India’s kirana stores are now the focus of e-commerce giants, with Fipkart announcing it has “onboarded” almost 27,000 shops in 700 cities as part of its product delivery process.

“After digital payments, the next big revolution in kirana is going to be ushered in conjunction with e-commerce,” said Flipkart Group CEO Kalyan Krishnamurthy.

Paytm has successfully pitched digital payments to small merchants on the basis of keeping customers loyal and offering both parties convenience via multi-language interfaces and SMS capabilities. (For more details, read the case study: Paytm: Winning over the stubborn Indian shopkeeper.) Google Pay has also seen kirana stores as crucial to its growth.

Now e-commerce is tapping them as an important distribution channel to help in shipping purchases across the country.

“Kiranas are the oldest and most widely spread retail format in India which exhibit the modernness of the supply chain and deliver a successful customer experience management model,” Krishnamurthy stated.

Flipkart began recruiting kiranas six months ago, the Economic Times reported, as part of its preparation for the festive season sales, including its own Big Billion Days event.

By repositioning them in this way, Krishnamurthy anticipates a win-win situation for both parties, with local stores getting a new source of revenue and footfall while Flipkart scales up its reach in lower tier cities.

Flipkart and Amazon currently dominate online retail in India, but they will be joined by Reliance Retail, which is reported to be launching its “new commerce” venture around Diwali.

“Reliance Retail is planning to launch its e-commerce venture in two phases – one, a soft launch around Diwali, and then a full-fledged launch by December-January,” an industry source told Mint recently.

Reliance Retail will be using kirana stores “for keeping their wares and for last-mile delivery”, a retail consultant explained. “ So, they become part of the supply chain.”

Sourced from Economic Times, Mint; additional content by WARC staff