Kirana stores embrace tech amid pandemic, 40% want to partner with online platforms: EY

As per the survey, 79% of kirana store owners surveyed in non-metros and 50% in metros say new consumers, who would earlier shop online, are coming to their store post lockdown.
Kirana store
Kirana store
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With e-commerce platforms and retail majors lining up to leverage local neighbourhood stores and kirana stores for hyperlocal delivery, an EY survey has found that 40% kirana store owners  want to partner with online delivery and supply platforms as they feel it can help them grow and tide over in these testing times.

This finding was part of EY’s latest report ‘Sentiments of India – Pulse of the country, Kiranas’, which states that there is a renewed trust in hyperlocal communities with the kirana store emerging as a hub that helped maintain the regular supply of essentials during the lockdown.

The survey has also shown that 20% of the kirana store owners across metros and non-metros have started leveraging online platforms to get a steady supply of goods and assistance in deliveries. Lacking other means, these stores, the survey says, have created a simplified online journey using chat apps as a medium of taking orders, providing contactless delivery and then receiving payments through digital platforms.

From a consumer point of view, the survey has found that 56% kirana stores in metros feel there has been a positive change in the attitude of consumers post the lockdown.

As per the survey, 79% of kirana store owners surveyed in non-metros and 50% in metros state that there are new consumers coming to their store post the lockdown period. These are consumers who would earlier shop online or from supermarkets, are now preferring to buy from local kirana stores to avoid long queues and there is a semblance of trust and traceability. In fact, RWAs (Resident’s Welfare Associations) and societies have emerged as key players within the ecosystem who are enabling group buying and choosing vendors as a collective.

On the downside, however, kirana stores have experienced a break down in the regular supply chains and distribution channels. This has led to a growing acceptance of startups and partners which are endeavouring to enable the kirana stores with technology and services. However, the key issue that the kirana stores are facing is that the partnerships come at a high cost and not yet profitable.

For the survey, insights were gathered through 27 qualitative interviews across 12 cities in India, 5 metros and 7 non-metros with participants who represent small and big kirana across a diverse socio-economic background.

Shashank Shwet, Partner - Customer Experience and Design Thinking, EY India, said, “Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the kirana stores have emerged as local unsung heroes servicing the community at large. The kirana store owners have taken a lot of effort to keep up with the changing demands of the crisis and managing their day-to-day supplies. Moreover, the way that these kirana store owners have adopted to innovation and digital technologies, such as digital payments, changing operating models and reduced friction towards technology, to cope up with the pandemic is highly commendable. As we move from now to next and beyond of this crisis, the new level of growth for kirana stores will come from partnerships and symbiotic relationships.”

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