Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Go ogling

Google to move out of China?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vacation Monologue, Holiday Dialogue

7 days to go:
0500 hrs: Hong Kong, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Thailand, Indonesia. There are too many to choose from.
0600 hrs: Hmm. No visa required for Hong Kong, Indonesia, Bhutan, Thailand, Sri Lanka. If I club Shanghai with HK? The Maglev is important. So is HK Disneyland.
0630 hrs: Why can’t they standardize visa photo requirements. Why should the requirement vary by country?

6 days to go:
0500 hrs: Oh man! These visa forms are never ending.
0700 hrs: Finally all done!
0930 hrs: Will you dispatch it to the Embassy today?

5 days to go:
1000 hrs: Hello! Did you courier my visa application to the Chinese embassy? You did! Thank you. May I have the tracking number? Thank you. Still in transit. “Damn! Tracking sites are very useful.

4 days to go:
1000 hrs:  Hello, I had sent you a document yesterday – it could not be delivered today as there was no one to receive it – are you closed today? Oh! Chinese New Year. Ok. Are you working tomorrow – oh great!

3 days to go:
1000 hrs:   Still under processing. Oh god! Let it get processed today.
1400 hrs:   What is this?  Under scrutiny?  No! What there to scrutinize? I am not a resident of J&K. Wish I were – they would have processed it faster.
1700 hrs:   Under dispatch. Whoopee!

2 days to go:
0600 hrs:  In transit. Good!
1000 hrs:  Still  in transit. How long does the flight from Mumbai to Bengaluru take?
1325 hrs:  Still  in transit. Damn!
1400 hrs: Hello! Dodart Express. My airway bill No. 987653321. What is the status?
1400 hrs: Oh no!
1400 hrs: Can I get it today?
1400 hrs: Can I collect it from your hub?
1400: Yes? There goes 3 hours.
1400 hrs: Thank you

1 day to go:
1000 hrs: Hello! Is it Get Forex?
1000 hrs: I need some of the USD that you gave me on Wednesday to be converted to Hong Kong Dollars and Chinese Yuan.
1000 hrs: Do I really need to come over? Can’t you send someone across? No? Oh, you have an airport counter. OK, I will get the currency converted at the airport.
1900 hrs: There is too much luggage to lug. Didn’t realize that lug was derived from luggage.
2100 hrs: Let me have dinner before completing this never ending packing.
2300 hrs: Almost done.
2345: The bags look neat and packed.

Day 0:
0600 hrs: Hello! Easy Cab. Need a cab for the airport at 1900 hrs. Have to report at 2000 hrs.  Is it confirmed. ?
1915 hrs: Hello! Easy cab. Where the cab which I had asked at 1900 hrs.
1915 hrs: Hello! How long will you take to reach my place? The pickup was at 7 – it’s 7.15 now.
1919 hrs: Please drive faster. Reporting at the airport is at 8pm. The departure is at 11. Can’t be late.
2115 hrs: What recession! This queue is never ending.
2200 hrs. Boarding pass. Finally!
2330 hrs: No. 7 in the take off sequence? There are too many people flying overseas. Can’t they space takeoffs better so that takeoffs are on time.
00.30 hrs: No thanks No meal. Please put a do not disturb on this seat.

Day 1
0555 hrs : Hmm… looks like we are landing. Heck – I wish the flight was longer – so sleepy.
0615 hrs: In a queue of 30 at 6.15 am. What a way to start a vacation!
0625 hrs: Thank goodness queues move faster here.
1200 hrs: Oh hell! Its noon! Oversleeping is such a waste of a vacation.
1300 hrs: I’ll die of hunger if I don’t find edible vegetarian food soon.
1335: Thank goodness for MacDonald’s! So what if it’s just the bun and lettuce sans the non-vegetarian Patti.
1340 : No point in going to Disney today! The day is more than half over.
1425 : Tsim Sha Tsui. Thank goodness for air-conditioned shopping.
2025 : Surprising that shops close so early in Hong Kong too.

