German wholesaler Metro Cash & Carry is helping the small neighbourhood mom and pop stores (kirana) and other small retailers compete with online companies by digitising their stores and remodelling those into a snazzy looking departmental store.

Arvind Mediratta, CEO of Metro Cash & Carry India, told BusinessLine that the company wants to be the “champion of all small independent business and be a one-stop solution for them and help them in their business growth”.

Metro started the digitisation programme with 100 kirana stores about six months ago has seen a 40 per cent growth in the sales of these small stores.

“If the kirana stores’ sales improve, automatically our sales will also grow. These businesses then become our loyal and permanent customers,” Mediratta said, adding that under the programme each and every trader is provided with POS (point of sale) machines, digital screens to display the offers to customers, desktops and printers.

Besides, traders are also given store makeover within 48 hours wherein a shabby looking closed store is turned into an open departmental and omnichannel store. Metro has partnered with a start-up called QuickTile that helps in remodelling of stores.

Tie-up for loans

Mediratta said Metro is also helping the small businesses in their working capital requirement and has tied up with companies such as CapitalFloat, NeoGrowth and Kotak Mahindra Bank for providing small ticket loans.

Ram Babu, a small kirana store owner in Bengaluru said, “My sales have improved by 35 per cent and the footfalls into my store have almost doubled. Besides, I don’t have to worry about sourcing of products. Metro workers come to our store and take order on their tablets and the products are delivered to the store the same day. I can now focus on improving my sales. Metro prices are also cheaper that the wholesale and APMC market.”

Devi Lal Sangla, another trader in Hyderabad, said that a year ago, he used to get worried after he lost his regular customers to BigBaskets and Amazons of the world. But, in the last six months, he has gained back his old and a few new customers as he matches the prices online and also provides quick home delivery.

“Online is a complicated and challenging business. Customers will keep buying online till the time there are discounts and offers. However, people are actually fine shopping from their neighbourhood stores as it is easy and you don’t have to wait for the delivery,” Mediratta said.

Expands partnership

In a bid to offer better pricing, the company has also partnered with over a dozen consumer product makers to sell exclusively to Metro in some States, Mediratta said, adding that this removes the pain for the retailer to reach out to multiple wholesalers or distributors.

The idea is to expand these partnerships across the country in the coming years.

Besides, it has also started its first ever loyalty programme in the country where it provides offers and discounts and other benefits to customers for ₹999 per year.

Metro Cash & Carry, which has been slow in opening stores in the country, is ramping up its physical store network. It plans to open three stores in the current year. The company has opened only 25 stores in the last 15 years.

Mediratta added that Metro, which largely depends on the kiranas, has been able to garner a 70 per cent market share in the B2B segment and has been growing 15 per cent year on year.