Trust-based street commerce in Kazan: grandma’s creativity or well-thought-out start-up?

Experts saw an unexpected thing in the case of a “bucket with flowers without salesperson”

A new format of street commerce has appeared in Kazan — it is based on trust. A salesperson leaves a bucket with flowers and a note asking to transfer the money for a bunch to a phone number in the street — the salesperson counts on the honesty of a potential purchaser (and any passer-by). Realnoe Vremya together with experts decided to study prospects of the project and find out who might be behind it.

Bucket owner refused to talk

Kazan blogger Niyaz Latypov recently left a post on his Facebook account: “A new format of street commerce has appeared in Kazan — it is based on trust. Take a bunch, transfer money to the salesperson’s card”. This text has a photo taken on Abzhalilov Street. The photo pictured a big bucket with flowers with garden flowers and a note: a bunch is 100 rubles. A phone number is also written down, which is attached to the card one should transfer the money for the contactless purchase.

The post had a lot of comments, moreover, opinions split. Somebody is sure that the “start-upper” is a grandma who collected flowers in the garden but didn’t want or couldn’t sit next to the basket all day long, that’s why she left the note. Others, in contrast, believe that it is a wholesale seller of flowers chose such a business model: like the loss because of robbery will be less than a salary for a salesperson. The commentators couldn’t come to an agreement if our compatriots were ready to pay for such a purchase or simply steal the bunches as an unexpected freebie. And one of the commentators mocked a smart person wouldn’t steal the bunches but would replace the phone number indicator for his number.

Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent decided to learn the details of the idea from the bucket owner but received a categorical refusal to comment on her motives. “I wouldn’t like to talk about it, I am sorry. Please, don’t publish my phone number in social networks,” a female voice dryly replied.

Nevertheless, with the help of experts, we tried to find out how successful this idea was and who could be behind it — an ordinary grandma or an entrepreneur who expects from our people only the best.

“Our people aren’t ready for it. It is likely that most bunches will simply be stolen”

Founder of Avrora chain of florists in Kazan Avrora Tarasova told Realnoe Vremya that she hadn’t seen such a format of street commerce in Kazan yet. Moreover, the interlocutor noted that such an experience was widely spread in Europe. “There are entire fields. Farmers put flowers on sale. Any person can come, cut as many flowers as he needs. There is a box at the exit one can leave the money in or pay for the purchase with a card. This has long been practised in Europe, I have heard about this in Kazan for the first time,” she admitted.

Tarasova doubts that such a type of commerce will work in Russia and an owner of flowers can get income. It is likely that most bunches will simply be stolen.

“It seems to me that our people aren’t ready for it. Yes, this commerce is possible. But if somebody has unnecessary flowers. And one should see how this will work. I think the success of this is no more than 10%. I mean a salesperson will get 100-200 rubles for bunches for, let’s say, a thousand rubles,” she thinks. Moreover, baskets with flowers should be placed on sites where people go for a walk. “People are ready to pay for some entertainment in pedestrian streets. If such a bucket were left in Gorky Park or in Bauman Street, this could work. People go there and buy a sweet for 50 rubles, a balloon for 200 and could leave 100 rubles, take a bunch and walk with it,” Tarasova notes.

As for motives of such commerce, the founder of the chain of florists assumed that the owner of flowers simply doesn’t need them, and it is a way to present them. I mean it is some charity or ad. “Unlikely it is a case of economising on a salesperson. People maybe try to inculcate people with a culture of love for flowers and show that you should pay for the flowers not out of obligation but because of our goodwill. But I don’t know how successful it will be,” Tarasova said.

She reminded us that once flower terminals were installed in Kazan where one could insert money and take flowers. However, prices for flowers were different — from 500 rubles, and a commodity was protected. “But this way it was possible to understand how convenient and clear for people to buy flowers without a salesperson,” explains Avrora Tarasova. “Moreover, flowers are a quite peculiar commodity. You can buy them without a salesperson if it is very cheap or because it is very clear. Or if it is a bunch of one kind of flowers — roses or golden daisies, for instance. My colleagues succeeded in the business with these machines — they made standard bunches in clear places where people simply want to buy a bunch.”

“The flowers are probably a freebie”

Director of Concepto advertising agency Natalya Khamidullina, in turn, is convinced that the culture level of our society allows hoping that trust-based commerce will justify itself. And at least half of the purchasers will anyway transfer the price for the bunch to the flower owner’s account.

The interlocutor thinks that trust-based bunches are created by young entrepreneurs: “I don’t think they bought them. The flowers are probably a freebie — I am almost sure of this, one’s own money wasn’t invested in it. This is why it is so easy and available, maybe it will work,” she thinks. “The idea is to make money, without sweating. I mean if costs are equal to zero and people run no risk. Of course, I don’t think it is a business. I don’t think it is a PR stunt for the sake of benefit — it is likely a stunt for something different we will maybe learn about in the future”.

