Thursday, June 21, 2012

Business within business

The internet is a funny place. Traditional businesses get broken up at times, while at other times, there are business centered around seemingly disparate entities, but creating what can be pretty close to a "traditional" channel. The restaurant business seems to be one such.

Like asset stripping, it looks like the restaurant business is slowly being stripped off into many components.
 
Earlier, you would select a restaurant, go through the menu, order food, pay for it and depending on how you like it or your range of choices, would return. If it was close to your place, you would go keep its card safe, call them and they would deliver food.
 
Now, depending on what you choose, there are many others who help you in this process. First of all, you can go to a burrp.com and get a review of any restaurant before you visit. Earlier, it was just friends (it still remains so), but there is another option at burrp.
 
Then to book a seat, you go online and bookurtable.com. Yes, it is as simple as that and it does work - it worked quite neatly the one time I tried it.
 
Want to see the menu online? There is zomato for one. Or sites like justeat.in where you can get almost all of those services.
 
I also spotted a service called delyver which just delivers food (flowers, cakes whatnot)  - from those restaurants (and other businesses) they have tied up with.     
 
Interesting no? Who would have thought that there are so many separate parts to running a restaurant business - though it is obvious on the face of it…
 
Will these services make revenue enough to see them through? And whether these are "temporary" as opposed to "permanent" businesses? And whether the customer fickle minded as he or she is, see enough value in these services enough to return to them?
 
Wondering how many such businesses can be stripped? Shirts for one, can surely be. Order fabric online, a chap comes home and measures you, and then the shirt is stitched and finally delivered at your place. thestiffcollar also does the part of shirt design/size selection and delivery minus the fabric and measurements.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

To review or not

I recently picked up a book from my library. The title aroused my suspicion. As it is life isn't too short for reading books one doesnt like, I decided to spend a couple of hours skimming through this book.

The book in question is supposedly fiction, but you wont be able to distinguish it from newspaper or media reports on many issues and touches upon one of the reasonably burning issues of the day. No it is not about the country which is burning anyway. But this topic is a hot favourite.

The book is a great read, for those who have a perfectly convoluted view of the world and it is sad that these Antartic types find a book like this worth publishing. But the book hits all the sweet spots on writing for a story like this.

  • India is no country for a particular religion
  • Progressive educated type fellow of that religion is insulted
  • Falls in love with someone from another community (no prizes for guessing)
  • Gives her an earful of how "they" hate "him" (no mention of the other side, but well...)
  • Ailing progressive father and subdued family 
  • More "insults"
  • Meets handler who operates an NGO, but no ethical dilemma here
  • Takes to terrorism since there is no other recourse
  • Meets other like minded people
  • Goes off to neighbouring country and returns to fight in Kashmir
  • Lots of noises about Indian atrocities in Kashmir (yes, yes, those ones which are not about the ones who were driven out) and some baddies in the Indian army
  • Mentions a specific riot, a disputed religious site and a famous politician barely veiled
  • Rants and raves about all the injustice in the world, well not all, but some specific injustice
  • In the end realizes that he was a pawn in someone elses game
  • Gets killed in the end, honorably etc.
No surprises here - I kind of knew what I was getting into, but no, I wont name the book nor the author not anything else and give them any oxygen of publicity - even on this blog that has few visitors.

A new kind of victimhood has appeared and it will keep appearing in places like this since our liberal friends think this is the kind of tripe people want to read.

And I suppose the only thing to do about such things is publish better stuff yourself...and ignore stuff like this. Thank god for libraries or we would be wasting money on stuff like this.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Swamimalai, an offbeat destination

If you are looking for a place to visit - an offbeat destination - consider Swamimalai. The Indeco resort here is a really cool one. The resort has an olden day feel to it - created as it is from an abandoned village. The houses are painted in the old colour scheme (indeed, you can see similar schemes outside it), there are many old equipments and furniture for the resort visitors to browse through. The swimming pool looks like a temple tank and overall, it is a nice place to relax. Food is great too. All of this makes for a quaint resort - very different from the cement and concrete monstrosities that pass off as resorts.

And around Kumbakonam - which is perhaps the epicenter of temple country in India - there are a million temples to see - each grander than the other. Each of these temples has its own quaint story and it is amazing to see how these temples bind one part of India to another by these stories.

Plus Swamimalai also happens to the epicentre of the bronze statue making art and there are numerous workshops that sell these statues. Beautiful, hand crafted and exceptionally detail oriented, they are a collectors dream come true. All in all, quite an offbeat destination, but if heritage is your thing, this is one of those must visit places.

And if you need a cab while you are there,do ask for Sriram of Gopalan travels...

Retailers, be very afraid

In the second wave of online shopping in India there are many new entrants. They are breaking into hitherto untapped spaces (or spaces that were not viable in the earlier run) like toys, baby stuff, groceries etc.

Personally, I have never tried buying groceries (and I am just a step away from trying them) or baby stuff or toys online, but there is no reason for me to believe that they wont be good - since the leader in this space, Flipkart has set a stellar example of on time delivery and customer satisfaction.

I am also very close to shirt shopping from The Stiff Collar - which is capturing a need for bespoke shirts. I wish they had some way of fabric shopping as well.

A few days back a retailer announced a huge discount sale on electronic items. When I visited the place, it seemed exciting enough. But when we compared it online, we found that the price differential was not very high and they also had the item we needed in stock - which was not the case with the retailer. And that brings me closer to ordering electronic stuff online - another first.

If am not mistaken, in the developed world the behaviour is similar - people window shop offline and then order it online.

As a retailer, I would be very very afraid of this kind of behaviour. Online shopping is the biggest threat and opportunity to malls and other shops. Personally for me, beyond a point, shopping is a pain. Driving, parking, shopping, selection, billing, driving back - I would much rather do it online!

Also, as oil prices go up, it is also becoming cost ineffective to go around burning oil to buy groceries. I would much rather burn bandwidth!

Mobile phones are the new transistor radios

When I was growing up, transistor radios were a big rage. The huge radios had just given way to the smaller, portable ones. And that meant that, getting cricket scores was now easy. The small radio did the trick. Barbers had one, vegetable vendors had one, every little shop had a small radio that played songs. Students had one too - the luckier ones atleast. Over time perhaps it became a nuisance and on BEST buses, there was this quaint notice that said "Use of Radios and Transistors prohibited". But the use of little radios never stopped, especially during cricket matches, not until mobile phones arrived actually.

But its been a short lived respite. Now, all around you, one can see people leaving the cellphone turned on with songs (mostly) and leaving it in their pockets as they go about doing their day to day work. And it is not the radio it is songs of all shapes and sizes with decibels being the only common factor.

And it is a nuisance, just as the transistors were in the olden days! The more technologies change, the more behaviour remains the same...