Grofers – Has Potential, But A Long Way To Go!


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HyperLocal might be the new fad for a few domains but it’s not really for others. Just like people at Grofers does I too believe that a HyperLocal platform for groceries is quite useful. Irrespective of the huge numbers you hear about e-commerce boom, the billion dollar revenues raised, multi billion dollar valuation and what not, the offline sales still outperform online sales across most product categories in India due to various reasons such as accessibility to online platforms, better payment options, better customer support, love for in-person shopping, trust issues etc,. Things might eventually change but HyperLocal startups aiming to bring in an offline-online model effectively might run great for the next few years.

Coming back to the topic of discussion, I want to consolidate my experiences and pen down a few suggestions on how Grofers lacks at certain areas and tiny ideas on how they can be tackled better.

Let me start off with some common startup gyan that people keep hearing just about everywhere. Ideas are hardly around 15%-20% of a startup, all that matters is the implementation. I see most e-commerce startups raising money concentrate on just one thing – customer acquisition. In a race to acquire customers loyalty, startups are letting go of valuable stake in their company and raising millions/billions of dollars to spend it back on customers in terms of marketing and promotions. But my question to these e-commerce startups is, if you don’t buckle up and ensure to provide a great experience how exactly can you retain a customer? Irrespective of the tons of great deals you throw at the customer he will walk away from your platform the very next moment you stop offering these deals if the service sucks!

Before I dive into my experience with Grofers I really want to see how platforms like Paytm perform once they kill their insane cash back schemes. I want to read some numbers on cash back vs. non cash back transactions that happen on Paytm right now and see how many people actually purchase stuff if not for their offers. I for one will never think about Paytm right now for a product that doesn’t have great offers or for that matter any expensive product irrespective of the deal!

So dear team Grofers, here are some issues that I have with your platform. Being a Startup I really hope you might consider exploring if these are issues faced by a larger chunk of your customers and act according and I really hope you do have a system in place to capture these issues in the first place through micro feedback from your customers.

  • 1. My first shopping experience. After getting access to flat 15% off coupons on Grofers I thought it’s a killer deal for branded products, especially when other platforms like BigBasket hardly offers beyond 13% to 15% off.
  • Issue: One of the product was undelivered/missing and I didn’t even realise until the person left.
  • Resolution: None, as I didn’t really bother complaining.
  • 2. and 3. Perfect transactions with no issues whatsoever. But I did come back to Grofers only because I found more discount coupons!
  • 4. Got hold of yet another discount coupon and ordered around 6 different products only to have issues with two of them.
  • Issue: something as simple as a Pril dish wash bar was no where to be found it seems and Organic Ragi Flour of 24 Mantra brand wasn’t available so your delivery person picked up some random brand instead. The worst part was when he refused to take back the goods when I specifically told him that I either need the brand I ordered for or to issue a refund.
  • Resolution: After talking to the delivery boy’s manager or someone he finally went back and got back with the Flour I requested for and as far as the dish wash bars go he provided me a refund of Rs. 60 ( 6 x Rs. 10 for each bar).
  • 5. Ordered fruits and vegetables using a 50% off coupons.
  • Issue: One fruit was not available.
  • Resolution: Cash refund has been provided.
  • 6. Ordered three products, ghee of two different brands and flour.
  • Issue: Ghee of both the brands wasn’t available.
  • Resolution: Cash refund has been provided.
  • 7. Perfect transaction!
  • 8. Yet another coupon used and placed an order worth Rs. 1200
  • Issue: One product, Basmati Rice, wasn’t available so the delivery person picked up a random brand instead.
  • Resolution: He went back to the store, called me up, told me details about available brands and picked up the one I wanted.
  • 9. Perfect transaction!

So, things might seem not too messy or chaotic but there are some deep issues that have to be tackled and I will point them out in detail now.

Problem 1:

Most of my orders had unavailable products and the delivery boy cooly says it’s not available in any of the stores. Why isn’t there a system set in place to track the availability? I do understand that most retail store do no even have a system set in place to track the status of product availability but there might be few simple solutions that you can follow!

Solution 1:

Why not implement something as simple as a product availability status updater on your mobile app that runs on phones used by the delivery boys? If a delivery boy doesn’t find a certain product anywhere in that locality he can alert the Grofers system about it and if multiple such hits are recorded across a set time period you can mark the product as out of stock or do specify to your customers that it might not be available while order is being placed.

Problem 2: 

False MRP! The MRP for branded products exist for a reason but I have seen similar products listed at different prices on Grofers. Yes, the store is at will to price the product on Grofers but definitely not above MRP.

Solution 2:

It isn’t too difficult for Grofers to build a central database of product codes and prices. Let the seller select the product from the global list and let him be alerted at least when he sets the selling price beyond MRP. This will actually ensure that all the details about the product are available easily to the seller as well as I see few listings of the similar products having missing pictures etc.

Problem 3:

Refunds! It’s great to have a customer first attitude and please your customers but to what extent? I find it downright silly that you refund the amount for unavailable products without calculating the discount applied using a coupon. I will list a few examples of my transactions.

No. 5. purchase listed above was for a transaction worth Rs. 400 out of which I got a discount of Rs. 200 using a 50% off coupon. The Rs. 400 bill had Sapota worth Rs. 65 and this wasn’t available. Your delivery boy handed over Rs. 85 to my mom saying that Sapota’s cost is Rs. 85 per kg and it wasn’t available. So essentially we could get fruits and vegetables worth Rs. 400 for Rs. 115.

No. 6 purchase listed above was for a transaction worth Rs. 615. The Ghee packs together costed Rs. 415 and flour costed Rs. 200, as I got a discount of 30% all I paid was Rs. 431. Your delivery boy upon arriving at our home said he will refund the money for Ghee as it wasn’t available and issued cash of Rs. 415 and handed over flour worth Rs. 200 to us. So essentially we could get the flour worth Rs. 200 for Rs. 16 only (Rs. 431 – Rs. 415)!!

Solution 3:

A very simple implementation in your app for delivery boys to automatically show the refund amount after taking care of discounts will resolve the issue. I really wonder why it hasn’t been done yet! You are loosing your valuable money here folks, this is as good as throwing away your equity for no good reason! Imagine someone willing to misuse your system on purpose by placing orders using discount coupons and selecting stuff that he is sure of unavailability!

Problem 4: 

Please please please do take care of the great quality bags that you deliver the goods in, I am sure they are quite expensive too! I tried offering the bags back to your delivery boys but they hardly cared and refused to take them back.

Solution 4: 

I am not sure if this is a marketing strategy to spread the word about Grofers when people carry this bags around but if it’s not then do something to collect the bags back. May be inform the delivery boys to accept bags returned or run a simple cash back offer such as Rs. 5 cash back if the bags are returned etc.

Problem 5:

Replacement for unavailable products.

Solution 5:

Duh! Why not inform your delivery boys to call up the customer and get a confirmation before picking up a random replacement for the product? Or even better, just provide an automatic refund for unavailable products.

I am sure Grofers might be having a tech platform enabling easy operations for stores and mobile app for coordination with the delivery boys. By adding just a few minor features Grofers can enable validation of content from the delivery boys and stores itself to avoid product errors and automate transaction data for refunds etc.

I hope to see Grofers doing betting in days to come. All the best team!