Akash Chandan
Published in

Akash Chandan

UX research of Indian kirana

Case Study : Understanding Indian kirana(retail) stores and supply chain.


The assignment was detailed and intensive with lot of learnings. Hence I’m sharing it open to feedback and discussion.

Place & Duration

Govindpur, Delhi & 1 week.

Problem Description

A kirana typically stores around 1000 products from at least 100 brands.The shop gets about 6–10 sales visit, each of them spending about 10mins each, and another 6–10 deliveries, spending about 10mins each .

Fulbori( name of the concept app) is an online wholesale marketplace for food and grocery that connects wholesale sellers. Through Fulbori, Kirana can check for prices, and place orders.

Research & study the interaction patterns on the offline transactions — both with distributors and his customers, and design a concept for optimal ordering experience in the app.


  • Ethnographic Field Studies
  • User Research / Interviews
  • Observation / Finding Insights
  • Persona / Visioning the experience
  • User journey and task flow
  • Wireframing / Prototyping

Research Summary : Total 10 Kirana stores were visited for research and spoke with 3 agents.

A sales agent taking order from a shop owner.

2 important stakeholders are Shop owner & a Sales agent

  • Sales agents are frequent visitors to the shops, they have developed a friendly relationship with the shop owners.
  • They are the face of the wholesale giants such as Hindustan Uniliver Ltd etc.,
  • They persuade the shopkeepers to purchase more quantity of the products and introduce them to new products in the market.
  • They handle the payments, bill calculation, errors in delivery, quality assurance and returns.
Video of agent interacting with the app.
  • An agent uses the app given to him by the distributor / wholesale seller.
  • The app contains list of kirana stores by road / street / area..,
  • He also carries printed display of the products to showcase to kirana owner.
  • Agent has a target to achieve, on completion he gets some benifits.
  • Kirana store owners are offered credits / points system on buying more products, which can be used to buy more products.
  • Kirana store owners are given display , hangers for the new products by the Sellers.
1. Owner writing a check | 2. Delivery boy | 3. Sales agent taking orders in the app | 4. Agent carrying checks and bills.

An ideal use case from secondary research :

After a bit of secondary research, I could gather an idea of a task flow which seemed pretty perfect.

I was yet to discover the real world challenges from my primary research.

  • Manufactured products are taken from factory to godown.
  • Sales Agent visits the kirana, and takes the order in the app.
  • Products are dispatched with a delivery boy.
  • At Kirana store, owner checks, verifies and receives the products with the bill.
  • Any unwanted, damaged products are returned with the delivery boy, with notes on the copy of the bill.
  • When the agent makes a next visit to the store, he collects the amount in cheque or cash from the kirana and deposits in wholesaler’s account.

Although this was not exactly how it worked, but it served as a strong hypothesis to carry on the research and also gave me a clear understanding of the domain by which I could converse contextually to the research subjects.

Details of the shops and owners :

10 shops were visited for interviews, out of which 3 were not interested and busy with customers. I managed to get fruitful research data from 7 shops which are documented below…

Details of the visited shops.

Interview Questionnaire :

Questionnaire prepared from secondary and initial primary research.

Interview Results:

Personal interview results

Research Photographs

Research Findings :

  1. Primary Research :
  • One distributor buys multiple branded products and sells them to retailers or wholesalers.
  • Giant distributors like HUL, Nestle & P&G hire/depend upon agents to collect the cash/ cheque. whereas with individual distributors delivery boy collects the cash/cheque.
  • Orders are delivered by the distributor side (logistic expenses are taken care ), Complete orders are delivered at once (most of the times)
  • A delivery boy carries 2 copies of the bill of the order, and collects the cash/cheque and gets the sign by the retailer/wholesaler on confirming the order has been delivered and payment has been collected by him.
  • Bills are verified at the time of delivery by the retailer and if any damaged or expired products are in the stock, they are sent back with remarks on the bill and the amount doesn’t change.
  • Then the distributor delivers good products as expected or other products as requested by the retailer, No cashback is given to the retailer.
  • Retail sellers buy these packages from the wholesale sellers. Retail Sellers order on phone.
  • It seldom happens that the retailer goes personally to check the quality himself to the godown.
  • A wholesaler takes care of the transport in this case. Small retailers go to these shops and buy the stock and carry them back on their expenses.
  • Major companies like Amul, Nandini collect the milk from farmers twice a day (early morning and evening) (from my knowledge) And it is processed/packaged and dispatched everyday early morning from dairies. Damaged milk packets are not really returned/refunded by Amul.
  • From the interview, one kirana owner mentioned, they have to order one day prior to the quantity to the dairies.
  • The agent plays the very least role in this category, he visits once in 6 months to check on the delivery.
  • Payment is done once a week or twice a month by cheque/cash. Delivery boys only take care of the bills and the payment.
  • Whereas new players like wholly jolly are keen on giving prizes/gifts to Kirana store owners on selling their products. Amul being the consumer’s preference, Kirana can’t really push these products to customers.

2. Secondary Research :

  • Factory Manufactured products are kept in a company warehouse or sold to CFA (Carrying & Forwarding agency )
  • This stored stock is bought by distributors. Distributors sell the products to retailers and wholesalers.by sending a sales agent to make the sales to profitable shops.

3. Observation :

  • Whereas, small shops are not shown interest by the distributors, so they rely on buying from wholesalers.
  • Major companies don’t really respect the small scale Kirana owners, and they put margins for them to sell and their agents

Persona :

Visioning the experience :

Content and Ideated Features





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Digital Experience Researcher & Designer. Churning information into knowledge. More > www.akashchandan.com