Let me call it The Big Bazaar with The Small Parking. The car parking was full. The two-wheeler parking was also full. Inside was a big crowd – lots of people shopping, a few just strolling around. I stayed there for two hours, talked to a few customers, checked out their technology, how they handle pilferage, and of course the prices. Before leaving I even managed to get into their stockroom (causing some confusion among the security guys there) and saw the way they stock their inventory.

Pluses
1. Good brand perception – they have build a good brand – the name is there in everyone’s head now. Most of the people seemed to be “checking it out? first, before they actually switch to Big Bazaar.
2. No competition – This is true for most of India, as the organised retail is just taking off; hence players are doing their best to avoid stepping on each other’s foot.

Minuses
1. Congested Inside – Right now they can get away by stuffing heavily, leaving barely enough space to walk, but later people will want more space.
2. Weak real-value positioning – Standing in checkout for half-an-hour for saving on a few bucks. I think they should do something to speed up the checkout – maybe have separate checkout lines for those with less than 10 items (on lines of Wal-Mart), or self-checkouts for members.
3. Convenience matters – especially in parking. Do something to increase the parking space. You are in cities, with best builders and real-estate developers – talk to them proactively – make multilevel if necessary.

But pluses outweigh the minuses, at least for now. Unless there is real competition, I feel the show will go on more or less the same way. Mr. Biyani has kick-started organised retail in India in a big way. Pantaloon’s stock price going through the roof substantiates that. It has appreciated from Rs 44 in Mar, 2003 to Rs 2000 in Sept, 2005.

Advertisements