AgVoice | Mom & Pop store will never die

As a kid when I was staying in a small suburb of Mumbai, I used to see my mom get worried as the 30th of the month approached.  Simply because she wiould be eagerly waiting for the sales boy from a distant Kirana store to come home and take the grocery items order for the month and ensure that goods were delivered the same day.  This process was religiously followed as there were no other options available and there were not many trusted Kirana shops in those days . As time progressed more and more Kirana shops mushroomed next to the street we lived but my mom was never comfortable to try a new shop for various reasons. Firstly the shop she was buying was run by a Tamilian owner and secondly he could converse in Tamil with my mother which made her all the more comfortable in ordering through this store.  Secondly most of her friends were also placing orders with this guy and hence that trust factor played a pivotal role. Thirdly they become part of the family as the store owner is familiar with all the members of the family. This emotional connect further helped in strengthening the loyalty. Now let us explore and find out  what are the compelling reasons for the good old customers to trust the mom and pop store and what is missing in the giant supermarket which has made entry in many cities.
The 4 C’s that retains the loyalty factor:
The four factors that primarily attribute for people to stick to Mom & Pop store are Convenience, Cost, & Choice of items and  Customer service. While there are other factors that support the loyalty factor  the 4 C’s are what drives most for them to retain the customer. Now let us dissect the 4C’s.
a.       Convenience: Here the shop is located close to one’s residence so that one can go leisurely and buy things during any point of the day. Alternatively the shop will not hesitate to give free home delivery even if only one item is ordered. Unlike the big retail chain who insists on placing a minimum amount of order to avail the free home delivery. All this little benefits remain sticky in the customers mind and could be one of the factors that will motivate him not to move from the friendly neighborhood shop. These shops also offer convenient payment facilities ranging from good credit period to accepting Sodexho coupons etc. Some of these shops also maintain a personal ledger book for each customer and settle the payment end of the month. At times due to one’s strong past reputation the credit period is further extended. 
b.       Cost: Being a long standing customer he or she always gets the benefit of competitive price. Here there will always be a case to argue saying the big retail shops will offer less price  but some of the trusted customers who have being buying for ages with these mom and pop stores do not always look at only price they also look at  consistency in the  quality of cereals and spices. Especially in the case of the rice, dal and tamarind where shelf life of the products determine a lot.  The consistency in quality also helps the housewives to churn out good dishes to satisfy the taste buds of their loving husbands. Since most of the Mom & Pop stores don’t change their whole sale vendors they have control on the goods they order unlike the big retail chain who switch vendors from time to time to offer value for money offerings to their customers. Also since the mom &pop stores operates in places where they own it for many years their real estate cost and rentals are low. As a result they are able to offer certain rebate on some items which will be a rarity by the organized big retail shops. 
c.       Choice: Most of the Mom &Pop stores also offer a wide choice but give the right choice to their customers unlike big retail chains who only stock reputed brands. These stores also stocks local brands where loyalty has been established by their customers. This is most common in category like beverages (tea and coffee) where flavour matters a lot to the audience. At times these stores also go out of the way to get the customer’s choice based on request which the big retail chains will not entertain as they only look at universal taste and cater to a larger population.  The mom and pop stores also cater to wide spectrum of audience and hence they have to offer the right choice to retain these customers. They need not keep huge inventory in their warehouse but to ensure that they don’t disappoint their long standing customers they keep them in small quantity which a large scale retail shop cannot do it with ease. This is because in the case of the mom & pop stores most of his customers are fixed and he is able to calculate his demand supply and choice of products with lot more ease and accuracy. 
d.       Customer Care:  Customer care has been the emphasis for most giant supermarket stores but the kind of personal touch that mom &pop stores gives cannot be replaced. The personal equation of the owner is so good that he knows the likes and dislikes of each family member. The shop owner knows the first name of his customer and hence he is able to connect with the customer with lot of ease and thus establishing a good bond. This is missing with the big retail brands as they are more busy clearing  people from the cash counter and finding less time to interact with the customers. Most of these mom & pop store also gives advance tips and trends by asking customers to stock certain cereals or other grocery items as they expect short supply in the near future. They constantly keep taking feedback from the customers to improve the range and quality of products they offer, some stores also deliver free samples for them to try new products or new quality that they get in the store. What’s more they also take back any defective goods  when they are returned, without cribbing. These little caring qualities further enhances the customer’s bonding with store.
Conclusion : Even though we keep hearing about the arrivals of many giant supermarkets chains  with worldwide reputation the Mom & Pop stores are here to stay and will rule the retail world in India. There are several strong selling points which are inherent from the day the store started. And this cannot be changed overnight as the mindset of the Indian customer cannot be dislodged easily . The low real estate costs, low infrastructure costs, low marketing costs are factors that have always been working for the mom & pop stores. This is not the case with the big retail chains as they come with huge overheads and also need to earmark huge marketing budgets to build the brand from scratch.  The retail format will co-exist for another 5-10 years. But with advancement in the technology and the growth of internet penetration a retail evolution can happen in the form of e-commerce which has already made good inroads in other categories. | By Ganapathy Viswanathan
About the writer:
Ganapathy Viswanathan has over 2 decades of industry experience in Communication, Branding and Public Relations. He has worked in diverse disciplines with several Multinational agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather, Lowe  and Mudra Group. Some of the major brands he was associated were Titan Watches, Philips, Maharashtra Tourism, Dettol soap, Kelvinator and Bayer Group. His last assignment was in the field of Public Relations where he spearheaded the western region offices of 2020 MSL as General Manager.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way of Adgully.

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