Sunday, December 10, 2017

Redmart - Disappointed and guess no longer the niche player in the market.

I have been using Redmart for a while and I like them for their web interface, and schedule. From 2012 to now I guess I must have made more than a hundred orders with them and have no bad experiences with them till beginning of this year.

Around CNY this year, couple of my orders were "delayed" and that's a minor issue. But then around middle of this year the items delivered were of terrible quality. I can see Brown Rice with some insects, and delivery of different brand items. My most recent order was few days ago and less than half the goods were delivered. The delivery person comment was he wasn't sure but he could only see the items in the warehouse. So another call to Customer care and the lady could tell me immediately that other box containing goods was damaged at warehouse so they didn't send it out.

Information availability: great; Informing customer: can be improved.

So what's the point of knowing something when one could easily take a simple action? If they used the information to inform me earlier, I could have waited for another day or pick another time slot to get the comlpete order. Now the lady on the phone sounded nice, but her KPI appears to be close the case first, so her answer was "the pending order is ~ 20, and I would give $5 voucher". Seriously?

Anyway, I passed it and now looking seriously at Fairprice or Honestbee or dei (the new little india one).. Let's see

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Need a radical change of mgmt, thought process to succeed. Not buying larger fleets but using them is critical.

Source: CNA

The morning news which caught my eye is the nes Comfortdelgro acquiring majority share in Uber car rental subsidiary in Singapore.

It is very unfortunate and not really a win for CDG (also for Uber which I would talk a little later) as this essentially gives CDG a larger fleet and fastly depreciating asset base. The whole idea of new generation service is being asset light. Unless CDG is trying hard to make the books looks good, I don't see a real reason why they went for it. Or is it Uber who made this happened by pushing CDG to a corner? No idea but all guess work..

Now, for Uber this is bad too. It essentially tells me that Uber is losing it's battle against Grab. This is the last fortress uber can't afford to lose but it appears the bastion is cracking. As shared by some other bloggers, analysts the market leader is no longer Uber but Grab. Be it the publicity, or quick to market or localisation of offers; Grab essentially made Uber to lose the market. IMHO, I still see Uber being the better one with some what good customer care, and they are more focussed on passenger. The App is years ahead, and routing of drivers is far better. Unfortunately ease of getting a cab as well as price is where Grab is winning. Well, all lies in the take5,4,3 / save5,4,3 offers which Grab is extremely generous these days. 

The loyalty part for "office workers" is pulling some crowds to Grab as well. I could hear some canteen conversations while visiting city area :) It's just like the miles game. So no wonder Grab is favourited there. 

I am not sure how it ends up but for CDG this is not going to be good. Sad to see the best taxi company thinking that it could continue with it's old expertise, and lay on it's laurels for the future.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Amazon Prime in Singapore.. Sort of and it's pretty confusing at best

You guys may have seen the Amazon prime now launch in Singapore, and as a Amazon Prime US customer for a while, I must say this is a big screw up by Amazon. First of all it's mobile strategy is not going to bring any good feedback from majority of the crowd unless Amazon expects people in the region only end up buying some small sub-$5 items on mobile phone/on road.

I don't see any benefit of Prime video (or for that matter netflix) in the region as the content is totally irrevalent here. So not very sure how Amazon is going to get any business from here except some westerners.

For the time, it's Lazada or Qoo10 stuff which are going to get the market share. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Worst taxis in the world. It's Bangkok without doubt.

I am not talking about the Drivers, Taxis, Cost, Infra or any specific thing but the overall experience. The source is nothing but purely on my observation and limited travel experience over a decade mainly in Asia Pac. So here it goes.

  • India
Ugly: Hardware, Cleanliness & Safety.

The experience sucks here due to Hardware (quality of the vehicle) but situation improved thanks to Uber, Ola kind. Most of these cars are new but depending on the luck you would still get in to a dirty car with wrapped plastic over head rests.

Seatbelts are either purely for Display purposes or doesn't exist. The built quality of these cars are just a surrounded sheet metal so do not expect grand safety features. Also the Drivers are poorly trained, and the lack of enforcement tend to make the ride scary at times. 

