Why physical retail in India must survive…

It is a universally known phenomenon that online shopping has and still is severely impacting physical retail in India. Now, consider a scenario where slowly and steadily, physical retail is largely driven out of business, not because their fundamental business model was weak, but because as individual entities they couldn’t raise huge amounts of foreign funding to continuously subsidize prices year after year.

Where would you take your family for an outing?

Parks? When was the last time you visited a park for a social outing?

Cinema halls? How many movies would you see every month? Two, over the weekend?

Eating out? How unhealthy do you want your lifestyle to become? First, pay for the junk food and then pay a doctor for treatment.

Unlike other parts of the world, you can’t go for a long scenic driven here. Yes, it can be a long, bumpy and painful drive with hours stuck in unpredictable traffic jams. And if the weather god is kind to give you some romantic showers, you need other gods to get past the deadlock on non-functional traffic lights!

The point I am making is that shopping in the local market/malls is possibly the only social outing on a regular basis for a lot of Indian families. You get out, visit a few shops, haggle with a few, make a purchase, meet people and gorge on some street food and come home. Simple way to get out of the daily rigmarole.

Having said that, I also recognize that every human being is looking for convenience and a good deal on shopping. Yes, shopping online offers both. Sitting in the comfort of your home you can order anything. Yes, there is no immediate gratification and there can be disappointments, as you may not get exactly what you wanted. But, convenience matters. The good news is that now, technology is available to enable you to buy from the physical stores in your local market; with the same convenience and great deals.

Relaxing on your sofa, with a simple mobile app you can find out which store in the local market is carrying exactly the kind of product you want to buy online and what is the deal that they are offering you. You can get connected to the shopkeeper and arrange for goods to be picked-up or delivered as per your convenience. You can mix the social outing and shopping effectively by knowing exactly which shops you want to visit as they carry the merchandise you want to buy.

Once such venture is PriceMap, which enables you to select a product online, and then finds out which retailers in your vicinity are carrying the same product and the available deal on the same. Simply put, it offers you the best of both worlds - take your pick :-)