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Photo: Hindustan Times
Photo: Hindustan Times

Pandemic helped kirana stores embrace technology: EY survey

20% of kirana owners in metros and non-metros started leveraging online platforms to get a steady supply of goods

NEW DELHI : The nationwide lockdown prompted kiranas to adopt technology quickly as millions of households moved online to buy essential supplies. As much as 40% respondents were keen to partner with online delivery and supply chains, according to a survey of kirana store owners across 12 cities by consultancy EY. This led to faster digitization of 12 million kiranas, which form the bulk of retail trade in the country.

Large fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, such as Dabur India, Marcio, and ITC, also tied up with logistics firms to directly reach the stores and help them fulfil orders during the first phase of India’s lockdown, when supply chains between manufacturers, distributors, and shopkeepers were disrupted because of the restrictions.

Local shopkeepers took to WhatsApp to accept orders and adopted e-payments options.

“About 20% of kirana store owners started leveraging online platforms to get a steady supply of goods and assistance in deliveries," EY said. They did so by creating “a simplified online journey using chat apps as a medium of taking orders and providing contactless delivery and receiving payments through digital platforms", it said.

The covid-19-led disruption in the FMCG sector could also prompt technology adoption by small stores even for the long term by partnering with more businesses.

The way the kirana store owners innovated and adopted digital technologies is highly commendable, said Shashank Shwet, partner, customer experience and design thinking, EY.

“Beyond this crisis, growth for kirana stores will come from partnerships and symbiotic relationships," he said.

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