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{mosimage}The serpentine queues in Reliance Retail stores is growing longer, so do the oppositions from the political outfits like PMK against corporates entering the retail segment. In states like Kerala, UP, the government had ordered the closure of such retail chains. Reliance initially said that they bypass the middle men in the business that passing the benefits to both end consumers as well as the farmers. It sounded intresting in the papers. But the reality has an altogether different story to tell. I personally go to Reliance Retail stores to buy vegetables. I don't think the price is cheaper than the vendor near to your house. Yet what drives the people in droves to Reliance Retail?

If we notice the demographics of the buyers in Reliance Retail Stores, they all are high income people, who take 'pride' in going to such stores, which differentiates them from medium / low income neighbours. The experience of picking the products directly from the shelves personally & an organised layout does the trick. May be people doesn't like crowding in front of the regular grocery store ordering for the list they need. The ability to use card money is another advantage. Other than these things I don't find much difference in the price as well.

Other than these I really miss the personal human intervention. Our regular vendor at my hometown adds human touch when he suggests some new arrivals, enquires about our jobs, stay at other places etc. I definitely miss these elements. May be metro-ites like being detached, such mechanically operating retail chains are finding favour among them. But for person with small town sensibilities like me, this is still an alien culture. Now I sympathise with the small grocery retailers living next to my house.

If big organisations want to help the farmers, they can educate them and liberate from the clutches of middlemen, so that they can procure directly and sell to consumers. Yet Reliance and others buy from the same middlemen and sells to customer thus strengthening the iron arms of middlemen & crushing the retailers, thus weakening the farmer link of the Supply Chain also.


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