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
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.