Saturday, August 12, 2006

Retail services

Up on Aadhists blog, a nice post on the other retail - services retail. And yes, honestly I had never thought about it. Why? Because of a blind spot. I have never visited a Webworld yet. Maybe I should.

For a lot of services though, the web is good enough and if it already is not, it will be good enough at some point. So, I would see this service as a transient service at best in the urban areas. Second, as rightly pointed out, getting trained staff to cross sell multiple products is not easy. Petrol pumps and their credentials in retail, IMHO, are very low, because if you need parking space for even 30 cars, there are few pumps who have that much space. So, their play would be restricted to quick pickups en route to home or wherever.

The big guy in this space who is really the Kumbhakarna who should wake up and smell the opportunity. The department of posts (was surprised that they have a functional website) has actually woken up to the opportunity of using their post offices as touchpoints for the 1 billion (oops, thanks Abi, it is not 10) population of India. (Remove some of the city slickers, they still have the world in their pocket.)

The website lists out a few things they have realised about the goldmine of touchpoints they are sitting on. This year, IT returns could be filed via post offices - which bought them a cool INR 3 crores. Passport applications, e-bills are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg they are looking at (they are actually looking at a post bank - whew). Add a few computers, broadband and perhaps a small coffee shop and they could pip any Webworld to any post.

Meanwhile Super bazaar joins the list of Reliance acquisitions after Sahakari Bhandar, HPMC reports DNA India. Whos next? Slowly but surely, RIL retail is taking shape.


Abi said...

Um ..., the last I heard, the population of India was somewhere between 1.1 and 1.2 billion.

Yes, it's growing fast, but it could not have grown so fast in the last year to reach 10 billions.

I would say our Department of Posts requires a reformist minister like Laloo Yadav to turn it around and to make it nimble and profitable. ;-)

Aadisht Khanna said...

I think the Department of Posts will have an even tougher time cross-selling than WebWorld or petrol pumps. Accepting an IT return form is substantially different from convincing someone to buy a mutual fund.

A reformist minister could help, but I think you'd need three terms of reformists posts ministers to bring about that sort of change. On an extremely improbable note, someone could even pull a Koizumi, break up the post office, and privatize the inessential parts.