Average: Communication, Traffic & Professionalism

Majority of the Drivers are able to communicate in English, so communication is not a major issue but the accent, variation of address/name tend to confuse but I never had an issue thanks to the servitude nature of many Drivers Still acceptable IMHO. The only issue is the "expectation" of Tips/Gratuities makes professionalism in to average. That's something the society need to change.

Traffic can be terrible but it can be planned to avoid major disruptions and its either on par or better than majority nation. 

Great: Availability, & Cost

Once again, thanks to Uber, Ola & similar apps the availability of taxis are amazing. I never had to wait more than 10 min in any of the places I have been to. Most of the times in less than 5 min, I can get in to the taxi. Cost is not bad and great compared to the other costs in India (India is a very expensive place to live, work, travel)

Tips: Get a Uber Black or Similar Premium version to be sure about Safety, Communication and the 30 min traffic jam bearable. 

  • Indonesia
Ugly: Traffic, 

Major problem in Indonesia is Traffic. Nothing else. So plan your schedule based on traffic and nothing else matters. Don't be surprised if a 5 KM ride ends up you sitting in the taxi for 2 hours during peak hours.

Average: Availability, Cleanliness, Safety, & Communication

Bluebird is everywhere, and majority are Toyota vios kind of stuff or MPV. Seat belts do exists, and if you want to go with Silverbird or Goldbird then you can enjoy the mini vans. 

In the ride sharing, Grab appears to be popular or aggressive, but the cars tend to be old and drivers tend to cancel the booking very frequently. Uber is not bad w.r.t cancellations but cars are much better.  Majority of the Drivers are able to speak few words of English but never expect any mis understanding or problems because of language. the folks are very professional.  

Great: Hardware, Professionalism, & Cost

Typical hardware is Toyota, or similar and large cars are very popular due to "car is for family". So either the normal street hail taxis or ride sharing, the chances are high to get a new, good vehicle. Indonesians are very friendly people and I never experienced any rude behaviour or a driver trying to demand extra money.

Lastly this is one of the cheapest place to ride in a Mercedes for an hour or so for less than 20 bucks. 

Tips: Plan your travel based on "Traffic". Get a Uber Black or Grab Premium or Silverbird to spend some quality time in calls, chit chat with your friends

  • Thailand
Ugly: Safety, Professionalism, Cost, Availability, Traffic & Communication.

No meter, and expected to pay double is the norm in BKK. If you get a taxi with meter on by default, just pinch yourself to wake up from the dream. Majority of the drivers are not trained properly (guess farmers trying to make some extra money), can't speak or understand English (or pretend), extremely good at taking long routes, and have no change at all or receipts. 

Thailand has one of the worst road mortality rates in the world and combined with lack of training this makes us to worry about the safety. 

I can go on with the negative experiences and unfortunately I do not have a single positive experience to talk here. Even Uber, Grab couldnt make a difference here. 

Average: Cleanliness & Hardware

Majority of the cars are clean enough and new hardware. Especially those that's going to the Airport (was told there is a rule of max 5 years age for the cars going to Airport). 

Great: ??

None IMHO. 

Tips: Uber Black or Grab Premium or Hotel Car (if you can afford..)

  • Malaysia
Ugly: Professionalism & Traffic

Taxis in KL are not that bad actually. Reasonably priced, clean but the drivers can be rude depending on your luck. Rush hour traffic is getting to be close to jakarta/bangkok level of disaster so watch out the schedule, destination. 

Average: Cost, Safety, Cleanliness & Hardware

If there is one market where Uber/Grab changed, then that would be Malaysia. Be it KL or JB or Pengang, the kind of difference Uber/Grab made was enormous. Not only in terms of quality of vehicles, but overall change is great. It's still the same old Perdua or Proton cars with occasional Japanese but the overall quality is much better now. 

Great: Availability & Communication

Taxis are available almost any time of the day. 

    Tuesday, June 27, 2017

    Most expensive visa for Indian passport holders

    Holding Indian passport is probably one of the worst business credentials as this literally stops one from going to places on business without paying :)

    Anyway, I am aware of many folks who are proud of the blue passport (one of them) and we have been struggling for years and this is a summary of my experiences. I could be wrong and happy to correct as the fees are pretty dynamic and with India changing the visa fee yesterday, the reciprocal actions could warrant a very quick update of this post.

    So here it goes.

