Kolkata-based Sourav Mukherjee is a garment manufacturer who has taken to grocery selling post the coronavirus lockdown when his manufacturing business came to a complete halt. His mobile store Big Bucket is patronised by cash and carry retailer, Metro Cash & Carry. Mukherjee has been picking up stock from the cash and carry retailer's store and delivering to various residential communities in his locality. Metro has even helped him print pamphlets to distribute in the residential societies in his vicinity and Mukherjee on an average has been billing to the tune of Rs 30,000-40,000 per day.
From partnering with enterprising people like Mukherjee to joining hands with the state governments of UP and Delhi to make deliveries across COVID-19 red zones, the cash and carry retailer ever since the lockdown started, has considerably reworked its business model to meet the spike in demand for essentials during the lockdown. "In places such as Lucknow, there are many containment zones. With the help of the administration, we are giving kirana stores the option of taking deliveries at a particular address which is convenient for them," says Arvind Mediratta, CEO, Metro Cash and Carry.
Metro has also partnered with food delivery platform Swiggy, where it has an offering called Smart Kirana Powered by Metro. Currently available in Bangalore, the Smart Kirana store promises to deliver grocery within two hours. "Since we are not allowed to sell B2C, we are saying that it is powered by Metro," explains Mediratta. In fact, bulk of the deliveries on Swiggy are done through the retailer's kirana partners. The cash and carry retailer has also started partnering with resident welfare associations (RWAs) where it is delivering grocery. "RWAs have GST numbers so they can be customers of Metro."
The biggest achievement of Metro, according to Mediratta, has been the rapid digitisation of the kiranas post the lockdown. Metro rolled out its digital app on April 11. It has seen five to six times increase in online orders from the kiranas since then. "The growth over the last few days has been like a hockey stick. Our call centres helped them download the app and place orders. We also gave them an incentive of 1-1.5 per cent on the total order value if they placed an order on the app."
Metro has been picking up stocks from the manufacturing facilities of FMCG companies and is delivering to the kirana stores since the lockdown started. The retailer is also in talks with several mid-sized and small brands, which don't have a large distribution bandwidth to make Metro their direct route to market. "I have been telling my team to talk to me about opportunities in the given scenario, not challenges," says Mediratta.
Are these tie-ups with food delivery platforms and RWAs short-term? Mediratta says he is looking at them as long-term partnerships. "We are also planning to offer delivery service to even institutions and restaurants which buy in bulk from us after the lockdown is lifted."