Friday, December 22, 2006


Ok, so now We're really off on our trip. We got into Delhi last night, 30 minutes late, due to congesting in landing and thankfully not due to fog, which would have meant longer delays. This evening we leave by train for our overnight jouney to Koliwar, where reach in the morning. So, there will be a long break in my writings here. In the meantime, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Staying in Las Vegas

I've travelled quite extensively in the States, exploring almost all of the Northeast from Maine to Virginia, up through NY State, midwest cities like Chicago and Kansas City, and San Francisco (including Napa valley and the fruit gowing areas to the south) and Los Angeles. Where I want to go now is to Las Vegas, the city which has built itself up from nothing at all. That too in the middle of nowhere. Hotels in Las Vegas are notorious;y expensive, especially if you want a nice place. So where do you go to find a good place to stay in Las Vegas? is one of the largest hotel reservation sites, that provides free online review for the past seven years. The site is choca-bloc filled with information on Las Vegas Hotels and Casinos. So, have a look and see where you'd like to stay on your next visit.

Reliance Retail hires 60 expats

The Economic Times reports that Reliance Retail has stepped up its hiring process and is in the process of hiring approm\ximately 100 senior executives for its retail division. The company has already hired 50-60 expats with in the retail filed from companies such as Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury and Kroger, who are already started working with Reliance. Most of these executives have been hired at salaries ranging grom Rs 1-1.5 crore.

The company’s retail Hear Bijay Sahoo is sourcing talent heavily from South Africa and the Middle East. About 25 senior executives have joined for supply chain management and 30 have joined in operations, concept and strategy.

I need a new camera

Ok, so I messed up big time yesterday. I forgot my camera in Bombay as I was on my way to the airport. So no pictures of our family gathering in Koilwar, no scenic shots of the Soan river and the double bridge (rail tracks on top and vehicles below) where Mahatma Gandhi stopped on his travels around the country way before Independence, no pictures of the beautiful and historic house with a library of books dating back to the mid 19th century.....

Oh the flip side, maybe it is a good thing that I forget the camera cause it has the capacity to drive me bonkers, with the way it suddenly decides to flash its red button, almost as it it's saying 'no more pics, I'm shutting you down and canceling your picture taking privileges' and so forth. So, maybe I've saved myself all that hair pulling and some camera inflicted mood swings. Hmmmm....

What it all boils down to is that I need a new camera and printer. None of this nonsense of emailing pictures to the photo guy to be printed or trying to figure out how to decode it. Just a nice, clean, workable camera such as any one of HP's camera that takes great pictures effortlessly with a dedicated system of printing them out.

Vinod Sawhney to head Bharti Retail

Reliance Retail is going great guns with its retail venture. The latest news is on The Economic Times which reports that the current joint president of enterprise services at Bharti Airtel, Vinod Sawhney will head Bharti’s retail division. In his capacity as President, he will oversee operations for hypermarkets, neighborhood stores as well as super centers across India. He joint the company in 2002 as CEO of the northern region for Bharti Airtel’s mobile operations.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

On bookkeeping

Accounting and bookkeeping are something that I would never attempt to do myself and would outsource it immediately. So, how do you go about finding a good and honest bookkeeper? Especially one that does not charge you the moon? Almost impossible it seems, right? Well, not really, not anymore at least. There are many accounting firms who would be happy to solve your issues for small business owners. By keeping things simple and understandable, these companies are able to help other businesses by taking care of book keeping needs. Generally, the prices are really great, usually starting from as low as $50 a month at the lowest level. I like the look and professionalism of the site and the company. Definitely would give it a try.

Shoppers’ Stop gears up for luxury retail

Business Standard reports that in an effort to consolidate its luxury retail business, Shoppers’ Stop has brought in over 40 international brands and will be investing Rs. 500 crore in its venture. According to sources, the company has hired an expatriate to head and set up the new business. The company has been conducting talks with major brands such as Louis Vuiton, Gucci, YSL, Zegna, Hugo Boss, Christian Dior, Moschino, Roberto Cavalli, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, La Perla, Ralph Loren, Diesel and many more to be a part of its luxury retail space.

Although the company has neither confirmed nor denied these developments, it is believed to have set aside over space between 120,000-150,000 sq ft for this venture. Shoppers’ has reportedly selected property in Delhi and Mumbai and is negotiating a deal in Bangalore.

Luxury retail is estimated to be only 1% of the total retail business and is expected to grow by 50% every year for the next 10 years. Shoppers’ Stop is the only Indian retailer to be a member of the International Group of Department Stores.

Software wish list

Computer security is high on every company wish list this holiday season and one of the top items is on the lines of protecting company property and privacy, a keystroke recorder. Using such as software, companies can monitor and even record all activity on computers at the office to ensure that employees are following company policies regarding usage of computers and other online activity. The software follows a company's Internet Acceptable Use policy and is one of the key methods in making sure that employees follow the rules. SpectorSoft is one of the leading providers of this type of security software and was awarded by PC Magazine as the Editor's choice for Spector Pro being the best Monitoring software.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Going away

Almost time for our next vacation....This time it is going to be completely different from all our earlier travels and vacations. We will be spending 9 days in Koilwar, a village on the banks of the Soan river, with our entire extended family. For some historical facts, it was here that MK Gandhi stopped on his travels across India, and it was even shown in the movie about him made by Richard Attenbrough in the 1980s. This is my husband's ancestral village, where no one but the care takers have lived for the past 50 odd years. The house is a beautiful, built in the old formal style of red bricks, with columns, deep veranda's on two sides and a courtyard at the back. My husband's great-grandfather used to live there is grand style, complete with his full library (which I hope to explore while I am there), double kitchens (one for continental food and one for Indian food) and a constant stream of visitors traveling from Calcutta to Delhi.

For us it will be a vacation that takes us back to old times, since there is no electricity, to simple living, to catching up with loved ones without any interruptions of modern life like cell phones, TV, Internet etc.

Has blogging reached its peak?

Research firm Gartner released its 10 predictions for trends and events that are likely to 'change the nature of business and IT in 2007'. Surprise, surprise!! Blogging is one of them. Gartner predicts that blogging and bloggers will peak in early 2007 to around 100 million bloggers and will decline from then on. The number of ex-bloggers is also increasing as the 'average life span' of bloggers is quite short. According to Technorati, there are currently 56 million blogs. Read all the other predictions here on the Gartner site.

Khaitan hopeful to supply fans to Wal-Mart

Business Standard reports that Khaitan Electricals Ltd is hopeful about a deal with Wal-Mart, where it would supply the company with fans. According the sources, the deal is expected to go through in the next 6-8 months. Negotiations are being conducted and specifications of the fans have been sent to Wal-Mart for approval. Khaitan Electricals is also keen on exporting its products to the UK, France and South Africa.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Skype makes some changes for the new year

Certain Skype calls will no longer be free in the new year. reports that the company which was bought by eBay in 2005, is set to charge $30 per year for making unlimited calls from a computer to landlines and cell phones in the US and Canada. Calls from computer to computer will continue to be free.
Yahoo and Google are expected to be brought on board to provide Skypers with "click-to-call" technology, enabling users to call businesses they have found during a search with one click. Programs are also in development that will allow Skype to be used on wireless phones and pocket computers. Ebay will also most likely incorporate Skype calling into the buying and selling process, allowing consumers and shop owners to communicate with audio via their computers.

Metro Cash & Carry India MD resigns

The Managing Director of Metro Cash & Carry India, Harsh Bahadur has put in his papers and will be leaving the company effective from February 28, 2007. According the a statement issues by the company, Mr Bahadur will be leaving due to personal reasons. Mr Bahadur who joined Metro from the RPG Group said that, “I am evaluating various options and have not yet decided where I will be joining.”
From Business Standard

Monday, December 18, 2006

Are you born with the entrepreneurial gene?

Are you born with business skills or is it something that you develop? asked the several entrepreneurs and academicians their opinion on whether entrepreneurs are born or made and came up with some interesting results.
Frank Moss, director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former CEO of Tivoli Systems as well as co-founder of Stellar Computer and Infinity Pharmaceuticals: I would suggest that the entrepreneurial gene is in everyone's DNA. Eons before the first big companies emerged about a thousand years ago we were all entrepreneurs: farmers, craftsmen, artisans, storytellers, bloodletters, etc.

Mark Veeder, co-founder and creative director of Event Quest in New York City and co-owner and co-creator of the River Market in Barryville, N.Y.: I think entrepreneurs are definitely born. Even though "the making of an entrepreneur" is a huge business in this country with Tony Robbins and the rest, I think those programs try to systematize the mind of the entrepreneur, which is impossible. My feeling is that entrepreneurs are a rare mix, the perfect storm of creativity, talent, confidence, personality, drive, intuition, and energy.

Home Solutions expects turnover of Rs. 10 billion from consumer durables

Business Standard reports that the home furnishings division of the Future Group, Home Solutions Retail (India) Ltd, expects a sales turnover of Rs. 10 billion from its electronic and consumer durables section by the year 2008 financial year. At the opening of an E-Zone and Connection i store in Hyderabad, its sixth store in the country, Manoj Kumar, Head of consumer durables and electronics for Home Solutions Retail, said that the company would be opening 15 more E-Zones in the next two-three months and then increase the number to 25-30 stores by June 2007.