    Some notes: I took the price and converted to USD; and the cost is per year to have a good comparison. 
    VISA Charges (in USD)
    VOA $35/ visit
    New Zealand
    Single entry typically
    Sri Lanka
    Single entry typically
    Single entry typically
    $160 / 10 years
    $82 /3 months

    Wednesday, April 12, 2017

    Just a phone number is what is needed to hack the phone - Really XXXX article

    Source: CNA

    There is a very clear screen showing that the user need to download + agree to give the "app" full rights to use Camera, Location, Read/Send/Delete/Modify SMS, Make/Receive Phone calls & what not.

    Worse part: the link is here which looks like it can't be more suspicious than putting "click me so to get hacked in".

    So this so called hacking requires:

    * Person enabling "app download from unknown sources"
    * Clicking a really suspicious link
    * Installing by accepting all "asks" from App
    * Not bothering to check why the App is not giving any coupons or promos

    If the person / target / victim doesnt understand this (even after the Gov pasting posters on almost all the lifts, public places and in internet ads), then perhaps the best would be to go with a dumb phone (?) like me or pay to another weird AV firm few $ to get questionable peace of mind.

    Saturday, February 4, 2017

    SQ vs United: Direct flight to SFO

    Just in this year, I ended up flying to SFO twice. So my first flight was on SQ while the current one (havent returned yet) is on United.

    SQ is running Airbus A350 while United is going with Boeing 787. No fancy photographs, or too much details but a first hand experince from my own perspecrive.
    • Flight: My vote goes to United (787)
    A350 is rather new and the pitch is 32" and width is 18" (vs 32" & 17.3 in United).  I still doesnt understand why there are single hand rests and especially in this flight it was more like a stick and I will not call it hand rest. It's pretty thin, and I cant even rest my arm properly. The plastic feel of a350 was not good as well. The humidity / pressure levels are certainly better in 787.

    • Service: I will go with United (787)
    Don't get me wrong. United service is horrible and ice cold. Probably that's why I felt they are efficient. SQ service is getting worse in terms of service and its very inconvenient and you end up feeling very tired. The lunch/breakfast service was started around 0900 and they concluded around 10:45. Similarly the dinner/supper was from 1000 to 12+. All this time, we ended up stuck in the seats and can't move, sleep or enjoy the little extra space we have. Did I say, that the lights were on all the time?
    Then the robotic service from the SQ is becoming very obvious; and the PA system can be thrown out to in the ocean. Why can't the voice can be gentle or keep the volume down. It's like as if they are trying to burst our ears. 

    • Punctuality, Overall E2E time: (neutral)
    Both were good. Early to SFO. 
    • Entertainment: SQ (350)
    United does have few hundred titles but either they are too old, or never heard movies. SQ - Clear winner. 
    • Cleanliness & Other Misc: SQ (350)
    If United is smart, they should vacuum / clean the flight. The reduced weight can easily save the costs of employing the cleaners. That's how dusty it was. Toilets were good at the beginning but not when we landed at SFO. 
    SQ - Spectacularly clean.

    • Value for money: United (787)
    With the price I paid vs the service I received, there is no doubt I would go with United. Did I say the SQ price was almost double yet I got 50% miles loaded in my Krisflyer? While the cheaper and better (in my case) United gave me 100% miles. 

    While, I am going to fly SQ for sure I really want SQ to

    1. Accelerate the meal service. Especially during night trips
    2. Normalize the PA volume. No point trying to blast your passengers ears.

    Saturday, January 28, 2017

    It pays to return your tray but to whom? I hate this campaign after realising the outcomes

    Source: Strait times

    As you can see the Foodcourt owners can implement a system to promote tray return by investing 280,000+. Now the big question is where is the business case for investing. I wish the food court owners are getting the business case from somewhere else.

    What I have seen in other places (near office/home) is since the campaign on Say YES to Tray Return, the number of old uncles/aunties been reduced. So the poor cleaner uncle who used to get his pay with dignity is now jobless and getting help from the Gov (Comcare). May be its a coincidence or there was really a retrenchment.

    But overall, I don't like the idea of pushing some novelty item or whims of some business person on masses. This is what it is in Asia for centuries and the service culture doesnt need to be changed because of some ideas originated from western world. There could be many reasons why US or EU does this but for Asia/SG - Do we really need to follow the values and norms of western world blindly?

    I don't think so.