Miraj Group was launched in October 2018. The company has, in just over a couple of months, rolled out 10 supermarkets in two states and four cities. The retailer is now eyeing to expand to all the Tier II and Tier III cities in north, west, and central India. Silas Paul, CEO, Miraj Group, speaks to Progressive Grocer about the group’s vision and mission and its retailing strategy for expanding the brand’s footprint over the next three years.
What is the customer proposition and marketing positioning of your store?
Miraj Group’s grocery stores are branded as 'Miraj Supermarket'. The hypermarkets are called 'Miraj Square' and its fashion stores are called 'Labels' by Miraj. Miraj supermarkets operate in Tier II cities and other small towns. The whole agenda of having supermarkets in these cities is to give customers the shopping experience of metropolitan cities. We are a chain of stores adhering to the low price model. Our product range includes all FMCG brands and categories at retail prices. For higher volume purchases, we have a wholesale section within the premises of our supermarkets. Our hypermarkets are more localized. We do product pricing and assortments on the basis of the population in the area and their incomes. The size of our hypermarkets depends on the population and demographics of the city or town. Our hypermarkets in metros have premium assortment and products.
Tell us about your product basket. Which are the categories and range of merchandise you specialize in as a retailer?Our product basket includes food, grocery, fruits, vegetables, and bakery. Apart from it, we have apparel, general merchandise, gift articles, footwear, sportswear, and accessories for the other formats of stores.
Give us an overview of how much space have have allocated to the different sections and what is your strategy for allocating space for different sections at your store?
Our supermarkets are 2,500-4,000 sq.ft. in size. We have a wide range of products at our retail and wholesale sections and we have different categories of retail and wholesale sections with a special focus on localization. We follow the same rule in our hypermarkets as well.
Please describe, citing specific instances, how are you using technology to enhance customer experience and improve operational excellence?
We are using advanced technology to enhance our customer experience. This project includes self-checkout kiosks, barcode checking kiosks, and M–Pos (mobile-point-of-sale) in use. We are working with advanced technology applications to track NPS (Net Promoter Scores) and understand customer’s buying behaviour. Currently, we are in the final process of implementing these technology applications in our stores.
What is your go forward strategy with suppliers and vendors?
We are bringing all the vendors on our technology interface. All our payments, transactions, invoicing, will be on a single platform and it will be easy and simple to operate. Our technology interface and software platform will initially operate in two languages – Hindi and English. As we grow and progress, we will be increasing the number of languages. We have adopted this payment gateway and it is connected to our software which generates an auto reminder on the due dates. We manage our payments effectively by connecting all our vendors through this platform.
Tell us about your private labels/ house brands strategy and your plans to augment and expand your PLs?
We have a separate manufacturing unit for products like namkeens, tea, cookies and kharis. Miraj Products is our private label tag for all our in-house products and our private label strategy encompasses everything – from sourcing to packaging. We will keep expanding our product portfolio as the number of stores keep on increasing. Currently, our private label products are less than 20 percent of the total assortment and we would like to increase this share and reach 50 percent in the next three years.
Any interesting concepts or innovations that you have introduced at the stores in terms of merchandising strategy, inventory management, etc?
We want to promote organic categories in the near future. A team will be dedicated, only to promote organic farming. This will encourage consumers who want to use the extra space in homes to grow crops.
Considering the peculiarities of supply chain in India, have you introduced any specific innovations for foolproof operations?
We will use technology to create a robust system to manage the supply chain. However, if the team faces challenges and if managing time and distance is a hurdle, we will outsource from the best in the industry.
What is your roadmap for the future and how do you look at future potential of your stores?
We want to test all our formats in the first three months. Simultaneously, we will sign properties with a BTS option – both short and long term – which will be available in different geographies. Our vision is to be a Rs 2,000 crore organization over the next three years.