The corner store takes centre stage

The corner store takes centre stage

And on the pedestal these words appear:

‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

– Excerpt from Ozymandias, P.B. Shelley’s magnum opus. Ozymandias was the Greek name for the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II. Shelley is believed to have drawn the inspiration for his eponymous sonnet from the 3000 year old statue of Ozymandias, then situated at the Ramesseum, imposing and majestic as ever, untouched by the ravages of time and history while everything around it lay in ruins.

The Indian retail market, one the top 5 in the world by economic value, is estimated to be USD 600 billion. Kirana stores serve the needs of 90% of this market, accounting for an estimated 750 million transactions or nearly USD 120 billion in Gross Merchandise Value daily. However, they have been slow to embrace modernity. This is a market that offers huge potential if tapped right. Technology startups like Peel-Works are disrupting it with state-of-the-art PoS solutions, B2B e-commerce platforms, and Analytics SaaS.

The Kirana Gharana

Kirana stores hold tremendous historical significance in India. Trade in India has a hoary tradition dating back thousands of years, and kirana stores have been around since at least the Mughal era. The omnipresent kirana store caters to the needs of nearly 1 billion of our people, including large populations living in places yet untouched by modern trade and e-commerce. It is a source of livelihood for millions of local entrepreneurs and migrants. The advent of modern retail and e-commerce has done nothing to dent the burgeoning numbers of kirana stores in our country. Like the statue of Ozymandias, the kirana store has not just survived the aeons, it has indeed thrived, and it is certainly not going anywhere anytime soon. Here’s why:-

  • Shoppers like to see what they are buying
  • Generations of a family have been patronizing the same store
  • Modern commerce is yet to expand in a big way into smaller cities and villages
  • These stores intimately know their regular shoppers’ purchase patterns
  • They offer shoppers credit
  • They offer shoppers a flexible return policy
  • They afford convenient and timely delivery on orders

The Challenge

Ride hailing. Bill payments. Grocery. Trading. Ordering food. Learning. Technology has impacted nearly every aspect of life in the last few years. Unfortunately, the kirana store hasn’t been one of them – not until recently, that is. According to consulting firm RedSeer, only 13% of these stores are in major cities, and merely 3% of such stores are tech-enabled. Business in these stores is still done mostly in cash, and inventory is still managed through traditional bookkeeping. Kirana stores face several challenges:-

  • Lack of digital connectivity
  • Lack of technology for billing, leaving them with no data on what consumers buy, how often they buy, how many consumers they retain etc.
  • Lack of technology for inventory management, leading to stock-outs and lower shelf availability
  • Inadequate supply chain management
  • Limited data on demand-and-supply trends and new products
  • No data on suppliers other than their regular ones
  • Lack of information on promotions, discounts and competitors’ pricing
  • Limited visibility for FMCGs into store-level data on consumer shopping patterns
  • Competition with E-commerce
  • Limited or no access to credit

The Opportunity

As the popular adage goes, every challenge is but an opportunity in disguise. India has seen a dramatic transformation in the last three decades. If the 1990s were about the opening up of our economy, and the 2000s were about our rise as the IT outsourcing hub of the world, the present decade is undoubtedly about the democratization of technology and connectivity. Let us look at some key trends that have tremendous implications for traditional retail in India.

  • Increasing internet penetration – In India, internet penetration was only 2%(40 million) in 2006. It increased to 4%(80 million) in 2009. In 2016 it was 27%(405 million), 35%(500 million) in 2018, and is expected to grow to 730 million in 2020.
  • Increasing smartphone penetration – According to Statista, the number of smartphone users in India grew from 300 million in 2017 to 340 million in 2018, expecting to touch 374 million in 2019 and 400 million in 2020.
  • Willingness to adopt technology – According to RedSeer, almost 70% of kirana stores in big cities and 37% in tier 2 towns are willing to use technology to manage their businesses.
  • Embrace of mobile payments – The 2016 demonetization sucked out more than 80% of the currency in circulation, pushing kirana stores to adopt mobile payments, and a slew of them are available now.
  • Access to compute – The emergence of cloud computing has made computing services accessible over the internet, offering flexible resources, availability, reliability, economies of scale and reduced costs. To technology companies seeking to disrupt traditional retail, this means faster innovation and quicker time to market.

How Peel-Works is solving this problem

Peel-Works is a technology company transforming general trade in India. We do so with our deep knowledge of the retail supply chain, by leveraging key partnerships in procurement, fulfilment and logistics, and by offering cutting-edge technology products.

Peel-Works’ Value Proposition

Peel-Works’ key value proposition is “Delivering today, what you’d sell tomorrow”. This is what it means for :-

  • Suppliers – Get insights into retailers‘ selling patterns and consumers’ buying patterns, based on real shopping data
  • Retailers – Get next-day delivery for what your shoppers need, at the best prices

Peel-Works’ solutions

At Peel-Works, we are solving some very interesting problems across the retail supply chain, all the way from the Consumer Packaged Goods company (CPG) to the kirana store.

Point of Sale

Athena PoS is a suite of software that digitizes retailers’ interactions with shoppers. As part of its key benefits, it helps retailers :-

  1. stock the right assortment of products in the right quantities
  2. push promotions to shoppers directly from FMCGs
  3. efficiently and easily generate invoices

B2B e-commerce

Taikee is a B2B e-commerce platform designed specifically for the neighbourhood retailer. It helps retailers :-

  1. discover a wide assortment of products at competitive prices
  2. avail great promotions and discounts
  3. have orders fulfilled the next day from an array of marquee suppliers
  4. get distributor-like credit
  5. avail the flexibility of a variety of payment options


Athena Insights or aI is a suite of SaaS offerings that provides accurate and near real-time insights into consumers, products and brands based on actual data. aI helps suppliers :-

  1. know what consumers are buying, where, at what price
  2. measure competitive performance
  3. drive in-store promotion effectiveness
  4. track product launch efficacy
  5. influence the share of shoppers’ wallet on them

Read what our CEO has to say about why the corner store is more relevant now than ever before. Find out more about Peel-Works here.

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