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Metro Cash and Carry to launch new omni-channel strategy across stores

LiveMint logoLiveMint 18-07-2017 Deepti Govind

Bengaluru: Wholesale retailer Metro Cash and Carry Pvt. Ltd will launch OPD (order processing, payment, collection and delivery)—its version of an omni-channel strategy—at its 24 stores across the country this month, a top executive at the firm said. The aim of this strategy is to reach as many small business owners as possible, especially kirana stores, and double Metro’s share of wallet.

It is also expected to increase the firm’s so-called active customer base, a key internal metric measuring the number of customers who shop at its stores at least once a month. The Indian arm of German Metro AG currently has a registered customer base of 25 lakh, with less than half of that number shopping at least once a month at its stores.

Metro test-ran its OPD strategy four months ago at stores in Bengaluru and Jaipur. “Earlier we used to tell the shopkeepers to come to our store and they used to find it inconvenient because a lot of times it is a one-man show. They wouldn’t have help at home or at the shop,” said Arvind Mediratta, managing director and chief executive officer of Metro in India.

The idea behind this strategy is to basically take the store to kirana owners via an expanded salesforce. Metro’s sales team visit kirana stores and other businesses and use a tablet to display the firm’s various offers and entire range of merchandise on the device. Businesses and store owners then give the salespersons their order and either make the payment to them or transfer the amount electronically and then have their goods delivered.

Through this, the firm aims to double its share of wallet by easing most customers’ challenge of not having the time or the convenience to travel to the nearest Metro store for their regular stocking needs.

The company increased the strength of its salesforce by 30% to ensure better on-ground coverage for its omni-channel strategy. It currently has 350 people on the ground handling kirana shops and another 100 people to deal with hotels, restaurants and cafes industry (HORECA).

Unlike B2C (or business to consumer) e-commerce marketplaces where navigating through a website or an app and placing orders comes naturally to customers, kirana store owners—who are the target for Metro’s OPD initiative—are still not too comfortable placing orders online.

“Kirana store owners have probably been sitting at their shop for a long time. It’s probably a shop that their father and grandfather also used to sit at and they have relationships with suppliers over a period of time. (Their suppliers) become like family. We cannot just tell them we have a great website; log on and place an order. So we have a sales team that goes out to them,” Mediratta said.

Indeed, Metro has experimented in the past with a program called Metro Direct where customers could log on to its website and order non-food items, even those that weren’t available at its outlets. Later on, the firm expanded the scope of the program to in-store assortment including stationery, confectionary and FMCG products. Metro Direct ran from July 2015 until February 2017.

“We believe it is going to take some time (before online picks up) in India for B2B because the relationship part is very important. It may take a couple of years. With GST now coming in, the migration may happen faster,” Mediratta said, adding that the firm is looking at activating its website for orders again.

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