Kirana stores go digital, get storefront delivery with Jumbotail

Linking farm-to-table suppliers, the start-up also runs its own private label that collects staples directly from producers and distribute them via a network of 21,000 kiranas

Published: 09th November 2019 11:14 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th November 2019 11:27 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

Latha, a mother of two kids, has been running her two-decade- old grocery store — Sapthagiri General and Provision Store — in Begur, next to Electronic city in Bengaluru, where kirana stores are scanty. Along with her husband, Latha would earlier tediously travel miles to the nearest wholesale market to procure commodities for their shop. As they bought in bulk, she would be forced to reduce rates and book a loss when prices for a commodity dropped.

Failing to match the consistency and efficiency of modern stores, Latha’s family soon ran into a severe financial crisis. However, life has been much easier for the family in the past two years. What changed?

Latha signed up with Jumbotail.

The Bengaluru-based startup is helping hundreds of Kirana store owners like Latha procure staples and consumer goods through their mobile application.

Retailers get their delivery at the storefront within 24 hours, from Jumbotail’s own logistics. Besides, the owners can also track their store inventory through the app, helping them avoid stock-outs.

Jumbotail wasn’t a business conceived out of whack. It was, in fact, the idea that the founders, Karthik Venkateswaran and Ashish Jhina, had been nurturing long before their paths crossed at Stanford University in 2009, and took years to crystallise.

Jhina, a third-generation apple farmer hailing from Himachal Pradesh, had also experienced their travails first-hand in terms of supply-demand.

Together, they began aggregating farmers and giving them direct access to the market by cutting out intermediaries.

“The biggest supply chain gaps in India are a highly fragmented producer base, many layers of intermediaries, lack of warehousing and logistics infrastructure. Even if the infrastructure is available, there is no tech leverage,” Jhina, who is also the COO of the start-up, told TMS.

Cut to 2019, and one thing is certain: Kirana stores that once looked vulnerable to the onslaught of modern retail and e-commerce are here to stay, with the offline retail market estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion by 2020.

By bridging a link between farm-to-table suppliers, Jumbotail is also running its private label for collecting staples directly from producers and millers and distributing them through the network of 21,000 Kirana stores.

It is also helping Kirana stores modernise through point-of-sale integration and AI-driven merchandising.

The start-up also extends a credit line to Kirana store owners through the lending partners on its platform.

With all these luxuries, sales on the platform have more than tripled and operating costs halved since the middle of 2018, Jhina said.

“We are doing over lakh storefront delivery with over 2.5 million shipment units amounting to nearly 10,000 tons of material per month.”

Currently operational in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Tumkur and Hyderabad, Jumbotail also plans to expand to 15 largest Indian cities over the next 2-3 years, and peri-urban areas and towns within a five-hour radius.

“We are poised to scale to multiple cities and expect to reach $3 billion in annualised sales in next four years,” Jhina said.

TIGHT COMPETITION

Jumbotail isn’t the only firm to have spotted a goldmine in kirana stores. Vying for the same pie are
Peel-Works, Shopkirana, Gram Factory and Udaan, a Unicorn with a valuation of $2.3 billion that has
got about $680 million in funding. 

Heavyweights like Reliance Industries, Metro AG, Walmart and Amazon are also in the fray.

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