I can sell you anything, not just right now – Bangalore Electricity & Fry’s electronics

I walked into a Reliance Digital store in Bangalore (Cunningham road) late Friday evening. This is the Indian equivalent of the chain Fry’s Electronics with some minor modifications. Most stores follow the same format apparently and are not located in malls. They sell books, music, appliances, electronics, the works. Unlike Fry’s prices are not very competitive (by local standards). For me (having been in Silicon Valley for 15+ years) it was more like Fry’s electronics without the great prices, lacking in selection and still had the same uninformed sales staff.

The store is in 2-3 floors, with the lowest having books, kids toys etc. and appliances, music, electronics on level 2. At 630 pm Friday there were more uniform clad 20 year old sales people than “customers”. In fact sales people outnumbered customers 3 to 1.

Wonder why?

“Power cut sir (ed. This means there’s no electricity)” says a 16 year old Sahil, “You cant go upstairs, we have no current (sic)”.

Hmm I wonder. You spent a lot of money on the store and inventory, but did not get a generator or UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply)?

He seemed to have read my mind based on the frown on the face.

“Its been this way from 2 pm. Our generator is only good for 3 hours” he adds.

“Okay, do you have a replacement battery for Blackberry Curve?” I ask.

“Sir I do. I have every possible accessory for your Curve, battery, faceplate, hoster, car charger. But I cant sell you anything now. Our cashier cannot generate receipts. We can take your cash, and may be able to give you a paper receipt, but if you want to return if it does not work, we cant honor it “. he replies, clearly frustration showing on his face more than mine.

There you have it – the real problems with growth in Bangalore. Lots to sell, everything to buy. Just not when you want to either buy or sell it.