Sunday, January 25, 2009

Advantage local business

The internet has enabled a situation where a on-line store in Bangalore or Brazil is a regular shopping spot for a consumer in New York . Interesting products , consistent service and delivery mechanisms make it possible for (many) consumers to buy with ease from most physical locations across the world .

Zoom into Mumbai ( or most Indian metros for that matter ) . Traffic is a nightmare . Suburbs once one thought as being nearby now are distant . Between the sorry state of the roads , the lack of traffic regulation , poor quality of public transport (hence everyone who has a vehicle uses it ) - the result is situation that is drain on resources at every level - individual , national and planetary.

Local businesses have a natural advantage in terms of being able to offer savings on the most precious resource of the customer - TIME. A local grocery store , local book store , local bank , local spa , local florist , local coffee shop , local cinema....Of course just being local is not enough to win over consumers . And some businesses have a greater advantage by being local than others. e.g a consumer who wants to buy a high value appliance will make the effort to drive to a store 1 hour away to be able to see a wide range . And local does not mean a stand-alone store of a small business . It can be local HDFC bank branch , local Cafe Coffee Day , local PVR.

Local businesses have never had a better set of circumstances tilting the advantage in their favor . If they recognize it and spruce up their product and service offerings - everyone stands to gain :
- the business 
- the consumer - who saves time and money (otherwise spent on commuting )
- other citizens - who can possibly encounter lesser traffic on the roads !
- Fuel savings - for the consumer , nation and planet

Local businesses thriving can bring a whole host of benefits to the community . It can open up opportunities for entrepreneurs to start businesses locally , open up local employment opportunities for people residing in an area ( a 10 min commute to work in a city like Mumbai is a perk that beats membership to a fancy club ) .

A 100 years ago life was largely local for most inhabitants of the planet because transportation was limited . In cities like Mumbai we are approaching that way of life in varying degrees for reasons that have to do largely with transportation.

1 comment:

Neelakantan said...

This is a complete dichotomy is it not, at so many levels, as you
have pointed out. The world is shrinking at a communication level, yet in a physical level it is becoming further and further away.

Another thought on the same lines. Earlier, before mobile phones and
when the worlds threat perception was lower, in general, interaction with strangers was a given. Now with the phone, we are closer to who we want to be closer to, than with someone in front of us ;)

Is it completely bad, not sure...