vanish sooner than you realise.
10. Give consumer his smile when he buys a product from you and never charge more merely because the customer is ignorant. He will never return to your store if cheated once or charged more price. If there any doubt in your consumer’s mind, convince him with the reason before he asks so his conifidence in your pricing structure remains in tact. This is particularly true when you have to hike prices due to truckers’ strike or a bandh in your area.