Archive for December, 2009

Bangalore Traffic Police Go Hi-Tech

Embarassed as I’m of what happened, I can’t help but write about the incident and the revelation. I broke a “u-turn” rule recently near Koramangala in Bangalore in order to avoid a huge traffic jam and got caught by the traffic police. Well, as notorious as they are for taking bribes they are there at all the places, you can’t really escape as much as you wish!

Anyway, coming back to the point, as I approached the officer to pay my fine I noticed that he had a blackberry with him and a small printer (like the ones that print credit card slips at retail stores). He asked for my license and I gave it to him, still puzzled at the hi-tech gadgetry and sophistication around him. He asked me for a few details, took a picture of my license and printed me a receipt for the fine! I was shocked, to say the least!!!

When I probed further, he told me that they have been using this for the past 2 years and that the blackberry application was indigenously developed by the Bangalore Traffic Police department. The photo of the license and the details get uploaded via satellite link to their server and it gets recorded as a transacion in his account. He felt pride in explaining this to me and I was literally dumbstruck!

What can I say, if they keep a tab on that account the corruption levels can definitely be monitored and controlled to a large extent and as to the technology adoption hats off to the department.


Come Festivities, Come Offers

Festivities – xmas, new year are all round the corner. All the malls and shops are decked up, waiting for the massive footfalls that would happen over the shopping season that will prevail over the next few weeks. Frankly, I love the buzz, it is a nice warm feeling…as if the world can go to naught but I will continue to shop till I drop!

Anyway, the point I was coming to was the “offers” being offered to lure customers to visit malls, stores and spend their money on certain items vs the others. While these work most of the times, I do wish that our retail grows beyond this cycle of limited quantity, cheap offers. What I would really like to see are a lot of variety and reasonable prices. When I compare any international retail store to the ones in India, these two things stand out as sore thumbs. In any category, there is always insufficient variety and the ones that are reasonably good quality are unreasonably priced. I wonder why my money or hardwork is worth less than the ones anywhere else in the world? Why should I get to choose from any less of a variety? Why should I pay for a “lesser experience”? Why should I waste my time browsing aisles that have “insufficient” depth on any given brand? And, most importantly, why should I pay more to get an item off this limited variety?

Our retail cycle will boom when it goes to the level of lot of variety (thereby adding depth in category as well as a given brand) and reasonable price, only to go down the next cycle of offers to get people to buy from those categories too..but I do want to be able to experience that boom part of the cycle to feel like a pampered customer come festivities and then….wait for the offers ūüôā

What say guys? Innovation in retail…India is calling. Will Bharti + Walmart be the first answer?

Talking about sticky ads…

This is going to be a quick post about 2 ads that caught my attention. They are not very new but all the same stir the same “wow” feeling in my mind everytime I see them. These can be classified as those rare gems that convey the point, without overdoing it, everytime you see them and embody the essence of the brand extremely well. So here goes…

1. Reebok is running an ad for its easy tone range of sneakers across major cities in India with the tagline – “good for the feet, great for the sole”. It shows a lady’s shapely back with exercise shorts and shoes on her feet. I was caught off guard by the tagline. It was catchy! However, I forgot to click a picture of the ad and hence have been searching for the past few days online to get a picture of the same. Surprisingly, I came across a range of ads that they are running in other parts of the world that have much more sex quotient than the one I saw in India. And this rant came from as far and wide as China and the US. Check them out here and here.

2. Bharti AXA Health Insurance is running an ad with the tagline “why do most insurance companies make life so difficult?” and I agree 100%. Their ads claim that customers will never have to face issues related to cashless hospitalization not being approved in certain hospitals or do a produce a medical check up certificate prior to applying for a health insurance…however, it ends with the claim that you will never have to do a pre-emptive medical check up till age 55. Well,¬†I would rather my health insurance company pay for a pre-emptive checkup every year than a one-time payment owing to sickness that could have been prevented, only if I had done regular checkups.

3. Fly Touch phones – This is a mobile phone company launched from Europe in 2003¬†and the ads I watched on national TV in India are as close to ridiculous as one can get. If you haven’t seen it or don’t believe me. Hear this out…a pilot is talking about the product sturdiness and a phone drops out of a flight, lands right into his hand and to top this all, there is a girl next to the pilot and he says, ‘it is as sturdy and reliable as you”…whoa!!! I must say, I had thought I had seen the lower limit of ridiculous ads in India, but this pushed the boundary further down…way down!

