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Doing Business in India For Dummies® by Ranjini Manian

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Shop Around

No matter how busy you are while you’re in India, you’re sure to do some shopping (or at least try to make some time for it). Take in the complete retail experience. While the elite malls offer you quality goods, don’t miss out on the ambience of local markets and pavement shops. Bargaining is expected in India at these places and at fairs and festival markets, but remember to be reasonable.

For example, if a shopkeeper quotes, say, Rs 200 for a shirt, don’t think too hard about it. (That’s roughly 4 USD.) The price quoted is probably thought up on the spot especially in the open air cotton street markets in major towns, and the shopkeeper may expect you to try and whittle the price down. But don’t waste too much energy in bargaining.

When you’re bargaining, start by offering 60 to 70 percent of the asking price. If the shopkeeper refuses, settle for 80 to 90 percent, and you’re still getting a bargain. This skill comes with experience, so at first, you may want to take an Indian friend or colleague along until you get the hang of things. And then remember to buy your shopping helper something for his time. This token can be as simple as a book at a bookstore—chances are he’ll refuse, but the offer goes over very well.

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