Monday, February 18, 2008

reliance retail

Anyone in the big cities in India cannot have missed the Reliance stores mushrooming with increasing frequency all over the place - iStore, Wellness, Fresh, Footprint, Jewels, Timeout etc. - the list is long.

I have been to Footprint and Timeout and both places give the same feel - an individual store with a wide variety of brands and product lines but the range in any one particular brand or product line falls abysmally short of being complete. Although Footprint had nearly 10 brands of men's shoes, I realised that by going to the Nike and Reebok shops at any mall I could get to see a better variety of, say, sports shoes. The same was the case with Timeout when it came to books and even some of their electronics range. Also, I'm not sure why they have electrical appliances at a bookstore.

Of all their chains, only Reliance Fresh is really overcrowded and has queues stretching past your imagination. But I would attribute that to lower prices and the mindset of people here to spend more time/effort/money to save a few rupees on groceries than it is worth. And even then these stores are so small that it takes a lot of determination to shop there. In fact, Tata's newly launched Star Bazaar beats Reliance Fresh hollow in terms of size and convenience.

I haven't understood their strategy. Given that this is Reliance entering retail, given their resources and given the excitement about retail in India, one would have expected Reliance to have a game-changing strategy. But they don't even offer the conveniences of everything under one roof, and aren't part of the usual malls - shoppers have to make the effort of going to a Reliance store to buy something, and to multiple stores to buy different things. And to top that, I don't see a compelling reason for a shopper to go to any of their stores. Perhaps I am missing something.


harmanjit said...

I think they understand the ethos of small towns where shops cater to one particular product category.

I personally find Reliance Fresh to be the best fruit/vegetable stores. I found them so in Noida/Delhi, I find them so now in Chandigarh.

They may go in for hypermarkets later. It also ties in with the fact that in most small towns, there is no space for big shops in the main bazaars. They seem to be aiming for wide distribution of stores throughout India. It might not work in the metros where people like things under one roof.

I haven't seen Tata stores, so will wait for them.

Umang said...

I partly agree that they might want to fit into the ethos of small towns. But things will change soon and if they are not the ones driving the change, they will be left to play catch up.

The problem with many small shops is that of redundancy in total shelf space. The same products are displayed over and over again and the consumers lose out in choice.