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The world’s newest market may have the same problems as one of its oldest…
Have you ever been to Chandni Chowk? More specifically, Chandni Chowk market?
It’s right next to Delhi Railway Station, a stone’s throw from the Interstate Bus Terminal, and bang opposite the famous Red Fort. Chandni Chowk is perhaps the country’s biggest and most crowded market.
It offers everything you can ever need, clothes, books, electronics goods, computer accessories, automobile spare parts, groceries… Just think of it, and you’ll find it.
More important, everything in Chandni Chowk sells cheaper than everywhere else. If you’re smart, you can strike some unbelievable deals.
In the market, there are tens of shops selling exactly the same thing, at the same price, with almost identical setting. All in a row, one next to the other. Clustered within a few hundred metres, all equally accessible.
Whether you visit one shop or another depends far more on chance than intent, though first impression or a reference by an existing shopper can play some small role.
Your shopping experience will be more or less the same, unless the shop you chance to visit offers you outstanding service – probably the only differentiator that can work in a perfectly competitive market like Chandni Chowk.
But why are we talking about Chandni Chowk market?
It’s because the Internet has created a worldwide Chandni Chowk market. Though we address it by a different name – the World Wide Web – it’s not very different. Equally crowded. Equally competitive. Easily accessible. And equally difficult or easy to choose between sites.
What’s the difference between Rediff, Indya, Indiainfoline, Indbazaar, Fabmart…? They are as similar to Chandni Chowk’s perfectly competitive scene.
Have you tried Yahoo Shopping? The icon declares, “Thousands of stores, millions of products.” Click, and you’ll discover most of them offer the same products and service!
To illustrate, let me share with you something from a column by retail expert Martin Lindstrom. He was asked to judge an international web competition between 100 B2B sites. He visited each of these sites, and these are his observations:
- 23% had the picture of company headquarters in their home page
- 19% used a picture of their CEO
- A ‘handshake’ photo appeared in 29% of the sites
- 32% showed a picture of two suit-clad figures engaged in a serious conversation.
The Web offers anything you can imagine, and many more that you can’t. You can buy or sell anything. Get any kind of information, on just about anything. You can get entertained, titillated, educated or experience hitherto unknown virtual pleasures. It’s a magnificent, worldwide bazaar.
The problems too are similar to the real brick and mortar bazaar: limited time, fatigue, traffic jams, chances of losing your way, remembering the names of the stores, finding your way through the bazaar, and searching through a maze of products and services, choosing, paying for them, and then consuming.
If you are planning to open a web shop, what are the chances of surviving? Is there any way you can stand out in this clutter?
In the next article we’ll explore the first device in beating the clutter – the right name. How to arrive at a name that will improve your odds by at least 33%?
(Published in year 2000)