Three things I learnt about product management from our local shopkeeper

Today morning, I went down to the general store in our apartment and I overheard the following conversation between the shopkeeper and his supplier. I caught this discussion in the middle…

Supplier: … abhi tak tumne kuch lagaya kyun nahin?
( Why haven’t you started displaying anything yet? )

Shopkeeper: Mera maal 15 tareek ke baad aayega, tab lagaunga.
( My consignment will come after 15th, then I will display. )
Supplier:  Bhai Rakhi 2 tareek ko hai, log chitthi mein behjte hain, abhi se nahin lagaoge to der ho jaayegi. Mere se le lo, main aaj hi de deta hoon. Aur lagaoge to char log dekhenge, phir unko pata chalega ke tumhare pass bhi milti hain, aur phir aakar khareedenge na!
( Rakhi is on 2nd August, customers need time to mail it, if you don’t display it now, it will be too late. I can give it to you today. And if you display, folks will starts seeing that you sell Rakhis and eventually come and purchase. )

Lesson #1: Notice how the supplier is convincing the shopkeeper to purchase his stuff, not by telling him that his stuff is cheaper or better than others. His argument is completely around the business value for the shopkeeper.

Shopkeeper: Theek hai, yahan rakh do, main shaam tak laga deta hoon.
( Ok, keep them here, I will display it later in the day. )
Supplier: Aur saath mein friendship bands bhi rakh deta hoon. Yeh to saara saal chalte hain, school ke bacche 10-10 ek baar mein le jaate hain.
( I’ll also leave some friendship bands around. They are not seasonal, school kids buy them all the time. )

Lesson #2: And now that he has his client, he up-sells another product that he has. Notice how he never engages in a discussion around whether the shopkeeper needs it or not. He simply relies on the trust he has established to tag it along.

Shopkeeper:  Accha, apna naam aur phone number batao. Aur kuch chahiye hoga to main call kar doonga.
( Give me your name and phone number. I will call you if I need more. )

Supplier:
 Naam likho “Gareeb Aadmi”.
( My name is “Poor Man”. )

Shopkeeper:  Kya mazaak karte ho, tumhare pass to Wagon R hai ( jokingly ).
( You are kidding, you drive a Wagon R. )

Supplier: Aaj kal to har aadmi ke paas Wagon R hoti hai. Chalo naam likh lo “Gareeb Aadmi Wagon R Wala”.
( Nowadays everyone can afford a Wagon R. Ok, write my name as “Poor Man With Wagon R”. )

Lesson #3: Here, he says something so unique and sticky that the shopkeeper will never forget it. This is the kind of “brand recall” that marketers aspire for. I can bet that the shopkeeper will never forget him and he will be the first person that comes to mind with Rakhi.

And he goes on to actually write his name as “Gareeb Aadmi Wagon R Wala” with his real name in parenthesis and then leaves.

I wonder how online product managers sometimes focus too much on building a neat product and forget these basics. The same principles apply equally well to the “flow design” and “funnel analysis” of any online product.

16 thoughts on “Three things I learnt about product management from our local shopkeeper”

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  4. The trick lies in the fact of catching imminent lessons of life while dealing with real time situations . Will surely “remember” this article for a long time . “Brand connect” as you call it :)

  5. Pingback: Hari Ramachandran
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