A big heart for small shops: Why ‘Own Business’ is so important

Due to Covid-19, shopping in the supermarket can be anything but relaxing. A praise to the owner-run shops next door.

Kiranas in India

As grateful as we are to the big supermarket chains for our daily local supply – many people are probably just as happy at the moment when the weekly grocery shopping is done. But then, unpacking the shopping bag at home, they notice: One important ingredient for dinner has been forgotten! Fortunately, remedy is just around the corner. Owner-managed small shops, where we can not only buy everyday necessities, but also support the spirit of the founder and the diversity of the neighbourhood with a good feeling.

The METRO International Own Business Study 2019/2020 shows how much consumers appreciate independent, small businesses: When buying products or services, 3 times more people rely on independent companies (28%) than on non-independent ones (12%). The 3 main reasons: 52% of those surveyed say that the self-employed offer good quality, 49% think they offer good service, and 52% would like to support people in their immediate environment.

Kiranas: The backbone of the Indian economy

Both the small bakery in the village centre as well as the kiosk in the heart of a big city have long been reliable local suppliers. Now social distancing and working from home have led to a smaller radius of movement for all of us. And the need for independent business owners is becoming even clearer. Arvind Mediratta, MD-CEO of METRO India, pointed this out in a guest article in the Indian Economic Times.

In India, small owner-managed shops, known as Kiranas, have always been an essential pillar of local supply. With more than 90% of sales, they form the backbone of the Indian retail sector. With digital equipment METRO made the operators of the small shops fit for the future long before Corona – for example in terms of digital payment systems. With the App Digital Shop, which was developed in cooperation with the start-up ePayLater, retailers can simply use their existing smartphones to digitalize their business – and offer their customers all common mobile payment methods via QR code. Especially now that cashless payment is experiencing a boom, this is a practical and fast solution.

Rice Corner

Russian local Trader

A professional format for traders

Traders also play an essential role in Eastern Europe. Here, METRO supports shop-owners in building up their business with franchise brands aimed at medium-sized and small traders. The concepts and assortments vary from country to country, depending on local preferences and needs. With the cooperation model, METRO can work together with the retailers to meet the needs of the local community. For example in Pakistan with the Freshly concept or in Romania with the LaDoiPasi retail franchise. 19.5 million people live in this Eastern European country – almost half of them in rural areas. As in many other countries, small traders are meeting places there and often the heart of the respective community.

More than just a quick shopping opportunity

Owner-managed shops, whether in the village or in the city, are therefore much more than just a quick way to shop. They are also a place for social interaction. This is celebrated, for example, by the Düsseldorf ‘Büdchentag, which aims to draw attention to local small traders. Of course, precautions such as face masks and distance rules also apply at the kiosk around the corner.

However, shopping here is much faster than in a hypermarket with endless rows of shelves. The fact that the range of products includes ‘only’ one instead of 20 different packet soups compensates for this. And in addition to our forgotten ingredient for dinner, we also get the owner's friendly smile behind the counter for free – that makes up for it twice.

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