The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation around the world, ravaging economies, people, and livelihoods.
The 40-day nationwide lockdown may have helped contain the viral contagion to an extent, but it has disrupted many businesses, especially offline retail stores and kiranas.
Despite the ease in lockdown restrictions, most people fear contracting the virus and prefer to shop online, even for essentials such as vegetables and groceries.
It’s important for retailers to be on ecommerce platforms and mobile apps amid the prevailing situation and even after as the pandemic is expected to lead to a shift in consumer behaviour.
Many startups and companies have stepped up and are providing fast online synergies for local kirana shops, pharmacies, vegetable vendors, and individual businesses, helping them list out inventories, facilitating bargains, and, in some cases, even tying up logistics. YourStory lists a few of them:
Shopmatic is a Singapore-based technology firm that provides ecommerce solutions to small businesses and individual entrepreneurs.
Launched in 2014 with an objective to empower millions of aspiring entrepreneurs with a digital footprint, the company recently partnered with Singapore-based retail management solutions company Octopus to disrupt the retail market in Asia-Pacific with a suite of services to address the gaps that exist for offline businesses in going online.
The synergy is helping local retailers implement an efficient omnichannel retail management system after establishing their business online. Equipped with a holistic online and offline ecosystem, these local retail stores are now able to manage customers, reduce operational costs, synchronise inventory, on-board new customers, and offer loyalty points, etc.
Such facilities, supplemented by real-time visibility of sales and staff performance, are enabling retailers to enhance their efficiency and scale up their retail business further. Shopmatic’s value proposition is facilitating an efficient omnichannel ecosystem for kiranas across the country, digitally empowering them.
Mall91 is India’s leading social commerce platform for vernacular users across Tier II, III, and IV cities. The first principles-based vernacular social commerce platform combines live videos, social gaming, social content, voice and messaging AI to enable the next 400 million internet users to transact online.
"Mall91 is bringing many offline retailers’ catalogue on the platform to cater to same audience, which they were otherwise serving through their traditional offline distribution channels. This is a good time for them to realise the scale that an online efficient distribution channel like Mall91 can bring", said Nitin Raj Gupta, Co-founder, Mall91
In addition to this, there has been an uptick in terms of merchants/sellers’ signups, primarily selling locally manufactured products.
Paytm Mall has recently partnered with over 10,000 kiranas, small shops, and other businesses for hyperlocal deliveries. It is enabling small businesses by allowing them to sell essentials on Paytm Mall and providing essential logistics support.
The company is aiming to help shops and stores, which have either noticed a sharp decline in footfall or had to abruptly pause operations due to the lockdown. Paytm Mall has started connecting them with their logistics partners so that these small kiranas and stores can deliver essentials to their customers and keep their businesses running.
Agritech marketplace AgriBazaar is working closely with farmers, state governments, and procurement agencies to allow trade from the safety of their homes. As a full-stack agritech player, AgriBazaar has replicated the physical mandi with an e-mandi aggregator model through which buyers can give orders once a farmer registers and uploads his produce.
Once the deal is complete, AgriBazaar facilitates the logistics of picking up the grain from the farmer's doorstep and delivering it to the buyers' warehouse, ensuring no crowding and maintaining social distancing norms.
The platform currently has over 11,000 registered users, more than 100 Farm Producer Networks (FPN), and 113,000 farmers.
Bengaluru-based digital payment startup Instamojo has come up with an initiative for physical stores, pharmacies, and logistics companies to help deliver essentials during the lockdown. The startup is offering Priority KYC on its platform for these essential services to go online in less than five minutes.
Despite the lockdown, Instamojo has acquired 1,500 merchants on a daily basis without advertising.
“The startup has seen a growth in gross profit in April, which is 20 percent higher than the previous month,” says Co-founder and CEO Sampad Swain.
(Edited by Teja Lele Desai)
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