Thursday, May 11, 2006

HyperCITY

This past weekend we visited the newest entrant to the Indian retail scene---HyperCITY. The hypermarket format store under the ownership of the Raheja Group opened next to Inorbit Mall in Malad last week and has seen record number of crowds. We were gutsy enough to check it out on a sunday or should it be crazy enough? Since HyperCITY's tiny parking lot was already full, we headed to park in the underground lot of Inorbit, walked thru Shopper's Stop and out to HyperCITY next door.

Inside, the store was jam packed full of people making it quite tricky to go where you wanted to instead of being herded along with the crowd. There is a Cafe BRIO right at the entrance, which I didn't think was the greatest spot for it. The best spot I thought should be on the upper floor balcony, overlooking the food sections and a good place for people watching. The lower floor consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, including chopped salad and veggie mixes, imported cheeses like Ementhal, Brie and Gorgonzola, cut flowers, all food items, FMCG products, gift items, dining and cutlery sets, bathroom accessories, luggage and the imported Waitrose products.

The store has a good selection of products, nicely arranged but the aisles were too narrow, especially since they have larger carts than other stores like Spencers. Unfortunately, they have not incorporated weighing and scanning fresh fruits and vegetables at the checkout counters. One has to get all loose items weighed and barcoded at the fruits and veggies section before going to the checkout counter. The checkout counters do have the conveyor belt but are too short for them to really help in reducing time. We couldn't even fit all our purchases onto it in one go.

The real downside of the trip was the waiting time to pay. There were 24 checkout counters, all with lines of 6-8 customers, and all with full shopping carts. We ended up waiting 45 minutes in line. If the government need any further proof of people's readiness to accept FDI in retailing and let the big guns open up shop here, they just need to visit HyperCITY to see how people were shopping. Every cart I saw had basic staples that everyone has to buy, along with some extra items to splurge on too. If only international retailers could see the store as it was that sunday, it was like their Christmas rush tripled. The government should be selling the concept as "Come to India and have a Christmas rush everyday" instead of holding the gates closed.

PS: I haven't explored the upper floor of HyperCITY as yet and will have to make another trip to check it out.

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