Most kirana and mom-and-pop stores have been able to hold their own against the might of India Inc’s giant retail formats. Can they survive in the long run? Business Today walks into five such stores in the metros to gauge the pulse of unorganised retailing. The verdict: Don’t write them off, yet.
The door-to-door edge
Reliance Fresh, Spencer’s, Spinach, Godrej’s Nature Basket invaded the area by setting up large-format stores within a 500-metre radius of Patel’s humble store. For the Kutchi-Gujarati trader, the options were to either get steamrolled or to counter the threat. He chose the latter. Patel couldn’t compete on space, variety and ambience.
|Neelkanth general stores|
Location: Township in Thane, on Mumbai’s outskirts
Competition from big retail: Godrej’s Nature Basket, Spinach, Spencer’s, Reliance Fresh
Survival strategy: Focus on timely delivery
Such setbacks notwithstanding, Patel is unwaveringly focussed on delivery. Discounts are a no-no. “People are more bothered about timely delivery of goods than the discount they get,” he quips. He clams that despite the presence of four organised retailers, his business and margins haven’t been hit. If that’s true, it’s doubtless a feather in Patel’s cap, considering he gets a credit period of just four days—as against 10-15 days for organised retail—and profit margins offered by distributors are lower than those doled out to the large-format stores. Patel for his part prefers to focus on what he has that the big boys don’t enjoy—lower overheads.