Harrods and Walmart on a push cart

If you know India a bit or have been there sometime, you probably have seen many sights that you could call ‘unique’. Now having been born and brought up in Delhi and it has to take a lot for me to be surprised by something. But the following did.

Harrods and Walmart on a push cart

The above crossed my path while taking a breather on a mission to do the customary wedding shopping of  jewellery and sweets on my recent trip to India,  as i landed up in a part of Delhi that most of you may not even know exist. Absolutely back of the beyond but arguably some of the best mithai (sweets) that you can get in Delhi. Since i am interested in the consumption and not in the act of preparation or buying, i decided to wait next to my car while the rest of the companions pushed and jostled to reach a small mithai shop , where our order was being freshly prepared and packed (that’s India for you).

While waiting and watching the incredible late afternoon hustle of this trading street, the above caught my eye.  The sheer irony of encountering this, while on the way to one of the most exclusive addresses in Delhi for jewellery shopping, was striking. This 2 square mtr wide push cart that makes its way around this street had a collection that rivals the best that Harrods or Walmart can offer, and some stuff they can’t!  Intrigued by the collection, i inched closer trying my best to stay conspicuous, but without fail, as i attracted almost as much attention from this cart’s customers as it wares.

During a space of 15 minutes, the proud owner sold a Burbirry belt (for 75 cents, to a resolute lady who bargained as if there is no tomorrow), a pair of Doir Sunglasses (Dior or Doir is perhaps better known on that street compared to Burbirry/Burberry, so with the added brand premium the cost was 1.50 dollars) , several notepads whose buyers were probably more interested in the pictures on them than what will be scribbled inside, fixed a new buckle on someone’s belt, sold 2 ear muffs to hapless folks braving the freezing temperatures of 15 degrees, some knick-knacks to kids etc. etc….

What’s astonishing is not the prices, or the amount of imitation and wrongly spelled designer brands on offer but how perfectly the owner has captured the pulse of his market. He knows perfectly what will sell, which ‘brands’ are the most sought after, how much stock to carry, which customers will actually buy and which are just hanging around, who is a hard bargainer and whom he can profit from, optimal shelf space utilization, display design – the list is endless. All this without a million dollar customer research, inventory and supply management, customer service training budget.

I bow to your ingenuity ‘O great retailer with the rickety push cart. Philip Kotler should have taken you as the prime case study while writing his seminal book on marketing. The world acknowledges India as the next economic superpower and wants a slice of the Indian consumer pie. But Harrods & Walmart,  don’t even think of setting up shop in India, because this guy will beat you hands down and twice over on a Sunday.