Digitizing the Corner Shop

India’s corner shops—known as kirana stores—are vital to the local economy

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We spoke to 200 kirana stores and 198 of their customers. Here’s what we heard.

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The kirana stores are here to stay: 92% of customers plan to shop as much or more

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Customers shop frequently at their local kirana store, versus only 11% who shop online

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The kirana store plays a valuable role in the community, providing convenience, customer service, and credit

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“I have a long-standing relationship with the owner of this shop, and I often come here to chat with my friends outside the shop.”

Shopkeepers are are adopting digital tools and are eager for more

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“My workload is reduced with the help of digital tools. I can easily buy inventory and sell products online, which saves me time and cost.”

Most shopkeepers have some comfort with digital tools, but barriers remain

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“I am busy serving customers and so I don’t have time to learn about new online tools. I would be more likely to use these apps if I had help understanding them.”

29% of customers had no complaints with their kirana store, while others cited a desire for more product variety

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“There is a common saying that more products lead to more customers. If the owner stocks more variety, that will help the corner shop improve.”

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Shopkeepers face difficulties purchasing and managing inventory and serving their customers

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“Identifying and anticipating the needs of customers is very difficult.”

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Kirana owners have ambitions to grow and improve their stores so they can continue to play a vital role in their communities. At Flourish, we believe digital platforms have an opportunity to support them in this journey.

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Merchant and Customer Voices: Who We Spoke To

200 Kirana Merchants Across 15 States


49%  30–39
16%  40–49
1%  50+


36%  30–39
28%  40–49
14%  50+

11%  Less than 500

198 Kirana Customers Across 4 Cities

37%  Female

63%  Male


29%  20–29
28%  30–39
22%  40–49
19%  50+


Flourish Ventures launched this research to better understand corner shops across the globe and share learnings on how digital firms can serve their needs.

In partnership with research firm 60 Decibels and e-commerce platform ApnaKlub, we surveyed 200 Indian corner shop owners and 198 of their customers to learn firsthand about their business pain points, competitive threats, aspirations, and digital behaviors.

Authors: Harsh Gupta, Anuradha Ramachandran, Stella Klemperer

Flourish is a global venture firm investing in entrepreneurs whose innovations advance economic opportunity and financial health for individuals and small businesses. We partner with industry leaders in research, policy, and regulation to better understand the underserved and help foster a fair, more inclusive economy.

60 Decibels is a tech-enabled social impact measurement and customer insights company working in over 75 countries. They combine deep impact measurement expertise, an integrated technology backbone, and a global network of 900+ researchers to make it easy for companies and organizations to listen to the people who matter most.

ApnaKlub is an e-commerce platform that supports retailers in India’s Tier 2 and 3 cities, leveraging collective demand to build access to a wide variety of products at fair prices.