Sunday, January 11, 2015


I came back from a short trip to India. Nothing much I did except for the fact that I had a lot of butter chicken. I have decided to stop eating it for a while (till I recover from the excess!).

Anyway, this post is not about the chicken. I noticed that India is undergoing a massive revolution in ecommerce. Everything you can think of, can be bought online. And there are several competing online retailers for the same product category. I guess if you are in ecommerce, India is the best place to be. I can already safely predict that over the next decade, we will have a lot more joining the race, and then we will go through a massive round of bankruptcies and acquisitions leaving 3-4 ecommerce vendors dominating the market.

But anyway, the most affected by any ecommerce boom are always the brick and mortar retailers. The guys with showrooms where you can “touch and feel” the product before you buy. And as far as I understand, if there is one industry resilient to ecommerce – it is the apparel and clothing industry. People (in general) still love to “wear” and see their clothes before buying.

And here comes the irony. I tried to go buy myself a couple of formal shirts and realized that all the brick and mortar retailers I went to, have a new policy of “no-trial” of the shirts that you are gonna buy. So let’s say you wish to buy a shirt size 40 style “X” then they have something called generic trial shirts for that size. You are supposed to wear them and if satisfied, pick your desired shirt and meekly leave the shop. No trying.

I am amused and appalled by this policy. It’s like not using your “only” competitive advantage and giving your customers to the ecommerce retailers on a platter. If you don’t even let me try the shirt I wanna buy, why do I even buy at a brick and mortar store? I might as well buy it online and get it delivered home.

I can understand that shops are trying to cut costs of “repackaging” (I still don’t get why they have to pack the shirts for sale. They can just hang them on hangers for people to try before buying). I also understand that since India is a super massive market any damage of any idiotic policy will take years to have effect. But I find this suicidal to say the least.

I tried to be a concerned customer (or an idiot – the way you like to see it) and put this entire monologue as a comment in the “Suggestions box” of a shirt retailer that I patronized for last 10 years. I am pretty confident my comment either went to the trash bin the next day or was ignored in the hierarchy of the shop management.


  1. What a Segway from Butter Chicken to e-commerce :P
    I noticed the online shopping for apparels is bigger in smaller towns and cities where big brands don't always have a physical location to sell.
    I know people in the good old days from Goa used to visit Mumbai to shop for stuff like big brand clothes, hard to find electronic components. Now everybody I know who can navigate the internet in Goa (I am basically just excluding my mom and couple of Aunties and Uncles :) ) is shopping online.

    1. Yeah and the brick and mortar retailers are trying their best to make the rest of the people to go online and shop as well, with their stupid "no trial" policies. Butter chicken has been my all time favorite dish. I am amazed that I got bored of it. Too much of anything is not good :)