These days , a lot of heated debate is going on re FDI in ” Retail ”
There are many camps , viz:
> Brick-and-Mortar Retail traders
> E-Com Retail Traders
> FDI Investors / Overseas Manufacturers
> Single Brand vs Multi-Brand Formats
> Payment Gateways
> Central / State Governments
> Tax Authorities
> Bankers ………..etc
As far as I can see , the entire debate is centered around ” Retailing of Physical Goods ”
But how long before ” Retailing of Services ” too , enters the equation ?
Or does anyone think that to be a far-fetched idea ?
Just wait for 2018 to arrive !
Some 40 years back , marketing guru Ted Levitt wrote a seminal essay , aptly titled :
” Marketing Myopia ”
The central observation Levitt made was :
” Why do companies fail to ask : Ultimately what business are we in ? ”
Among many example that he gave was the case of American Railroad companies
They believed themselves to be in ” Railroad Business ” – and failed to see that they were , really into the business of ” Transporting People ” !
So , along came the ” Car Companies ” and the ” Air Lines Companies ” which made ” Railroad Companies ” obsolete !
Now , 40 years later , are ” Car Companies ” and the ” Air Lines Companies ” asking themselves : What business are we in ?
If the correct answer is : We are in the business of enabling people to meet and talk to other people :
then they would shift to Video-Conferencing / Holographic Projection business !
Or , if another answer is :
We are in the business of enabling a person sitting in hot Sahara desert to ” Experience ” the cool climate of Europe thru ” Virtual Reality ” ,
then they should be shifting to manufacture of future versions of Google Glass !
Levitt added :
” If you don’t make yourself obsolete , then someone else will ”
And more and more , it is happening that , that someone is NOT even anyone from your current competitors !
Have physical goods retailers , considered that soon , retailing itself might become obsolete ?
And if that happens , the question of FDI in retailing too will disappear !
A unknown guy sitting in a small cubicle in Estonia , will deliver to my grand daughter, sitting in Mumbai , any physical consumer product , through the 3D printer , sitting on her kitchen platform !
Or a Start-Up belonging to a bunch of 24+ something IIT guys would set up :
” 3D Printing Kiosks ” ( like the PCOs of a few years ago ) ,
in 1000 cities / towns of India , to deliver at your doorstep ( obviously using Drones ! ) , any Foreign Brand product , at a moment’s notice !
And a Central Government committed to Digital India , may even give them Rs 100 crores , by way of Venture Capital !
For the quarreling parties of FDI , it is time to ask of themselves :
How can we stop being made irrelevant ?
How do we re-invent ourselves ?
How do we stop becoming obsolete ?
How do we co-operate / collaborate to re-write the ” Rules of the Retail Game ” for the rest of the World ?
11 July , 2015