A ‘Thousand thing’ shop… or ‘One stop’ shopping?

Shopping in Vietnam can be heaven or a nightmare.

I’ve often had to ride all around Hoi An (where I live) to get parts for this or that, and it’s exhausting in the traffic and then having to argue with lots of different shop owners.

It’s not much different in other countries except for shops that sell all the accessories to go with your main purchase.

Vietnam has its version of a department store or ‘Megamart’ or ‘Supermall’ (a really BIG department store) – a place where you can buy everything you need for anything in your house; what the Vietnamese call a ‘thousand thing shop’.

Yet shops that sell accessories [đồ phụ tùng] – the extra things you can sell to go with your products – still don’t really exist here in the same way as in Western countries, or even Hong Kong, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.

In Australia, where I’m from, and many other developed countries, we have ‘one stop shopping’ – you can buy a computer, a book, pens, paper, cute decorations for the office and computer – all in one place, hence the term ‘One stop shopping’.

This kind of shopping has grown from the idea that people are very busy so they don’t want to go all over town to find and buy the things they want.

If I’m building a house I can go to one place to get the wood, nails, ladder, paint – even the furniture!

It’s hard to tell if this doesn’t exist here because Vietnamese shopkeepers don’t want to spend a lot of money on buying accessories to sell alongside their main products, or if that business idea has simply yet to arrive.

I do know that the tax on imports is high so that could be the reason – and possibly a very good opportunity for local businesses to become famous with good quality accessories – one of the things that Japan and South Korea concentrated on in their early economic development.

Certainly lowering the tax on some kinds of imported accessories could help educate local businesses in the quality expected of local goods.

While you can do a type of ‘One stop’ shopping in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, it’s not well developed yet, and available in only a few places.

The one exception I can think of is modern supermarkets, yet even they don’t sell a wide variety of accessories – phone covers, extra cables, well-decorated carry bags – to complete the customer’s satisfaction!

In Vietnam you can buy sofas, tables, wall cabinets and ladders at the furniture shop but you can’t buy cushions, tablecloths, bookends or paint trays for ladders.

You have to go other places for that… and who is willing to go everywhere in the traffic of major cities these days?

You can also buy cute, useless, dangerous locally made motorbike helmets but not motorbike gloves, facemasks, raincoats, wet weather clothes or motorbike glasses.

Vietnamese motorbike shops can sell you motorbikes and some accessories, such as replacement panels but not motorbike storage boxes – which would be a huge business here if they was affordable enough – nor gloves with the shops’ or the motorbike’s logo.

They could also make a lot of money with ‘cute’ accessories – colorful motorbike mirrors or special bags for women.

You also can’t buy a decent safety jacket for the bike, or lightweight women’s summer dust jackets.

In Western countries you can buy meat at the store, and you can also get the condiments and seasonings all the same place – well, the local market can maybe do that if you want to argue with ten different stall owners!

Overseas, if you buy music, you can choose cool storage folders and dozens of different portable music players and the headphones without stepping into another shop.

I don’t expect Vietnamese to change overnight, but I’m suggesting this as a way to increase business and profit.

If, for example, you sell electricity generators, why not sell long power cables and power boards?

If you sell Bánh Mì (bread) to ‘take away’, why not sell the soft drinks to take away? What if you sell coffee, but also sell it in a takeaway cup?

Shopping in Vietnam lacks some variety yet that doesn’t have to be an imported product.

Many of the things I’ve mentioned here can be manufactured in Vietnam and thus help develop the domestic market.

It’s often been mentioned that Vietnamese souvenir shops are all the same, but what if you sell a beautiful box to go with the gift for your friends back home?

There is often the feeling here that ‘co-ordination’ between different parts of the market is not well developed, but it can start quite cheaply and simply by thinking of other things your customer might need.

Local bottle shops for example, don’t sell bottle openers or wine openers nor glasses or wine holders, yet this could be the difference between a bad week of sales or ‘breaking even’ in profits.

Interestingly, home and business delivery is on the rise – a pizza delivery man I spoke to in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City on a recent trip told me he also does building tools and office supply deliveries.

He makes good money this way because he knows all the back streets and quick ways around town.

This is also part of the ‘new wave’ of small business services contributing to local employment.

So which would you prefer?

A ‘Thousand thing’ shop?…

Or ‘One stop’ shopping?

By STIVI COOKE

Source: Tuoi Tre Online

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