Why the survival of kirana stores is crucial for Indian economy during Covid-19

With the rise of modern trade outlets and e-commerce players over the past decade, the naysayers, for many years, have been sounding a death knell for the Kirana stores. They gave out a long list of reasons stating why the Kirana stores will soon start disappearing from the Indian economy – citing reasons such as better offers, better store experience, wider assortment, and many more.  And how they been proved wrong in these uncertain times!

Kirana stores have always been crucial for the Indian economy for primarily two reasons:

  • Employment: There are over 12 million Kirana stores with each Kirana store supporting 3-5 households. You do the math and you will see that these staggering numbers merely reflect the huge/massive employment that it generates (one of the biggest in the country) for the economy. In the current situation with the economy being in turmoil where we see massive lay-offs across all sectors, the survival of Kirana stores becomes even more crucial to ensure that the unemployment rate does not reach staggering levels.
  • Infrastructure of national importance: They are an important infrastructure for the Indian economy: Just like massive infrastructure projects such as roads, power, rail, etc that keeps the economy running, the Kirana store network itself can be looked as one infrastructure of national importance that keeps the wheels of the nation moving – especially in the current situation. Currently, they are the ONLY ones that can and is fulfilling the needs of almost all 1.3 Billion people of the country and therefore any disruption to their operations/existence will only harm the economy not just in the short run but in the long run as well – which our country just cannot afford!

With most of the country being on a staggered lockdown, the entire nation of 1.3 billion is largely relying on Kirana stores for their essentials – foods, beverages, personal and household care products. We are now seeing a new normal emerging in terms of unexpected trends changing consumer behavior due to this new-found humble relationship between the local Kirana store and the customers who live around them. These customers now see them as the lone warrior during this crisis time. The current lockdown has changed Kirana store owner’s life and how. They are constantly re-inventing themselves as the weeks go by to solve the various demand-related challenges and supply-related challenges. In spite of increased demand and constraint supplies, the Kirana store owners have not resorted to unfair sales practices. From our data, we have seen that they continue to sell groceries at the same price (MRP) that they have been doing so before.

Digitization of Kirana stores

In order to ensure that these Kirana stores continue to operate at high levels of efficiency even during the time the Covid-19, it is imperative that they need to digitize their stores to tackle the demand/supply challenges associated with these uncertain times. Therefore, what the Kirana stores really need is a technology solution that will enable them to be integrated with the FMCG eco-system and capture value from the FMCG eco-system players such as FMCG brands, distributors, wholesalers, banks, fintech players, etc. They need a highly-specialized technology product that addresses the challenges associated with Kirana retail and of the FMCG trade in general.

SnapBizz and Kirana Store Digitisation

We have always been strong advocators of Kirana stores and we have always been doing our best to transform their stores into smart stores and improve their profitability. We have enabled them to leverage their strengths (store proximity, credit facility, trust/familiarity with the store owner, hyper-local merchandise) to improve their profitability.

With the view of new challenges being faced by the Kirana stores in the past few months, we have rolled out two new solutions for Kirana stores and distributors in the open market with minor modifications of its existing product-line for massive adoption:

  • SnapOrder: A mobile app that enables Kirana stores of all sizes to go online with their supplies – instantly. The consumers can use the app to view available stocks and place orders directly with the Kirana stores – either for pick-up or for home delivery. This enables the Kirana store to manage demand efficiently and prevent over-crowding at the store.
  • SnapSupply: A mobile app that enables FMCG brands/distributors to list their supplies online for their Kirana store network and enables the Kirana stores to place orders of supplies and streamline their supply-related operations.

We have seen massive interest from the Kirana stores for our SnapOrder mobile solution (B2C App) where we have seen 6x increase in the number of Kirana stores being on-boarded on SnapOrder mobile app per month

Being the only neutral platform for the Kirana stores in the country, we do not have any affiliation with a particular B2C/B2B player or with a particular FMCG company. Hence, we have earned the trust of these Kirana store owners and we have and always will work on protecting this crucial data (regarding the customers) of the Kirana store. Given our increasing relevance in the space due to the current circumstances, we are on a fast-track mode to build a network of 150,000+ stores across 42 cities and becoming a $15 billion platform by F.Y. 2023.