Posts Tagged ‘shopping’

The eternal skirmish :)

March 4, 2013

One of my friends, on a mailing list, sent me this picture,

lcd shelves 030313 photo lcdshelves.jpg

with the text:

“A New Concept to Shop…World’s First Virtual Shopping Store opens in Korea. All the Shelves are in fact LCD Screens.Users Choose their desired items by touching the LCD screen and checkout at the counter.In the end, all their ordered stuff is packed in Bags….Isn’t that Amazing ?”

My response was, “I don’t find this good at all. If I am going to take the trouble to go to a supermarket to shop, I want to hold the actual product in my hands, calculate the unit cost, choose…and I fail to see why a more electricity- and internet-dependent process should be better than the physical, and simple, process of taking the merchandise and paying for it.”

Another friend’s response was, “The first dotcom book in the late nineties spawned a webmarket in HongKong, which amongst other things sold fresh produce. The investor fell flat on his face because the ladies who checked out the service complained of the one bad potato amongst six…For branded merchandise, it may still work.”

But no, even that may not work, I feel. The Indian housewife (or homemaker, take your pick of terms; I mean, ME!) is eternally engaged in polite warfare with her grocer/vendor, . We (the shopkeeper and I) both know what’s happening, but we both prefer to keep up the pretence that he (there are no women grocers where I live) is giving me, always, the best stuff for the money I pay. I, personally, ensure this by going to the shop to do my purchasing.

Whenever I phone in an order to my kirana store, I am sure of getting some stuff with older dates and newer (higher) prices; stuff which might have reached its expiry date; small “mistakes” in the pricing and totalling (never, ever, on the downward side), billing for small items not supplied…small items supplied but not asked for….this happened with branded items, too.

There’s no point, I’ve decided, in making this an issue; I just avoid the situation, by being in the shop physically, and checking what I am buying. I cannot even abide the other pernicious practice of paying my change in sweets or toffees. I suggest that next time I’ll pay him entirely in toffees, if he does this…and grudgingly, he brings out the correct change, which he always had in the till!

Shopping for household goods and vegetables is an interesting transaction in India, always!

At the Supermarket, 260911

September 27, 2011

Obviously, I haven’t got too many images of GD to share, since I came back…but I just got a lovely one of her, with her special-sized trolley, at the store (I’d say this was Trader Joe’s)….

boodi wtng in line 260911

I suspect that soon DnA will teach her to cycle, and then she will be doing all the family shopping while she is at the daycare….

How I shop

August 9, 2007

From a mailing list on which I find many interesting conversations, comes this quote (it’s good only for a week from here’s the quote about shopkeeping methods, as well…)

An interesting user experience-related issue.

“On a tour of one of his supermarkets, Kishore Biyani notes that shopping
carts are getting stuck in the narrow aisles, wheat and lentils have
spilled onto the floor, black spots cover the onions and it’s difficult
to hear above the constant in-store announcements. He grins and
congratulates the store manager.

Mr. Biyani, 45 years old, has built a large business and a family
fortune on the simple premise that, in India, chaos sells.

Americans and Europeans might like to shop in pristine and quiet stores
where products are carefully arranged. But when Mr. Biyani tried that in
Western-style supermarkets he opened in India six years ago, too many
customers walked down the wide aisles, past neatly stocked shelves and
out the door without buying.

Mr. Biyani says he soon figured out what he was doing wrong. Shopping in
such a sterile environment didn’t appeal to the lower middle-class
shoppers he was targeting. They were more comfortable in the tiny,
cramped stores — often filled with haggling customers — that typify
Indian shopping. Most Indians buy their fresh produce from vendors who
keep vegetables under burlap sacks.”

I disagree very strongly with Mr Biyani. Here’s how *I* shop.

Since I am a housewife ( I don’t think working women do this), I go to a kirana shop. The guy started out on his own about 12 years ago, with a couple of brothers added to the strength in the first six months. Three months ago they moved to a building which they had constructed, where two upper floors are for the accomodation and feeding of the various people they bring in from Mewar in Rajasthan where the original extended family comes from (they outgrew the extended family and started to bring in others from the village, and now, from the area.) I have been taken to see the living quarters. Neat and tidy, with three men sharing a bathroom. A communal kitchen cooks simple meals for the men. One of the shop assistants told me he now is regularly able to contribute to his family’s kitty back “home”. They go home once in about two years, for about a month. That’s about the same as I have seen with similar level jobs in the Gulf.

The vending model is simple. All goods are fetched by aforementioned young men and the customer can see it only OTC. At one stroke, this eliminates any shoplifting on the part of the customer; and since the young shop assistants are, esentially, immigrants who are being housed and fed, there’s not much chance of shoplifting on their side, either. A fairly wide avenue for overheads eliminated at the source.

