Kirana stores are adopting Innovation to Sustain Growth

Several businesses amid the covid-19 crisis has adapted to the new normal by revamping their business modules, reinventing new methods to sustain business and adapting to the technological advancements. Kirana business is one such ecosystem that has adapted to technology to continue it operations and maintain the supply of essentials amid nationwide lockdown phases.

While modernization of kiranas stores was thought to be an impossible task, the unforseen circumstances now has changed the reality. Also, it is quite interesting to know that nearly about 65 to 75 percent of the population, still prefers shopping at kirana stores.

The outbreak of covid pandemic has put thrust on the kirana ecosystem to adopt technology to carry on seamless operations. A recent survey on the pandemic effects on kirana stores found that almost 20 per cent of kirana stores channelized their operations to online platforms to stay relevant and serve the needs of the customers who mostly depended on online platforms for buying essential goods owing to covid.

The advancements in technology such as subscriptions, easy location alerts and more importantly convenience will further fuel the customers' interests

Also, large fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, such as Dabur India, Marcio, and ITC have partnered with logistics firms in order to directly reach the stores and help them fulfil orders during the lockdown. The covid-19-led disruption in the FMCG sector also has propelled kirana stores to adopt technology to stay ahead in business.

Embracing the New Normal
The Covid crisis and the subsequent lockdown brought in new restrictions worldwide to curb the rapid spread of the disease. This imposed rules also directly indirectly brought in shifts in customer preferences which can be well seen in the changing relationship between the customers and local kirana stores. Immediately after the lockdown, around 79 per cent of the consumers were reported to visit local kirana stores to purchase grocery and other essential goods.

The surge in the numbers of consumers visiting local kiranas post lockdown were more in metro cities as compared to non-metros. These are the customers who chose shopping from kiranas over online shopping or shopping from super markets. Leveraging the situation, many kirana stores thoughtfully used chat apps to accept mounting orders and also making avail the ease of digital payments and contactless deliveries.

In essence, these stores have well understood that they are into an all season business and hence cannot just halt their operations for time being. They are also taking necessary measures to maintain hygiene and utmost safety among their staff. With more and more consumers placung orders through phone calls, apps and online, the kirana stores are converting them to omni channel business.

Being the Game Changers
With such mounting orders from consumers, digitally capable business models, instant delivery, the local kirana stores are obtaining more users resulting in their unstoppable growth. The advancements in technology such as subscriptions, easy location alerts and more importantly convenience will further fuel the customers' interests. Agree to disagree, technology in the coming times will be a game changer for retailers and manufacturers.

"Because of greater internet penetration, online shopping of groceries and other essentials is growing rapidly. I believe there will space for many number of companies given that half of all retail sales comes from grocery. Even though online grocery shopping is fast and convenient, being physically in the store will give extra layer of personal connection and trust for customer with the brand which cannot be replicated by exclusive online store alone. I strongly believe future of grocery shopping is not going entirely online or retail, It is going to mix of both," says Mr. Rajarajan – CEO and Director, IndBazaar.

In a post-covid world, there is going to be an increased focus on these kirana stores and how they up their game by going digital. Businesses too will chose to work with organized players.