Common sense anyone?

4:17 PM

In exactly 13 days it will be my 4th year in India and boy I've seen and learned a lot in that time. Among the thing seen or just observed, are changes in the way people dress or act, but also in the way retail went from an embryonic stage to something that is started to look more like it.

In the past 4 years Shopping malls in Bangalore have sprouted like mushrooms. Traffic around those doubled. And the big retail industries are herding flocks of happy go lucky consumers toward their shelves.
The crazy shopper that I can be at times should be happy right? Well, not so much! It's not a matter of aviability nowaday but rather the total lack of planning and organization in those stores that tend to go on my nerves. And I'm the kind of girl who wore out more than a pair of shoes touring stores and malls all across Europe, and in a few North African Bazaars. Not to mention quite a number of cities in India.

My biggest pet peeve in Bangalore? SUPERMARKETS! How I wish they would make mass retail a happy experience but every week it's the same. I groan, heat up and feel like steam is going to go out of my ears because of several issues they could cleary deal with but don't :

1) Lack of consitensy in the stock. That one seem to affect every single supermarket chain in town. You might find your favourite noodles or ready to eat stuff for 2 weeks and it will then be totally absent from the shelves for 6 weeks. All while the staff constantly restock the shelves on laundry soaps not caring about the fact the one remaining in the shelves are looking dirty and dusty due to lack of interest.
This kind of problem generally occur when the store manager do not fill his purchase order carefully. Due to a lack of knowledge abut what sells and do not sell in his store. The last time I bought Tnua fish in can was 3 weeks ago, I'm yet to see it again and I know I will be lucky if it's there in 3 weeks again. And if it ever does, I will have serious competition as it seems customer raid the shelves before it's fully restocked. While the lentil and pulse section get a daily restock. It is pathetically worm infested pouches that have probably sat in a warehouse too long due to the fact it's not what people buy in supermarket (the local general store is favoured). Now if the manager would take time to read the daily reports on what was sold he could avoid such mistake...plain common sense, that's how supermarkets in the west manage to stay on top of their budget.

2) Overstaffed, and no entousiasm for the job. Don't get me wrong I worked in a supermarket myself as a student it SUCKS. But hey that's a job and it needs to be done, so it's better to put one's ego in the closet and be professional. This exactly what is lacking here. Be it the persons who seem to be unable to operate the cash register and take 10 minutes to bill a single bottle of water (yup that one happened to me this month only), to the one who seem to be constantly out of change, or the 5 staffers sitting on a pile of flour bags in the bag laughing and joking not even noticing they are blocking the way of a customer, it's a mess!
And I don't think you need 3 persons to refill a shampoo aisle and it should certainly not take more than 5 minutes.Once you remove the giggling and gossiping that is done between the 3 employees assigned to the job that is.

Which bring me to my 3rd point :


Some supermarket chains are champions in this matter! The "Food World" I go to must be the champion, I swear. Not only are aisles narrow, but they manage to make the whole place totally unfit for their shopping cart or any person lacking any phisical fitness. Just this moring, the whole store was invaded by the Cocacola company in the form of hundreds of boxes scattered all over the place. Blocking the access to some shelves in the process. I nearly tripped over a bunch of Fanta bottles rolling around as one of the box burst open, 3-4 staffer where around but apparently no one seem to feel like picking up the bottles. So,  I jumped over them to go to the juice section to realise that, dam it, my favourite brand was out of stock. Every single aisles seemed to be stuffed with those damn boxes and yet no one seemed concerned about those at all. They all clearly had a better time joking about something or gossiping about god knows what.
Today it was coke. But it doesn't matter, the store is always crowded with boxes that should belong to the warehouse and a bunch of idiots sittig on them to chat instead of clearing the space.

Again, the common sense would be to restock early in the morning. 30 minutes is generally enough to do it before opening (remember worked there myself). Then, once done, store all crates and boxes away. End your day by making an inventory at night, refill if needed and call it a day. But apaprently it is way too simple. And as I said I once saw 3 persons refilling shelves with shampoo (there was about 30 bottles in the boxes), and there was much more giggling than job done. 15 minutes later, only half of the bottles had a place in their shelve, for a job that should have taken 5-6 minutes....don't push it please! And being low paid is no excuse. I worked that kind of job, and it is not well paid even in Switzerland (that's right we dont all earn gold in the mighty West)

4) Billing counters. In  the West we have the conveyor belt with customers putting their stuff on it as soon as there is a gap leaving the clerk with the job of scanning and pushing items to the bagging zone. Here you have a counter no bigger than a computer desk, and people  are actually expecting the clerk to take the stuff out of the shopping cart for them, then scan it, then bag it!
This is HIGHLY inefficient. And not only that, 2-3 counters can be right behind one another creating a very confusing line at peak hours. So far I've seen only one supermarket that decided to get a whole array of cash counter so that there are several very separate lines for billing and make it less confusing for all.
But then again, the point is negated by the fact that only 2 cashiers will be working at peak hours with a queue of 6-7 people at each. All that when there are betwen 6-7 cash counters to use and staffers giggling idle on boxes in the back of the store. I once asked this question as a clerk was handling a queue of 10 people alone while 3 of his colleagues were standing behind him gossiping or something. He was quick to tell me that he was the only one qualified to use the register!
Dear manager please hire more qualified and register-able people in your store, or better yet, train them, it doesnt take a genius to operate one...that will spare the nerves of your customers.

And frankly that last one was yet another act of common sense that seem to be lacking here.

I could go on and on about the common sense issue in Bangalore, but I will stop at the supermarket, you wouldn't want me to soil the whole fun of having different entries on the matter would you?


  1. hilarious post!!!!

    it is actually amazing, how scarce common-sense seems to be in this city. people take ages to do the smallest tasks and then too, screw up big. it ties in well with what i commented on your 'Star Bazar' post. for all the fancy stores they have, what will they do about the Duh staff??

    funny why u have no comments. i just can't stop reading. nice to get an outsider view on life in Bangalore and India.. nicer to see it isn't so different from the inside view. hyuk!


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