Consumer durable industry undergoing change

There's lots going on in the conusmer durable sector, with all the major retail players getting interested in setting up specialized chains. With the attention from high profile retailers such as Tata’s in the consumer durable industry, smaller retailers in the industry are also setting their sights on expanding their retail spaces and offering improved products in a newer shopping environment. One such retailer is Mumbai based retailer, Sumaria Appliances which is now looking to Pune and Nashik for opening stores. Other retailers such as Digital Shoppy and Vijay Sales are also thinking on similar lines, and are keen to use their local market knowledge to the fullest.

Gift ideas

Here are some more on great ideas for Christmas gift giving. has a huge selection of stuff for the outdoorsman and outdoorswoman (for you PC people out there). Everything from telescopes, sporting scopes, flashlights, night vision digital scopes etc are available at great prices and there is no shipping charges on orders of over $29.99, so shop away and get some incredible gifts for your loved ones. Some of the top brands such as Nikon, Leupold, SureFire, Celestron, Meade, Eotech, Barska, Streamlight and Serengeti are available. Have a look around and you will likely find a Christmas present for yourself too.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Spencers’ to open 15 outlets this month

There is lots happening in the food retail sector this month. Business Standard reports that the RPG group owned Spencers’ food retail stores will soon have 15 new stores in 10 cities by the end of December 2007. All new stores will be Spencers’ Dailies. The company currently has 88 outlets in the country and is expanding rapidly to position itself as the largest supermarket brand in the country. There are 74 Spencers’ Dailies at present, 3 supermarkets, 7 hypermarkets 3 Express and 2 Fresh. The company has plans to open more of its other formats, hypermarkets and Spencers’ Supers next year.

Dabur getting deeper into fast food

The Economic Times reports that Dabur Foods has signed a franchise agreement with Hot Brands International to set up quick service restaurants in Delhi and the NCR area. Incidentally, this is not the company’s first fast food venture, as it is one of the franchisees of US chain Subway. The new venture will be under a new company called Consortium Consumer Care, and will have three formats of restaurants, Shamiana for Indian food, Magic Wok for Chinese food and Santino for Italian food. There will be 6 restaurants opening in 2007, for which the company will be investing Rs. 300,000 each.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Louis Philippe, Van Heusen to expand in metro cities

Business Standard reports that Bangalore based Madura Garments, which handles the Louis Philippe and Van Heusen brands, announced that it will be expanding its network of stores in high streets and malls and that the company will be crossing 100 stores in the next 18 months. New stores will be opened in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and in other smaller but emerging metros. Currently, there are 22 exclusive Louis Philippe stores and 25 exclusive Van Heusen stores in the metros.

Dabur explores entering consumer retail business

The Economic Times reports that Dabur India is considering entering the consumer retail business in the areas of health and wellness. According to Sunil Duggal, chief executive officer of Dabur, “Retail is an opportunity that requires to be studied. We are looking at various options, but have not finalised any plans. But we are sure that we will not be a mainstream retail player, meaning we wouldn’t be in food and grocery retailing.”

He added that, “If we decide to enter the retail business, it will be in the front-end. Our plans will be focused and specialised with health and wellness being the obvious option at the moment. We could make a foray through Dabur India or through a separate company.”

Send an free ecard this Christmas

While on the subject of ecards, here's another great resource of cards to send this Christmas. A site called eCards for everyone, has a great listing of the top 10 funny free Christmas cards on All Christmas cards on are free, unlike a lot of other ecard companies. The general trend for Christmas cards this year is humor and you can find lots of cards with a variety of humor on The usual routine of mailing Christmas cards is undergoing a change and for a change you can send out a free christmas card to everyone on your list this Christmas. Besides Christmas cards, the site also has a great compilation of a variety of other cards available online.

The tie between retailers and real estate developers

The Hindu Business Line reports that at “Estate South 2006”, a real estate seminar organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), BS Nagesh, Managing Director of Shoppers’ Stop emphasized the importance of a good connection between retailers and real estate developers for the success of the Indian retail industry. He added that, "Positioning a construction as `retail' cannot be done after the planning and design stage." Importance was placed on planning issues such as availability of tenants, car parking, common retail area and access to stocking areas.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Reliance Retail loses 5 executives to Subhiksha

The Economic Times reports that soon after the leaving of Rajeev Karwal, Reliance Retail has lost five middle and senior level executives to food and grocery chain Subhiksha. According to R Subramaniam, MD of Subhiksha, the new entrants from Reliance Retail have “joined at assistant vice-president and vice-president levels at Subhiksha” and were performing similar duties at the company.

SuperValu to set up IT operations in Bangalore

Business Standard and The Hindu Business Line report that US based SuperValu, a $44 billion company and the third largest grocery chain in the country will be starting operations in Bangalore to support its IT requirements. The company will be investing $50 million (Rs. 230 crore) in the next five years. The Indian division, SuperValu Services India (SSI) will employ 50 people, eventually growing to 300 IT professionals in the next 12-18 months, which will be supported by 1,800 associates at three different locations in the US. In the past, SuperValu has worked with Indian vendors such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro and IBM and hopes to continue working with them despite having their own set up.

Sachets likely to decrease in popularity

The Economic Times reports that the rise of modern retail could likely cause the death of sachet marketing in urban areas. These small packs that were runaway successes in the 1990s are not finding any shelf space in modern retail stores who prefer larger packet sizes and offer bulk discounts. Many organized retailers, including some neighborhood chains, avoid stocking these items due to a bad visual display and high shrinkage rates.

At one time, sachets were the success story for many a FMCG company, enticing the bottom of the pyramid market but now don’t have many takers. CK Ranganathan, Founder of Cavinkare, who pioneered the sachet revolution, says that the sachet needs to be reinvented for the organized retail market. He added that Cavinkare is “…working on a packaging to offer a carton of sachets, with an MRP, which will be easy for the retailers to stock and bill. I don’t think the sachet trend would die out."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Future Group to set up 55 Brand Factory stores

The Economic Times reports that the Future Group announced that it will be setting up 55 outlets of its newest format, Brand Factory by 2010 and Central malls in every state capital in the next three to four years. According to Vishnu Prasad, Pantaloon Retail India president (south) and CEO of Central and Brand Factory, the company will have 5 Central stores by the end of 2007.

Baroda will have a Central store opening in December 2006 and one in Gurgaon in June 2007. At present, the company has Central stores in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. At a press conference, Rajesh Seth, marketing chief of Central and Brand Factory, said the company would have 120 brands at discounted prices. Most of the items would be out of season clothes and cater to customers who wear brand name items but cannot afford them at regular prices at lifestyle stores.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Retailers rushing to raise PE funds

In the wake of Wal-Mart entering the country's retail sector and Tesco on the verge of coming to India, domestic retail chains are rushing to raise funds to cover expansion plans as global giants are all heading towards the Indian market. LifeKen, one of the leading domestic pharmacy retailers based in Bangalore, Mobile NXT, a Delhi based mobile retailer, 24/7 a pharma chain from Delhi and Digital Shoppy a consumer durable chain from Hyderabad are all focusing on raising funds for expansion.

New ways of branding

Now this is pretty wild and really cool. Progressive Direct and Universal Studios Home Entertainment have tied up to create a calculator called Progressive Direct: Insurance Damage Estimates, a software that estimates damages to cars in the HD DVD release of "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift". As cars pile up and smash into each other, a running total of the damage keeps adding up in a small window. This is the first of a stream of branded interactive features on new DVDs that Universal Studios is planning.

Due to the extra space on HD discs, Universal is able to add an array of extra features, such as games, picture-in-picture commentaries and web links to movie DVDs. According to Crain Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, "Product placement is hard because it doesn't all fit, but this gives us new opportunities," Progressive Direct has set up a website, and set up contests to promote the movie and disc release. This is a new venture for a car insurance company like Progressive Direct which usually specializes in auto insurance quote information on each state and even offering online car insurance.

HCL to open digital lifestyle stores in Hyderabad

HCL Infosystems announced that the company will be opening digital lifestyle stores in the South Indian market. The company currently has 18 stores in north and west India and will be launching 2 stores in Hyderabad. The company will be opening 10 stores in Andhra Pradesh, especially in Chennai, Bangalore, Cochin and Madurai. HCL is targeting 150-200 stores by the end of 2007. Each of the stores will be in the 800-1,000 sq ft in space and will sell brands such as HCL, Apple, Microsoft, Toshiba and Casio. The digital lifestyle industry is estimated to be worth Rs 2,500 crore, according to a statement of the company.

Public-private partnerships will give a boost the retail sector

The Economic Times reports that one of the major requirements for further growth of the retail industry is real estate development and investments in infrastructure, which can be funded through public-private partnerships. According to Ajay Dua, secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, "There is scope for public private partnership in real estate management and infrastructure for retail."

There is also a need for an efficient system of logistics in the retail industry, a place where FDI would likely be possible. Mr Dua urged retailers to go beyond the metros and expand to smaller towns and cities, to enter rural markets and offer micro credit schemes.

