It was very interesting to see the behavior of Retail traders during the Corona pandemic. I dealt with 5 retailers, and each person was a little different. The two big players who came to our society to set up shops were Reliance Fresh (I do not know which format, but it was Reliance), and D’Mart.

The other 3 people I dealt with were 2 retail shops and one farmer initiative who took orders on phone, payment online and delivered a package of fruits/veggies combo.

The 2 organised retailers too did not behave similarly. Reliance botched up on day 1 -taking a long time in the billing, but corrected course immediately. Reliance brought an amazing variety of fruits and veggies. We tried calling some retail veggie vendors, but they got greedy and were terrible on weight and quantity. Sad. They missed out on the veggie shopping of about 550 families – captive audience for say 3 months.

Reliance delivered good quantity, quality, good brands of bread and dairy products, no pre-packing of big sizes – and overall left a good feeling. Nobody felt fleeced, and the quantities were fair, and prices more than fair. Kudos.

Reliance also delivered provisions – I did not buy, so I will not comment. I think they did that only once, I am not sure.

D’Mart came only once. They brought unknown brands (Dukes biscuits, Society Tea)..and completely wrong size (1 kg Tea and 10kg wheat). Were they trying to push things which could not be sold? No idea. A couple of people cribbed about the expiry being very close. Honestly I did not notice that so I will not comment. They charged us all a fee (Rs. 100 per bill I think, not sure whether it was an ad valorem, I do think it was an absolute charge. D’Mart came only once – and after that opened their online facility and delivered to our gate. I did not participate – my wife bought and she did crib about packet sizes but better range of branded products were available. However, the slots for delivery was difficult to get. Not a happy experience, but I do admit that I have no clue about what constraints they were working under.

The next player – lets call him B – was awesome. Yes I have chosen the word carefully. He never shut down. Almost always had an unending supply of milk, bread, biscuits, savories, dal, rice, wheat (less known brand called Madam, he said bigger brands had perhaps gone underground), savories, biscuits, and vegetables. Home delivery? Yes sir, but after 5pm. Yes home delivery was pushed from morning to evening. No complaints, will shift from D’Mart to B for a lot of my shopping. Sure D’Mart gives me better price, but this guy will deliver one packet of bread, or 250 gms of coffee. Others have much higher minimum package size AND delivery schedule that I can’t control.

The next player C was also very good. He stocked his shop regularly which meant going to him meant never having to come away disappointed. He did not stock veggies, only sells packaged food, but milk was always available.

The farmer’s pre-packed initiative was also good and many people used it. I used it once and then we found that the quantities were just too much. One kg onion was my annual consumption, not weekly. Garlic was a complete waste for us. So suddenly not being able to control the contents meant we could not use it. Some pricing and mischief was discussed in the Wassapp groups, but I can’t really comment.

None of the players – organized and small retail (about 500 m from our gate) – nobody tried over-pricing. B priced his veggies and told us that he was procuring it from Nashik (not Navi Mumbai APMC) – and was always willing to say “I need to cover my exorbitant rent” was his refrain. In the afternoon he turned electrician (you need amazing skills to live as a small entrepreneur), in the evening his wife looked after the veggies, and he became an electrician. He opened his shop at 8am..any takers?

How did our society members behave? Well that’s not a post, that’s a book!

 

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