Grocery Wars

He is a powerhouse celebrity; he has sold suiting, cars, real estate, home décor, cellphones, cold drink, fairness cream, durables, watches, owns a cricket team, and now is busy selling groceries. To see Shah Rukh Khan get excited about potatoes, onions, tomato and pulses is not something that you could ever imagine.

That is the reality of the grocery war that has broken out in the Indian e-commerce market. The online grocery sites are on fire and they are going hammer and tongs at your kitchen.

Big Basket calls Shah Rukh Khan a ‘Big Basketeer’. Basketeer is someone who is an ace player of basketball; surely Big Basket is not referring to the slam-dunk kind of game in its communication. The brand builds on range, offers and convenience. While the brand offers the viewer the ease of using the app, or ease of ordering, at the same time it takes the viewer through the journey of home delivery, customer satisfaction and a hint of repeat order. The brand plays the SRK card to the hilt. What it leaves behind is SRK, not the brand.

Grofers, on the other hand, is cleverly building on its ability to deliver anything quickly in a quirky, funny manner. Unlike Big Basket that mimics its delivery process in its advertising, Grofers builds on its vast range of products in its store. In the process of building range and convenience, it does knock the husband-wife relationship off the ledge. To hint that the wife did not get the husband she deserved but can get the grocery she wants, is wicked. Incidentally, the husband knows what the wife wants, and that too is some leap of faith.

Both Grofers and Big Basket seem to believe that the future of e-commerce grocery brands may lie in the hands of the male members of the house. I am not sure if there is a small gender stereotype that is at play in these ads.

Grocery is big news in the e-commerce market at this time; there are many more brands that are after your wallet. Local Banya builds on specific membership plans that consumers can sign up for. Peppertap builds on speed of delivery – ‘from phone to door in 2 hours’ is its promise to move the consumers from brick and mortar stores to the e-commerce process.

Grocery and veggies constitute the bulk of the Indian retail market; almost 70 per cent of Indian retail comes from this segment. In developed markets, where modern retail is the only way to shop for groceries, where grocery shopping means taking time out and lugging big packets home, moving grocery to e-commerce offers a radical new idea. In India, where the average order value is not very high, where almost every retailer delivers to your doorstep and where veggie buying is a high involvement task, e-commerce brands have to work harder to change habits.

Range and convenience is not something that will move people to the new habit, the brand will have to cut this pie in a more imaginative manner.

This segment is set to get even more competitive and players like Godrej Nature’s Bazaar and Reliance Fresh can augment their physical stores with virtual. They hold the potential to open up the market in newer ways if they launch click and buy kind of service, something that allows the potential consumers to buy in advance and pay after physically checking the goods but not standing in long queues to pay.

This market will see a further churn with Amazon Fresh coming to India and Flipkart joining the rush to get potatoes to your home faster.

Technology may power grocery, but to reach the kitchen shelf it needs more than range and convenience narratives. The battle hasn’t even begun.

Original published here

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