Over a million small retailers in India and hundreds of MSMEs continued to repose their faith on online platforms and digitisation as the entire retail ecosystem opts for e-commerce as a mode of doing business during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Flipkart Group’s B2B businesses — Flipkart Wholesale and Best Price cash-and-carry stores — have witnessed an increased uptake of e-commerce in 2020.
Flipkart Wholesale, the digital B2B marketplace of Flipkart Group which was launched in September, and 29 Best Price modern wholesale stores enabled growth and prosperity for small kiranas by offering a wide range of selections at great prices.
Speaking about the increased adoption of e-commerce at Flipkart’s B2B businesses this year, Adarsh Menon, Senior Vice-President and Head, Flipkart Wholesale and Walmart India, said, “As India’s leading omni-channel B2B marketplace, we strive towards making e-commerce inclusive for every small kirana and drive growth for every MSME in the country. As the entire retail ecosystem was grappling with unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic, suppliers and buyers came together seamlessly to unlock the potential of technology and e-commerce.”
“At Best Price, during the lockdown, we encouraged members to place orders on our e-commerce platform and have products delivered to them. We also launched a revamped Best Price app and website and saw order volumes surge through our e-commerce channels. Our members adapted very quickly to ordering online and we believe this trend will continue going forward. Flipkart Wholesale has also seen tremendous success from retailers who can now order fashion products just at the touch of a button. We have consistently worked towards creating an ecosystem that serves kiranas’ growing needs and helping Indian MSMEs access the pan-India market more effectively and we will step up our efforts in the coming year as well,” Menon added.
Future is digital
Flipkart Wholesale app which currently offers fashion products — clothing, footwear and accessories — to retailers across 23 cities has also just launched the grocery category in NCR on its platform.
Fashion retailers, who were not able to travel to fashion hubs for sourcing products in the aftermath of COVID-19, came on board Flipkart Wholesale which is a one-stop destination for a wide selection of men’s wear, women’s wear, kidswear and footwear from hundreds of suppliers across all the fashion mandis of India such as Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Kanpur, Delhi, Surat, Agra, Tirupur, among others.
Flipkart Wholesale has already recorded 50 percent month-on-month growth in fashion category suppliers and enabled 2.5 lakh listings on its platform since its launch, delivering a major boost to MSMEs in the country.
Rural retailers opt for e-commerce
Within just a few months of its launch, Flipkart Wholesale app has become a runaway success with 90 percent month-on-month growth in transactions on its platform. Encouraging trends have emerged from retailers in small towns who have taken onto e-commerce as a preferred mode to do business at ease. In fact, one in every five customers on Flipkart Wholesale is from tier-2 or tier-3 cities.
Through the year, Best Price cash-and-carry business worked closely with its supplier partners on transportation and logistics and significantly ramped up e-commerce and delivery capabilities to ensure members could order and receive products conveniently amidst the pandemic. As a result, its e-commerce channels saw a significant uptick.
E-commerce adoption by Best Price members grew over 10X across 29 stores, with smaller towns such as Meerut, Kota, Guntur, Rajahmundry, Aurangabad, Karimnagar, Amravati and Vijayawada accounting for a large part of the e-commerce traction at Best Price, which signals a surge in rural India transacting online.
Kirana is king
Flipkart Wholesale app saw 75 percent month-on-month growth in customer base since launch in September. This growth is the affirmation of the trust that kiranas place with e-commerce and the potential it has to enable convenience, value for products, reach and selections, thus helping small businesses thrive.
Despite the challenging business environment posed by the pandemic, Best Price launched a new store in October in Tirupati to cater to kiranas and small businesses. The newly launched store in Tirupati is Best Price’s 29th store in the country where it is present across nine states, and serves kiranas, offices and institutions, and hotels, restaurants and caterers (HORECA) through a membership model. The launch of the new Tirupati store further ensured that the retail ecosystem has a safe and robust omnichannel option for retailers who are constantly looking for avenues for business continuity.
Best Price’s suppliers, most of which are MSMEs, showed exemplary entrepreneurship amidst the pandemic and created opportunity out of adversity. Rahul Bajaj, Director of Shree Shakti Enterprises, who has been selling kitchenware to Best Price stores for the last decade, pivoted to manufacturing hands-free sanitiser dispensers and hand-wash stations at a time when the outbreak had just started. Best Price helped this supplier during the product building stage through insights on technical feasibility and commercial viability.
Babita Gupta of Sarangi Creations, who sells bedsheets and pillowcases to Best Price stores, pivoted to selling cotton masks during the lockdown using surplus cloth she had at her factory. Ananth Sagar of Sagar Asia, a ladder supplier, pivoted to building disinfection tunnels and COVID testing booths and supplied these to local hospitals. Flipkart Wholesale’s connection with the retail ecosystem helped several MSMEs become Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) despite challenges posed by the pandemic.