Increasing your online popularity

Anyone who has a website wants it to be popular and ranked high on Google and other search engines. How to get there is not easy considering Google's complicated algorithm based system of ranking sites, but still possible if you are a mathematician. For the most part, Google uses both on-site and off-site factors to determine site ranking. Page rank is part of its off-site factors, which gives you a basic number ranking based on how 'popular' your site is. Defining what is popular is the tricky part and Google is relying less on page rank since it can be manipulated.

Google looks for inbound links to you site from a wide mix of sites, including nitty gritty details as what is the page rank of the web site linking to your site, what is the quality of the page that it is being linked to, what is the text around the linked word or phrase etc. Even the Title, H1 and META tags are looked at by Google in determining what your ranking should be. The key to increasing link popularity is to get links from quality sites and links on different pages of different websites where the content is similar to yours.

Some of the more common ways of doing this are link baiting, reciprocal linking or buying links from brokers, none of which are worthwhile in the long run. The best way to increase a site's popularity is using press release distribution, although it is also the most difficult, since the material has to be interesting enough for publications to want to write about it. Blogs and personal websites provide a natural style for press releases and are a great way to increase a site's popularity. Blogitive has a network of over 2,000 writers for this purpose, where you can submit a mini press release that will be picked up by writers for their websites.

Wal-Mart takes a serious stand on misuse of its name

The Economic Times reports that Wal-Mart has taking a serious stance on any misuse of its name and has served legal notices to Indian businessmen who have registered trade names under the ‘Wal-Mart’ brand name. Four businessmen in India, have received legal notices in this regard, in Noida, Punjab and West Bengal. Wal-Mart is not the first company to follow strict rules regarding its name, Dairy Farm International of Hong Kong also followed similar procedures when in came to India.

Traders Forum against Wal-Mart entry into India

The Economic Times reports that traders in Delhi have opposed the entry of US giant Wal-Mart into the county as they feel it would leave the domestic traders “totally unprotected”. According to Praveen Khandelwal, General Secretary of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT), "The Foreign Direct Investment in retail sector will prove to be much detrimental to the interests of internal trade of the country, which is contributing about 70 per cent to the national exchequer.”

Epocrates updated

For doctors, nurses and clinicians, this is a really great way to access information on drugs and formulations. Epocrates is a free software through which medical professionals can access critical information such as drug dosing, interactions and even health plan coverage before making prescriptions. It is estimated that close to one-third of adults in the US take at least 5 medications or supplements daily, making it hard for patients to remember or list all their medications. With Epocrates online, clinicians can view pill pictures so patients can correctly identify their medications and reduce drug errors and interactions.

With Epocrates Online, clinicians can answer frequently asked questions such as missing doses, side effects etc easily with handouts in English or Spanish. Clinicians can also look up the average cost of the medication in the Epocrates drug database for uninsured patients and check to see if medications are covered in health plans for those who are insured. The Epocrates database includes information on over 3,300 drugs, such as Zithromax and uses MultiCheck, a drug interaction checker to avoid drug interactions.

Left Party upset with Wal-Mart entry

Nothing really new about this. The Left Party was expected to oppose the entry of Wal-Mart though its tie up with Bharti Enterprises, and it has. The Economic Times reports that the tie up with Bharti Enterprises and Wal-Mart has angered the Left parties who have asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene and stop the US company from entering the country. The Left is one of the strongest opponents of FDI in retail and had earlier even opposed the governments easing the rule to allow 51% FDI in single brand retail. The CPM and CPI has called for a nationwide bandh to protest against Wal-Mart’s entry to India.

Subhiksha plans to open 60 outltes in Delhi

The food retail sector is the fastest growing segment of the Indian retail industry and the potential for growth is still enormous. The Economic Times reports that Chennai based food retailer Subhiksha announced that it will be opening 60 new outlets in Delhi to its 100 existing stores. The new stores will have additional facilities such as medical check-up and railway booking counters. According to Ashu Sake, vice president of operations (Delhi region), "Delhi has a huge retail potential and we want to tap this opportunity. Our aim is to become a neighbourhood store with an outlet every two kilometres or so."

Earning an online degree

How many people do you know that have a master's degree in your family or amongst your circle of friends? Would you consider getting an online master degree from an online university, doubling up while you work, increasing your knowledge and applying it in practical ways. Capella University is a leader in online education and offers a graduate degree programs in business, IT, human services, education and psychology, and undergraduate degrees in business and IT. Founded in 1993, Capella has over 16,000 students from all 50 US states and 63 countries, offering 76 graduate and undergraduate specializations and 16 certificate specializations. Visit their website for more information.

Reliance Retail likely to purchase Ruby Mills for Rs 400 crore

The Economic Times reports that Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Retail is likely to purchase Ruby Mills in Dadar for approximately Rs 400 crore to set up Mumbai’s largest hypermarket. Senior officials have had a series of meetings with Manharlal Chunnilal Shah, executive chairman of Ruby Mills for the past few months and are likely to sign a deal in the next few weeks. According to sources, Reliance had earlier shown interest in Kohinoor Mills, also located in Dadar, which was eventually bought by Matoshri Realtors, promoted by Raj Thackery-Unmesh Joshi for Rs 400 crore.

A place to chat

Social networking is all the rage these days. It is probably the number one means of communication for those aged 13-19, more than email and cell phones. Chat rooms are teenagers and yound adults most favored methods to keep in touch and there is a huge variety of chat rooms available at sites such as the chat room, which is one of the most popular places to chat online.

Pantaloon Retail targets younger customers

Pantaloon Retail announced that it will be targeting younger customers with its Top 10 brand for college students. The brand has been inspired by Top 10 music and movie chartbusters. The first of these stores will be launched in Mumbai next week. According to Zahid Shaikh, chief of marketing, “Top 10 brand will have a special collection dedicated to colleges in Mumbai. It is well known that campus rivalry exists among college students and one always takes pride in wearing the college batch on their sleeves.”

Pantaloon’s other brand Indus League Clothing, opened its first Jealous 21 store in Mumbai. Jealous 21 offers casual, club and denim wear for women from 17-24. The company plans to offer Jealous 21 through department and lifestyle stores along with 120-130 stand alone outlets in the next three years.

Capturing keystrokes

Companies are getting tough on employees who misuse office computers. Earlier, it was considered quite alright to spend a certain amount of time for personal work at the office, but with the number of cases of misuse growing, companies are no longer taking it casually and are using high tech equipment to catch employees who misuse office computers. One of the premier companies specializing in keystroke capture and other security issues is SpectorSoft with its Spector Pro software which has been awarded the PC Magazine's Editors' Choice Award for Best Monitoring Software twice, in 2002 and again in 2004. With such as system, companies can track the exact keystrokes typed on any computer, even recording the passwords used to access sites.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Farmer’s retail revolution writes that since several states are permitting retailers to purchase produce directly from farmers, there is a new kind of revolution going on in the rural areas. Farmers are taking special care of produce to garner higher prices, selling to retail companies such as Reliance and ITC, and finally making money after nine years. More than 2,000 small farmers are benefiting from organized retailing in Andhra Pradesh, are dealing directly with companies without middlemen or intermediaries.

According to Harsh Bahadur, MD Metro Cash & Carry India, "Between 30 - 40% of fresh fruits and vegetables in the country get wasted because they rot before they reach the customer. What we do is build a collection centre at the farm gate. This is cooled, then we put all vegetables and fruits in cooled trucks and we bring them here."

A sword as a gift

In boarding school I had a friend who was crazy about weapons. Of course, this was before the time of security threats and terrorism, and we took it in good spirits when she brought a samurai sword to school to show off to her friends. Since I was the most responsible one amongst our friends, I was given charge of the sword for safekeeping. Samurai Swords are a thing of beauty, even though they are suited for a niche audience. At you can find more than 100 varieties of swords and sword sets, especially samurai swords. Whether you see them as a collectible item or to hone your samurai skill, these swords are unique in their worksmanship, materials and history. will also deliver them by Christmas if you order by December 13th.

Reliance looking to acquire Suhbiksha, Landmark

The Economic Times reports that Reliance Retail is believed to be interesting in acquiring several small retail chains to compete with the Bharti-Wal-Mart franchise deal. The company is interested in taking over Subhiksha, a south based food retailer and Landmark, a book and music chain owned by Tata’s retail arm Trent.

Reliance acquires Adani Retail

The Economic Times reports that Reliance Retail made its first major acquisition in the domestic market by buying Gujarat based Adani Retail for Rs. 1-1.10 billion. Reportedly, other companies such as Subhiksha, Trinethra and Tata’s were also interested in purchasing the company. The purchase will give Reliance access to 54 stores in a variety of formats such as neighborhood stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets in 9 cities in Gujarat. The company’s infrastructure and sourcing facilities are an added advantage for Reliance.

Managing searches

The internet is a constantly changing place, if you can even call it that. There are more companies and business ideas based on this one aspect of technology than any other, I think. One such company that is innovative in its use of the internet, is USWeb, a company that helps its clients achieve revenue, profit and market share using the internet. Originally founded in 1995, the company has offices across the US and is widely known to have some of the most experience and qualified professionals. USWeb has made a niche for itself in designing, developing and implementing web systems and online marketing solutions focusing on brand awareness, audience development and customer retention. The company also specializes in search engine optimization, a technique that enables a website to be noticed by potential buyers. Using a system called PPC Bid Management and Trusted Feed services, USWeb targets majore search engines on the internet to drive prospects to client sites.

