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Flipkart deal done, Walmart India now plans to expand kirana store business

Bengaluru:Walmart India is planning to scale up its kirana store programme called Mera Kirana that helps small family-owned grocery stores modernise, while also opening a new fulfilment centre as part of a pilot run in a bid to expand its cash-and-carry footprint at a faster clip.

Walmart India has been piloting Mera Kirana over the past four years and now wants to make it part of its mainstream business, a top executive said in an interview. It is also planning to open another so-called “dark store”, or warehouse, in Lucknow over the next month or so.

Under Mera Kirana, Walmart creates zones in its Best Price wholesale stores that are designed to resemble a modern kirana store. They serve as a model for mom-and-pop (kirana) store owners to replicate when it comes to assortment and placement. The company also sends its teams out to kirana stores to work directly with them.

“We’ve seen a lot of loyalty from kirana stores because they understand that we are not just selling to them we are also helping them become modern. We’ve seen healthy double-digit growth in our membership base year-on-year,” said Rajneesh Kumar, chief corporate affairs officer at Walmart India.

Of the company’s 1 million active customer base, 70% are small mom-and-pop, or kirana stores. But many of these stores are not yet technology-enabled and that is where companies like Walmart, and its peers like Metro Cash and Carry Pvt. Ltd, come in.

These organised wholesalers work with small retailers to digitise their business, in some cases even handing out hardware and software for free. Keeping the mom-and-pop businesses strong benefits wholesalers. Metro Cash and Carry, for instance, is even considering acquisitions to aid it in digitising retail outlets.