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Home / News / India /  Next wave of digital shoppers to be led by grocery: Damodar Mall

New Delhi: The grocery category will help get online the next wave of digital shoppers in India, said Damodar Mall, chief executive officer, grocery retail, Reliance Retail, a move that could have implications on how packaged consumer goods are sold in the country.

Mall oversees several grocery-retail formats at Reliance Retail including its recently launched e-commerce platform JioMart.

Mall was speaking at day two of a virtual event organized by industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods market. How retail formats evolve and adopt to technology could have implications on India's FMCG trade.

Mall said that unlike the first wave of e-commerce shopping in India that was led by electronics and clothing, the next wave will be led by goods of daily use as consumers get adept at shopping online. “Whoever as a shopper of grocery had to become digital has become digital. In the first wave of what we call e-commerce in India, the recruitment happened in categories such as value fashion, or personal electronics—relatively more sophisticated people, etc. Now, grocery will lead. So, the new set of people who are already shopping digitally are coming through grocery and we see that playing out quite clearly," he said.

Covid has accelerated the reach of online commerce as new shoppers used the internet to buy more goods. For makers of FMCG, this could have long-lasting implications as they now market their products to consumers who are shopping across channels. Reliance Retail’s JioMart went live across 200 cities and towns in May.

He said shoppers at its offline retail stores—Reliance Retail runs several formats such as Reliance Fresh, a convenience store format and Reliance Smart—are now mimicking each other, diluting difference between pure-play online and offline shoppers.

“So, we are now in the sweet middle that the shoppers are at our Fresh and Smart store and shoppers on JioMart have started mimicking each other, and we're very happy because this is where the core grocery shopping really happens. Also, we're seeing what works in the store works on e-commerce also for us. So, this whole thing of saying that the e-commerce space speaks a different language and is a more sophisticated customer, as we are learning is kind of proving to be counter-intuitive. The things that we do in our stores are working exactly the way—we are using the same vocabulary on JioMart and they're succeeding albeit at a faster pace because people are savvier when they are on a digital platform," he said.

Mall also noted that the country’s kirana or neighbourhood ecosystem is now witnessing an increased level of technology intervention and investment, after several start-ups and even large companies have been trying to woo to humble grocery store. JioMart too works with neighbourhood grocery stores.

This he said will help increase consumption and premiumization of FMCG products.

“Never in the history of FMCG trade in this country has so much capital, so much technology or so much talent being directed at modernizing of the traditional kirana channel. But there is a lot of smart capital that is chasing this purpose of modernising the kirana. When you modernise the syntax of shopping, sales go up, consumption goes up, premiumization happens," he said.

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