Bharti, Wal-Mart agreement to be checked out by PMO’s office

Business Standard reports that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will be looking into the Bharti-Wal-Mart deal due to the concerns of the Left parties. In response, the Commerce Industry will be preparing a detailed note, which is likely to be discussed in Parliament. In response, the department of Industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) under which FDI takes place has given the deal a clean chit.

Toy industry to benefit from retail industry boom

The Hindu Business Line reports that the growth of the retail industry is set to benefit Indian toy manufacturers due to the entry of several large business groups and collaborations with international companies. The upswing in the economy was so far limited to “priority” sectors such as automobile, real estate and consumer durables, but now the toy industry is set to benefit from this boom too, due to increased visibility at large format retail stores, who have the space to display games.

Selecting the right camping equipment

I've loved camping and hiking since we used to spend a week every year in April on our annual hikes and camps from school. It was a time that we had to learn to be self sufficient, to test our skills against others and our own will and to work with nature. Over the years, my camping and hiking has been reducing but lately, I have been wanting to get away from all modern communication modes such as email and cell phones and go for a peaceful camping session. When one is hiking or camping it is absolutely essential to have all the right tools. Northeast Marine Electronics has a huge selection of electronics for all your camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and boating needs.

Northeast Marine Electronics also has lots of marine items on offer such as the Furuno Fish Finders or Garmin Marine Electronics. If you are looking for any kind of fish finders, gpd systems radar, chart plotter, depth finders, compasses, binoculars and instructional video's, then this is the place for you. Northeast Marine Electronics stocks only the best products from companies such as Astron, Garmin, Standard Horizon and Raymarine, companies that are known and trusted. You'll be surprised to see the prices at the Northeast Marine Electronics, lower than anywhere else, but still stocking only the best products.

HyperCITY in expansion mode

The Hindu Business Line reports that HyperCITY, the hypermarket chain of the K Raheja Group is embarking on a major expansion spree, investing close to Rs. 3 billion to open 20 HyperCITY outlets by early 2009. Currently, there is only one outlet in the country, which is located in Mumbai, although the company is planning to open outlets in Lucknow and Aurangabad besides metro cities.

Vishal Retail files for IPO

The Hindu Business Line reports that Vishal Retail Ltd has filed for an IPO to raise up to Rs. 1.1 billion to help it expand. According to Ram Chandra Agarwal, Managing Director of Vishal Retail, "The IPO is a significant milestone in realising our larger corporate vision. It would help us further scale up in the emerging retail landscape."

Flowers for christmas

Does one ever need an occasion to buy flowers for oneself or send them to others? I think buying oneself flowers is a great way to treat oneself and sending flowers to others is a sure way to make someone feel special. The internet is full of online flower delivery services, but not all are equal. Dot Flowers is one of those that stands apart from the usual crowd and offers beautifully arranged flower baskets and gourmet gift baskets. Their Field Fresh Flower delivery system allows for growers to directly send flowers to anywhere in the US. Besides flowers, they also have a great selection of eatables such as cookies and snacks that you can send along with flowers. This Christmas season, send a fresh gift to someone you love.

Landmark to open in Pune

The Hindu Business Line reports that book and music chain store, Landmark will be opening its first store in Pune. There are 8 other Landmark stores in Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Mumbai, Vadodra and Gurgaon. Next of the list is a store in Lucknow, due to open in February 2007. According to Ms Hemu Ramaiah, CEO Landmark, the company is focusing on expanding in the west and north. Since the company is already located in all the metros, it will also be focusing on mini metros and other smaller locations.

Frequency 38 contact lenses

Contact lenses have really changed since I started wearing them in 1989. I have been wearing rigid gas permeable lenses since I have astigmatism, although now I believe Toric lenses are better and more comfortable than RGPs. Another great contact lens is the Frequency 38 contact lens which is part of the Frequency brand and is made up of 38% water as opposed to the Frequency 55 which has 55% water content. Frequency 38 lenses are durable, easy to use and resistant to dehydration, an issue that has plagued me from the begining. Get more information on Frequency 38 and other lenses at

Christmas diamonds from India at Wal-Mart

The Economic Times reports that Wal-Mart will be selling a premium line of Christmas jewelry designed by a Mumbai based jeweler who will be supplying the company with 25,000 X’mas rings, which cost $249 each. According to Rajeev Sheth, chairman and MD of Tara Jewels, as $150 million company that is one of the largest suppliers of diamond and gold-studded jewelry to Wal-Mart.

This year, Indian jewelers have received record number of orders for Christian themed jewelry such as crosses, from retailers such as K-mart, JCPenney and Angus & Coote. The order for religious jewelry has apparently significantly increased since hurricane Katrina hit the US last year.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Indian Terrain will make a new brand for Reliance Retail stores

The Hindu Business Line reports that menswear brand Indian Terrain has tied up with Reliance Retail to create an exclusive brand for the company. The new brand called Spirit will only be sold through Reliance Retail outlets. Indian Terrain is a Rs. 750 million company owned by Celebrity Fashions Ltd.

According to V Rajgopal, Chairman and Managing Director of Celebrity Fashions, "Reliance, as it rolls out, is going to bring a great retail experience to all the smaller cities. It has identified us as a partner to develop a sub-brand for them which will grow along with Reliance's roll out." Celebrity will incur no marketing or branding costs, since it will be exclusively a Reliance brand. Reliance is believed to be setting up partnerships and developing 2-3 brands in each price and fashion category of apparel such as casual wear or denim.

Investing in gold

Monex Deposit Company (MDC) is one of the leading companies for investing in gold and precious metals and has been in the business for over 30 years. Gold is and has always been a good investment whether it is in coin, ingot or bullion form. The ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks regarded gold as one of the best investments and an assured way to secure wealth and purchasing power. In the modern world, gold is once again seen as a thing of beauty as well as one of power. Through Monex, you can purchase gold or other precious metals and have them sent to you directly or stored for you in a bank or depository.

Pantaloon to set up standalone stores for its private labels

The Hindu Business Line reports that Pantaloon Retail is planning to set up exclusive stores for its in-house brands such as John Miller, Bare, Ajile and Rig. According to Bina Mirchandani, Head (Category Management) for Pantaloon Retail, "Today our private labels generate between 75 per cent and 80 per cent of our revenues. Some of these brands have taken a natural level of growth in certain areas and we are thinking of exclusive stores for them." Pantaloon has 20 private label brands at present and its ladies ethnic wear brand Akkrruti is likely to grow over 50%. One of the main advantages of private brands is higher margins and greater control.

Reliance keen on acquiring Maratha Stores

The Economic Times reports that Reliance Retail is looking to build its portfolio and is keen on acquiring Maratha Stores, a Mumbai based cooperative chain store. According to source, Reliance is interested in the company due to the large amount of real estate space that it owns in Mumbai, besides the 20 outlets it operates.

In total Maratha Stores has close to 75,000 sq ft of space, a majority of which is in prime commercial areas. Maratha Stores has small neighborhood stores of 500 sq ft and larger outlets of 7,000 sq ft. Reliance is looking to use the 500 sq ft stores to enter

Back in Bombay

So, I'm back from my three week trip to Canada and the US. All in all it was a good trip, a bit rushed and cold but still good. The weather held out for most of the trip and we were surprised that it was as warm as it was....even reaching the low 60s in the US. The drive from Toronto to CT was really great, through the Finger Lake area where we stopped in Auburn. I especially loved the stretch of road along the Delaware river, in the Catskills, along NY17 which is being converted to I 86. Took lots of pics which I have yet to download.....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

On vacation

So, I'm off to the US and Canada for 3 weeks. Looking forward to the trip, but will miss my daily writing routine and hope that I will be able to fit a bit in every now and then. My last vacation was to the interiors of Himachal and totally internet and blog free, but this time although I will have access, I'm not sure if I will have the time.

Retail training skills

The Hindu Business Line reports that the Retailers Association of India (RAI) announced that it has started a professional retailing skills (PRS) course that is designed specifically to teach skills in retail. The programme has been started in association with the S B Global School of Retail Management in Kochi. The course duration is 100 hours and there is also an internship with a RAI member company for an additional 50 hours.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Papa Johns plans to invest Rs. 100 crore in India operations

The Economic Times reports that US pizza chain, Papa Johns announced that it would be opening 100 outlets in northern India with an investment of Rs. 100 crore. The company had recently opened stores in India. Initially, the company had planned to open 500 stores over the next 10 years, but with the robust growth and competition in the pizza industry, the company has now upgraded its expansion. Kamal R Tandon, chairman of Papa Johns India, said that the company’s, "…focus areas in North India would be cities in Punjab - Amritsar, Ludhiana and Rajasthan and the NCR region."

