Online grocers

When Jeff Bezos launched Amazon.com in 1995, internet shopping was at its nascent stage and many were skeptical about how people would buy things without looking at them. Today, the online market is booming and online stores are a serious threat to the brick and mortar stores since they are able to pass on the benefits of the savings in infrastructural set up costs to the customer making them extremely competitive. The US electronics giant Best Buy has recently agreed to price match their products with Amazon.com, because they know if they don't, then the customer is just going to buy the product online.   Many other stores in the US also price match with online stores today.

In India, a few online grocery stores have been launched. With more and more women joining the workforce in urban India, the lady of the house no longer has the luxury of going to the grocery store to pick up a few essentials. Yes, the Kirana stores around the corner offer home delivery, but if the same can be ordered online at the click of the mouse during lunch hour at the workplace, then it is definitely a convenience they are going to take to, if the prices are competitive enough. Also there is a sizeable population of single working men who loathe the idea of grocery shopping. Online shopping would find a lot of enthusiasts in that demographic too.

Dilligrocery.com services the Delhi NCR area and they offer home delivery free of cost if the bill is over Rs. 2000 or they charge a flat Rs.50 for shipping. They have a turnaround time of 1-2 days. They even have a clear return policy which is important for online retailers. Greenytails.com has a common website for India and the US. In India, they service Bangalore and Hyderabad and offer free home delivery with an extra service charge in a few areas. Their website is very well designed and user friendly. The prices are also competitive with regular grocery stores. They currently offer  'Cash on delivery' mode of payment which is actually a good way to get customers to try the website, since customers do not have to pay anything upfront and do not have to worry about credit card fraud or the authenticity of the vendor. They also have reward points for building loyalty. Chennaionlinegrocery.com that services Chennai has a sophisticated website. They accept credit cards payments and the entire website is very user friendly and intuitive. Pristine-nature.com is another online retailer who deals exclusively with delivery of organic grocery.

 There are 10.7 million broadband subscribers in India and one would believe this is the segment that the online retailers will be going after. If online grocery stores can deliver  consistent quality, complete range of products, competitive pricing, on-time deliveries, reasonable return policies ,and good customer service (last minute change of order, cancellations, payment options), then this segment is bound to grow rapidly in the years to come. We are at the age of online astrology, online dating and even surgery over the internet. Grocery shopping cannot be that far behind.

About the author: Navina Anand is a contributing Editor for TradeBriefs. She can be reached at navinaanand@hotmail.com