Walmart-owned Flipkart on Wednesday said it has onboarded more than 50,000 kirana shops to strengthen its supply chain and delivery capabilities ahead of the upcoming festive season.
In preparation for the festive season and the 'Big Billion Days' sale, Flipkart has significantly expanded its kirana onboarding program to make deliveries to customers in more than 850 cities, a statement said.
"With more than 50,000 kiranas onboarded, Flipkart aims to provide a fast and personalised e-commerce experience to millions of consumers while creating opportunities for digital upskilling as well as additional income for kiranas," it added.
E-commerce companies see a large chunk of their business coming in during the festive sales and they make significant investments ahead of time to ramp up capacity to be able to handle the spike in orders.
On Tuesday, Flipkart's rival Amazon had announced addition of five sort centres (Visakhapatnam, Farukhnagar, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad) and expansion of eight such existing facilities in the country to strengthen its capacity ahead of the festive season.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Flipkart said its team initiated contactless onboarding of kiranas through online application forms where kirana partners directly uploaded details along with copies of required documents to complete the process.
These procedures are followed by a detailed verification check of kirana partners before they can deliver shipments, it added.
The team also organised digital training on various tools including app-based dashboards and digital payments, helping kiranas transform their business from traditional general trade stores to modern convenience stores, it noted.
"The kirana program has been further expanded to remote and far away cities across the country including places such as Tinsukia (Assam), Agartala (Tripura) and Kannur (Kerala), making e-commerce more inclusive by connecting kiranas and consumers to the country's fast growing digital commerce," Flipkart said.
The programme offers kiranas an opportunity to generate additional income while also building on consumer centric skills.
"As one of the oldest retail formats in India, kiranas have one of the highest penetration and showcase effective management of the supply chain drivers such as facilities, inventory, information and sourcing, as well as in maintaining a long-standing relationship with consumers," Amitesh Jha, Senior Vice-President, Ekart and Marketplace at Flipkart, said.
He added that through a combination of hyperlocal presence of the kirana shops and innovations by Flipkart, the programme has become a great enabler in strengthening the kirana ecosystem in the country.
Last year, kiranas collectively delivered over one million shipments during Flipkart's 'Big Billion Days' sale.