Subhiksha to cross 500 stores this month

The Economic Times reports that discount food retailer Subhiksha is likely to cross 500 stores this month and is building its private label brand and its mobile phone and pharmacy sections. The company will be opening 100 new stores this month to reach a total of 500 stores. Subhiksha is happy with the results of its phone retailing that it started in Delhi last month and is considering setting up a separate chain for the segment along with one for pharmacy products.

By March 2007, the company hopes to reach 750 stores. Store openings are happening at a faster pace now, due to adequate funds being raised and the company fixing its backend integration. The company has allocated Rs. 300 crore for its expansion, raising money through debt, equity and working financial capital.

Alpha-Pantaloon win contract for duty free shop at Delhi airport

The Economic Times reports that Delhi’s Inidira Gandhi International Airport will be getting a face lift with the Alpha Airports Group Plc and Pantaloon Retail being awarded a contract to set up duty free shops. Alpha plans to bring in international brands such as Armani, Gucci, Christian Dior, Calvin Klein, Nike and Swatch to the airport and offer world class shopping standards. The upgrade would take place by 2010, when the new terminal would also be ready.

Retail training skills

The Hindu Business Line reports that the Retailers Association of India (RAI) announced that it has started a professional retailing skills (PRS) course that is designed specifically to teach skills in retail. The programme has been started in association with the S B Global School of Retail Management in Kochi. The course duration is 100 hours and there is also an internship with a RAI member company for an additional 50 hours.

Flooring options

My neighbor is doing a minor renovation to her apartment these days. She has a beautiful apartment, and even though our apartments are the same configuration, she has made several changes internally and given a completely new look to her home. The changes have been designed by her sister, who is an interior designer and a really great one at that. Her apartment looks close to double the size of mine, just with chaning a few walls and rooms around. At present she is only doing a slight overhaul of the apartment, re-doing the crown molding, re-painting the walls, putting in some new shelving units etc.

She was very keen on changing the flooring too, although she has some really great pieces of Italian marble. I suggested she try putting in ceramic tile for the kitchen floor, which would give a nice earthy look. Doing some research for her, I found lots of information on ceramic tile floors at which has over 16,000 different products available and is one of the only online stores to sell tile and stone flooring products. Have a look at Ceramic Tile On Sale - Fast Floors. Their site is easy to navigate and see the products, although I would love to see pictures of the products used in rooms to get a better idea of how they will look when complete. The sales team is knoledgeble and helfpul too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Murjani to bring Diesel brand to India

The Economic Times reports that one of the world’s leading fashion brands, Diesel is likely to be entering the Indian market with master franchise agreement with The Murjani Group. Once through, the franchise agreement will cover all Diesel product categories and based on the success in the Indian market, will then extend to other South Asian markets.
Diesel is an Italian designer clothing brand which manufactures apparel for both men and women in the 18-35 age groups. Diesel also produces a kids and sportswear line, although, denim sales make up for most of the brand’s business.

The company has more than 200 retail outlets worldwide and also wholesales to retail boutiques and department stores. The Diesel brand name is also licensed to other companies for producing footwear, leather goods, eyewear and jewellery.

Reliance Retail’s dairy business strategy might not be easy

Daily News & Analysis reports that Reliance Retail’s mega plans for its dairy business might not as smooth as they would want it to be. So far, the company has acquired milk processing units in Punjab and other close by areas and has a capacity to procure 400,000 litres of fresh milk on a daily basis, which will be increased to 700,000 litres per day.

The company has also started talks with some of the leading dairy companies in India, such as Mother Dairy, Gujarat Cooperative Milk marketing Federation (GCMMF) and Nestle to form a partnership to supply fresh milk to them. The problem lies in the fact that these companies are not likely to want to deal with a middleman and would rather deal with the farmers directly. In this regard, RS. Sodhi, general manager (Marketing) for GCMMF said that, “We have no plans to contract manufacture dairy products for anyone.”

Wood projects

I've always loved art and although I tried my hand at painting and drawing, I was really no good. In my Art 101 class in college, I discovered that I was good at art and crafts and other creative stuff that did not require me to draw and over the years I have made some really fun projects using a variety of products such as bamboo, wood, metal, leaves, rope etc. I do wish I had learnt a bit more about more detailed and technical woodworking projects using wood routers. Lately I have been reading up on doing some new fun projects for the holidays and found some good articles on woodworking at, which has lots of information on router tables, router bits, router lifts, best accessories to use and of course lots of woodworking plans. So, have a look at what all you can do with router wood if you are a budding woodworker or someone who would like to try their hand at something new, then this is a great site to get some information and project ideas.

DTC puts in Rs. 15 crore for new jewelry range

Business Standard reports that De Beers marketing division, the Diamond Trading Corporation announced that it will be investing Rs. 15 crore to promote and expand its range of products in India, including its new collection of solitaire diamonds, called Forever Mark. The new line will be launched in January 2007 and each of its diamonds will have a hallmark.
DTC is planning to spend another Rs 50 crore, allocated for marketing all its brands, to promote the collection that has already been launched in Hong Kong and would be launched in Japan later this month. China and the Gulf countries would see its launch in March and May 2007, respectively.

Winter shopping

Since we moved back to India from Providence, RI in 2004, we've been living in warm climates, first in Bangalore and now in Bombay where there is no winter at all. The only change that happens is that for 2 months (december and january) the weather becomes somewhat bearable. With my trip to the US and Canada coming up this weekend, I am quite concerned about being able to handle the cold again. The forecast for Toronto is 35F and snow and sleet when we arrive monday, yucky yuck.

So, to make the best of the situation, I have decided to do some winter shopping. First on my list is a pair of boots, that can handle the cold and snow but also manage to look great. Uggs are simply the best solution, and will keep my open-toe-sandal-inclined-feet warm and toasty. But where to buy them in Bombay? Well, is a great place to buy Ugg footwear as they have a huge range of styles, sizes etc. I really like them for their balance of both style and comfort.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Future Group’s 5th Central Mall to be in Ahmedabad

Business Standard reports that The Future Group will be opening its 5th Central Mall in Ahmedabad by 2009. Although the company had identified some locations in the city, it was yet to finalize the decision. Sadashiv Nayak, head of operations (west zone) Pantaloon Retail said, “We will be coming up with a central mall in Ahmedabad and the work will be completed in three years.” The project will be constructed by Kshitij Real Estate Fund, which is owned jointly by Pantaloon and a private equity fund.

Dabur launches ‘DARE’ to improve its distribution system

The Economic Times reports that Dabur India has launched DARE, Driving Achievement of Retail Excellence, to reorganize its sales team and to improve its distribution efficiencies. This new strategy is part of its Dabur India’s Vision 2010, which aims to double its revenue and profits over the next four years through expansion, innovation and acquisition.

The company has investing Rs. 20 crore in its first phase during which 500,000 towns and rural markets will be covered. The company has formed special sales teams focusing on rural market for six states-Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Tricks to searching

I love to find interesting reading material on the web that I can add to my bloglines account. This is one such site that I like to read on a daily basis. SEO'Brien is a blog written by Paul O'Brien, formerly with Yahoo and now in Online Marketing at HP. Paul writes on search engine optimization and how it can increase revenues whether it is using paid of natural search engines. Have a look for yourself at Search Engine optimization and online marketing from SEO'Brien. Search engine optimization is simply a way to get more customers to come to your site and Paul has defined several methods to do this such as searching by behavior or region and also using comparison shopping and affiliate searches.

Can the retail sector accommodate everyone?

The Hindu Business Line reports that with the big guns of retail focusing on Hyderabad and opening multiple stores, local vendors worry that the market might not have room for them anymore. With Reliance, Subhiksha, FoodWorld and Spencers buying fresh fruits and vegetables directly from the farmers, local vendors who cannot source directly for farmers and have to use middlemen might become more expensive then modern retail outlets.

Another concern is that modern format retailers will purchase all the good quality produce, and only second grade produce will be left for the lower-income groups. Mr Madhu, a senior CPM leader and Rajya Sabha member said that
"They (the organised players) sell at low rates initially. But once their supplies are streamlined, they will increase prices sharply."

Wall Decor

I love browsing through home decor magazines, reading the latest trends in home furnishings on the Internet and watching home makeover shows on TV. Over the years, I have been able to refine and pin down my style of decor as contemporary but with lots of warm, even country, touches and definitely some quirky items to add that spark. Although I grew up in a city, a lot of my time was spent in more country settings, like the boarding school in the hills where I studied for 7 years or our summer vacations spent at our peach orchard in the hills. The orchard especially has had a strong influence on my decorating style.

Nature, plants, flowers and an inviting light filled atmosphere are very important to me in a house. Although I am not fond of ornate stuff, I do like a lot of wrought iron decor pieces, such as wall ornaments. I especially like to use Wall Home Decor pieces as accent points in the garden and patio, with the plants all around them, they take on a decidedly old world feel. I found the Wrought Iron Decor Store on the Internet and loved a lot of the items it had, especially the flower boxes and plant stands.

Bharti retail venture delayed, might join Wal-Mart reports that Bharti Enterprises anticipated deal with Tesco might not be happening after all and according to sources, the company is likely to join up with Wal-Mart. The company has traditionally set up its own stores everywhere it goes but is likely to follow the joint venture route to gain access to the Indian market. Wal-Mart already has its strategy in place, and plans to focus on small cities and metros, opening 12-18 stores in the first year and a half. The size of the stores will not be more than 140,000 sq ft.
Bharti has 5700 acres in Punjab and will package and export to EU, Southeast Asia, the Gulf and Central Asia within the next few months.

