How Kirana stores are embracing technology to engage better with customers


BENGALURU: P Mahendran’s Muthukani Stores in Chennai’s Villivakkam is like any other Kirana store, but with a slight twist. If you were to enter his shop, you will find an LED screen showing various offers and also a custom-made tablet to generate bills and keep accounts of customers.

Muthukani Stores is one of the many Kirana stores across the country that have embraced technology so as to engage better with the customer, even as a bunch of startups, such as Snapbizz, Applicate and Goodbox, exploit this largely untapped space through retailer only or consumer-facing apps.

“We are trying to disrupt the biggest space of retail business in India, much bigger than the size of all e-commerce put together. The potential and scale of opportunity is huge considering that 90% of the $500-billion retail market is still being serviced by these small retailers,” said Ranjeet Kumar, founder and chief executive of Applicate IT solutions, whose product Trade Gini is targeted at retailers.

The retailer app connects the Kirana store to various authorised suppliers of brands, helps them keep a track of the inventory, generate bills, decide various offers based on suggestions, and updates the retailers on prices, schemes and offers.

“We give the retailers a custom-made tablet, a printer, a scanner and a wireless LED TV. The TV can allow brands to connect to the customer at the point of sale — images keep popping on the screen. The retailers can earn money out of this, too. One can now give printed bills and also connect with the customers through SMSes,” said Prem Kumar, CEO of Snapbizz. According to the startups, the entry of technology brings down transparency issues and creates a level-playing field.

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