With modern retail and e-commerce accounting for only 10 and 2 percent respectively, kirana stores still dominate the food and grocery market in India. The 12 million neighbourhood kirana stores in India have now emerged as the new heroes, as the quest for essential items become hassle some due to lockdown restrictions.
Traditional kirana owners are smart businesspersons with an innate sense and intuition of the trade, and an unparalleled competence of low cost operations. But with changing times, the kirana eco-system in India is been marred by a slew of challenges – right from operational, demand and supply challenges to competition posed by e-commerce players and growing organised retail.
“Many e-commerce players have invested heavily to capture this market and kiranas are having a hard time wading off the predatory pricing policies of these e-retailers. Also, due to lack of proper marketing teams, kirana stores are also having a hard time keeping up with changing consumer needs. The fact that kirana stores lack the privilege of unbiased advice on changing consumption trends and ways to adapt to them is one of the foremost impediments holding back the entire eco-system,” says Arvind Mediratta – MD and CEO, METRO Cash and Carry India.
“If they fail to adopt to the changes they might cease to exist and their disappearance from the Indian retail landscape it might result in a social upheaval. Kiranas around the country must take this crisis as an opportunity and attune their business models with the prevailing preferences of the market,” he adds.
In an attempt to facilitate this step to the next big league, METRO Cash and Carry India has introduced a smart point of sale initiative that aims to modernize and digitize kiranas and help them attract more footfalls and profitability – all in just 24 hours.
Since inception, METRO Cash and Carry India’s core focus was to become the most preferred supply partner leveraging on best prices, widest assortment, credit and delivery. In recent times though, the company has shifted focus to the demand side as well.
“We are now endeavoring to help them grow their sales, profits and improve cash flows by helping them manage their inventory with our smart kirana programme. We have developed an app that allows METRO’s consumers to transform themselves into smart retailers. Now they can depend upon technology to keep a check on inventory, order stock, avail tier prices & discounts and facilitate payments seamlessly,” he adds.
With the app, kirana owners can use their smartphones to accept debit/credit cards and accept wallet payments, which offer customer cashbacks and other offers. It also enables passing on of such benefits to the end customer.
The smart POS system also allows kirana shop owners to manage their cash flows more efficiently. Normally, kirana stores worked with 6-8 weeks of inventory but the app’s auto replenishment and 24-hour delivery guarantee, they can order on a daily basis, which in turn saves them a lot of precious working capital.
Along with supply chain and demand side functionalities, the app also provides kirana store owners with analytics for targeted marketing and promotions to boost sales.
“The initiative also helps them by to offer a better shopping experience to their customers. We are also associated with partners that remodel kirana stores into a smart supermarkets in just 24 hours. We have developed standardized fixtures, lightings and design templates to revamp stores. Add that with our smart POS solution and the traditional store becomes a modern retail store from all aspects,” he adds.
The idea behind the initiative is to augment the use of technology in the kirana eco-system. Technology will help them to run businesses more efficiently, target more customers using data analytics, drive more customer traffic, offer superior consumer experience and make it more successful and profitable.