Kolkata Metro, a rapid transit system serving the Kolkata metropolitan area, traces its root since year 1971 when its first master plan was envisaged. With 300 metro services daily carrying over 650,000 passengers, Kolkata Metro is the second busiest metro system in India however for quite some time its running in losses so much that the it has to spend Rs 300 to earn Rs 100 of revenue.
To revive the business of Kolkata Metro, a group of few noble students from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Calcutta, have come up with an idea in which they have suggested that e-commerce majors like Flipkart or Amazon should be roped in to start India’s first of its kind virtual grocery stores on station walls.
This idea coming from IIM-Calcutta is a result of commissioned request from Kolkata Metro Rail Corporation (KMRC) where the later has asked IIM-C to restructure its revenue model. A team of 3 MBA students — Alan Shaji Idicula, Urjaswit Lal and Tushar Kumar, came up with this idea of installing wall-length billboards designed to look like a series of supermarket shelves.
Alan Shaji Idicula, who’s one of the members of IIM-Calcutta Team proposing the idea of virtual grocery store, explained the idea as — the digital billboards will display product images along with the QR code. Passengers can scan the code to order daily-use products like groceries and FMCG items. The concept marries the two distinct models of traditional brick and mortar shops and e-commerce.
Around 20 teams of IIM students studied different metro stations to find additional sources of revenue after which Alan’s team was selected as the winner by KMRC.
Alan Shaji Idicula said their proposal is to bring Flipkart/Amazon on board and start India’s first virtual grocery stores on Metro walls.
Notably, the idea is quite similar to what European supermarket chain Tesco (known in South Korea as Home Plus) — in 2011 — had done in South Korea by putting grocery store shelf mock-ups on subway platforms to launch the world’s first Virtual Grocery store.
In 2012, Tesco had also opened the UK’s first interactive virtual grocery store in Gatwick’s North Terminal, which is in southeast of England.
Comparing the proposed plan of IIM-Calcutta with the Tesco’s virtual grocery store in South Korea’s Seoulleung subway station, then Tesco’s virtual grocery store too comprises of pictures of products that are posted with QR codes underneath. Shoppers use their smartphones to scan the QR codes of the items they want. The products in their virtual shopping carts are delivered right to the customers’ homes at their selected delivery time.
Indrani Banerjee, who is Kolkata Metro spokesperson, told LiveMint, “We are trying to implement it. The idea is to increase our non-fare revenue so that there is no burden on passengers. We are trying to utilise our space in the best possible manner”. She however did not divulge any details whether they have approached any e-commerce company to implement this idea.
The team also proposed to earn revenue through train wrap ads, hoardings and digital kiosks and paid wi-fi services inside Metro trains.
Additionally, the team of IIM-Calcutta also calculated that KMRC can easily earn an additional revenue of Rs 20 crore just by renting/leasing out 68,478 sq. ft. of un-utilised space, at 20 Metro stations in Kolkata, for shops and advertisements.
Notably, such virtual stores are also gaining attention in stations of Japan as well as in the U.S. In 2012, a leading Internet grocer of the U.S., Peapod.com, launched more than 100 virtual grocery stores at commuter rail stations in Boston, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
News sourced via Live Mint.