Más compras vía Internet en la India

SINGAPUR – Después de años de debate, el gobierno de la India anunció recientemente que abrirá el sector minorista del país a la inversión extranjera. La medida fue recibida con gritos de protesta de aquellos que sostienen que el ingreso de grandes cadenas de hipermercados como Carrefour y Wal-Mart arrasará a las pequeñas tiendas que actualmente dominan el sector minorista de la India. El 20 de septiembre, una huelga a nivel nacional convocada por los partidos de oposición paralizó muchas ciudades y pueblos. Hasta el momento, el gobierno del primer ministro Manmohan Singh no ha cedido, a pesar de haber perdido el apoyo de un aliado clave de la coalición.

En la actualidad, el debate en torno a la apertura del sector minorista a la inversión extranjera se enmarca, por una parte, en la necesidad de modernizar las cadenas de suministro y, por otra parte, en el deseo de proteger los medios de subsistencia de los pequeños comerciantes. Los que apoyan la decisión argumentan que las cadenas de suministro de la India son simplemente demasiado derrochadoras, y que sólo la financiación y el conocimiento especializado de las grandes cadenas minoristas internacionales podría modernizarlas. Los opositores puntualizan la forma en la que los grandes minoristas diezmaron al segmento minorista tradicional en el occidente.

Pero a este debate le falta un punto crucial: el modelo de hipermercado en sí se encuentra seriamente amenazado, en todo lugar, por las compras en línea (vía Internet). Los consumidores en todo el mundo están descubriendo que pueden acceder a una variedad prácticamente ilimitada en Internet – incluyendo a productos y servicios personalizados que los grandes minoristas simplemente no pueden ofrecer.

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