The dramatic bounceback of grocery stores or kirana has been one of the most important pivots in the omnichannel distribution chain of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies this year, top industry executives representing the sector at the CII FMCG Summit said.
Apart from investment in ecommerce due to surge in online shopping amid the pandemic, FMCG companies are extending support and chasing the modernisation of traditional kirana ecosystem.
“Never in the history of FMCG trade in India has seen so much capital, technology and talent directed at modernising the kiranas. When you modernise the syntax of shopping, sales and consumption go up,” said Damodar Mall, CEO-grocery retail, Reliance Retail.
“In the first wave of ecommerce, recruitment happened in value fashion and electronics. Now, grocery will lead the way. However, the most balanced omnichannel player has always been kirana. Half of their business was being done with remote order and home delivery, which has been now replaced by apps and Whatsapp messages. It is we who have conveniently learnt to keep the silos of traditional and ecommerce models,” said Mall.
Executives said they are learning from new and challenger brands such as Yoga Bar and Epigamia or partnering tech startups to drive change and efficiency in distribution to aid the new architecture of the kirana space.
Personal care conglomerate Godrej Consumer Products (GCPL) has launched pilots with technological support to embrace kiranas.
“Getting kiranas to service faster is key as it increases turnover rates for everybody. Geo-tagging and geo-fencing technologies are coming handy as they track the real-time interface of the retailer and productivity. Chatbot-based ordering and tele-calling aid remote ordering,” said Sunil Kataria, CEO-India SAARC of GCPL.