How StoreKing is connecting Rural Kirana Stores to Suppliers

StoreKing was conceived with a simple yet powerful idea in mind - to power rural consumption and redraw the distribution capabilities for both products and services using Kirana as an Anchor. It is the only rural retail ecosystem that connects both retail suppliers and financial institutions to the vast rural population. Through end-to-end technology management, StoreKing powers the local Kirana stores to meet all the retail needs of their rural buyers.

StoreKing - Company Highlights

  • Startup Name-StoreKing
  • Founder-Sridhar Gundaiah
  • Headquarters-Bangalore
  • Industry-Rural Retail & Ecommerce

Why StoreKing Matters?

Rural consumers currently constitute about 200 million households across India. As their disposable income levels grow and the penetration of the Internet leads to more mobile consumption, their tastes increasingly mirror those of their urban counterparts and they aspire to buy from the same brands. In fact, in 2018, rural India accounted for $484 billion of retail sales, as opposed to $396 billion in urban India - a number only expected to rise as consumption demand goes up in small villages and towns. There is, undoubtedly, a compelling reason for eCommerce brands to invest in catering to this new population of savvy rural buyers.

At the same time, however, the big eCommerce and payment brands continue to serve mostly urban customers. This is primarily because of a broken rural distribution network where large-format stores do not exist and keeping Kirana stores well-stocked with branded products is difficult. The lack of a systematic network, moreover, prevents brands from capturing relevant customer data catering to what their customers actually want, forcing rural buyers to make do with only a handful of generic product offerings in the Kirana stores. On average, rural buyers need to travel more than 20 kilometers to the nearest city to make bigger purchases.  

Through its tech-enabled distribution platform, StoreKing overcomes these engagement barriers for rural consumers by helping local retailers leverage technology and fully tap their market potential. As a friendly neighborhood store that understands local preferences and speaks the local language, the Kirana is a powerful way to connect with rural customers and understand their unique preferences and challenges, which is precisely what StoreKing aims to do.

What StoreKing Offers?

StoreKing offers a user-friendly technology platform that connects each rural Kirana directly with the brand seeking to supply its products, enabling the brand and the Kirana to work together to devise data-guided product and sales strategies. A clean and simple interface enables rural retailers to procure products and services for their customers through the StoreKing app as needed, rather than having to repeatedly travel and pick up stocks themselves. The platform is designed on the following four pillars:

Logistics - The platform offers a tech-managed, asset-light distribution network of kiranas and connecting logistics nodes. The network consolidates touchpoints in rural markets and enables stores to stay well-stocked on a daily basis.

Payments – StoreKing provides a unique resourceful approach to digitize the rural cash economy. All transactions on the platform are prepaid.

Marketing - Rural consumers are engaged via multiple mediums, exposing them to new brands and lifestyle choices.

Technology – StoreKing provides a complete app ecosystem to target and manage customers.

The other component of StoreKing’s offerings relates to financial assistance. It provides secured and unsecured loans, insurance, branchless banking, savings, and wealth management to rural retailers based on their order history and performance. HDFC Bank, Muthoot Fincorp, Hero FinCorp, have all partnered with StoreKing to enable this.

Role played by StoreKing during Lockdown

When the Covid-19 lockdown hit in March 2020, an already fragmented rural distribution and logistics network was brought to a grinding halt. At the same time, the influx of locals returning from their urban jobs spiked local demand, for which the kiranas had neither the inventory nor the manpower (owing to social distancing). With a view to empowering kiranas to make it through these challenging times, StoreKing successfully obtained all the necessary permits to continue operations during the lockdown. In addition to regularly sanitizing their warehouses and training all their staff members and partners about safety protocol, senior StoreKing members worked with kiranas to accelerate their digital growth and help them operate as self-sufficient entities.

In the initial weeks of the lockdown alone, StoreKing serviced over 10,000 kiranas, delivered two million kilograms of supplies, and operated over 700 trucks to fulfill deliveries. They also ensured that the truck operators were well-supplied with meals to help them power through long distances and all-night assignments.

Key Milestones achieved by StoreKing

StoreKing was launched in 2012 with a seed investment from Mangrove Capital and is headquartered in Bangalore. At present, it has a run-rate of Rs 500 crore in products and about 500 crores in Services with over 1000 super franchises and 25000+ franchisees. The team comprises 250+ members spanning eight states, i.e. Karnataka, Kerala, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra & Gujarat. The platform currently empowers over 22,000+ Kirana stores in rural India to become assisted touchpoints while driving transactions of walk-in consumers. Some of their prominent retail partners include Hindustan Unilever, Wipro, Dabur, Godrej, Marico, Reckitt Benckiser, ITC, Himalaya & many more. Their vision is to be the one-stop digital hub for rural India, catering to 70% of the country’s demand in an accessible, customer-first fashion.

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