On some Sundays, Amar Raj Joshi is “kind of free”. In his world – which revolves around Joshi General Store in Delhi’s Jahangirpruri area – this still means he tends to customers, politely and skilfully.
A fifty-something woman steps into his store and rattles off the items on her list. Placing them all in bags, Amar takes the opportunity to suggest new products for her to try, and she takes the bait. “Theek hai, yeh bhi leti hoon. Khata mein likh dena.” (Fine, I’ll take these as well, put it on my tab).
It’s evident that Amar is her shopping advisor as for many others in the area, and has developed a deep level of trust in his given sphere of influence.
She says that she shops here regularly even though there are swanky supermarkets in the area while praising his ability to sell the most locally relevant assortment of goods for his customer base.
“The intimate knowledge of the local consumer community helps me to better utilize the limited storage space and turnover goods smartly. I stock only what my customers ask for.”
For his customers, it’s not just the variety of local produce he sells; he usually provides free delivery in less than an hour with a handy credit facility for regular customers.
As the lady prepares to leave the store, one would have expected Amar to bring out a thick accounting register or udhar khata, and make a manual note of the pending payment from the customer. But all he does is swipe his mobile phone and tap a few keys, while the lady checks her phone and nods, and then happily picks up her shopping bags, and steps out of the store.
Since signing up with Khatabook three years ago, accounting has become so simple, says Amar. No longer does he have to spend hours maintaining the physical register, entering day-to-day credit sales.
There was handwritten paper billing and bookkeeping which were plagued with a lot of risks, he explains.
“These included losing the hand-written invoices, difficultly keeping track of the bills, and struggling to reproduce traditional invoices which could fade over time.”
Then, pointing to his phone, he says, “Ever since I discovered the Khatabook app, it has taken the pain out of manual record-keeping, and a risk of losing all this data in case of physical damage to the udhar book!”
Recalling how he discovered his favorite app, the digital-savvy Amar says that one day, while searching for technological solutions to grow his business, he came across an ad featuring MS Dhoni. Much to his delight, he found that his cricket idol is the brand ambassador of Khatabook, an application that enables small business owners like him to manage the cumbersome process of bookkeeping digitally.
By some estimates, there are 12 million Kirana stores, like Amar’s, across India, and they account for around 95% of the country’s roughly $500 billion food and grocery market.
Khatabook has made the daily bookkeeping task simpler and more effective for millions of Kirana store owners thereby digitally empowering them.
While Dhoni is the face of Khatabook, Amar is the new face of Kirana stores that are embracing technology to seek convenience and ease of access.
“The Khatabook app provides relief to business owners like me by doing all accountings and managing the end to end cash transactions. There is not much technical knowledge required to use this app, and just understanding how to use it will help every individual to enjoy all its features,” says the high school pass out who also did a course in animation.
Amar has been running the grocery store for seven years after inheriting the business from his father, who set up the store in 1990. After handing over the business to Amar, the father is now retired and living in bliss in their native village in Haridwar.
“I could have pursued a course in animation but then who would have looked after the family business?”
He says that it was very tough initially as he had no clue about how to run the store. “It was exhausting, but over time I learned the ropes of running the store, and began to modernize it gradually.”
He adds that his father hardly made the kind of profits he is making as Khatabook was unknown to him. The app has made everything so smooth and seamless that Amar can now focus more on transforming the shop, not only to survive the competition but also to tap into the consumer’s need for modern stores and new ways of buying.
“Nearly, 50 percent of our customers require reminders for pending receivables. Earlier, I spent a lot of time on follow-ups regarding the payments, but with Khatabook my credit collection has improved as I get back most of the credit I extend to customers, and that too, within a couple of weeks or so, instead of waiting for months or longer for them to pay up.”
Often Amar would forget who owed him what and he would never get his payment. Now with Khatabook timely reminders are sent to him as well as his customers on pending payments via SMS and Whatsapp.
For the 30-year-old, the Khatabook Payment Reminders feature is the best. “I have all the details of credit and debit entries for any number of customers at my fingertips on my phone. With the Payment Reminders feature, an automatic SMS is sent to my customers every time a transaction is recorded. Khatabook’s reminder via WhatsApp and SMS at certain intervals when money is due to be paid or collected ensures that customers pay me back on time.”
He says that there has been a 15% increase in the footfall and the sale, post his association with Khatabook.
He is also able to keep track of his financial transactions, and credit information and accept payments online from different payment gateways and UPI apps.
Both Amar and his customers find Khatabook a safe and secure app. “It is 100% free, safe and secure for all, and the app’s end objective is to help Kirana store owners like me generate more sales, more profits, and more cash flows. That’s Khatabook’s USP, and I love it.”