The shop sells everything below the Maximum Retail Price (which I think happens to be one of the biggest frauds perpetrated on a consuming public). A one-kg pack of detergent, for example, costs about five or six rupees less than the MRP. Customers are allowed to look at the expiry dates and mfg dates of products and exchange them. Since I have always gone shopping myself, and never send servants or drivers, I have always been able to return any unsatisfactory goods for exchange or cash. Hence,it is I who can ensure that the quality of what I buy is good.

I am still trying to find a name for this shop-consumer relationship..the shop owner and the assistants all know me perfectly well, and I know all of them. We, however, never exchange any social chitchat. But once or twice I have not had enough (or any) cash….I was told I could bring the goods home and take them the money later. No credit cards, no problems.

One mark of the success of this shop is that local small shopkeepers also come to shop here. Selling the goods at their shops at MRP gives them enough of a margin….and that says something about how much money I am really saving by shopping here.

Of course, the shop is always crowded. My husband has an eatery philosophy…if you see two eateries and one is crowded…go to the crowded one. There is a reason it is crowded. I also solve this problem by going either at 10am or at 3pm…lean times.

I Iearlier make, and take along, a shopping list (written in Hindi!) and give it to whoever comes to serve me. Yes, it takes a while, but no longer than it would take me in a supermarket with the checkout queues…in fact, if I suddenly think of something else while the amount is being totted up (calculators have only recently been introduced; the original members of the extended family carried the prices in their heads and would total things in a trice) it is brought and added to the pile…I don’t have to go anywhere or lose my place in the queue.

I do not have an array of lousy magazines or high-calorie candy to distract me and part me from my cash as I wait for checkout. I am not tempted to buy unnecessary stuff as I browse the aisles. (I do buy some stuff sometimes, when the shop assistant mentions some special discounts that might apply…but that would not be candy or carbonated drinks or shoddy knicknacks.) In fact, often, I am able to tell the assistant,for example, “I don’t want the ‘free bucket’ that comes with this detergent” and I get the price knocked down by another 50 rupees. So much for the “free offers” that are given by department stores.

When I take my neighbour’s kids along, a packet of biscuits or chocolates suffices for them; they are not tempted to browse along the junk food ailsles, or ask me to buy expensive “kiddy” stuff. I do not have to buy industrial quantities of products to qualify for discounts.

I think, as a consumer, I am extremely lucky to live in a country where this kind of frugal, efficient retail model exists. This is, for me, the best grocery retail system. My shopping is not “fun” it’s not “chaos”, real or artificial, either. But it is, all the same, a very good experience.

Home Delivery

January 10, 2007

This was brought on by a comment that reethika made about my merchandise post.

In India we have a facility in grocery shopping that I have not seen elsewhere…door delivery. Just phone up the grocer and soon, you will have your goods delivered to your doorstep. Coooool, huh? I am sure my overworked friends abroad would just swoon at the thought of this convenience.

But…it’s not unalloyed bliss as one would think. I have always avoided having stuff home-delivered…because….

because…under this cut

Lovely day at Chennai

October 24, 2006

The first prerequisite to enjoy oneself in Chennai is that it should be a holiday so that the regular traffic is missing; the second, that it is cloudy and cool as the regular heat and humidity turn me into an air-conditioned-room-occupying slothful creature, barely able to lift a hand to click the remote or the keyboard.

But today, both conditions were met at Chennai..and even better, two of my close friends were off from work; one works for Deutsche Software and the other works with dyslexic children. Both are fun-loving women. itsalouwelylife, alas, had to work today…her “Id” holiday is tomorrow, not today!

But I cant really let a day go by without seeing my dear Itsalouwelylife, so when KM got ready to go to the airport to take a flight back to Blr (he will return tomorrow for the wedding) I decided to walk the 5 km to Itsa’s home. I reached there in time for a steaming tumbler-damara of hot filter coffee and the softest dosais I have eaten for a LONG time.

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Things to do..and the monsoon….

August 29, 2005

Leaving on a 7 week trip is stressful…first I have to get the thousands of things…then I have to fit them into 2 suitcases!

It is pouring with rain outside as I write. Bangalore is so lush and green and dustless (if not dirtless or mudless) at this time. I am so reluctant to leave for much warmer and possibly more humid, climes….I just LOVE Bangalore in the monsoon. Having been brought up in Kolkata, where Bengali literature is preoccupied with the monsoon…it’s one of my favourite seasons. It is the season where the ever-present ferocity of the sun is held at is the season for fecundity and fresh new growth and greenery everywhere, even in the nooks and crannies of old walls….for many years, living in Chennai, I missed the summer monsoon so much…I think the love of the monsoon is deeply ingrained in my psyche.