Tech Firm Digitalises Grocery Shops

KARACHI:Technology firms have moved to introduce innovation in grocery shops and integrate them into the growing digital ecosystem of Pakistan in a bid to provide solutions to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Different companies are providing grocery shops with technology-based solutions to maximise their sales, which are at par with the ones being deployed by leading superstores.

The upgraded technology allows storekeepers to maintain stock of running goods and monitor the items that are in high demand.

“Our slogan is that every store is a superstore,” REDtone Digital Services CEO Mahnoor Nadeem said while talking to The Express Tribune.

The company, through its joint venture called REDRETAIL, is currently setting up a free-of-cost cloud-based point of sales (POS) system at shops dealing with 100-300 grocery items (stock-keeping units/SKUs) in Karachi.

The mechanism comprises hardware including tablet (screen), scanners and printers as well as software that connect retailers with customers, distributors and manufacturers.

Earlier, the joint venture connected Mexican and American customers to 2,500 stores present in their respective neighbourhoods.

“We decided to introduce this model in Pakistan when the first lockdown was imposed in March 2020,” she said, adding that while Covid-prevention measures were in effect, grocery shops lacked the mechanism to continue doing business in their respective neighbourhoods.

“Going digital was the only practical option,” she said.

So far, the company has assisted 500 grocery stores in Karachi to revive their business and now it is planning to expand to other major cities of Pakistan including Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Peshawar and Faisalabad.

Besides dealing with walk-in customers and taking online orders, shopkeepers can also utilise the system to sell goods that are not available in the shop like mobile phones and washing machines.

The system connects grocery shop owners to distributors of electrical appliances.

“Customers can pay for products like washing machine at the grocery shop and the system will send the request to us through the option of Hamari Shop,” she said. “After receiving the order, the item will be dispatched to the customer the very next day.”

“Our system effectively connects customers with distributors through retailers,” she said. “It enables Kiryana (grocery) store owners to sell home appliances through REDRETAIL.”

The system also allows shopkeepers to accept school fee, utility bills and recharge prepaid mobile phones.

“This feature will not only enhance financial liquidity and revenue streams of the grocery shop but will also attract a number of new customers to the outlet,” she said. “This innovation transforms conventional Kiryana stores into multi-purpose shops.”

The system also assists shopkeepers in managing records of customers who purchased on credit and also offers discounts to selected consumers on the basis of loyalty points earned from distributors and manufacturers. The joint venture is aiming to steer cashless payments in grocery stores.

“Through the mechanism, traditional Kiryana stores will be able to receive payments through debit cards, credit cards and QR codes,” she said. “These features will enable retailers to make large transactions while retaining cash stock at the shop.”

According to the enterprise, its retail solutions have enhanced sales of grocery shops and general stores by over 50% and reduced the cost of operations by nearly 24%.

It provides supports for distributors and manufacturers, who are able to monitor stock of their products in real time in a particular area.

“Our company will not charge retailers for the service, rather we will bill the manufacturers who can scale up their sales in the existing market.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2021.

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