Monday 27 July 2015

A Modern Day Entrepreneur Story

Many of you may have heard the story about a man who comes to the city in search of livelihood. He approaches a potato trader who offers him a spot under his stall and a sack of potatoes to sell every day. Every morning this man would take a sack of potatoes, sell all the potatoes during the day and pay the trader at the end of the day. What the trader noticed was that this man would sell the potatoes at the same price that he bought from the trader. This went on for almost a month and finally the trader asked him as to how he made money if he was selling potatoes at the same price that he bought them. The man smiles and tells the trader that he makes no money by selling potatoes but he makes money by selling the sack that the potatoes come in.

Come to the present day of e-tailing. Here we have Mr. X buying goods online for his friends and neighbours. He doesn't charge them anything extra for the purchases. So where does he make money. Very simple, it's on the packaging. Most e-tailers are sending their goods in new corrugated paper packaging with bubble wraps and air filled polythene buffers so that the goods don't get damaged. Recycle and reuse and that is where you make money.
And here is an interesting fact. If you return any of the goods or exchange them, only the goods get picked up and not the packaging. Thusly you still make money. Enjoy..

Sunday 12 July 2015

No Winter Guard for your Itch

It's July. Another 6 months and as a season it will be winter. Not that it matters to people in Mumbai. But it also means that I will have to keep track of stocks of prickly heat powders and make sure I have enough to last till the next summer. Now you would wonder as to why somebody would stock up on something like prickly heat powder.

Over the last 3 -4 years I have observed the disappearance of prickly heat powders from store shelves usually in the period November to February. Enquiries would often throw up allegations of non-supply by distributor or margin issues between the distributors and the manufacturer. This I found to be a quite baffling as to how distributor related issues arose only in these months. The alternates would only be talcum powders which do not serve the purpose. You end up smelling like lavender, lily, or mogra and still scratch yourself like a dog with lice especially in the unmentionable regions. Not the one to give up, My search would reach out to the smallest of the chemists/general stores who would have some really old unsold stock. This search has now extended to online stores and buying out enough to last the full year.

Last year too I faced a similar predicament but got a fresh insight from the store manager of a popular grocery chain. Apparently, as the store manager informs, this is a seasonal phenomenon and has nothing to do with seller margins or the distributor. Prickly heat powders, and other over the counter anti itch lotions/medications are primarily summer products and are not manufactured once winter is about to set in due to their low off take.

But who defines when it's winter in Mumbai. It's probably those days when severe cold means you switch off the fans. I have not even seen anybody selling heaters or electric blankets in this city. Very few people own woolens.

Any resident of Mumbai will tell you their battles with sweaty conditions through the year. Enough fights occur in attempting to secure a spot under a fan in a local train. At railway stations you will find people in a reverse huddle of sorts with backs to each other at various spots to get some breeze out of the fan like contraption hanging from an overhead girder.

The only way to protect yourself, if you are the sweaty kind, is to douse yourself with liberal amounts of prickly heat powders and hope that you don’t get some heat rashes and other bacterial skin infections.
To put forth a demand that prickly heat powders should be declared as an essential commodity may not be entirely wrong. What say friends?