Necessity is the mother of all inventions! and this pandemic was no different, it pushed everyone out of their comfort zones to adopt new ways of living and working.
While in the last 2 years, India was already transforming into Digital India with the government’s clarion call to digitize every industry, the adoption on the ground was happening at its own pace. Like every large country with heterogeneous markets has its challenges with people’s mindset to change, we were not any different. While large consumer-facing industries were transforming, the local mom & pop stores were still happy with analog ways of managing their businesses.
From customer-facing transactions like payments, orders to business-facing transactions like ordering inventory, managing stocks, and book-keeping was all happening the age-old way or at best coexisting in analog & digital hybrid fashion.
Come April 2020, the world came at a screeching halt with lockdowns being imposed across the country and thus creating the new normal of learning contactless lives. Digital transformation became the cornerstone for the survival of everyone including mom & pop stores.
These untested waters pushed shop owners into overnight adopting digital ways to conduct their businesses. They immediately created rudimentary models of onboarding digital tools & platforms and kept perfecting them at the speed of business. From taking orders on WhatsApp to setting up of contactless payment gateway, the lack of proper staff further pushed them to transform their entire backend processes on digital platforms.
The reluctance of setting up storefronts on marketplaces or aggregator portals, using digital marketing to grow their businesses, the fear of digital payment adoption, or bookkeeping on online platforms had suddenly leapfrogged into acceptance and trust towards digital technology as an enabler to business continuity. Mom and pop tales have been the one-stop shop for every Indian neighbourhood. Everything shutting down overnight was a Gordian knot even for the customers. With the rising demand and no other way to provide the products, shop owners understood that technology is the only way forward.
This digital transformation might have been tough but came with a lot of other benefits. Launching the brand on omnichannel helped the mom-and-pop tales to widen the customer base, provide quick services, and create much faster processes.
In the unlocking phases also the mom-and-pop tales did not go back to the traditional ways. In fact, integrated with contemporary was of reaching out to their customers. The pandemic has stimulated a significant rise in the number of Morden retailers in Tier I, II, and III cities. The mom-and-pop tale owners have reported improvement in the turnover and a more efficient supply chain.
This whole digital transformation is here to stay as it gives ease of management to mom & pop stores as well as customers who can now find the local heroes from the comfort of their homes and buy from their favourite store, pay online and get it delivered all while living contact-less. So, digital transformation is a win-win for both the consumer as well as the shop owners.
Written by Ankur Pujari, Co-Founder & Growth Lead, Hyper Connect Asia