Home / Industry / Retail /  Trade bodies, distributors, startups come together to digitize ‘kiranas’

NEW DELHI : The government department in charge of physical retail is working with traders’ bodies, startups, companies that help digitize small businesses and logistics firms to help ease supply-chain bottlenecks for neighbourhood kirana stores that have been working heroically amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The department for promotion of industry and internal trade (DPIIT) is developing the framework, working alongside companies that help connect local shops with consumers, and distributors and logistics providers.

They are coming together to ensure seamless supply of essentials from packaged goods companies to distributors, and distributors to retailers.

Kiranas or neighbourhood mom-and-pop shops have won praise for the way they have kept shops open and even managed to deliver essentials home.

In a pilot started in four cities in Uttar Pradesh, logistics and technology firms are working with 100-150 kiranas in each location to see how they can help resolve supply chain issues, according to people aware of the project.

The project is still at an inception stage and is likely to be scaled up over the next few days.

In four cities in UP, logistics and technology firms are working with 100-150 kirana stores to help resolve supply-chain issues.
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In four cities in UP, logistics and technology firms are working with 100-150 kirana stores to help resolve supply-chain issues. (Photo: Hindustan Times)

In an initial note shared among companies and trade bodies involved with the project, the DPIIT has laid down an overview that seeks to “synergize efforts of a number of startup companies working in the field of logistics and supply chain management, as well as local administration during these times to deliver essentials at home. In the longer run, it is expected to enable local kirana stores technologically and bridge the digital divide between them and e-commerce companies."

Startups and established companies will provide logistics support, and communication platform to manufacturing units, industries, distributors, and retailers to ensure products seamlessly reach retail stores.

Companies involved in the project include WhatsApp Business, logistics firm Delhivery, GlobalLinker, which helps digitize small businesses, and GoodBox, which connects buyers with grocery sellers on its platform . Other partners include Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) and All India Consumer Products Distributors Federation that works with distributors and stockists of consumer goods companies.

“The objective of the project is to fulfil demand of essentials during the lockdown across India, to enable the commerce to kirana ecosystem for continued functionality," said an executive of a trade association.

India has a huge network of kiranas and neighbourhood stores that sell goods of daily use to shoppers. However, the lockdown has seen businesses disrupted as the movement of essentials and packaged goods has been stalled. These kiranas that typically rely on distributors of several large packaged goods companies have had to struggle to ensure deliveries in their stores as restricted transports and limited manpower made it hard for distributors to replenish stocks in kiranas. With India having entered the second phase of the lockdown that will extend till 3 May, trade bodies and the government are looking at initiatives that will help supply of essentials.

Suneera Tandon
Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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