The race to digitise kiryana stores

Posted by Dailypakistan

If Covid has done anything positive for the Pakistan market, it has accelerated the digitisation and modernisation drive of conventional business practices here. More and more organisations are now looking to evolve their businesses and subscribe to a digital way of working – alongside their physical operations.

This was both a necessity (as most businesses saw a massive decline in sales; due to closures, lockdowns, lack of consumers visiting physical outlets and issues with inventory and supply-chain management) and aspirational value (since these stores saw a rise in online sales and social selling – through various groups and messenger apps online).

To truly understand where the key to Kiryana digitisation lies, organisations need to cater to both the necessity and the aspirational reasons of these merchants. To truly understand this concept, first, let’s understand the necessity;

The necessity to digitise is fueled by the uncertainty that Covid has brought on. As Pakistan struggles with renewed waves of Covid, intermittent closure of businesses and disruption of supply of products – necessity has served as the mother of invention. Businesses understand that they can optimise their circumstances by subscribing to digitisation platforms and tools (eCommerce, mCommerce, payment gateways, social media and messaging platforms). They can use these services to reach their intended target audience and convert their stores into hyper-local warehouses. Though the circumstances have evolved and places are now open; the emergence of this new sales/support channel has led to growth in profits; hence necessity has been invented.

But without taking into consideration aspiration, I feel a great means to scale digitisation is being ignored. That is where REDRETAIL comes in. REDRETAIL is our end-to-end retail digitisation platform that was born out of both necessity and aspiration. We spent a lot of time understanding what the front-line (Kiryana stores) were missing and what we discovered along this journey was inspirational.

According to Aljazeera; ‘Pakistan’s grocery retail space, estimated by tech industry insiders to be worth more than $50bn in revenues annually’. That means this sector is a major contributor to the country’s economy, in terms of revenue and employment. Bearing this in mind, in order to cater to the market and move it towards the digitisation of its operations and acceptance of digital payments, we have to cater to its needs and aspirations both. According to most retailers, we were in touch with, their aspiration around their store was to grow their practice, become a bigger player (in profits, in product offering and aesthetics).

Store owners wanted to compete with bigger retail stores/chains and offer a similar user experience to their customers. According to one store owner, “we have managed this store for decades, we are part of the community here, kids come and borrow our bottle crates so they can play cricket in the street, for the community we are family.” To stay a part of that community, they want to offer an experience to their customers: one we realised could be offered through a dedicated point of sale (POS) device. A device through which they could offer receipts to their customer, scan & update inventory, offer digital payments, introduce loyalty programs and extend their offering past usual products and towards up-selling and cross-selling new products and services (like bill payments, school payments, mobile top-ups, referral of hand-blenders, juicers etc., even the latest iPhone).

With REDRETAIL, what we wanted to achieve was a comprehensive digitisation platform that fit the requirement of the primary sector; the Kiyana store, which has access to the end customers and plays the most active role with respect to building their habits. We essentially built the ecosystem around their needs and their aspirations.

The writer is Group Vice President, REDtone.

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