We just celebrated Gandhi Jayanti yesterday and like every year it attempted to be a little more than the annual occasion for all politicians to declare their affiliation to the father of our nation, airing Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi on DD1 and making the same dry day jokes as last year. This time though, we are trying to do something different. Even though Mr. Gandhi wasn’t much of a dabbler in business (what with the whole dispossession and all), we strongly believe that he could have been if he wanted to, and if he had not gotten carried away with trying to make the world a better place. So here we present to you, Lessons Every Online Retailer Can Learn from the Father of Our Nation. Call it a WWBD (What Would Bapu Do) collection of answers to your everyday problems in trying to make the most profits on the online market. Jokes apart, it is true that we can learn so much about life from the Mahatma, and if we look hard enough, we can surely learn a thing or two about how to satisfy others and be satisfied ourselves in our ventures. So let’s do this, while trying not to think about what Gandhi were to say if he were to read this article ( ‘Hey Ram!’, most probably).

Online Retail Lessons from the Mahatma

Don’t Bring Your Own Booze, Gandhi would have said. Be Your Own Boss. As an entrepreneur working in one of the hottest sectors in the market, you will have to deal with investors, employees, clients and customers on a daily basis. Learn how to be firm yet polite from the man who brought a whole empire to its knees with nothing but a few kind words. Understand that nobody can tell you what to do, no matter what they pay you.

Be kind and compassionate, especially while dealing with your customers. Vinamrata, or politeness, goes a long way in personal as well as professional life. Understand that they expect a valuable service from you in return of the money they pay, and it is your duty to provide it. Of course, things can go wrong without it being your fault too. But that doesn’t mean you get the right to lose your cool. ‘An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind’, says Gandhi.

‘The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.’ – Gandhi

It sounds easy, but it is one of the most difficult things to truly forgive someone. You will have to learn the art of forgiveness if you want to prosper in the world of online retail. If Gandhi had the power in him to forgive a whole nation and its colonial atrocities, we can at least try and forgive a mixup in the SKU codes, right?

Satya is one of the guiding principles of Gandhian philosophy. The word Satyagraha literally means ‘insistence on truth’. Would Gandhi lie about a product in the online catalogue? Would Gandhi delay payments to his employees? Would Gandhi cheat someone on their product warranty? I don’t think so. And neither should you.

‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.’ – Gandhi.

Don’t give up. During the course of business as an online retailer, you will have to face many difficulties. There will be times when you will seriously consider quitting this profession, and doing something easier, like sword swallowing. You must ask yourself then, how would your life be if the Mahatma had given up on the little dream he had of Swaraj? Or what if he had contemplated quitting because of the pressure from all the death threats, prison sentences, and forty crore people looking to him for guidance? Do you feel better about your situation now? Then get back to work.

These are a few things you can learn from our beloved Bapu, and apply them to your business. Wish you an enlightening and a little introspective Gandhi Jayanti. If you want to know more about Gandhism, start with ‘My Experiments With Truth’. If you want to know more about ecommerce, start with Browntape. Remember, WWBD. Also, May the force be with you!

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