Though they may look insignificant at first glance, mom & pop shops have proven to be the backbone of consumer goods and essentials in every emerging market. Small neighborhood stores have become a permanent fixture in every community, earning them their stripes as Kiranas (India), Warungs (Indonesia), Cua Hangs (Vietnam), Sari Saris (Philippines), Kedai Runcits (Malaysia), to name a few. Resilient as they’ve always been, now we’re seeing them transform with the changing world.

Even during a time when COVID-19 has hit the world’s largest retailers hard, these mom & pop shops’ unparalleled omnipresence, reliability, and knowledge of their community’s product preferences have led to a surge in customers flocking to their neighborhood store for essentials, during the pandemic. Mom & pop shops continue to be the crux of customers’ lives.

With customers at their fingertips, mom & pop shops are turning out to be the gateway to consumers for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Coupled with the fact that booming emerging markets have now become a focus for global giants as the next growth opportunity, along with the rise of homegrown high-growth companies, your friendly neighborhood store is turning into a battlefield.

Kirana store during Covid lockdown
Mom & pop shops continue to serve their communities during COVID-19

Tectonic Shifts for the Veterans

Historically, serving unorganized retail has been a norm for Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) operations in emerging markets. The largest CPGs in the world are now looking at emerging markets as the next big growth opportunity. In a country like India, this channel delivers over 90% of CPG revenue. CPGs are set to generate revenues to the tune of $11 trillion over the next 5 years alone in these high growth economies, but to do so they are compelled to win the shelf in every mom & pop shop. Global CPGs aren’t the only one’s fighting this battle anymore as these growing economies are giving rise to local competitors who are entering the market with as much aggression.

CPGs have without a doubt cracked the science behind building operations serving unorganized retail, but the inherent challenges remain. When a market is peppered with millions of small stores, it gives rise to a lack of market visibility, challenges to attain real-time data, and ensuring store execution. With the rise of a global focus on emerging markets, it has become of utmost importance for CPGs to adapt and enable their operations with the right solutions to solve these operational challenges and ultimately win every shelf.

Amazon leveraging Kirana stores as pickup and delivery points

The Future’s Bright

The battle for mom & pop shops doesn’t end with CPGs anymore. Now technology companies and innovative startups are vying for the same space to become a mainstay in their consumers’ lives. Unlocking the correct distribution model and having the ability to attain visibility into unorganized retail will allow it to become a reality.

Taking India as a case study and a representation of emerging markets across the globe, Kiranas have become a battleground not only for CPGs but also for rapidly growing businesses in the e-commerce, Fintech, and even electric vehicles. Kiranas being the gateway to every consumer in India, companies are now set to devise strategies to leverage them as delivery/pickup points, customers or even centers of financial services and even as an electric vehicle charging stations.

The variance in the businesses that are targeting Kiranas is a testament to what these tiny stores represent; access to consumers. In a massive country like India, those who are able to unlock Kirana partnerships, are the ones who can build a direct reach to every consumer across the country.

And That’s Where Retail Pulse Comes In

Needless to say, mom & pop shops are here to stay, having already survived through economic turmoil, an onslaught of online and offline retail competitors, and now through the most crippling pandemic in recent history. They will remain in every community, but they will surely evolve.

At Retail Pulse, our mission is to enable every business, through our AI power computer vision, to tap into the immense data in every mom & pop shop. We believe that these stores will remain at the core of serving communities. As these shops evolve, we aim to be in the midst of all the action.