HOW AN IN­DIAN STARTUP IS EM­POW­ER­ING KI­RANA STORES

The two-year-old startup has, on a freemium model, en­abled 2,895 ki­ranawal­las across 31 cities in In­dia to tap In­ter­net-savvy cus­tomers who are ha­bit­u­ated to the con­ve­nience of shop­ping on­line

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One of the most ubiq­ui­tous sights you get to see when you step out into the In­dian lo­cal­i­ties is the reg­u­lar mom and pop gro­cery re­tailer stores, lo­cally known as ki­ranawal­las. In com­par­i­son to large-for­mat re­tail­ers, these ki­rana stores have a strong ad­van­tage, as they are typ­i­cally lo­cated in the heart of res­i­den­tial ar­eas where they not only serve the cus­tomers who step into the shop, but also deliver at the doorsteps of cus­tomers lo­cated within a cer­tain con­ve­nient ra­dius.

But with the in­tro­duc­tion of FDI in re­tail and en­trance of many MNC re­tail­ers and In­dian large-for­mat re­tail­ers in the last few years, there have been spec­u­la­tions that ki­ranawal­las’ busi­ness would be sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected. How­ever, a re­cent study done by PwC in as­so­ci­a­tion with NASS­COM, named ‘ Emerg­ing Trends in Re­tail’, high­lighted that to up their game, ki­rana stores, es­pe­cially those in metro cities, are in­creas­ingly look­ing at rein­vent­ing them­selves by ex­tend­ing their pres­ence in the on­line arena. These stores aim to tap the cus­tomer base, which is keen on shop­ping through their mo­bile and com­put­ing de­vices while on-the-go.

One of the com­pa­nies, which has en­abled about 2,895 ki­ranawal­las across 31 cities in In­dia to have an on­line ex­ten­sion to reach out to cus­tomers, on a freemium (free of charge) model is a two-year-old startup called AaramShop. AaramShop’s por­tal is a hy­brid re­tail plat­form de­vel­oped by cre­at­ing an on­line gro­cery shop net­work for spe­cific cities.

As the name sug­gests, the por­tal aims at en­abling com­fort­able shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence for In­ter­net-savvy cus­tomers who are ha­bit­u­ated to shop on­line. The por­tal en­ables free home de­liv­ery of the or­dered prod­ucts by the near­est lo­cal gro­cery store reg­is­tered un­der AaramShop. The pay­ment model is cur­rently cash on de­liv­ery, where the cus­tomer pays when the or­dered prod­ucts reach his/her door steps.

CLOUD COM­PUT­ING: BACK-BONE OF AARAMSHOP

For a ki­rana store owner in­ter­ested in reg­is­ter­ing at AaramShop, the process be­gins with sign­ing up on the web­site. Once this hap­pens, the store owner is pro­vided a mi­crosite of his own, which then be­comes his web ad­dress. All this is com­pletely free of cost and the store owner doesn’t in­cur any charges. What’s also note­wor­thy is that the en­tire AaramShop func­tions on a pri­vate cloud and some com­po­nents are on the pub­lic cloud as well.

The most widely used busi­ness func­tions of AaramShop, which are run­ning on the cloud are CRM for cus­tomers, re­tailer and brands, or­der man­age­ment, pric­ing, pro­mo­tions, loy­alty, an­a­lyt­ics, sales, mar­ket­ing and fi­nance.

Telling us more about why the startup looked at adopt­ing the cloud model, Ritesh Raj Gupta, Vice Pres­i­dent - Tech­nol­ogy, AaramShop says, “On an aver­age, we are adding 100 odd stock keep­ing units to our prod­uct range daily. Use of cloud-based model helps us con­cen­trate on our core busi­ness ob­jec­tives and build­ing the net­work rather than wor­ry­ing about the ca­pac­i­ties we need to cope up with.”

“Many a times the so­lu­tions we de­velop need to be up­graded within a very short span of time due to chang­ing

“Cloud-based model helps us con­cen­trate on our core busi­ness ob­jec­tives rather than wor­ry­ing about the ca­pac­i­ties we need to cope up with”

Ritesh Raj Gupta Vice Pres­i­dent-Tech­nol­ogy, AaramShop

re­quire­ments. With this, the us­age of the IT re­sources is also af­fected. Cloud gives us the in­de­pen­dence and flex­i­bil­ity to man­age our chang­ing re­quire­ments in a cost ef­fec­tive man­ner,” he adds.

Gupta also adds that se­cu­rity in cloud com­put­ing model worked bet­ter for the com­pany rather than in a net­work scat­tered all over the place. And this was one of the im­por­tant fac­tors which the com­pany took into ac­count while tak­ing the de­ci­sion to im­ple­ment cloud.

