Now that the Flipkart deal is sealed, Walmart India is planning to scale up the kirana store program called Mera Kirana which helps small grocery stores modernize, while opening new fulfillment centers as part of the pilot run in order to expand its footprint in the country.
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It has been piloting Mera Kirana over the last four years and wants to make it a part of its mainstream business. Walmart India is also planning to open a warehouse in Lucknow next month. Under Mera Kirana, Walmart will create zones in the Best Price wholesale stores which are designed to resemble kirana stores. It will serve as a model for mom and pop store owners to replicate in terms of placement and assortment. They send their teams to kirana stores to work directly with them.
Chief corporate affairs officer at Walmart India, Rajneesh Kumar started that they have seen a lot of loyalty from the kirana stores as they understand that Walmart is not just selling to them but also helping them become modern. Walmart has seen a double digit growth in the membership base year on year. The company has a total of 1 million active customer base, out of which 70% are small kirana stores. Most stores are not yet technology enabled and this is where Walmart, Metro Cash and Carry Pvt. Ltd. comes in.
The wholesalers work with small retailers in order to digitize their business and also handout software and hardware for free. Helping small retailers benefits wholesalers. Walmart is also experimenting with fulfillment centers in India. The centers will be housed in warehouses that are operated by third party logistics and will be used by Walmart in order to service the kirana stores in the vicinity. A company needs four acres to open a full-fledged Best Price store but the process of getting approvals used to take up four years in the past. It has now shortened to 2.5 years but is much longer as compared with setting up a fulfillment center. The first center that Walmart opened was in Bhiwandi near Mumbai and it took only 60 days to become operational. It allows Walmart to reach to the market faster while the store growth continues. It is a complementary approach which will help serve the kirana stores faster. Walmart bought 77% stake in Flipkart for $16 billion and it plans to open 50 new Best Price cash and carry stores in the country. It already operates 21 currently.