The story of Shree Paras Supermarket in Malegaon, Nashik, is one of grit and determination, and the grocer’s willingness to shed off the old and accept the new
The second largest city in the Nashik district in Maharashtra, Malegaon is not really on the list of upcoming towns for majority of the retailers. But the experience of shopping in a self-service supermarket wouldn’t have been possible for the inhabitants of this city but for the Modi family comprising of four brothers Prashath, Yogesh, Hemant and Deepak Modi.
From running a local kirana store since 1988, the family in 2011 unanimously decided to convert the shop into a full-fledged self service supermarket. Says Prashant Modi, “Shree Paras Supermarket was inaugurated on January 20, 2011. The store is spread across 4,000 sqft, and we are proud to say that we are the first supermarket in and around Malegaon. In the first month of our opening we clocked sales of about Rs 70 lakhs, and currently, our gross monthly sale crosses Rs 1 crore, which is a remarkable feat in a place like Malegaon.”
Pages from history
Considering that Malegaon was not even remotely in sync with the retail dynamics in other cities of Maharashtra, the Modi family took a well considered though huge risk in launching a self-serve supermarket. According to Prasanth, the concept was “instantly accepted by the local residents, and the supermarket met with unprecedented success, making them the biggest grocer in and around Malegaon in just a few days!”
Elaborating on the transition, Prashant reveals, “In 1988, we operated through a 1,800 sqft store. In March 2010, the entire store was gutted due to a fire, and everything was reduced to ashes. But we decided to move on, and within nine days only, we opened a 1,500 sqft store in the adjacent premises.”
He adds, “Our store that had burnt had goods worth a crore, but since the assured sum was only Rs 50 lakh, we got just half the price. It took us eight months to get the insurance amount. Inspite of our losses, we cleared all the dues we owed our vendors, which, to an extent has earned us their goodwill. An important lesson here – vendor relationship is extremely important for a long term business and it is only fair that they are paid on time.”
During this time, the brothers happened to attend a seminar on retail management organised by the Jain International Trade Organization in Nashik. The key speakers at the seminar were Damodar Mal (then CEO of Big Bazaar and current CEO of Reliance Retail) and retail consultant S. C. Misra. The Modi brothers drew inspiration from they had to share with the audience, and decided that it was time for them to convert their kirana store into a self-serve supermarket.
But it took almost five years to put the idea into practice. The catalyst was a chance meeting with S C Misra. Prashant Modi shares, “Though we were keen to start a self-service store, we couldn’t get our infrastructure and logistics in place. We didn’t quite understand the business intricacies nor the execution, hence the long time gap before we even got started. Meeting with Misraji was a revelation, as under his guidance we transformed our store.in just 90 days. Anil Kankaria owner of Jalgaon based Navjeevan’s Super Store was of tremendous help as well. He showed us the advantages of operating a self-service store, and the nitty gritties therein.”
Following their advice, the Modis brought in certain changes such as product price offers of 5 percent less than the MRP, credit card facility, free home delivery, offers and schemes on big purchases, festival offers, etc. Adds Prashant, “When we were operating a kirana store, we used to extend credit facilities to our customers, but with a self-service system in place, the customers didn’t really get a chance to interact with us directly, hence they could not ask for credit.”
When Shree Paras Supermarket was referred to as a ‘mall’ by a local newspaper, the store attracted more attention and drew more traffic due to the curiosity that was generated, which in turn translated into good business for the brothers!
The Modis learnt from Misraji that the best way to win customer loyalty is not through a card system but by offering them instant gratification through free or extra offerings of sugar, oil, doormats, dry fruits, coconut, etc, during the festive season such as Ganesh Chaturthi. Says Prashant, “With such schemes, today, our monthly footfall is close to 17,000.”
Currently, the store is selling grocery and FMCG products, plastic goods, utensils, towels, bedsheets, undergarments, toys, luggage, and apparel. As Jains, they do not sell any non-vegetarian products; the list of omission also includes potatoes, onions and garlic and food products that contain any of these.
To observe, learn, and ensure that they are offering the best customer service and are at par with other established grocers, they make it a point to regularly visit super- and hypermarkets in other cities and towns.
Sharing some advice with fellow grocers, Prashath says, “We would like to tell the traditional baniya store owners to convert their stores into self-serve; sell the FMCG products at a 2-5 percent lower rate than the MRP; and offer attractive schemes to customers to win their loyalty. Customers like instant benefits, lower price, doorstep delivery, good staff behaviour, and a neat shopping ambiance.”
The brothers are now planning a second store in Nashik.