Flipkart wants a bite of India’s Q-commerce growth

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March 18, 2024

Christina Moniz, Financial Express

March 18, 2024

It is not difficult to understand why e-commerce firm Flipkart wants a bite of the Q-commerce pie.

India’s quick commerce market has been growing year-on-year at 77% to reach $2.8 billion in GMV (gross merchandise value) in 2023, according to a Redseer report. In comparison, e-commerce has been growing at 14-15% year-on-year. No one would dispute that with instant deliveries of products and groceries in 10-20 minutes, quick commerce firms like the Zomato-owned Blinkit, Zepto and Swiggy Instamart have changed the face of e-commerce and retail over the past few years.

While quick commerce thrives, none of the players in this ring are profitable yet. According to Devangshu Dutta, CEO at Third Eyesight, most quick commerce firms are in an expensive market acquisition phase and are at least a year away from profitability — perhaps longer. He expects that the unit economics for these companies will improve. “Some of the quick commerce players have created a substantial consumer base, which is growing in the frequency of transactions, moving to higher order values and transacting more products with potentially better margins,” says Dutta.

Both Zepto and Blinkit expect to turn profitable in FY25, as per their public statements.

So what are the primary challenges? “Traditional large e-commerce players face obstacles in facilitating last-mile deliveries, establishing dark stores, managing supply chains effectively, and navigating fierce market competition,” says Anshul Garg, managing partner & head, Publicis Commerce India.

The other key challenge for the late entrants is that customers seldom switch platforms. This is different from the way customers shop for products like electronics on e-commerce, where they compare prices/ deals across multiple e-commerce marketplaces. Brands like Flipkart need to define their playbook by maybe exploring categories other than grocery if they are to make a dent in this market.

As things stand, quick commerce has a mere 7% of the potential market. The total addressable market is estimated at $45 billion, higher than food delivery, as per JM Financial. Blinkit leads the market with a 46% share, followed by Swiggy Instamart at 27%, and Zepto at 21%.

Growing-up pangs

Kushal Bhatnagar, associate partner at Redseer Strategy Consultants, explains that there are broadly three ways that Q-commerce firms are working towards profitability. The first is by pushing higher priced items on their platforms and bumping up higher average order values. They’re also foraying into non-grocery segments such as cosmetics and headphones.

The other lever is ensuring dark store efficiencies. “While dark stores are an added cost, most platforms have a solid understanding of the demand across micro markets and are able to extract better profitability from each dark store. So the trend is positive, even if profitability is still to be achieved,” explains Bhatnagar.

For a dark store to deliver ROI and become profitable, it needs to cross 1,200-1,300 daily orders.

Some players like Zepto are also experimenting with a nominal platform fee of Rs. 2 per order, which they sometimes increase during peak times — by up to Rs. 10 — to gain from a surge in demand. Some are also implementing 12-15% fees for orders under Rs. 500, nudging customers to spend more.

Ad revenue is another important lever driving growth for these platforms, especially as D2C brands hop on board and advertise on them to reach GenZ and millennial consumers in metros and tier-I markets. Advertising revenue is around 3% of a platform’s GMV, and it is expected to keep growing.

FMCG and F&B are the top advertising categories on quick commerce currently but that can change as platforms move into higher value categories. “Quick commerce is also venturing into unconventional categories such as electronics, mobile and large appliances. If all goes according to plan, we can anticipate a significant shift in advertising contribution, given that these categories boast higher average selling prices, prompting advertisers to adopt a slightly more aggressive stance,” says Shashank Rathore, vice-president, e-commerce at Interactive Avenues (IPG Mediabrands India).

(Published in Financial Express)

Venture Capital in Retail – What Attracts Investors to Retail Business (VIDEO)

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February 15, 2024

An insightful must-watch discussion, moderated by Devangshu Dutta (Founder, Third Eyesight), with venture capital fund managers, investors and entrepreneurs in retail on what factors attract investors to retail businesses.

The panelists included Vikram Gupta (Founder & Managing Partner, IvyCap Ventures), Amar Nagaram, (Co-Founder, Virgio), and Vikram Gawande (Vice President, Growth, Blume Ventures).

Q-comm goes beyond grocery; all set to challenge e-comm dominance?

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January 8, 2024

Yash Bhatia, Afaqs

8 January 2024

In the 10th episode of Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath’s YouTube podcast series, WTF, Aadit Palicha, co-founder, Zepto, says that consumer goods are the fastest-growing category for its quick commerce business. Initially, quick commerce brands just focussed on serving impulse grocery needs, but now they have changed their way to serve regular planned purchases too.

Major players like Zepto, Blinkit, Swiggy Instamart, and BBNow are expanding their offerings in gifting, makeup, ready-to-eat, baby care, pet care, meat, poultry and more to cater to a wider range of consumer needs and preferences.

Through our interviews with brands like Bombay Shaving Company, Bevzilla and Plum, it is evident that Q-comm business contributes approximately 10-25% of online revenue for different brands.

