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Online grocery stores gaining popularity in India

Prashant Mahesh, The Economic Times

New Delhi, April 17, 2014

Online grocery stores are gaining currency among shoppers in big cities.

Many young office-going couples, especially those hard-pressed for time, find it very convenient to order from these sites because of the hassle-free shopping experience they provide.

It also helps them to avoid the neighbourhood shopkeeper who takes his own time to deliver goods, and the time travelling to the shopping mall and fretting about traffic snarls on weekends.

Simply put, these people simply love the idea of getting everything delivered at their doorstep at a particular time. The icing on the cake is the extra discount offered by these stores.

The shopper also has the choice to pay by debit or credit card or cash on delivery. "Online grocery shopping is catching up in cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore as you save time and get the delivery at your doorstep.

There are 50 odd online grocers across the country and the business is growing by 45-50% every year," says Chandni Sahgal, founder and management consultant, D’Essence Consulting, a Mumbai-based consultant. However, there is no official data available on the annual turn over these online stores, and most of them have been around hardly for year or two at the most, say experts.

Largely confined to big cities, some of these sites have captured the imagination of office-goers. For example, many DINKs (double income no kids) order their groceries regularly from Localbanya, Ekstop, and Bigbasket in Mumbai. Similarly, grosseryhub, mangoshoppers, in Delhi, bigbasket, zopnow, atmydoorsteps in Banglaore and several others, cater to the online grocery shoppers.

"Online shopping helps individuals to save time and transportation cost and offers a large collection of products under one roof. Added to it, you get competitive prices and discounts," says Rashi Choudhary, COO and co-founder, Localbanya.com.

What Do You Gain?

According to experts, grocery shopping is a regular chore, which needs to be carried out once every week. The biggest saving while shopping online is time — travelling, shopping for things and waiting for billing. You also save on transportation and parking cost. It also saves you the trouble of mall hopping for things. For example, your neighbourhood store may not stock fruits or vegetables or have a limited stock of dairy products. As compared to this, online stores offer all products under one roof.

"Online stores are open 24*7, for you to shop or place orders. You have the option to choose a delivery slot, which suits you the best," says Anandan Pillai, senior manager (social media), Zenith Optimedia India, which helps companies improve effectiveness of their marketing spend.

Another great draw is discounts offered by these online stores. For example, bigbasket.com (operating in Mumbai, Bangalore, and Hyderabad) offers a 10% off on the first order if placed in April. There are also discounts on individual products. Some stores also offer reward points that can be accumulated and used on subsequent shopping. Delivery in most cases is free if the bill is above Rs 1,000. Anominal fee of Rs 30 is charged for delivery if the bill is below Rs 1,000.

Perils of Shopping Online

It is very difficult to choose an online store because most of them have a track record of only a year or two and many are present only in a single city.

"A store should have predictability of service, have enough inventory of the products you buy and a customer friendly redressal mechanism," says Devangshu Dutta, managing director, Third Eyesight, a retail consultant.

Many e-commerce experts ask shoppers to do a few trial runs before placing large orders. "You should opt for cash on delivery for the first few orders," suggests Dutta. This will give you a better idea about the quality of goods, understand how the system works and whether they deliver on time.

(Sourced from The Economic Times.)

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