What is the difference between buying a product from a retail store and online?

This is my answer on Quora.com to the question

What is the difference between buying a product from a retail store and online?

Am going to answer this question.

I run a business having an online store and a retail store.

Therefore, am qualified to answer it.

The business is Sarangi, the Kanjivaram sari store.

The retail store is in Mylapore, Chennai in south India.

The online store is at www.sarangithestore.com.

Retail and online offer different propositions to the customer.

Retail buying experience is, of course, direct.

You can touch and feel the product.

If apparel, you can try it on.

If crockery, you can hold it in your hands. Quickly assess its properties like size and weight.

If furniture, you can sit on it. The entire family can try it out.

There are exceptions to each of these, of course.

For food retail, as in restaurant dining, well, you know.

For cars, you can test drive it.

There’s great joy in shopping in a store or a mall.

It’s an experience; it could be therapeutic. We can make use of the six senses to better assess the product.

For online, the sense of smell cannot be evoked / made use of with current browsers.

When you come to Sarangi the store, you’ll be personally greeted and seated.

You’ll be surrounded by greenery.

We’ll probably offer you water and coffee.

Online buying experience is indirect or virtual.

You can’t touch and feel the product.

Which works fine for things you know about.

Such as packaged food, mobile phones and travel tickets.

All of us are happier to not have to stand in a queue to buy train tickets.

Online you have access to a vast inventory of products.

From many merchants all at once.

You can discover stuff in Pinterest and instantly visit the merchant.

There’s an instant-ness in shopping online.

You are moving at electron speed.

Online merchants are constantly improving things to make shopping easier.

Product photography has been constantly evolving.

Product listings have been improving.

Better search makes it easier to find what you want.

Better filters make product discovery easier.

www.sarangithestore.com provides a filter which makes it easier to look for the saree you want. You can go fairly granular, for example, with filter options for motifs and even for border colour.

Shopping online can be a great experience, too.

I personally know people shopping for wedding sarees where a dozen or so family members are located in various parts of the world. In Singapore. In California, USA. In Canada. Simultaneously shopping at www.sarangithestore.com by sharing links via WhatsApp chat. Comparing sarees. Shortlisting them. And making their selections.

Though online has also affected many products themselves.

Books have been visibly affected.

In the near future, printed books will disappear in favour of online reading.

Only some types of speciality books will be physically printed.

Notice how, these days, there are no printed user manuals accompanying electronic gadgets.

Online and retail offer different value propositions and varied experiences.

Considered together, it’s a fabulous time to be a shopper.

Whether online.

Or in store.

Find Something to Get Excited About.

Find something to get excited about by Danielle LaPorte
Find something to get excited about by Danielle LaPorte

Have been receiving nuggets of actionable wisdom via Danielle LaPorte’s newsletter. The above quote – find something to get excited about – is an example. As a long-time student of self-help information, digested tons of material starting with Dale Carnegie back in my student days, to Dr. Wayne Dyer, Og Mandino, Tony Robbins and many more. Gained insights from each author’s writings and owe a lot to them.

Bring out the Magic in your Mind by Al Koran
Bring out the Magic in your Mind by Al Koran

Danielle’s writings have a freshness quality about them which – to me – makes it very accessible. Check out her work at daniellelaporte.com.

Yes, find something to get excited about!

Typography Day 2017

The Typography Day 2017 is one of those “wish I was there” kind of events for me. You can head over to http://www.typoday.in/ for more information.


It will be held between 23rd and 25th February 2017 at Colombo Department of Integrated Design, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Industrial Design Centre (IDC), Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) with support from India Design Association (InDeAs) and Aksharaya.

Sun Tzu (Wikipedia : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Tzu) seems to be a wise person. His Art of War is popular amongst students of military – and business – strategy.


He said “Every battle is won before it is fought”. It means that you first need to win in your head; only then can you win in the battleground.

My mentor Aporesh Acharya used to say of sportspersons “You don’t win out there (in the field), you win out here (in the mind)”.

In the movie Sholay, Gabbar Singh, the dacoit said “Jo dar gaya woh mar gaya”. Loosely translated, it means “if you get scared, you are finished”.

This is a universally applicable truth and anyone can benefit by internalising it.

The Aftermath

Some of you have enquired about how we were faring in the aftermath of the recent floods in Chennai. To each one of you, we offer our sincere thanks for letting us know you care.

As has been reported widely, this was a large-scale disaster which touched, without exception, each and everyone of us here. Man, woman or child, rich or poor, animal or bird, everyone was personally and directly affected. It almost didn’t matter which part of the city one lived or worked in.

Kanchipuram, an important weaving centre, also experienced flooding and resultant damage. Sarangi, too, was impacted, though to a milder extent. Weavers and staff members faced various kinds of hardships including water inundation in and around their homes. The store was closed for almost a week as it was not possible to operate it given the circumstances.

In the midst of this calamity, citizens spontaneously came together to help each other. There are innumerable tales of humanity and heroism, courage and compassion. Not all are as dramatic as http://bit.ly/floodcopter or as heartwarming as http://bit.ly/chennairadha. Help has been pouring in from outside Chennai, too.

The people of this historic city have demonstrated remarkable resilience in bringing the situation back to normal. In the past two weeks since rains stopped, water has been pumped out. Vehicles repaired. Public transport and electricity supply restored. Shops reopened. Weavers back at their looms producing some of the finest fabrics in the world – the Kanjivaram. Many places have returned to normalcy, in others work is underway in full swing. Our store is now fully functional.

As normalcy returns, we thank you again for your expressions of care and concern.