Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ironwallah, raddiwallah

Retail? As I wrote this post, a thought struck me, by no means a unique thought. If proximity is the only thing that is going to drive Indian consumers to retail, then what is the differentiator between the ironwallah, raddiwallah and Indian retail?

The ironwallah, and the raddiwallah, are, for people in Bangalore a unique species. They are found in every cross road and are often replaced by another ironwallah or raddiwallah every now and then. They have no brand and a commodity business, yet a necessity. They get customers only because of their proximity. Some of them are known for better service than others and these guys get a little more business than others, but ultimately, theirs is not a very scalable model since people from very far will not give them clothes/junk.

In most Indian cities, public transport is not very developed - Mumbai perhaps being an exception. But even in Mumbai using public transport to lug your "shopped" articles back home can be quite an effort. Most shops, including ironwallahs and raddiwallahs offer home delivery. While Big Bazaars may be successful, it would be vital to remember that they attract just the tip of the total market. Those who are willing to drive down to shop. Which means, they are the people who shop in bulk, large families, families with cars, drivers by and large. The others would, in all probability, be browsers.

That leaves the bulk of the population untouched. For them these Big Bazaars are too far for regular shopping and good for an occasional purchase or two. The others would almost necessarily go by what I call as "proximity shopping." Unless there is a clear strategy to get this mass, retailers would have to follow the ironwallah, raddiwallah model. A shop in nearly every street.

2 comments:

Kavi said...

There are one in each apartments now !! :)

Neelakantan said...

Thanks!I missed stating that actually. they are exclusive to an apartment...