Also, according to a report by Redseer, the Q-comm market is expected to reach almost $5.5 billion by 2025. The report highlights, that these platforms can up their game by going beyond just grocery and extend their offerings to other consumables, electronics, newspapers and more.

It shows that quick commerce players would focus on other categories to reach this milestone. But, are brands ready for it? If yes, how is their strategy different for this model?

Aditi Handa, co-founder of The Baker’s Dozen, an artisanal bakery, states, “In our category, once the customers figure out a product in the physical store, then they tend to buy again on the quick commerce platforms rather than visiting a store. It works well in our category, as there is no need to touch and feel the product.”

Baker’s Dozen makes 60-65% of its online sales on Q-comm platforms.

Devangshu Dutta, founder of Third Eyesight says that quick commerce has spread across various product categories and he believes, “It is driven more by buzz than customer needs. Unless we meet a core demand with a large consumer market, there’s no sustained road to profit.”

Deepti Karthik, fractional CMO, SuperBottoms, says, “In the diaper category, there are a lot of unplanned purchases. We target customers who’re buying other products, and eventually get trails from them.”

She points out that a lot of gifting happens in the quick commerce segment. “Gift packs can be a great solution our brand can leverage.”

She predicts that for the baby-care brand, quick commerce will contribute 3-5% of overall revenue, led by gifting as a category.

Apart from the reduced delivery time, is there a reason that customers are opting to shop on quick commerce platforms?

Handa answers that two factors work in favour of Q-comm platforms: discounts and convenience. “As these players are expanding their portfolio, customers will find more reasons to go on these apps.”

Is the quick commerce business driven by celebrations?

India is renowned for its diverse festivities. Quick commerce platforms capitalise on this by selling event-related or topical assortments. For instance, they offer flutes for Krishna Jayanti, Ganesha idols for Ganesh Chaturthi, Christmas decorations for the holiday, decorative items for Diwali, and gold and silver coins for Dhanteras.

These platforms are also curating special web and app pages for such occasions, even for regional festivals like Chauth Puja. In 2023, Blinkit curated a specific page dedicated to the wedding season.

Karthik states, “The major business of this sector is driven by consumables and FMCG products. On special occasions, e-commerce brands used to curate specific products, which Q-commerce is now doing. The market share of the other modes is now being taken by the quick commerce players on festivals. That’s why every e-commerce is looking to launch its version of Q-commerce, like Amazon Fresh by Amazon, and BBnow by Big Basket.”

Handa believes differently and states that quick commerce is not taking up the market share of any other modes. “Currently we’re buying more than what we need. Quick commerce is creating some new markets, and people are spending more money as it is easy to spend now.”

Will Q-commerce take over e-commerce?

As the country embraces digital commerce, the battle between e-commerce and Q-commerce is intensifying. While e-commerce has a well-established presence with a vast user base, Q-commerce offers unmatched speed and efficiency. As Q-commerce players foray into other categories, will they take over e-commerce?

Ritesh Ghosal, former chief of marketing at Croma believes that Q-comm will not replace e-commerce. He says that Q-commerce will only be a successful mode for urgently needed products like trimmers, headphones etc.

Handa predicts, “In our category, Q-commerce will replace e-commerce purely based on better service. The only advantage that e-commerce holds is a variety of stock keeping units (SKUs). Like, some products will have a presence in e-commerce only like English Cheddar cheese, it will not be there in Q-comm, a customer can only get it through e-commerce.”

She says that quick commerce also provides a fast way to experiment with new products.

Kartik, says e-commerce will always be at the main stage for the brand and believes Q-commerce will be an incremental business for them.

She has observed that in quick commerce if a product gets listed, it starts to sell faster and gets a quick start as compared to the e-commerce route.

Challenges

While the benefits of quick commerce are evident for customers, these players in the backend face a lot of challenges including warehousing, labour expenses, and, most importantly, the orders are low-value, therefore the margins are less.

Balasubramanian Narayanan, vice president, of Teamlease services points out that the consumer preferences and buying patterns in the quick commerce segment evolve rapidly, making data collection and analysis a crucial aspect.

“Balancing data collection with user privacy is a key challenge. The data insights can help to create personalised experiences, predict demands, and improve operational efficiency. But this can be a challenge in this mode.”

Handa says in quick commerce, the biggest challenge is the stock keeping unit (SKU) mix, SKU selection is critical.

“Brands like Amazon, and Flipkart allow a plethora of SKUs, while quick commerce just allows a limited number, due to limitation of warehouse space and delivery time. The SKU selection by the brand becomes a critical aspect.”

In the physical realm, shelf presence plays an important role in reaching customers, in the online world, optimising the online presence is crucial to get the customers’ attention. She highlights that in quick commerce, the fight is to be at the top of the search bar.

“To be at the top, the brand should generate organic sales, secondly it’s about keyword bidding. A keyword that would search customers to find the product from the brand. The brand pays quick commerce players for this.”

Ghosal also agrees with this and states, “In the Q-commerce arena, most searches are by category rather than by brand. The brands have to tick more boxes in terms of categories/searches so that customers tend to look at them.”