For Wal Mart, India may be its wildcard because it has withdrawn from South Korea and now left with presence only in one other Asian country that's China.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Health boosters

Even if you lead a healthy lifestyle and eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables, it is important to take vitamin supplements. This is mostly due to lowering of nutritional values of most healthy food, due to depleted soils, over use of agricultural sprays and ripening agents. It has become our habit to take one daily vitamin tablet and one ginseng tablet every morning. Cooking food using healthy oils like olive are great and we alternate between that and vegetable oil. Using Ginger Root in your cooking is also a good way to improve one's health. Although, we don't really have a winter in Bombay, the season is changing and its prime time to catch a cold and sore throat, like we've had last week. The best solution for a sore throat is to add a bit of ginger in your tea. A few pods of whole pepper are a great help too.

Wal-Marts effort to become trendier

The Akron Beacon Journal reports that Wal-Mart is working hard to convince consumers that the store is a great fashion destination too, and not just for basics. Rival Target has already carved a niche for itself for providing cheap chic merchandise, whether it is apparel or home furnishings. Wal-Mart has held a fashion show during New York's Fashion Week, hired a NYC trendspotting company and brought in new brands to improve its image. The company did falter by stocking up too much trendy merchandise, such as the skinny jean, which did not sell well and led to low sales in September and October.
The upgrading of its fashion is part of the company's larger campaign to expand into better quality, trendier merchandise to revitalize anemic sales and sluggish profit growth, a strategy that has gotten mixed grades from its customers so far.

Wal-Mart, which has built its reputation on selling basics like socks and detergent, made a push into $2,000 flat-screen TVs and other trendy electronics, 600-thread count sheets and organic foods. The goal is to pry more money from the hands of its wealthier customers, diversifying beyond its core-low income shoppers who are more vulnerable to economic downturns.

On floors

I've always loved wooden flooring. In our house in Bangalore, we had wood floors in our bedrooms and I loved the effect it had on the ambience of the room. Here, in Bombay, we don't have wood flooring since it's just not condusive in this humid weather. When we make our own house, we will definately be putting in wood floors in some of the rooms, most likely the bedrooms and study. Having a Laminate Floor isn't a bad alternative either. It is easy to install, easy to take care of, and lasts a long time.

A new way to decide what to eat

Now here's an interesting twist to the regular run-of-the-mill recipe sites. is also a recipe site but with lots of differences. I love the Leftover Wizard on the Find menu which allows you to enter in what you have in your fridge and figure out what dish can be made out of it. Check out the BigOven Recipe Software - 160,000 Recipes for yourself, and see what all it comes up with for you and your fridge. There is a section for each type of cuisine, Eastern European, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Thai etc and also by ingredient, preparation method (such as bake, grill, broil etc), season or holiday and by course or dish. All in all it is quite a through and in depth site on a variety of recipes.

Increasing online shopping and research

The Washington Post writes about how consumers are deciding what to buy based on research online. According to research done by comScore Networks, almost half of the shoppers will buy at least one product online this holiday season. With internet retailing expected to cross $100 billion this year, retailers are taking no chances and are increasing promotions and marketing activities on their websites.
Free shipping has become almost standard during the holidays, but be wary of blowing that savings in add-ons such as gift wrapping, personalized messages or express mail. Also keep in mind that your gifts need to be ordered several days before Christmas to receive them in time for the holiday -- even if you do splurge on overnight shipping. The last day that will guarantee Christmas delivery for free holiday shipping is Dec. 15, a spokesman said.

Dell Coupons

I came across this site offering great deals on Dell products, such as the Dell Inspiron 1501 Lapton for $634 after a deduction of 20%, instantly saving $159. There are lots of different deals and the it pays to check the site regularly as new Dell Coupon Codes and deals are added and updations are made hourly. Besides the hardware, I found the section on accessories such as laptop bags and iPods quite useful.

Modern retail formats create new marketing strategy

The Economic Times reports that in an interesting turn of events, modern food retail chains such as Spinach, Reliance Fresh, Spencers and Food Bazaar are all in talks with local mom and pop grocers to stock and distribute their in-house brands in the food, home and personal care categories. If kirana stores agree, they will be able to get higher margins on them in comparison to established brands and the retailers get higher volumes. These private labels will be sold either under their current brand names or would be changed to new names. With competition growing between the two formats, kirana stores are wooing customers with multi-pack offerings, larger product categories and new ways to grow the business. Private labels are generally 20-25% cheaper than national brands.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Organized retail majors record over 50% growth in Q2

The Economic Times reports that the top five retailers in the organized retail sector have had a phenomenal performance this past quarter, with a combined net sales growth of more than 50% for the quarter than ended September 2006. The top five retailers, Pantaloon Retail, Shoppers’ Stop, Trent, Titan Industries and Provogue, have combined net sales growth of 52% and net profit growth of 22%. Pantaloon Retail had the highest net sales growth at 65%, its value segment increasing by 78% and lifestyle segment increasing by 50%. Value retail accounts for close to 72% of the company’s turnover.

On moving back

When we moved back to India in 2004, we decided to live in Bangalore to set up an office there to expand our business. Since we had come back from the States with only our suitcases, we had to buy everything from scratch again here. It was heartbreaking to not bring our household things back with us, but it just wasn't worth the hassle. We gave everything we owned, furniture, electronics, kitchen stuff, linen to our good friends and neighbors Sam and Claudia to do with as they pleased.

I especially miss my white china set, my beautiful folding bamboo chairs and my absolutely handy wooden ladder and stool. I would have thought that it would have been easy to find another similar one here, since most of those ladders were made right here in India, but unfortunately I've not been able to find something similar to these little giant ladders. What I really liked about it was that it was very stable and steady, since I am quite clumsy, so ladder safety is high on my priority. Although we managed to get very similar things to what we had in the Providence, certain handy tools and gadgets required for making home improvements are hard to find here, since the concept of DIY is not too big. Moving back to India has been a good experience so far, although we really do miss our life there, having studied in college and lived most of our adult lives in the US.

Weekend golf

More on golf.
It was a dissapointing finish for Jyoti Randhawa at the HSBC Golf Champions Trophy, who finished tied for the 9th position after a fiery start. Other Indian golfers, Jeev Milkha Singh (from my hometown Chandigarh. I was rooting for him especially after his win at the Volvo Masters in Spain last week.) finished 17th and Shiv Kapoor tied for the 18th postition. Tiger Woods finished 2nd and the winner was Korean Yong-eun Yang, a little known player propelled to the big league.
Read more on the tourament and the players at the HSBC golf site.

Adidas to select local golfer to endorse products

The Economic Times reports that Taylormade-Adidas Golf, a division of Adidas, will be selecting a local golfer to endorse its golf wear products which it will be introducing in India next year. The company already has signed Virender Sehwag to endorse certain Adidas products. Adidas plans to promote golf in India and has started a pilot project at two schools in Delhi and Bangalore where it provided students with free equipment and coaching.

George Soros sets his sights on Indian retail sector

The Economic Times reports that the Indian retail industry has caught the attention of George Soros, world famous investor and one of the richest people in the world, who is keen on investing in the agro-based industries, retail and real estate sectors. He will be visiting India in mid December, when he also has plans to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and most likely be announcing which companies he is interested in.

Eddy Zuaiter, chief of Soros Fund Management, was in the country earlier to meet senior corporate and government officials, has already done the initial groundwork. Ashwani Kumar, Minister of state for commerce, is the coordinator between the Indian government and Soros, said,
"It signals that India is a good investment destination especially when people like Soros are investing their personal wealth."


Weddings are a really big deal here in India, not only for the bride and groom but also for the parents. Traditionally, mothers start collecting wedding jewelry and special clothing from the time a child is born. There is a lot of emphasis on the jewelry in any wedding, that which is actually worn at the wedding ceremony and other pieces worn for other wedding related occasions.

When I got married, I wore my mother's kundan set which she got on her wedding my her mother-in-law. Bought in Jaipur at Surana's, one of the most famous jewelry shops in the world, Surana's is to India what Cartier and Tiffany are to the western world. The set itself was massive and has heavy earnings and a ring, all in the famous red kundan style that Surana is famous for.

My husband's ring was made at our old family jewelers shop in Delhi's Connaught Place, where we have traditionally bought all men's wedding rings in the family, going back to my grandfather’s time. My own engagement ring is a beautiful 3 diamond setting, set in yellow gold. It was at our engagement ceremony that I first saw the ring, rather than at the proposal, which in fact was quite a casual thing actually.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Raymond signs agreement with Italian fashion company, Grotto

Raymond has formed an equal partnership joint venture with Grotto SpA, an Italian fashion company, to launch its Italian fashion brand GAS in India. The brand will be available at its flagship and exclusive stores as well as large format and multi-brand outlets, creating a total of 600 points-of-sale in three years. The companies are targeting a turnover of Rs. 1250 million in three years.