The com­pany also has an an­a­lyt­ics

plat­form run­ning on this cloud-based in­fra­struc­ture, en­abling rolling out of per­son­al­ized ser­vices. “Due to the flex­i­ble, re­li­able and scal­able na­ture of the cloud, we are able to an­a­lyze cus­tomer be­hav­ior pat­terns at a frac­tion of the cost. And our sys­tems are able to pre­dict when a con­sumer will re­quire a par­tic­u­lar prod­uct based on pre­vi­ous pur­chases and prod­uct at­tributes. Thus, we are in a po­si­tion to send them re­minders and sub­se­quent of­fers,” he adds.

MO­BILE APPS FOR KI­RANA WAL­LAS AND CUS­TOMERS

The startup has also cre­ated a cloud­based mo­bile app for re­tail­ers us­ing which they can run their en­tire store on­line. The ser­vices of­fered in­clude man­ag­ing on­line or­ders, man­ag­ing their pres­ence on aaramshop.com, and cre­at­ing of­fers and mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als such as fly­ers and pam­phlets. Gupta shares that AaramShop has plans in pipe­line to push more fea­tures through this mo­bile app, which range from a point-of-sales soft­ware, en­abling ac­cep­tance of on­line pay­ments and even third-party pay­ments.

Cus­tomers can shop at AaramShop ei­ther via a web browser or via AaramShop’s mo­bile apps avail­able for An­droid, iOS, Sym­bian and Black­Berry plat­forms. When the cus­tomer logs into aaramshop.com he/she can search, view and claim the of­fers based on the pin code of the con­cerned cus­tomer lo­ca­tion. When the cus­tomer has selected prod­ucts, he/she is asked to se­lect the re­tailer near­est to the de­liv­ery area and then com­plete the or­der.

As soon as the or­der is placed on AaramShop, the same is trans­mit­ted to the selected re­tailer to his mo­bile app, via SMS, e-mail and also through call cen­ter. The re­tailer then checks this com­mu­ni­ca­tion and gets the or­der de­liv­ered to the cus­tomer through cashon-de­liv­ery pay­ment model.

AARAMSHOP’S BUSI­NESS MODEL POW­ERED BY AN­A­LYT­ICS

AaramShop is clearly giv­ing a lot of vis­i­bil­ity to the ki­rana wal­las in the on­line world and this is giv­ing them the much needed boost to im­prove cus­tomer stick­i­ness, which has the po­ten­tial to give the large-for­mat re­tail­ers a run for their money. An in­ter­est­ing point to be noted here is that the AaramShop doesn’t charge the re­tail­ers for their ser­vices.

Then what ex­actly is AaramShop’s busi­ness model? The an­swer lies within AaramShop’s Brand En­gage­ment Cen­ter, which is an­other web­site tar­geted at pro­fes­sion­als in­volved in busi­ness mar­ket­ing and sell­ing of brands in the Con­sumer Pack­aged Goods and FMCG ver­ti­cals. Such pro­fes­sion­als can sign up at this web­site and avail pre­mium ser­vices that in­volve the abil­ity to self ad­min­is­ter their brand on AaramShop, op­ti­mize the brand, man­age pro­mo­tions and of­fers and most im­por­tantly, ob­tain high­qual­ity shop­per an­a­lyt­ics based on the brand’s per­for­mance across dif­fer­ent lo­cales where AaramShop re­tail­ers are es­tab­lished.

The an­a­lyt­ics in­sights which the startup of­fers is ob­tained through the an­a­lyt­ics plat­form that drills into cus­tomer be­hav­ior pat­terns across tons of data, which in­cludes pur­chases, prod­uct cat­e­gories, brows­ing pat­terns, and user de­mo­graph­ics of all those cus­tomers who log into AaramShop to place their or­der. The an­a­lyt­ics plat­form run­ning at the back-end is de­vel­oped and en­hanced in-house.

THE WAY AHEAD

Shar­ing AaramShop’s tech­nol­o­gyre­lated plans for fu­ture, Gupta says, “Our over­all tech­nol­ogy roadmap is quite ag­gres­sive and we plan to con­tinue to work on the cloud for most of our ini­tia­tives. De­liv­ery of of­fers to con­sumer at the point of need is what we are do­ing now. Cloud­based so­lu­tions will fur­ther help us deliver more rel­e­vant of­fers through multi-chan­nels be­fore and dur­ing the cus­tomers’ shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence.”

In fu­ture, the com­pany also plans to fo­cus on lo­ca­tion-based mar­ket­ing. “Our so­lu­tions will be tar­geted and highly tai­lored to lo­ca­tion-based mar­ket­ing, which re­quires re­mote IT de­liv­ery ap­proach. Us­age of cloud-based ap­proaches will help us im­ple­ment these so­lu­tions in a much bet­ter man­ner,” Gupta sums up.

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