(With additional inputs: Ruchika Jha)

(Published in Afaqs)

JioMart on WhatsApp to give a tough fight to ecommerce giants like Amazon, Flipkart: Report

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September 20, 2022

New Delhi: The launch of online shopping experience by WhatsApp, along with Jio platforms, the holding company for the digital services businesses of Reliance Industries (RIL), will help these companies to take on e-commerce behemoths such as Jeff Bezos-controlled Amazon and Walmart-owned Flipkart.

Experts are of the view that the partnership will give JioMart, the e-commerce platform of RIL, around 48.7 crore WhatsApp users in India. At present, the total annualised active e-commerce users in the country are only 20 crore.

Rohan Agarwal, partner at research firm Redseer, told Business Standard: “WhatsApp is the primary messaging app for most Indians and the partnership shows the level of access JioMart would have to reach out to them.”

He went on add that it would help in expanding the reach of the e-commerce to users who might not be accessing online retail platforms.

To recap, speaking at the 45th AGM of RIL on Monday (August 29), Isha Ambani, director, Reliance Retail Ventures Ltd (RRVL), gave a presentation on placing online grocery orders using Meta-owned WhatsApp and making payments.

In a global first, JioMart on WhatsApp will aid users in India, including first-time online shoppers, to have a new shopping experience in ordering a wide range of groceries on WhatsApp. They will be able to shop via JioMart’s entire grocery catalogue by easily selecting their favourite items. Also, they will be able to add these products to the cart and pay without leaving the WhatsApp chat.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and chief executive officer (CEO), Meta, said the association with JioMart would enable people to buy groceries from JioMart in a single chat.

Agarwal highlighted that most of the online grocery businesses generate from big cities and this alliance will be an opportunity for small cities and towns.

The financial daily quoted Devangshu Dutta, CEO, Third Eyesight, as saying that the partnership will have a big impact on the entire e-commerce industry.

He told the publication: “Reliance is the largest retailer in the country and with deep pockets. It wants to (tap) not just the big cities but small cities and towns as well. Given the fact that WhatApp is something consumers are comfortable with, and grocery is related to high-frequency purchases, they are firing on all cylinders.”

Dutta added that the crucial thing for both companies to be successful is to create a delivery process that is quick and cost-effective.

Source: timesnownews

War for instant grocery delivery set to intensify with entry of Reliance’s JioMart

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March 29, 2022

Writankar Mukherjee & Sagar Malviya, Economic Times

Kolkata / Mumbai, March 28, 2022

The war for instant grocery delivery is going to intensify with Reliance Retail entering the segment with its JioMart platform. The company will start the trial in next 2-4 days in Navi Mumbai for ‘JioMart Express’ which will sell and deliver around 2,000 stock keeping units (SKUs) in a few hours, two senior industry executives aware of the plans said.

Reliance has plans to take instant grocery sales to over 200 cities and towns where JioMart is currently operational by end of next quarter and double the reach in next few months to make it India’s largest instant grocer. The company will also tap its network of kirana stores for such fulfillment, apart from its own chain of grocery stores, the executives said. It is testing a separate app for express grocery deliveries as well as integrating it into the JioMart platform.

The plans of India’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer to enter quick commerce is to further grow its e-grocery business and Reliance will compete against Tata-owned Big Basket which will launch it in April, Zomato-funded Blinkit, Swiggy’s Instamart, Walmart-owned Flipkart Quick and Zepto. Earlier this year, Reliance had led a $240 million funding round in quick commerce hyperlocal firm Dunzo owning the largest 26% stake.

“JioMart Express will utilize Dunzo in the markets where it is strong like the metros as well as its own delivery fleet. JioMart Express can be quickly scaled up since Reliance has onboarded lakhs of kiranas under its B2B programme ‘JioMart Partner’ who buys the merchandise from Reliance and sells through the JioMart platform,” an executive said.

An email sent to Reliance Retail remained unanswered till Sunday press time.

Devangshu Dutta, chief executive of consulting firm Third Eyesight, said Reliance needs to ensure that it is in the right catchment which has a high concentration of demand, low competition and keep supply centres close to it to make instant grocery service profitable. “Margin contribution is low in grocery and hence apart from these there could be a higher focus on high margin products in the assortment,” he said.

To be sure, quick commerce is not new for Reliance Retail. It has been delivering orders in less than three hours placed through Reliance Digital online or app for smaller consumer electronics such as mobile phones and laptops. “However, order volumes are going to be much more frequent in grocery, and hence it would need a robust backend and delivery fleet,” an executive said.

While the pilot in Navi Mumbai will start with 1-3 hours delivery time, Reliance will progressively reduce the delivery time to match the industry standard of 45 minutes to an hour and will also expand the range. According to researcher RedSeer, India’s quick commerce market is all set to grow 15 times by 2025 reaching a market size of close to $5.5 billion. Online shoppers in the metros have been using quick commerce for their unplanned and top-up purchases.

(Published in Economic Times)