From online to offline

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Problem Definition

We are thinking of establishing a door-to-door distribution of an existing online newspaper in Kolkata, India. We haven't spent much time on how the process would work in practice yet. Can you help us evaluate the feasibilty of the plan?


The case is designed to be presented to the candidate by an interviewer, who plays the role of a person has come up with a plan to establish a door-to-door distribution of an existing online newspaper.

This is a candidate-led case; therefore the candidate should lead the case from start to finish.

Short Solution


Paragraphs highlighted in green indicate diagrams or tables that can be shared in the “Case exhibits” section.

Paragraphs highlighted in blue can be verbally communicated to the interviewee.

I. Background

Provide the following information to the interviewee if requested:

  • We do not have the resources to hire more than 10 newspaper carriers on bicycles
  • One carrier will have to distribute newspapers to all the houses in 1 square kilometer area within the city
  • In order to meet customer requirements, the carriers will have to distribute all the newspapers in 3 hours

Assumptions which the candidate can make:

  • Kolkata is in the shape of a square and all the houses are evenly distributed and equidistant (10 metres) from each other
  • All the non-residential areas should be ignored

Share diagram 1 with the candidate if deemed necessary,

II. Solution

To check the feasibility of the plan, let us calculate how quickly the newspaper carrier will have to deliver a newspaper.

Each side of the area will contain 1000m/10m or 100 houses. Therefore, in total a carrier will have to distribute newspapers to a total of 100*100 or 10,000 houses.

But since a single carrier only has 3 hours or 10,800 (3*60*60) seconds, he will have to distribute one newspaper in 10,000/10,800 second.

The plan seems infeasible as delivering a newspaper in less than a second is nearly impossible.

In such a scenario hiring more newspaper carriers should be the best alternative; but since we have budget constraints, we could consider the following:

  • Reduce distribution area
  • Change distribution method

III. Conclusion

It is an infeasible plan as it is impossible to deliver more than one newspaper in a second. The client should consider reducing the distribution area or changing the distribution method for the plan to become feasible.

Difficult Questions

How do we reduce the distribution area?

One way could be by delivering only to the most profitable potential customers.

Can you suggest a different distribution method?

The client could co-distribute with other publications or agencies.


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