KOCHI: Until a few years back, glimpses of people lining up before grocery stores were a normal sight. With the arrival of supermarkets, small-scale grocery shops began losing their prominence. With their business dwindling, many such stores are finding existence tough.StoreIn, a startup by Rado Paul, a resident of Perumbavoor, aims at finding solutions to the problems faced by the over 1.5 lakh stores in the state. By bringing them under their network, StoreIn aims at making them aware of the challenges faced by the industry and solving them.
“GST is one of their major headaches. All shops which do business above `40 lakh are bound to pay the GST. The business of many grocery stores won’t exceed the specified slab, but the onus is on the shop owners to prove that. Shops which don’t have the GST registration won’t be able to generate the bill which gradually leads to their shutdown. Unorganised shops face such issues and we are there to help them,” says Rado.
Through StoreIn, the stores can get the groceries at a lower rate. “We procure the items directly from the distributor. We get them for a good price as we buy them in bulk. The items are delivered to the doorstep of the stores and they get them at discounted rate, and there are no middlemen. So, the store will get a better profit too,” adds Rado.
There are currently 600 stores under StoreIn. Over 400 of these are in Kollam and 200 are in Malappuram. Under StoreIn, warehouses have been set up, from where the items will be delivered to the stores.
“On average, a store sells 10 kg of sugar and 30 kg of rice a day. We have to procure locally-made items like pappadum, pickles and curry powders. Since we are dealing with large quantities, storage space is essential. Thirty shops come under a warehouse.”
The store owners have also been provided with an e-pos machine each under the initiative. “It’s simple to operate. The stock details will be stored in the machine. Also, there will be different numbers assigned for items i.e 42 for rice, 22 for sugar and 12 for jaggery. So when the items are sold, the stock gets updated and we will get the details of the bill. This makes the GST filing simpler.”
The next major move of StoreIn is to connect these stores with e-commerce giants.
“Most of the e-commerce giants don’t have delivery in rural areas. The store owners are scared of these platforms as they fear their business will be affected. If they are connected, these platforms will get access to every part of Kerala. If you order 10 kg of rice from any of the e-commerce platforms, it will be delivered to you from the nearest store. Thus, the business of the store is sustained. We are already in talks with some of them,” says Rado.
Talking about the immediate plans, Rado says that the first phase is over. In the next phase, he aims to bring 15,000 shops under StoreIn. “By January, StoreIn will reach Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. By April, we will mark our presence in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.”
StoreIn has its office in Thykoodam.
“I have to set up the warehouse first. More than the metro cities, I love to expand the business in rural areas as they are in dire need of delivery services. When I began StoreIn, I planned to get together with all store owners every 45 days. Right now, I’m able to do it,” says Rado.