The first GAS store will be opening in early 2007. According to Aldo Palmeri, vice chairman and member on the board of Grotto SpA, "Right now, we are looking at distribution in the Indian market. In the future, we will look to manufacture in India as well."

Saturday, November 11, 2006

How many flashlights are enough?

When we used to live in Bangalore, we had to have flashlights and candles ready all the time, as the electricity used to go quite regularly. Our apartment, unfortunately, did not have a power backup system than most of the new residential complexes now have, so we just had to have everything ready to manage on our own, flashlights etc. Although, the power never went for too long, it went almost every second day or each time it rained, which comes to the same thing in Bangalore. With the weather being so great there, one didn't miss the fan too much, but not having the lights, geyser or oven working did cause some hassles.

So, I used to keep a variety of flashlights all over the house, so no matter where you were, you could easily find one. There was a small penlight in the wicker basket by the front door, strong and steady freestanding ones for the kitchen and baths and a variety of other ones scattered around the house in the bedrooms, living and dining rooms. Although we didn't need industrial strength flashlights like the SureFire or Streamlight that are used by the police and fire departments, we did need to have lots of flashlights available at all times.

Hakoba plans expansion

Embroidery textile and apparel manufacturer Hakoba Lifestyle will be planning several brand extensions in the next year, including lines for menswear, home textiles and lingerie. The company will also be expanding its network of stores from its current 50 to 200 by the year 2009. Multi brand outlets will be increased from the current 200 to 800 also.

Hakoba is a Rs. 22 crore company and Rajkumar Sekhani, director of Hakoba Lifestyle plans to increase revenues to Rs. 150-175 by 2009. At present the company is located in 26 cities and will be focusing on tier II and tier III cities for its expansion. Hakoba also plans to enter the Middle East market in the near future.

Planning winter parties

Winter is coming and its time to think about planning all those parties. I really like the idea of having an outdoor party even in the cold weather. It's quite easy to arrange for some outdoor heating such as Outdoor Fireplaces, and make it part of the theme and have a party that is a bit different from all others. Another option is using outdoor patio heaters. Although I have not used the chiminea, I have heard some good things about it. It looks like it would create a nice and cozy atmosphere which I try to infuse in my parties usually.

Timex in talks with Reliance Retail

Timex India is conducting talks with Reliance Retail to acquire shelf space or have a shop-in-shop fir its own brands. Timex has been ramping up operations and has invested Rs. 8 crore in relocating its manufacturing facility in Himachal Pradesh to take advantage of the tax breaks the state government is offering. According to Kapil Kappr, MD of Timex India,
"We are rolling out a slew of initiatives, which will improve our market share. We are exploring options to bring in more brands to plug the gaps in our portfolio and are in talks with our strategic partner for this."

Friday, November 10, 2006

Branded interaction

Ever wonder how much all those car crashes in the movies would actually cost? Well, Progressive Direct, a division of a US auto insurer has come up with a way to estimate the costs. Progressive Direct tied up with Universal Studios Home Entertainment to make a program that inserts a running total of the damage being done in its HD DVD release of "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift". So as cars crash into each other the description of the damage and the estimated cost will be displayed in a small window.

This is the first of a stream of branded interactive features that Universal will be releasing in its new HD DVDs. Product placement has become the norm and this is an interesting and interactive take on the concept that viewers will probably enjoy. Progressive Direct has created a new website,, where it has contests to promote the movie and the DVD. Marketing manager at Progressive Direct Fred Khoury, emphasized that this was for fun as it gave the company an opportunity to reach people in a new and different way. It's a totally different way of advertising and reaching newer customers. While on car repair and insurance, here's a good place to compare car insurance rates and get all your questions answered, regarding insurance, quotes and buying insurance online.

Reliance Retail suffers its first major HR casualty

The Economic Times and Business Standard report that Reliance Retail lost its first high profile executive, with Rajeev Karwal, president and CEO of the consumer durables division. Incidentally, he was also the first to join the Reliance Retail venture. Reliance Retail has named Ajay Baijal, former group head at Reliance Infocomm, an Anil Ambani owned company, as his replacement. Rajeev Karwal was earlier CEO of Electrolux and before that with LG Electronics, where he was widely credited as being responsible for the company’s gaining a foothold in the Indian market.

Fresh vegetables at same price all year round

The Economic Times reports that the Future Group is working on creating a ‘consistent pricing’ system to sell its fresh fruits and vegetables all year round at Food Bazaar stores. With this system, the consumer would not be affected by the volatility of seasonal variations that even for basic items like onions can vary from Rs. 5-30 in the open market.

Kishore Biyani, MD of The Future Group, said,
“We are trying to see how uniform pricing in individual centres will work for different categories. Currently, we will roll out with five categories, onions, potatoes, fresh vegetables, rice and sugar.”
The system has been tested at the Andheri branch of Food Bazaar and has registered 50% higher sales.

Increasing traffic

Increasing the popularity of a site sounds like an easy task but is an extremely complex task that is governed by Google's search algorithm. There are several factors that determine where you site stands in relation to the millions of other sites. While Page Rank is a factor in determining importance, Google is reducing its importance due to easy manipulation of it by tech savvy users. More important to Google now are inbound links from a variety of sources.

Increasingly now, Google is relying on other factors such as the Title Tag and the text content of the page and the links that it gets. So, receiving quality links is an important factor in increasing link popularity. One of the best methods to do increase link popularity is by using press releases but also one of the most difficult as publishers need to have interesting information to write about, so the content of the press release must be very good. Other methods such as purchasing links, link baiting, reciprocal linking might work in the short run but cannot be counted on sending quality or long term links.

Creating interesting content that cannot be found elsewhere is the best method to increase link popularity and blogs are a natural extension of this method. It is where search engines find valuable content and provide a great resource. Since doing this in person is almost impossible, one needs to use a network such as Blogitive which has a network of over 2000 blogs who write on press releases.

Starting a new business?

According to reports, an increasing number of people are preferring to work on their own and are starting their own businesses. While some know exactly how to start a business, not everyone has it all planned out. Growthink's Business Plan Help Center is a good resource of information and tools to get an entrepreneur started out on creating a successful business. The center provides a lot of free help such as reports, professional business plans, calculators, sample plans, directories etc. Have a look for your self to see their Business Plan Guide which has been downloaded more than 50,000 per year.

Birlas ready a Rs. 15,000 crore retail rollout

The Financial Express reports that the Aditya Birla Group has planned its retail rollout at an estimated cost of Rs. 15,000 crore, making it the second largest investment in the retail industry after Reliance Retail’s investment of Rs. 25,000 crore earlier this year. The Birlas plan to start operation by mid 2007, opening 6,000 stores in three years eventually and will be focusing on the food and grocery segment for half of its revenue. Lifestyle segments will account for approximately 22% and the balance will be from all other segments.

The Birla Group plans to set up retail stores in a similar manner to how Reliance is doing, by not entering into any tie-up with a foreign partner, following a carpet-bombing approach to opening stores in a variety of formats such as neighborhood convenience stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets and also on its focus on food and grocery.

Fashion Council to form partnership with clothing association

Business Standard reports that the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) and the Clothing Manufacturers’ Association of India (CMAI) have both signed an agreement of co-operation, which will focus on highlighting fashion as a central part of the clothing and fashion industry. In this regard, FDCI will open an office in Mumbai. On the agreement, director general of FDCI, Rathi Vinay Jha said that, " With this agreement the two organisations want to strength the manufacturing and technical services to benefit the fashion industry."

Having the right number

How many marketing calls do you get every day? And how many of them do you call back when they leave a message for you? Any at all? I usually find it hard to tell any one marketer apart from another, they all talk fast and leave a blurry of numbers on the message, that does not make me ever want to listen to it again, forget using their services. To get around this problem, Primary Wave is offering businesses a way to make themselves noticed, by getting a unique and memorable phone number that stands out from the rest. The range of businesses this can be used for is quite varied, including lawyers, mortgage brokers, realtors, doctors etc, and Primary Wave Media is the leading provider of vanity toll free numbers. Primary Wave Media on how Primary Wave Media works and how it can help you grow your business.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Vacations for a lifetime

Love vacationing but can't afford the expensive air tickets and hotel stays? Well, then you are going to love this. Fairfield Resorts has a huge selection of timeshare properties that you can holiday at without the huge bills. What actually started out as a land development company, has grown to become one of the most trusted brands in the US. Early properties included Fairfield Bay, Fairfield Sapphire Valley and Fairfield Glade, which the company sold as subdivided lots, wholly ownered condos and custom built homes.

Their first timeshare project was FairShare, a deeded ownership property where you could take an annual vacation at a specific location at a specified time of the year. Owners could exchange locations and weeks with each other but the system was still not entirely flexible. In 1991, the company introduced Fairshare Plus, where timeshare owners could adjust for vacation length, locations and size of the unit, allowing for greater flexibility and greater use of the vacations. After RCI and Interval International, FairShare Plus is the third largest timeshare exchange program in the world. Due to the flexibility of the system, owners can use both points and stays to avail of a variety of travel and leisure products such as airfare, cruises, accomodations and other activities.