4. And…the zoos, zoos are back – lovely ads, as usual – though will not make me want to purchase the connection, I love seeing the ads. I especially love the new ad around roaming that Vodafone is running – “why be a tourist in your own country?” – pay 1p/s on roaming. Love this!!!

5. Karbonn Mobiles – I saved the best for the last. Now, this is a mobile company from India. UTL and Jaina group have co-launched this product and the first range of ads I saw was around dual-SIM. While the product is good, the ad was around managing a dual life (two wives…),¬†the ad is funny, but goodness knows what point it was driving home and what segment it was catering to!

Anyhow…I wind down my list now and break the spell around no blog posts for the last 3 weeks with apologies. If anyone has purchased any of the products mentioned above please feel free to post your opinions, would love to hear from you.

The “Bose” Sound Experience

I¬†made our first Bose speaker purchase today. I went to the store with my mind made up on the model I was going to purchase. However, the store is setup to sell an experience, so I could not resist the temptation to do some “experience” shopping. First off, I have to do a hat tip to the very professional and efficient approach to selling and customer service at the Bose Store in Forum, Koramangala as well as the one in MG Road. Now, I was fixated on one model and the sales person introduced me to the models one and two levels above the one I was looking at and then the whole loop started…let me go through it in steps…as they were wierd, unrelated threads, yet some good food for thought.

1. He showed me Companion 3 (C3)¬†and Companion 5 (C5) and as his standard sales pitch started the demo on C5. The difference he told me was that it was surround sound whereas C3 was just stereo. Now, C5 and C3 demos are not created with the same material (songs, videos etc. are different in each marketing pitch). However, I can’t compare experiences if I don’t listen to the same sound playing through both the speaker series. So, the sales person brought out his iPod Touch (Aside: All sales people at Bose use iPod Touch, I believe Bose believes that the sound quality delivered through Bose Speakers is matched only by the rendering of iPod’s codecs ;)..not an entirely wrong belief, I must say) and had me listen to Hotel California on both C3 and C5. Well, except for some very minor “roundedness” effect of sound, I could not make out any difference worth paying Rs. 8,000 more for C5 vs C3! So, I decided to purchase the C3 and what is more, they are currently running an offer for an “in-ear” headset worth Rs. 4,000 worth along with C3, so I did get a steal of a deal, I must say!

2 Out of Stock¬†– Now, all this while that he was upselling me to C3 and C5, he didn’t mention that they were out of stock in that showroom. He assumed I will be ok with a delayed delivery. I was not and did not like the fact that he hadn’t mentioned it earlier. However, they ensured that I got a box from the MG Road showroom and were courteous enough to have it delivered to my car (though I lost a precious 1hr driving back and forth). The MG Road sales person ensured that, though late he tested my system, showed me the wirings and only then packed the unit off with me. Thank you!

3. Wires, wires, everywhere – As he was unpacking the unit, I had a minor panic attack and now this might resonate only with a few of you. I’m allergic to more wires. As it is, with all the different kinds of chargers and connectors, we have too many wires lying around in the house. Trust me, trying to eliminate them just adds some more at some other point! Anyway, this package added a total of 5 more wires to my already¬†“wired” world! Someone please find a solution to this wire-mess!!!

4. As I was waiting to be attended to, at the MG Road showroom (which by the way gets way more footfalls than the one at forum, I think this is a brilliant location for them), I watched as people came in and sorted through the options. Now, these are not low value products that people can make “seemingly” uneducated decisions on. So, they need to ask “intelligent” questions and get “seemingly” pertinent answers. However, no matter what the case, selling an experience is a challenge. Bose as a company does a lot of things right. Right from the store layout design to the music room and how they select and train their sales personnel. However, one thing that differentiates a good from a great sales person in an experiental selling is¬†his passion for the subject¬†– in this case “sound”. It becomes very clear as you handle various ranges of customers how you educate them on the nuances of the sound delivery and its interplay with technology.

5. This account won’t be complete without me telling the story of how we found a special place in our home for the C3 and how marvellous the first¬†song experience was! Totally worth it.

I have to add that the one thought that repeatedly crossed my mind is the kind of slabs that the products were priced at and how heavy they felt on my pocket! Well, if they give you an “out of the world” experience, they bloody well know how to charge for it. What have your “Bose” sound experiences been like?

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