One of the most sought after supermarket chains in Telangana, Ratnadeep Retail Pvt Ltd was established in 1987. It started the journey by entering into the food and grocery segment by opening its first store in Hyderabad 33 years ago.
Today, Ratnadeep has 68 stores in Hyderabad, Secunderabad, and Bangalore and a retail footprint of about 300,000 sq ft.
During this Covid-19 lockdown period, Ratnadeep, like every other business is facing few challenges like manufacturing units not working, supply chain problems, unavailability of stock and skilled workforce etc. It is the logistics at Ratnadeep that has been hindered the most and that raises one of the most important questions as to how to maintain a link between category management team i.e. finding the right product suppliers and operations team i.e. store operations.
This lockdown period has brought many businesses to a standstill with retailers and supply chains being hit the most. At Ratnadeep, only a few drivers were able to work during this period, and so in spite of having vehicles loaded with products to be transported to the stores, it was difficult as there were hardly any drivers to do this job and the company was facing issues keeping their stores stocked.
However, Ratnadeep managed to supply the products to their main stores and eventually to other stores by keeping a tracker that keeps a tab on the stores that are open and at the same time, the company mobilised its feet-force with additional drivers as and when required. Ratnadeep also installed a new packaging machinery which accelerated the production and packaging of their private labels.
To encourage people to go and work during this pandemic, Ratnadeep came up with an idea of rewarding drivers for covering additional stores on their daily routes every day. The company revised the driver’s position to that of ‘Pilots’. This move motivated them and there was an increase in the number of stores covered daily.
After sorting these challenges, Ratnadeep faced another issue in the backend. Few of their suppliers faced difficulties in coping with the increasing demand that had to be fulfilled in a short span of time. There were a lot of changes that the company had to do to overcome these problems. New tie-ups and finding new routes, keeping aside the old ones were few among them. The company also went out of its way to collect goods from the supplier’s warehouses and incurred the cost of this activity as few of their suppliers lacked logistics to deliver goods during this lockdown.
At this difficult phase, the production cycle of Ratnadeep’s private label products were increased and production time was extended to ensure the supply is not affected. With this crisis situation being extended and evolving customer buying behaviour, the company came up with new ideas to match the expectation of their consumers. They hired third-party logistics vendors to fill in the gaps as they needed additional logistics at this critical juncture.
The spokesperson of Ratnadeep said that currently, they are serving the customers through their hyper-local format. Their synergistic partnerships with Swiggy and Dunzo will further aid in solving the supply-gap in the market while maintaining customer’s safety and hygiene.
The spokesperson of the company also informed that this year Ratnadeep has introduced chakki atta and honey and received an overwhelming response from their customers. They got a 13% market share in the atta category with 35% share in the 5kg segment in two month’s time and received 23% share in the honey category.
Adding further, he said that they have learnt a lot through this crisis and it has made them realise that there is nothing called a problem, in fact it is just the absence of an idea to find an appropriate solution. They also observed how the customers’ buying behaviour changed in this period and being a part of the essentials business, it is important for them to respond and adapt to such a situation at the earliest. At the beginning of the pandemic, witnessing a surge in panic buying to observe the purchase of mostly shelf-stable products that help to restrict frequent shopping trips, it was clearly evident as to how people were preparing themselves for a comfortable quarantine life.
Another challenge was to maintain the strict hygiene and sanitization rules of products in the store. The company made it their top priority to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. They made hand sanitization and social distancing a must for everyone in the shop and were encouraging cashless payments.
To make sure that people maintain social distancing, only a specific number of people are allowed in the stores and for the customers waiting in line outside the store, they created spots positioned at six fett distance from each other. The spokesperson informed that Ratnadeep set up tents outside the stores to help customers avoid the heat and also provided them water.
The company officials state that they value their customers time and money. All the Ratnadeep stores are strategically located wherein its easy for their customer to conveniently visit the shop. To ensure the customers don’t get tired, they have kept the store size optimum. They also added perks like spacious parking, valet parking and clean surrounding for a great shopping experience.
The officials also reveal that assortment is their main USP with every Ratnadeep store offering best quality groceries from leading FMCG brands in the country and internationally at affordable prices and wide range of varieties in pricing as well as quantity.
Ratnadeep continues to analyse, observe and study the changing shopper buying behaviour and take insights out of it to implement. In the recent past, the company has implemented few category adjacencies. In the noodle category, they placed forks; in the tea/ coffee section, they placed mugs; in the detergent powders section, they placed cloth clips etc.
According to company officials, a supplier quality is a supplier’s ability to deliver goods that will satisfy the requirements of their end customers. At Ratnadeep, it is believed that supplier quality management is defined as the system in which supplier quality is managed by using a proactive and collaborative approach.
Ratnadeep ventured into a new store format, Ratnadeep Select at the beginning of this year. It is a large format store that offers superior store experience and a curated range of gourmet and international products. In the future, the company plans to expand this format to different places. The company is aiming to reach 100 stores this year and over the next three years, the company plans to open 200 stores in the country.