AUGUST 15 2020, LIVE MINT: Neighbourhood grocery stores took to digital payments and B2B apps to replenish stocks during the lockdown, stepping further into an expanded digital ecosystem for India’s daily shopping needs.
As the lockdown disrupted supplies to thousands of small retailers, business-to-business platforms that supply goods and provide payment and billing solutions saw orders and new store registrations surge, albeit on a small base.
MaxWholesale, which operates largely in Delhi-NCR, saw kirana registrations double during the lockdown. It also added several warehouses between April and July.
“We suddenly saw a surge of orders on our platform. All the sales teams of (FMCG) companies vanished overnight, but the demand was huge. So, we took advantage of being ready with our tech and ability to scale fast. Earlier, we were just delivering to retailers during the lockdown, but we also started picking up stock from manufacturers and bridged the gap from both sides,” said Samarth Agrawal, co-founder and CEO, MaxWholesale.
The number of stores registered on the platform has doubled to 20,000, with 10,000 waiting to be on-boarded.
With consumers wary of venturing out and visiting large modern trade outlets, kiranas also saw new customer acquisitions go up 18-35%, according to estimates by SnapBizz, a Bengaluru-based firm that helps kiranas with online payments, and inventory management solutions.
While several kiranas remained shuttered or were working under restrictions between April and May, once the markets resumed normalcy, consumer salience towards online grocers and hyperlocal delivery formats, as well as kiranas have grown.
“They (the kiranas) have acquired a lot of new consumers—that is also apparent in the kind of merchandise they are selling, including more premium products. Digital payments have shot through the roof,” said Prem Kumar, founder and CEO SnapBizz.
Prior to covid, SnapBizz worked with more than 8,500 retailers. Post-lockdown, it has added more than 1,800 stores on its platform. In the next 12-18 months, it plans to get to over 100,000 stores.
That’s a drop in the ocean. India has well over 7 million kiranas, accounting for nearly 88% of FMCG sales, according to Nielsen estimates. FMCG firms rely on a complex supply chain to get their products to the market. However, over the years, several small and large companies have been trying to digitize the local store ecosystem. Covid has further helped accelerate their business.