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Kirana Club: Empowering the super heroes of India’s retail ecosystem

Earlier this year, Chetan Vacchani decided to stock up on cottonseed oil and made a profit of Rs. 70,000

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Earlier this year, Chetan Vacchani decided to stock up on cottonseed oil and made a profit of Rs. 70,000. The Kirana store owner from Junagadh in Gujarat credits the Kirana Club app for his astute business decision. “I use the app daily. It has made my life easier as the mandi bhav (market rate) is available at my fingertips,” he says.

Shubham Sharma from Shalimar Bagh in Delhi echoes the same sentiment. “One of the most helpful features of the Kirana Club app is that it allows me to track the frequent changes in the prices of FMCG products and order stocks accordingly. I can discover the best margins offered on all kinds of products,” says the retailer who uses the app multiple times a day.

So what is this new app that Kirana owners are trusting? Founded by Anshul Gupta, Kirana Club is an exclusive community of Kiranas for Kiranas. Since its launch in December 2021, the Kirana Club has onboarded over five lakh retailers across 2500+ cities in less than six months. And the growth story continues.

“Given that Kiranas are the backbone of India’s retail market – with over 13 million stores across the country – Kirana Club empowers these businesses to be more profitable and efficient,” says Gupta. The Bengaluru-based start-up makes crowdsourced information and business insights easily accessible to Kirana retailers in India.

With the Government of India recently announcing its Open Network for Digital Commerce (ONDC) initiative – aimed at promoting open networks for all aspects of the exchange of goods and services over digital or electronic networks – Gupta predicts greater impetus to bring Kiranas to the centre of India’s retail revolution.

All eyes on ONDC

A government-backed digital platform created to provide a level playing field to all retailers can make access to information easier for the average Kirana retailer in India. “However, our experience has taught us that Kirana retailers are not often digitally savvy and may need help with digital tools,” says Gupta.

Kirana Club not only helps retailers find relevant and useful business information but also ensures that it’s presented in a medium they are most comfortable with – engaging videos, simple images and visuals.“Kirana owners are among the smartest business minds. They will adopt a platform only if it helps them to grow their business,” maintains the young entrepreneur.

Before launching Kirana Club, the team did virtual tours of over a million Kirana stores and processed over 10 million images of these stores. They found that retailers didn’t have access to basic information, such as the best B2B platforms, wholesalers, or distributors to source goods from, the best possible margins, and insights on popular products and trade schemes.

Kirana Club was conceived to provide Kiranas with easy access to information that directly increases their business. Today, as India’s largest community of Kirana stores, the start-up has helped bridge the information gap in the ecosystem, to a large extent, between the Kiranas and those working with the Kiranas, like FMCG, D2C and Kirana tech.

Currently, the team is acquainting all retailers at Kirana Club with ONDC and how it can be helpful for them. “In the future, we hope to assist them in getting on the ONDC platform and reaping the benefits,” says Gupta.

Focus on Kiranas

Kiranas contribute over 90% of the whooping 500Bn+ grocery market in India. As key players of the country’s retail industry, Kiranas have the potential to fuel India’s growth story.“Unfortunately, despite all the innovations in the retail sector, Kirana store owners still operate in isolation with little access to real-time business and market information, such as pricing, product quality and trends,” rues the entrepreneur.

Collaboration efforts are on to bring the Kirana community and brands together under one digital roof. However, only those brands vetted by the community will be allowed on the platform. “The members of Kirana Club will have an ultimate say in this regard,” asserts Gupta.

The number one priority for Kirana Club has been and will continue to be the Kiranas. “We are clear that we won’t charge any money from them, and that is never going to change,” maintains Gupta. “Also, we are laser-focused on solving the problem for Kiranas and are not going to dilute it ever by doing it for other small and medium businesses (SMBs),” he adds.

Kirana Club’s plans introduce new features, presently piloted on the digital platform. “We are keen to start geographic chapters of Kirana Club. This will help members to connect with nearby Kiranas and exchange business-related information more frequently and freely,” says Gupta.

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