Online Kirana Stores - Customisation Marries Convenience

Our local grocery or kirana store owners have constantly endeavoured to make our lives convenient. Traditionally, kirana stores have emphasised on the "customisation approach" - they take your delivery orders on the phone, arrange for home delivery of groceries, allow you to keep monthly accounts and even offer to remind you on items that you may miss out from your monthly grocery list. And with the advent of increased FDI and MNC players in the retail sector, it would naturally be expected that kirana stores may be impacted to a moderate extent. 

However some players within the segment seem quite ready to embrace the change that is coming through, and rapidly adapting with the use of technology to ensure they continue to maintain high touch with their customers.  Today, grocery retailers are going online, and possibly gearing up to take the competition coming in through retail behemoths such as WalMart head on.  These players are particularly popular in the metros, catering to internet savvy customers, who have limited time between their busy schedules to allocate for shopping tasks.  Presently, there are 12 online grocery stores spread across the metro cities, and a third of these have been recently launched within the past 6 months. 

While most businesses offer their service online, it needs to be highlighted that an online business model, within a retail segment such as this could be particularly challenging given the complexities involved in stock optimisation, warehouse management, order processing and profitability.  Besides, within the retail segment, groceries offer perhaps the least margins at 10%-15%, making easy returns had to come by. 

Despite these challenges, why is there a spike in interest among players within the segment, recently? For one, the entrepreneurs who have ventured into the area understand that there is tremendous potential for growth within this retailing model, and they are making sure they include the same customisation approach, that has long been a key advantage with the kirana store concept.  The front-end used in the online grocery retailing concept remains the same.  Customers can get to see the product price and availability online, and then place an online order or even call the store direct to place their orders.  Unlike other online sales, here, payment is expected only at the time of delivery of goods, and that too with options such as cash or credit/ debit card payments. Now, with so much convenience, would you let a shopping opportunity such as this pass by?

About the author: Lakshmipriya Somasundaram is a Contributing Editor for TradeBriefs. She can be reached at