Saturday, October 17, 2015

The clash of the new age sellers vs traditional sellers

In the book “Clash of Civilisations and the remaking of the world order” Samuel P Huntington wrote:

“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion […] but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.”

The Indian retail space is rallying for a similar clash. Except instead of organised violence, it is the superiority in applying venture capital from abroad.

If not already evident from the numerous court cases, administrative and legislative actions in the taxi space. Similar clashes have happened in the mobile retailing space where a mobile phone giant had to stop official sales to online stores because the general trade boycotted them. Today’s chemist strike is but another lesson.

What are Chemists striking against? The arrival of online medicine stores. These stores like all such businesses before it seek to move the sale of medicines away from your corner shop into the digital space. Or this is what it is in theory.

Even if we ignore the regulations and hazards (and there are many) around the sale of drugs. Since the way the services get marketed, the marketplace is  the final arbiter of trust. No matter who the final supplier. So, if a seller on an online marketplace screws up, it is the reputation of the marketplace that is impacted.

The online vs offline battle is set to escalate very rapidly remaking industries as we go, as the benefits of cheap connectivity is rapidly spreading through the country.

While new age entrepreneurs are attempting to build such digital marketplaces across the country, the offline marketplaces are pretty much left bereft of any advantages of technology at a large scale. Traditional technology interventions have been clunky, expensive and take so much time to deploy and manage, that the world has already moved on to something else by the time you have fully realised the benefits of that deployment.

It's time to Uberise offline retail.

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