Retail sector is evolving but the retailers are not! With this overriding concern, PayNearby empowers hyperlocal retailers with digital and financial skills with the objective to improve their services and income. With more than 8,50,000 retailers registered on PayNearby platform to service crores of Indians, it is intriguing to learn how this app transforms the lives of retail business owners, micro entrepreneurs in tier 2 and 3 towns. In this Skill Story, Anand Kumar Bajaj, Founder and CEO, PayNearby, tells about how they are able to create a vibrant ecosystem with “Har Dukaan Digital Pradhan” (making every store a digital hub).
The need for digital enablement and financial inclusion
With the advent of modern retail and door-step delivery through e-commerce companies, millions of local retailers are facing existential challenges. Many buyers are swinging to online shopping due to discounts and cashbacks. This brings about a sharp reduction in the income level of small retailers. Our objective is to leverage the presence of the retailer to reach out to the customers through a DigiCAL mode (Digital and Physical).
- Retailers get empowered with digital capability and improve their business through our platform by attracting more customers from their vicinity
- They are able to render digital financial services to same set of customers, households in the form of open banking
Since we came from banking and finance services background, we focused on products in the payment space that makes the hyperlocal retailing inclusive and helps the retailers increase their income. We were concerned about the small and medium size retailers since the high margin products were moving to online platforms, severely impacting their profitability and chances of staying afloat. It became imperative that we worked for the survival of these retailers, and in turn ensure that both our business grew.
The challenge and the opportunity to skill the retailers
The challenge was to convert a shopkeeper who was used to selling a push based product, now to adopt digital technology to not only grow his own business but also evolve as a financial inclusion evangelist in his local community. It required training the retailers in digital capability, and giving them a simple interface where without much hand-holding, they were able to service their customers. We had to ensure that the learning curve was not too steep and the content had to be modular and simple, so that they didn’t get intimidated.
First, we skilled them to go digital so that they were able to manage their finances and render our services to the mass market. We partnered with TRRAIN and RASCI to impart skill development training to them. We know that training is an ongoing process, and we are committed to doing everything within our means help them evolve as micro entrepreneurs who can navigate the financial and digital landscape of retailing on their own.
Related article: PayNearby partners with TRRAIN to commemorate Retail Employees’ Day – Read more: https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/paynearby-partners-with-trrain-to-commemorate-retail-employees-day/
Demand and supply mapping, inventory management
By using PayNearby, the retailers are able to understand the pattern of purchasing behavior of consumers. It also helps them in procurement and managing their supplies. For instance, the system knows what he is selling, the supply procured last time, his inventory status and other relevant details. These details enable him to make his buying process easier, where he can place his order directly on the app, the invoice can be received on the app, and the payment to the distributor can also be done from the app. We also share insights on how to manage his visual display in the store so that merchandizing is more effectively visible – so skilling is relevant for these core activities too.
Transparency, monitoring, guidance, mentoring
When we get to see that the business of the retailer is growing well, we have the understanding of their throughput, we find that it is naturally conducive to offer them a loan. The core data has many indicators for augmenting their revenues. Our financial services model helps them in making digital payments. For example, retailers can give out cash to customers, like an ATM. We dispense close to Rs. 3,000 Crore in cash through our retail partners in a simple manner using biometrics. This is an Aadhaar enabled transaction wherein the customers use their thumb impression to get the cash.
This is a win-win for both the retailer and the customer who withdraws the money. The customer gets to withdraw the money securely from a store nearby, and the retailer is saved the hassle of physically depositing the money in the bank. The act of depositing the money in the bank not only comes with additional costs, but also the risks of theft and pilferage. Instead, by dispensing the cash to the customers, he is not only able to digitize the money easily but also earn commission on the same. Alongside, the retailer can use the digital money to procure supplies from the distributors and conduct many other services. We also train our retailers to sell insurance, educate people on medical policy, benefits of saving and investment and how to avail the same.
Training and skill development as an ongoing activity
We see a huge opportunity to empower the retailers with digital and financial literacy.
Our online training programs are simple and the retailers can access them at their convenience. It involves 2.5 hours of learning through videos that are available in six languages, supplemented with another few hours of practical training on how to use the platform. We also conduct face-to-face sessions by showing demo transactions and how they can gradually bring their shop to an online platform and offer additional financial services to the same set of customers.
We’ve set up a digital command center through which we reach out to our retail partners on the basis of data analytics. We also train them on new products and services through our training team. Whenever a new service is launched there is a video on the app so that they can watch it and learn and then attend our local workshops to clarify the details. When we launched our insurance service, about 35,000 retailers got certified as point of sale for insurance, about 13,500 now have registered and sold insurance to their customers.
Financial inclusion and social impact
We are honored to receive the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) award for innovation in rural inclusion followed by the IFI Award by Access Assist for Rural Financial Inclusion. It is exemplary how the government has helped us with various initiatives such as Startup India, Skill India, Make in India and most importantly, Digital India.
As a fintech startup PayNearby has impacted many retailers at the grassroots level. With more than 8,50,000 retailers using the platform, we have more than 10,00,000 transactions per day. Socially, we have seen encouraging results since the retail community and consumers in 16,722 PIN Codes are able to improve their livelihoods through the app.
While the nearest ATM could be 2 KMs away, our retailers are able to render financial services in the most convenient manner, when most needed! They are able to help consumers during natural calamities like floods, or during medical emergencies. Lakhs of migrant workers visit these retail stores to send money home to their loved ones easily. These retailers also help their customers to deposit their money securely in a bank and help them save for the rainy day or the fulfillment of a dream. By providing these services, our retail partners have seen a growth in their incomes, with which their aspirations have also grown. Now they are able to send their children to better schools and buy better products for themselves.