Fairfield Resorts has more than half a million families enjoying the lifestyle created by them and vacationing in more than 70 premier resorts in 21 states. The company is based in Orlando, FL and has 9,000 employees who are committed to providing customers with the best vacation experience. Its parent company Wyndham Worldwide is one of the largest hodpitality companies in the world, with over 20 well known travel and leisure brands and over 100 locations across the world.

VF Arvind opens its third Kipling store

The Hindu Business Line reports that VF Arvind launched its third Kipling store in India, at the Gallaria Leela at Leela Palace in Bangalore. Kipling, a Belgium based company that specializes in women’s casual handbags is part of the VF Group. Its other two stores are in Delhi and Mumbai, and plans to open six exclusive stores and twelve shop-in-shops by mid 2007.

Woodland plans expansion

The Financial Express reports that Indian footwear company Woodland will be expanding its production capacity and opening 60-70 new stores in the next two years. According to Harkirat Singh, Managing Director of Woodland Shoes,
"Demand for our products has grown in the past few years. We would invest about Rs 10 crore to set up three new facilities in Uttaranchal to cater to the increased demand."
The company has a capacity to produce 6,000 shoes per day at present and by 2007 end will be able to increase it to 10,000-12,000 shoes per day. Woodland will be opening 60-70 new stores in metros and tier I cities. The company is also looking to increase its apparel and accessories brands, doubling production capacities from 3,000 pieces to 6,000 pieces per day.

Personalized wedding favors

Isn't everything about weddings just so much fun? I seem to be writing a lot on weddings lately, maybe because I will soon be going to Toronto later this month to attend one. Getting everything together for the wedding can be really tough if you don't know where to go and what you need. For some great ideas on what to get, The Knot Wedding Shop has lots of wedding related stuff available. They have more than 1000 items from wedding cameras to ring pillows, attendant gifts, cake toppers, personalized wedding favors and all your basic wedding supplies too. Knowing how crazy it can get, The Knot Wedding Shop has a great delivery service for last minute orders. So rest easy and check out this one stop shop for all your wedding needs.

Who wil be India's Wal-Mart and Kmart?

Financial Express reports that India’s retail sector is soon to have another mega launch announcement, with The Aditya Birla Group who plans to establish more than 6,000 stores in the next three years. The company plans to invest more than Rs. 15,000 crore, second to only Reliance’s investment of Rs. 25,000 crore to set up 11,000 stores by 2011. These two companies are trying to set up retail chains at levels that global retailers such as Wal-Mart or Kmart established in 3-5 decades.

While Reliance and the Birla’s are working their way from cities and urban areas, Wal-Mart got started in the rural areas in the south, and Kmart and Target got started in larger cities. Wal-Mart established itself as a national chain over a period of 30 years and became the number one retail chain in the world and Kmart became a national chain in 8 years, becoming the 29th largest retail chain in 2005.

Window surfing

Strategymag writes about a new window display technique. Boombox Marketing's OptiAd Media division has brought out 'Window F/X', a new way to light display windows with something like a hologram that are invisible from the inside of the window, but can be seen from the outside, even in bright sunny conditions. Even more interestingly, the technology can be adapted to other uses, such as showing a virtual tour of a home for real estate agents or sales centers, even when they are closed. A touchscreen capability will allow potential customers to 'surf' and see products, regardless if the store is open or closed.
OptiAd, which can develop and update the creative, recently set up Window F/X at a Mini sales centre on Toronto's trendy King Street West and at uptown Toronto kids store Nestings. Also, Toronto-based Labatt Breweries of Canada has commissioned several on-premise Window F/X installations.

Dellios says the new technology is customizable "up to windows as big as 50 ft. by 10 ft.," and is compatible with flash animation, DVD and live-feed video. There's no bulky hardware, and the screens don't block sunlight or the visibility of storefront products. For companies with more storefront space than they need to showcase their own wares, OptiAd will broker deals with other advertisers to turn unused windows into ad revenue.

Online education

To get a good education, one doesn't always have to stick to conventional forms of study. Education is not restricted only to physical classrooms; it is wherever one gains knowledge. One such example is Capella University, which is an accredited online university, offering a variety of degree programs for study. At the graduate level, there are degree programs in business, information technology, education, human services and psychology. At the undergraduate level, Capella University offers degree programs in business and information technology. In total, there are 76 graduate and undergraduate level programs and 16 certificate specializations on offer.

Capella University has 16,000 students from the US and 63 countries. It has come to be known as the leader in providing excellent online education and maintaining the balance between academic excellence and business growth. The university is a subsidiary of the Capella Education Company, which is base in Minneapolis. Visit their site at or call them at 1-888-CAPELLA (227-3552) for more information. Capella University is accredited with The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Indus Fila likely to acquire international brand

Business Standard reports that Bangalore based textile manufacturer and exporter, Indus Fila is in the process of purchasing an international brand. It has started a due-diligence process in this regard. Once it goes through, the company will enter the domestic market. According to Nitin Mandhana, vice chairman and managing director of Indus Fila,
“We have realised that acquisition of an established fashion apparel brand is the best way to enter the domestic market.”
Indus Fila has been suppling garments to brands such as mexx, Armani, Levis, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Philip Van Heusen, Haggar and Wal-Mart. The company had a turnover of Rs. 85 crore in the last financial year.

Future Group and IOC sign agreement

Business Standard reports that the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Future Group’s Food Bazaar have signed an agreement to set up petrol pumps at the retailer’s shopping center’s and setting up Food Bazaar’s at IOC run petrol outlets. With this agreement, The Future Group will have access to new and untapped markets in semi-urban and highway locations.

IOC will set up their petrol pumps at select Future Group malls, hypermarkets and supermarkets. The larger Food Bazaar outlets will run by the Future Group itself, smaller outlets will be run by IOC dealers, who would source the merchandise from Food Bazaar.

Getting rid of that slice

I've been playing golf for almost 10 years now, sometimes very regularly and at others a bit sporadically. It usually depends on how well one is playing, how strong the pull is of the course to get that swing right, to try out a different grip or to make sure one swings through all the way. I was quite intrigued to see this product on the internet that says will reduce slicing the ball. The Ebalon Offset Anti Slice Golf Club seems like a good idea, but one that I would absolutely have to try out first before buying. Price-wise, the offset driver varies from $199.99 to $499.99 to irons and woods, which is pretty regular what one would pay for a specialized club.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

French salon Jean Claude Biguine to open next year

The Economic Times reports that French salon Jean Claude Biguine, a Euro 150 million hair and beauty chain will be opening early next year to set up salons first in Mumbai and then in Delhi. The company hopes to have 50 salons in the top cities by 2010, using an investment of Rs. 100 crore.

India’s personal care industry is estimated to be worth $38 million is likely to grow to $150 million by 2010. India is seen as an extremely lucrative market with its rising incomes and increasing number of people working in MNCs and BPOs who are ready and willing to spend money on themselves. Other target groups will be women belonging to households of more than Rs. 500,000, which at present number around 50,000 from 2.5 million households and is expected to grow to 1 million by 2010.

A new way to organize

Here's another new service that is sure to improve communication. BrainCast Beta takes care of all your internet and phone related message or memo recording. The system is compatible with any US based cell phone service as well as regular landline telephone service. All you have to do is register and you can be ready to record your messages and memos within seconds. I think its a cool new way to interact, although I would prefer that BrainCast would have some more information about their service and how it works before requires potential customers to sign up. There is no charge to this system, so go ahead and see if it will help you sort out your life.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Real estate in Scottsdale AZ

Are you interested in buying a property in one of the hottest places in the US? Scottsdale, Arizona is one of the most upcoming cities in the US, with a very well developed property market. The city that is now famous for its expensive living was once called the 'most western city' in America. Today, Scottsdale has a great cultural atmosphere along with incredible shopping and sporting activities. The Holm Group is one of the foremost real estate agencies in the city and Andrew Holm is an experienced Scottsdale Realtor and Accredited Buyers Representative, who can understand your requirements and make them a reality. The Holm Group is simply the best place to go to for Scottsdale Property or for property in areas such as Phoenix, Carefree and Fountain Hills.

Free access to NYT's Times Select

Philips is offering a one week free access to The New York Time's online opinion section Times Select. The free access runs from Monday 6th November to Sunday 12th November. I'm really happy to be able to read one of my favorite journalists and author's Thomas Friedman. Scroll down to the box on the right side of the The New York Times page.

Are retailers sending customers back empty handed?

Are retailers sending you back home empty handed telling you to check for your item online? Yes, according to come Wharton faculty and industry analysts, retailers have reduced the amount of stock they have in stores, cutting back on certain colors and sizes. Consumers are also being told about the special sales retailers are having online, where they can order low-selling merchandise and have it delivered directly to their homes.
Retailers have always feared operational problems leading to stockouts (items and/or sizes that are out of stock) and lost sales. Now, stores are generating intentional stockouts because they have the opportunity to capture lost sales through the Internet. "Slow-moving items can be efficiently sold using the web site, but not the stores. So when the customer comes into the store and wants an item that is a slow-seller, he or she can get redirected," says GĂ©rard Cachon, Wharton professor of operations and information management.
Read the article here at Knowledge @ Wharton.