Natalya Khamidullina at the same time praised the author of the idea for creativity. “We have books in the Embankment one can read. Kazan is a modern European city, especially its centre. I maybe seem an extraterrestrial but I leave everything outdoors, and I don’t have problems with it. I don’t think somebody will steal something. My child recently left an iPhone in the sandpit in our courtyard in the city centre near the Kremlin and he found it in the same place in the evening,” she said.

“We had it once, and now it is back”

Chairman of Gardener’s House — Family Foundation public council of the Republic of Tatarstan Dmitry Vorobyov noted in a talk with our correspondent like Tarasova that such commerce isn’t novelty. “If you travel across Norway where half of Europe is tourists, there are tables along the roads, with strawberry trays. Trays are different in size, and the price in Norwegian crones was written on them. The table has a kind of cash attached to it — a box with a cut like a money box. You stop, insert crones, take the berries. There is nobody around,” he said.

As for Russian experience in this respect, Vorobyov is convinced: we had it once, and now it is back. “When you go through some villages, there are buckets with potato, other vegetables, applies in front of the houses along the road. Nobody guards them. Though they haven’t thought to write an ad with the price and phone number for transfer unlike the flower salesperson. Shops without a salesperson already arrived here. It goes without saying that everybody should trade this way to spend less time on the selling process. Time is a very valuable resource. The future lies with contactless commerce. Write down your phone number — is there anything simpler? The sum is more symbolic. I think it will certainly be successful, the case is that people haven’t so far understood that they can sell this way,” he believes.

According to Vorobyov, free trading lots for gardeners in Kazan are mainly occupied by grandmothers who like the process of communication, commerce. However, they unlikely mastered payments and money transfer via phone — many still use push-button phones. “I don’t think such sale of flowers based on trust is somehow linked with gardeners. It can be the surplus of representatives of a flower business,” he assumed.

It can be a very big project and grow to become a chain of stores”

“I am sure that there is a person who observes this bucket at a distance,” notes Docent of Kazan Federal University’s Institute of Psychology and Education, psychotherapist Ramil Garifullin. “It is a project that doesn’t have social and psychological interaction of the salesperson with the client because it is often very hard work. Here we are talking about the volume. They want to save money on salespeople. I think it is self-service with control, and there will be even video cameras. I warn you in advance: a reader might think a layman made it up who has a small business. But it is wrong. It is a very big project under the guise of a salesperson who is an ordinary person. In reality, it can be a very big project and grow to become Pyatorochka and Magnit stores,” the scientist supposed.

Garifullin thinks that citizens are inclined to trust the commodities sold by grandmothers in the market disguised as the produce from the garden. “It is a characteristic of our people: if an old woman sells allegedly cottage cheese from the countryside, many believe that she prepares it. When you go to the market, all such salespeople have a legend they cultivated produce. In most cases, there are big supplies. And people buy into the image of a simple grandma or a simple bucket with flowers like here,” thinks Realnoe Vremya’s interlocutor.

So the founder of TeamSoft company, business coach Guzel Khismatullina assumed that trust-based commerce wasn’t a cunning well-thought-out step but simply a creative solution: “The idea isn’t new but it is good, it will work in the short term because curiosity, sincerity and insignificant sum buy. During the self-isolation period, it became in general fashionable to accept/give donations. But for a very short time. It won’t work with an expensive product. An expensive product and client require a different attitude,” she is convinced.

The interlocutor considers that some purchasers will anyway transfer money to the number indicated, while some will take the flowers free. “But in general the payment of the first part compensates for the costs of the second group, and there will be even profit. In our mentality, there is large-scale robbery,” Khismatullina jokes.

“If a grandmother did this, it is 500 times nicer”

Serial entrepreneur Ayrat Sungatulllin characterised the post he saw as “a very nice story”. According to him, such a format of trade is applied in Kazan’s Agro-Industrial Park where one can take bread from the stand and transfer money for it to the salesperson’s phone. “So it is a very funny story that already exists in Kazan. I myself have transferred money for bread like my parents,” he said.

Also, such a format is widely spread in America and European countries, noted Realnoe Vremya’s interlocutor. “It is a hundred per cent funny story for us too. We will come to this anyway. Of course, there are exceptions — somebody can take a commodity and not transfer the money. But I believe in this story precisely in Kazan, Tatarstan (I don’t dare to speak about all Russia). We are gradually moving to it. People in the republic understand thanks to also the improvement of parks, squares, public spaces that if they cheat, they will be considered an outlier. We anyway live in a more European city. If a person is self-employed, makes bunches and sells them via a card — it is a good topic. Then there is no claim on him. And if the salesperson refused to talk with you, this characterises the level of fear of entrepreneurs in Russia. If a grandmother did this, it is 500 times nicer, deep inside. Then you can’t show this a business: a grandma just decided to earn money for bread,” he thinks.

Sungatullin believes that it is impossible to run a business without trust. “Especially a big business. I personally trust people. And I believe that such a story is possible in our city, republic. We can test it even in parks,” he offered.

By Kristina Ivanova

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