Advertising fruit and vegetables – Clueless in digital space

It was 7.40 pm y’day. My Nokia was about to buzz and push a short message (sms) from a prominent Delhi fresh produce retailer announcing prices for important fruit vegetables.

Behold – the message arrived with a celestial certainty. This has been a 7.40 pm ritual for a while. And I am beginning to relish it – not because I shall go run and hunt bargain but because it has given me some food, or shall I say some f+v for thought.

You may say fresh produce retail and this particular retailer has come of digital age in India. Not the least – this sms strategy could have been a smart idea had it marched past my critical mind. Many questions were hammering my mind since the day I got first message.

Q1 – Why this message at 7.40 pm when the retailer has the least stock and most of the display has already gone awry under discerning customers’ hands. A relook at the message corrected my oversight – the message was meant for next day.

Q2 – Why this message is being sent to me – not to my wife who is not a regular but sometime buys from this retailer during stock-out situation. She could have been a smart target for such a message.

Q3 – Where from this retailer got my mobile number. It could not be from a loyalty card info I passed to them as this retailer has never run such a program. Despite being the largest fresh produce retailer with widest reach in Delhi and surrounding region they have never tried (or shall I say cared) to build such a customer database. (In fact this retailer does not pick the point of scale customer data as all POS scales are stand-alone equipment -not linked with their central server).

More on this in store next day – Many of rates mentioned in the message didn’t match the rates at my neighborhood store. As I was aware that at this retailer all stores were grouped to location specific demographic profile – I check another store – same story – few rates did not match.

Some inferences are very obvious – like

  • My cell number was randomly picked from either my service provider – who sold it without my consent or some scammer picked my number from either Internet or elsewhere and sold to company as a prospective customer. Either way – SMS did not come to me as a well thought of strategy
  • Someone at the company did not either care to proofread the messages or do the pricing as per sent messages. Will it affect sale – Obviously a customer will feel cheated if actual prices are more and if lesser than s(he) will never bother to read the message. Counterproductive either way.
  • My biggest worry was some competitor picking up this retailer’s next day prices and improving same at their own stores in this retailer’s vicinity. In fact I used this tactics many year’s back for one of the early organized retailer in Delhi. But at that time I had to depute a person during every night and use social engineering to get insider price advantage. If with crude network I was able to do change prices twice daily at 20 odd competing stores, now with sophisticated software and bandwidth, changing prices at a store, any time of the day, is a cake walk.

Technology can be counterproductive if not used in a right way without applying mind.


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