Day 2 :
1000 hrs: Shouldn’t have walked all that much in the malls last evening.
1300 hrs: Disneyland is too much hype.
1600 hrs: You need the enthusiasm of a teenager to get around here. Not my cup of Chinese tea.
1730 hrs: This foot massage feels like heaven.
1900 hrs: What a pleasure to tuck in early – also what a waste of vacation time.

Day 3:
0400 hrs:  Why do international flights take off so early?
0500 hrs :  The good thing about early morning flights is reduced travel time to the airport. There are more planes in the air than cars on the road.
0600 hrs: The worst things about vacations are early morning queues. No sunrise-from the-air is worth these red eye flights.
0700 hrs: I feel safer with Air India. God, please make this plane shake less. Mummy!!
0730 hrs: Finally this contraption’s stopped shaking. What a relief.

0745 hrs: But, this is not in English. How do I fill in a form in Mandarin?

0820 hrs: What is this? A border skirmish with India?

0821 hrs: God, please let there be no war. At least not till I get back.
0842 hrs: What an airport. Thank god for the sign boards in English.
0950 hrs: Getting to the hotel was a breeze. Something’s telling me that getting around from here is going to be stormy.
1200 hrs:  Great wall of China. Need to put these pictures on my Facebook wall.
1222 hrs: O there’s Rahul Dravid. What luck. Hello Rahul! May I have a photo with you?
1330 hrs: Beef in a roti. What do I eat?

1340 hrs: Ray Croc, thank you for spreading MacDonald’s far and wide. The great wall is only 8,851.8 kilometers long.
1400 hrs: These cow hide shoes are no good for the calf muscle. Can’t walk any more.
1600 hrs: Beds at Westin are the best. But to travel half way across the world to plonk on bed?
1900 hrs: Where would I be without hot corn soup at, where else, Macdonald’s?

Day 4 :
0800 hrs: Whew! This Maglev is fantastic.

1030 hrs: Commercial Street is better than Nanjin Road. Thank god for small mercies.
1300 hrs: Thanks again Ray Croc.
1400 hrs: The weather here is better than in Banglaore. Only if hadn’t been for the continuous drizzle.
1700 hrs: Wonder how they make the beds at Westin.
1730 hrs: Good beds are bad when you have to rise early.
1900 hrs: Yes thanks. At 4 am please.

Day 5 :
0400 hrs : Thank you.
0500 hrs: I am now certain that no sunrise is any match for a glorious Westin bed.

0600 hrs: I look forward to a directionless world. They overdo directions and instructions here.
0700 hrs: No Clear Air Turbulence this time. The pilot must be cat’s whiskers.
0930 hrs: What do they mean that Chek Lap Kok is an announcement free airport? Do they expect everyone to be literate?

Day 6:
0140 hrs : Not bad. On time.
0220 hrs : Thank god for Meru. Else, at this hour…
0330 hrs: My bed is better than Westin.

Day 6 (continued)
1230 hrs: “How was your vacation? Am sure you had a fabulous time”.
1230 hrs: My head’s splitting. Legs aching. I am jet-lagged.
1230 hrs: Spiders accomplish a lot in 6 days. I am dreading the cleanup.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The key to profitable, premium apparel, retailing

The key to apparel retail profitability, even for premium brands, are stores* like these.
200 square feet, 200 shirts on display.

In my view, the fallacies in premium apparel retailing are:
  • the customer needs to see a display of 2,000 to select 2.
  • if the merchandise is premium, the store needs to be large.
  • premium merchandise needs premium interiors. Is the retailer seeking to influence the customer with the product offering or the store interiors?
  • that stores needs to be located in premium retails areas where the store rent could be upto upto 25% of sales
  • a small army of people is required to pander to the customers whims.
200 square feet stores, located in all key neighborhoods are the key. If a brand can retail from 200 square feet from an airport location, it can do the same from other locations too. Carefully selected merchandise, in 5 well selected  stores in the city, of 200 - 300 square feet each, will fetch more than one 2,000 square feet store. Hand-held barcode scanning and invoice printing devices can even dispense with the need for a cash wrap. For the consumer, it is easy access to the brand. For the brand, it getting closer to the customer without mounting a white elephant.

A combination of a large number of  very small stores and a small number of  very large stores, combined with the power of the internet, is the key to  profitable apparel retailing.