Jeff Bezos at a kirana, or mom-and-pop, store is not something you’d ever expect to see. Yet, when the Amazon chief executive visited India in January, he made a pit-stop at one to help deliver a package. A publicity stunt, of course, but one that underscores the importance of the 12 million-odd kirana stores that dot India’s business landscape. 

The ubiquity of kiranas makes them a valuable last-mile connector for the storage of products, or even the delivery of small items like smartphones, books, or groceries—anything that can be done on foot or a two-wheeler.